January 20, 1999

Cheryl by Candle Light (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

4"x5" film
I think what draws me most to working with candles is the visual simplicity. Candle light nudes are about as simple as it gets: one light source and a model. There are some pretty hefty technical considerations that come with the process, but with experience and patience, these can be overcome.

Though the image above is unrecognizable, I would hold it to still be a very successful portrait,  not so much of a person, as of a mood.  The quietness of the pose, combined with the soft drama of the light lends a very delicate feel to the image. In the actual print, the only sharp portion of the image is the hair on Cheryl 's forehead, helping to focus the viewer's attention on her face. In reality, this effect is more by necessity than by design, as all the images were made with my 4"x5" view camera, using the 210mm lens wide open at f/5.6 for between 2 and 8 seconds.
4"x5" film
The image above draws upon the incredibly black shadows inherent to working with a single, small light source. The angular decent of Cheryl 's hips and legs across the image plane divide the image in half, with the candle in the top balanced by the empty void of the bottom. The slight detail offered in the transition between light and dark across Cheryl 's body provides a richness which fills out the image.
4"x5" film
One thing I learned during this session was how little a second candle adds to the images - about 1/3 of the images were made with two candles, and in every case, the single-candle images were stronger because of their simplicity.

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