August 13, 1998

A First Outdoor Session with Victoria (Ingramport, Nova Scotia)

This particular evening was intended to be a session with Victoria, working with her in moving water. We had previously only worked together in the studio, but she had been drawn to the water images I showed her there, and immediately stated her desire to help me make some of her.
6x12 cm film
The more I work with water, the better understand how its flow will appear on film, and this session was especially charged due to the late hour. The entire river was lit by a threatening sky, which gave very even tones to the nude, but left the water murky and sullen. In the image to the right, the delicate skin of Victoria is a wonderful contrast to the velvet blacks that envelop her. Initially Victoria's legs were straight, but in an attempt to add some tension to the image, I asked her to pull one leg up - as soon as I saw that on the ground-glass, I knew it was right.
4"x5" film
The traumatic part of this session came shortly after the image above was made. While working a little ways down the river with my 35mm Nikon, my tripod upset, sending my Wista 4"x5" view camera, complete with my 210mm Nikkor lens and Seconic light meter, into the river. While I often work with my cameras in precarious situations, I have never had an accident before. I had contemplated the possibility but the reality was gut-wrenchingly different - seeing my camera, my preferred voice for the last four years, dripping wet with a quickly disintegrating bellows was difficult to say the least. I did what I could to dry it off, but quickly realized that the bellows was a write-off, and that the damage to the body, which impacted on the front standard, was substantial. The lens I dried off as best I could, and set out to air dry.
35mm transparency film
Realizing that we were miles from home, and knowing that there was nothing I could do for the camera and lens, I returned to photographing. I still had 15 shots left in the Nikon, so I carefully nursed these for the next half-hour - resulting in the final image displayed here. The light in the water is deceiving - the sky above was gloomy and ominous, but the image required an exposure that made the sky appear much lighter than it actually was, rendering it as a rich, impossibly warm blue in the reflection.

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