We did not inherit the world from our parents, but borrow it from our children.
The longer story
Who is me : what I care about, feel & think.
We all have learned by imitation. Imitation of our parents and others we have been in contact with. That's the way we learn. That is, up to a point.
If things are right, we start learning by our own experiences and our own thinking and reflecting these experiences.
I noticed, that already quite early on, my experiences did not align very much with what I saw from a lot of adults around me.
That meant that I was at the proverbial crossroad. Probably not so conscious as now, but I felt it. I took the left, which meant that I relied more on my own experiences and conclusions than on what the world around me tried to teach me.
I know, I cannot escape my surroundings, but I tried to stay as much as possible with myself. Now, quite some decades later, I find this the most valuable single thing I have learned in my life.
Think for yourself. Don't take anything for gospel. Always ask yourself : "Is this true or is this a belief of someone?" Especially if it comes from an 'expert'.
And also question your own believes. If you still have the same believes on everything as last year, you have not been developing.
Adhering to my adagio, I have always been self employed. As my first love was music - the most important event in primary school, was the hearing of 'She loves you, yeah' by The Beatles. For many years I have been active in the music business, from having my own bands, to designing & building a big recording studio where I worked as an organizer, producer and engineer. From 1990 - 2007 I have been composing a lot of applied music.
As thinking for yourself leads one to interesting outbacks and lesser known places, as well into more and more related disciplines. So my scope of interest has been enlarged to a wide range of seemingly different areas. I have become very interested in modern mathematics - I don't think that the math we normally learn at school, has much to do with what mathematics actually are. This is not the place to air my views on the really disturbingly disappointing ways that education and schooling are realized in our society. Nor the place to emphasize the billion of euros/dollars that could be saved by better education. Let me just say that good education would be the best investment I can think of. And teachers should get paid an excellent salary, coupled with the condition that they all have really excellent capacities to be a real teacher.
Switching to photography
So for me, not too long active in photography, there is not such a huge difference between the areas that I have been practicing and studying all my life. Much of the same principles that are important in music, apply directly to images. The medium is different (the details), but the same universal relations apply. In a good piece of music, there is a proper balance between the known and expected (regularity) and the unknown and surprising. This exact same principle goes for images. For me it's great to be able to get my inspiration from a lot of different directions. A line of Joyce might inspire me, a book on 'Group Theory' (mathematical language for describing symmetries) might tip me off, a song or a string quartet might sparkle an idea or give me an underlying basic principle to do a new photo or series. To be able to jump from one end to the other, to move from details to abstract principles, to translate principles from one discipline to another, gives me the needed freedom to come up with new ideas, new work.
The relation between Art and Science has always fascinated me. In the old days (the ancient Greeks), the two were not separated as is the sad case today. Music went together with mathematics. By force of the Roman Catholic church, the two have been driven apart and from that mistake we have never recovered. The tragic is, that practitioners from one of the sides, cannot talk to the other side. The gap is huge. The split between the head and the heart is enforced every day, while it should not be there. We all think with our head, as well with our heart. The balance might be a bit lopsided, but if we are willing, this can be rectified. A scientist at the Small Particle Collider CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) expressed it as follows : "We scientists are in search of the same fundamental questions as are the artists. We use a different language and different medium. If I had more talent for painting than for abstract thinking, I probably would have become a painter, doing the same searching as I am doing right now".
So, what is it all about? It is not important. Not important to find an answer. Not important to find an answer, because there is none. The only interesting thing is this exploration. There is no ultimate goal. As in number theory, the integers (whole positive numbers) are infinitely many. Now if you think, that this is a lot, think again. The 'real numbers' (numbers with a comma and a never ending tail of digits after the comma) consist of infinitely more than the integers, which are already infinitely many. And that is just the beginning. There are infinitely many infinities, each infinitely bigger than the previous one. In this game, our normal understanding of things (the paradigms that we have learned and have grown accustomed to) do not apply anymore. See the page I've written on Infinity >>
From small things, big things come.
In the autumn of 2014 I was looking though some pages I had torn out of a magazine. Among them was a photo that was a blur. Obviously, it was taken with a longer shutter time and the camera had been moved. It was a field of tulips in Holland. I liked the photo and decided to try the technique. I had been doing experiments with putting two different viewpoints in one photo, but not yet to my satisfaction. So I tried this blurring technique and somehow I was lucky to take the 'right' objects, which came out surprisingly good. Much better than the photo that kindled my interest in the first place. In fact, after doing some more sessions, I got so enthusiastic, that for months I dropped everything else I was doing at the time, which was mainly developing a software program to help myself and others compose music. This is a really long term ongoing project, which takes up quite some hours. I won't drop it all together, but at that moment I left it and have not touched it since. As a matter of fact, I have not touched anything but the photo making and all associated things.
I got so heated up, that I started studying everything I could lay may hands on concerning Photoshop, camera techniques, Color Management, printers and profiles and what's more.
