April 18, 1999

Under the Bridge (Ingramport, Nova Scotia)

4"x5" film
This was my second time working at this site, but it was the first time I'd had the luxury of using different lenses (the previous session in August of 1998 was just after losing my Wista 4"x5" camera to a river). Where before I'd made some good images of Ingrid, I was very excited about the chance to return with the 4"x5", and really create the images I knew were there.

Working in such a regimented space was wonderful. The division of space by the girders, and the repeating forms of the bridge's structure presented wonderful opportunities to play with symmetry, without having to rely upon Ingrid's pose to generate it. The first series of images I made worked off last year's work, with the framing corrected to what I'd wanted but been unable to achieve with the 8"x10" camera. The first image here represents the best of the negatives, with a pose which both plays off of, and works against, the ridged form of the bridge behind Ingrid.
4"x5" film
The best image of the session, above, was made taking advantage of the spatial distortions possible with my 75mm wide angle lens. With Ingrid in place on the crossbeams, I set the tripod under her, positioning the camera so the beams and bridge were positioned perfectly. Using a lens tilt permitted me to keep all of Ingrid's figure in sharp focus, while at the same time, threw the far end of the bridge slightly out of focus. In the print, this softness adds to the surreal image.

In some ways, I was a little hesitant to work with a male model on the bridge - it threatens to fall into the beefcake mode of imaging, concentrating on muscle and masculinity as opposed to line and form. Miles worked hard though, and the results more than pleased me.
4"x5" film
Overall, the couple of hours we spent at the bridge was a great success. I feel very satisfied with the work, and to be honest, am not sure how much more could be done with the space. There is great potential for work with multiple models, but with the limitations on tripod positions, the view-points are somewhat limited. Over the coming summer, I think I'll try to locate other abandoned rail bridges, and see what happens with a similar, yet different space.

April 11, 1999

Two Models on Rocks (Herring Cove, Nova Scotia)

4"x5" film
After doing so much work indoors over the previous three months, it is an incredible pleasure to be able to work outdoors again. On this particular Sunday, another photographer, two models and I set out for the rocky shoreline at the entrance to Herring Cove, a small community just outside of metropolitan Halifax.

Much of my early work with the nude outdoors was produced along the Nova Scotia shoreline, and it is always a pleasure to return to this landscape. It is so rich in spaces to fit a model, and it has an almost inexhaustible variety of possibilities from session to session. Though I'd never worked with the Herring Cove rocks before, they were identical to almost all the other shore-lines I've worked with in Nova Scotia.
6x12 cm transparency film
The familiarity with the landscape is a double-edged sword, making it easier to create images, but harder to make new and fresh ones. It is something that I try hard not to think about when I compose and create images - fear of repeating myself could lead to the rejection of a stronger image, and if I happen to make two very similar images, no loss, I just select the better of the two, and count the other as "close".

During this session, I spent most of the time working with Trisha, who'd modeled a month before. Once I found a space to work it, I spent some time showing Trisha what I was looking for, either explaining the pose, or occasionally, physically showing her myself. This was only the third time that Trisha had modeled for me, but I really think the images are getting stronger, with Trisha's understanding of my goals becoming a little clearer, and the rapport between us growing.
4"x"5 film
In the end, the session was drawn to a close due to the temperature dropping in the late afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the rocky shoreline, and am very pleased with the results. The process of working this early in the year is a compromise on all fronts, but given the restrictions, I am pleased with the outcome, and feel very optimistic for the work that will be produced in the coming months, once it is warmer.

April 06, 1999

Cheryl in Sunlight (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

I'm continually amazed at how much extended collaborations bring to my work. I have no doubt that the work I've been doing with Cheryl and Marieke this winter and spring is stronger for the extended nature of the work.
4"x5" film

This session likely marks the last indoor session for this spring, as it is now becoming warm enough to work outdoors. That said, in some ways this was the most enjoyable session, due mostly to how comfortable Cheryl has become with the process. We began working on a couch, lit by a large double-glass door facing a brilliant blue sky. The diffused light which fell onto Cheryl had a soft edge to it which is quite hard to mimic in the studio, and I explored its delicate description of Cheryl's body with great enthusiasm.
35mm transparency film
Working with basic sitting poses, Cheryl and I managed to create a strong series of images using both the 4x5 for black and white, and 35mm for colour. The deep red cover on the couch lent a strong warmth to the colour images, but was rendered as almost black in black and white, producing two very different tones in the two mediums.
4"x5" film
After about an hour of working on the couch, Cheryl and I moved to the other side of the house, and began making images using the direct sunlight streaming through the window and onto the bed. Normally I avoid direct sunlight as a light-source, due to its inherently high contrast, but in this case, with the distinct border it cast within the image, I decided to work with the shadows, as opposed to against them. While I have constantly fought against the high contrast of direct sunlight, I also have grown to realize the strength of the strong description of shape, or modelling, it provides the figure, and in this case, with the reflection off of the white sheets, there is enough contrast in the shadows to keep in image from becoming too harsh, with empty shadows.

April 03, 1999

More Rocks and Light (Duncan's Cove, Nova Scotia)

On the strength of the images I made two weeks earlier, I was eager to get out and work again with the rocks at Duncan's Cove. Last year I didn't produce any images pursing the ideas I developed in 1997, in conjunction with Joy's work (elaborated on in the Laetitia folio), but the concepts have been swirling around in my mind, and it was interesting how easy it was to return to that way of seeing.
4"x5" film
Where before I'd been working with the setting sun reflecting in water pools, this time at Duncan's Cove, I was working with the afternoon sun. Initially I expected the work to be weak, with little of the life or richness which I found a fortnight before. Surprisingly, the two best images of the session are far superior to those earlier images, having a brilliance and life to them which could only have occurred with afternoon light. The luminescence to both of these images is born in the light, high cloud that covered the sun. As opposed to the specular highlight of much of the earlier Light Images, these two have a soft, glowing quality which is much more subtle, yet defiantly effective in their own way.
4"x5" film
In the end, there were some real problems with working in the middle of the afternoon. For one thing, there were many people about, which proved somewhat distracting, and required me to occasionally explain the camera to curious passers-by. For another, there were the shifting clouds. Almost all the other images I've made using reflections have been made using direct sunlight, but as I was working with the clouds, more often than not, the clouds would have shifted before I was ready to make the image, leading to a debate over waiting for the light to change back, or give up and move on to the next image. When I opted to wait, I'd spend the time looking for other images, exploring the immediate surroundings and keeping an eye on the light.