March 23, 1999

Marieke's First Outdoor Session (Long Lake, Nova Scotia)

After the recent successes at Duncan's Cove, I was enthusiastic to do more work, and when this day dawned sunny and bright, I was ecstatic, as Marieke had committed time to work with me in the afternoon. Initially we had planned to work at her apartment, but given the brilliant spring light, we headed off to photograph outdoors.
4"x5" film
Over a period of about 90 minutes, Marieke and I worked in a small circle of woods, exposing 16 sheets of 4"x5" and a full roll of 35mm infra-red. Of that, however, little worked. With the infra-red film, it was simply a matter of insufficient infra-red radiation. Though there was lovely warm sunlight, the air was cool and, when the wind didn't blow, it was pleasant enough. I suspect  it was still early enough in the Spring so that most of the IR radiation was screened out by the angle of the earth. Regardless of the reason, however, it was only the extreme over-exposed frames which had any images on them at all - the best image of the day, to the left, received about sixteen times more light than I usually use for infra-red images.
4"x5" film
Of the 4"x5", not much was successful; due to the chill air, I'd given Marieke my dark-cloth to keep the wind off between the exposures. The dark-cloth is used when focusing the view camera, and I used my sweater instead to shield the ground glass. This worked well for the focus, but failed totally where composition was concerned; almost every image suffered from lack of careful checking, and, while some wouldn't have worked anyway, a few we made with trees are sadly unusable because fingers or elbows were cut off by the edge of the frame.
35mm infrared film
On the whole, while it was disappointing to produce so many images and have so few work, the infra-red image more than makes up for the failures. I am becoming somewhat amused by my affinity for flare.  I have five top of the line Nikon lenses, but my favourite piece of glass to work with on my 35mm camera is a cheap Vivitar 19mm - gotta love the flare!

March 21, 1999

Water and Light (Duncan's Cove, Nova Scotia)

I realized recently was how much work I had done with the Nude last year. In previous years, I've had difficulty finding people to work with, but last summer, and to a lesser degree, in 1997, provided ample opportunity to work with the Nude. The only thing is that the Nude images came at the expense of other work. Where normally I would work with ruins or other subjects, I focused almost exclusively upon the Nude. I only have a limited amount of time to photograph in, and if a model were available, I would happily chose to work with them as opposed to a more static subject (ruins or rocks, for example). This is not to say that I prefer the Nude to architecture or other imagery, but more that a model might not be available on another day, where a fort has nowhere to go.
4"x5" film
All that being said, I set out with great pleasure for Duncan's Cove. It was too chilly to even contemplate working with a model, so I knew the images would be focused on light and rocks, and I hoped to find some strong images to add to the work I'd begun in 1997. The results of the afternoon's work are incredibly pleasing to me - the early spring light was perfect, with the sun low enough in the sky to provide wonderful textures on the rock, and brilliant reflections within the spray pools. Where early in the session I was focusing on the landscape as a whole (attracted the to glacial debris field left over from the last ice age), by the close of the afternoon I was working again with water in pools, pursuing Light Images.
4"x5" film
The best image of the day, above, is everything I saw on the ground-glass and more. I took a great deal of time setting up the camera, with the lens about eight inches from the front edge of the pool. While I was confident that I had the whole image in focus, due to the use of a lens tilt to manipulate the focal plane of the image, I was unsure how the wind-blown water would resolve on the film. Deciding that the tilt on the lens would take care of most of the focus, I opted for a faster shutter speed, in an attempt to freeze the water's motion, as opposed to increasing the focus and sharpening the image. The decision was a good one: the image is sharp except for the very closest foreground, but more importantly, the rippled water is sharp and clear, lending an almost three dimensional quality to the image. If I had chosen to stop the lens down more, and increased the depth of field, the shutter-speed would have blurred the water into an indistinct mass...far less effective visually.
4"x5" film
Given the results of the afternoon, I am more determined than ever to try to balance my figure work this year with other imagery, not because I feel that my work with the Nude is weak, but rather because I think there are other ways to hold the dialogue I have embarked upon with my work.

March 14, 1999

Trisha at York Redoubt (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

35mm transparency film

This winter in Nova Scotia has been a mild one. There were perhaps a dozen days with snow and ice, and some bitterly cold periods, but on the whole, it was quite bearable. In light of this, as soon as the weather began to move above freezing, I started itching to get out and photograph. For this particular session however, I was far more reluctant to work than Trisha, who was positively determined to make some good images. The day was more than pleasant enough, but with a temperature just above freezing, it was far from perfect for modelling nude. I would never have suggested working on a day like this but Trisha was terribly keen and I wouldn't have wanted her to be out modelling nude without a photographer there to document it.
4"x5" film
The approach we used to overcome most of the problems with the temperature was to set up each shot as much as possible beforehand, position the camera, take the exposure reading, and work out the pose with the model clothed. Once everything was prepared, Trisha would disrobe and we'd fine-tune the pose and make the image. All told, I think the longest Trisha was nude for was five minutes, and that was in a sheltered location away from any wind.

On the whole this was a reasonable way to work (thus speaks the fully clothed photographer). I spent far more time searching for images with my eyes than normal, being unable to ask the model to experiment with a space before deciding on the image. Usually, it is an involved process finding images, but on this occasion, the only real factor was what images could I plainly see without the model in place, or what images I could compose using a clothed model.
4"x5" film
The surprising thing to me was that though I only exposed eight 4"x5" negatives, I made two images that lacked nothing for the limitations of the process we needed to go through. The image to the right is my favourite, and probably the one we worked the most on before making it. Though Trisha's skin is naturally dark, it almost glowed when set against the wet granite and water, and the wide angle lens gave a wonderful flow to her figure, which is mirrored both in the angular nature of the rocks, and the soft sweep of the sea.

March 02, 1999

Marieke by Candle Light (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

4"x5" film
Building on the successful candle images I'd made in January with Cheryl , I approached this session with Marieke with a very clear idea of what kind of images I wanted to make. Usually when I have a session with a model, I try not to pre-plan images, in hopes that the session itself will generate the work. In this case however, there were several approaches which I wanted to pursue - including the candle within the frame was the foremost idea in my mind.
4"x5" film
In addition to being quiet and solitary, the candle nudes are also very minimal, due to the single light source. This is stressed even more by the inclusion of the candle within the image, clearly defining the source of the photo's illumination. If the same image was made without the candle included, I think it would have a very different feel; it could easily be mistaken for a studio Nude, and lose all the assumptions, connotations and intimacy that comes with the candle light.
4"x5" film
I these are the most focused candle nudes I have done to date, as a result of building upon the earlier work I did. The more images I make with candles, the better I come to understanding how the point-source light works, and how best to take advantage of it in my images.