Taking and editing thousands of photo's. I feel that somehow I am always very lucky to find the right resources at the right time. I got to know the work of Dan Margulis and that has helped my editing in Photoshop to another level. If you are serious about Color Correction of your photo's, check out his work. I have read a lot in the meantime, but no one compares to him. His books and free actions are worth everything you spend on it. Whole new worlds opened to me. I had been working on and of with PS for about 20 years and thought that I was more or less proficient in it. As Dan showed me, the PS house has many rooms where I had never been. All my editing has always been in the RGB color space only. Now I edit in RGB, Lab and CMYK, often on one single photo. There are 10 channels at my disposal now. I use false profiles, which extend the Color Spaces and have learned a new way of looking at and thinking about my photo's. The results are incomparable to before.
Still, the same as I was mentioning above goes here. Always think for yourself. E.g. the theories about Rendering Intents are much to rigid. And one 'expert' copies another, without probably ever testing if it is correct. Rendering Intents are the mathematical ways that colors that are 'out of gamut' are being brought back into gamut when going from one device to another (e.g. digital file to printer/paper combination). I have found that the mainstream ideas about Rendering Intents are not correct.
Moreover, the industry standards on this topic are very limited and limiting. I hope I can bring about some change in this. The funny thing is, that my understanding of Rendering Intents stools on 'Compression' in the audio world and my suggestion for better Rendering Intents come from that understanding.
So, what do I care about?
Actually I found out, that the thing I care most about, is discovering and understanding. It is not so important in which field, although some areas give a greater kick than others. The arts is a good place for big kicks, if things work out well. The nice thing about art is, that it warms one's heart when discovering something new, but also after completing a good piece, be it music, images or writing. Putting something together and polishing all the fine details is also guarantee for a very good feeling. So in discovering something new and then making a finished piece is good for a double thrill.
It is nice if other people like what I am doing, of course. Even nicer if I can live easily off my work. But in the end it is not the most important thing for me. I have and always will be doing what I want to do anyway. My needs in the material world are very small, most money goes to equipment I need for my work, so I think I created some sort of ultimate freedom for myself, as far that is possible in the times we live in.
So what do I think?
The imbalance we have developed in the past two centuries is clawing us and everything at the throat. Why don't we give dynamite and poison to little kids? So why do we give machines of war and trillion of dollars to the people that should represent and guide us? The progress we have made since the enlightenment is incredible and ever accelerating. Almost anything we can think of, we can produce. If our ethic development would have kept up with technology & science, we would be in a sweet spot. As this obviously is far from the case, the world as a whole is so far out of balance that even the biggest optimist will have a hard time to see any water in any glass. Let alone any wine. The only way to save anything, is to restore a certain balance. Any artwork that is severely out of balance, falls through and should be thrown away.
Then there are natural laws of course. We cannot change the speed of light. Nor can we change the unpredictable behavior of population growth in the chaotic part of the growth curve. Like chaos systems cannot be predicted in any long term (like the weather, no matter how many measurements we will take). The only thing we can observe, is that the domination of Homo Sapiens has severe repercussions. Not only on other animals or plants, but also on ourselves. Overpopulation of one species often leads to the rapid extinction of that very species, dragging along others as well.
Now also that is a law of nature, or in different words, that's the way it goes. We are just a phase in evolution, probably a very short bright shining star, that goes as quickly as it came. Other forms will be there after us. Whether they will resemble us in some way, or will be totally different (e.g. resistant against nuclear radiation) might be in our hands. Anyway, I'd be sorry if the party ends before it really has started, but if we keep on defecating in our own nest (the earth), the party might end sooner than we think.
So what do I feel?
I feel ashamed, often, of belonging to the human race. To quote Frank Zappa, but deploying it in a broader sense : "I am not black, but a whole lotta times I wish I was not white."
On the other hand, the human heart & mind has soared higher than anything. The incomparable music that has been created, the unbelievable beauty in reconstructing light into paintings and the deepest insights and emotions in the vast ocean of great literature. That is also human. The perseverance, the great loves, the sacrifices that have been made. The courage to fight and to believe, that is also human. But we have to work so much harder. It is very much easier to destroy a thing of beauty than to create it. Any idiot can cut up a great painting, but only a few can make it. This also goes for intangible things, like our ethics and thoughts, especially to stay true to them.
So what do I do?
Fortunately, that is simple. I do what I want to do, what makes me jump up & dance.
I work as hard as I can. Because that is what gives me most satisfaction. I study as much as I can. Because that is what interests me.
I sharpen my attitude. When something does not work out as I had planned, I often get happy, because an opportunity knocks, where I just saw the familiar road before. I now have to make detour, come up with something new, discover that the thing has more depth than I had imagined before. And often in these situations, something very new comes out of it.
I see and see differently every day. There is not a fixed reality. Reality is how we interpret the impulses that reach our senses.
No more, no less.
So if somebody insults you or gives you harsh critic, remember, it only tells you something about how this other person looks at the world.
No more, no less.