May 23, 1999

Miles and Trisha Pose at a River (Gold River, Nova Scotia)


One of the most valuable assets in photographing outdoors, with the nude in the landscape or without, is local knowledge. It is so easy to miss promising locations simply because you do not know they are there. In the case of this particular session, the local knowledge came from a friend of   the model, Trisha, who guided us to part of Gold River not five minutes off the road. Without knowing the terrain, one would never guess such a visually rich space existed, especially so close to the road.
35mm transparency
When we arrived at the Killdevils, the most stunning element was the broad swath of brilliant white river foam which swirled around on the surface of a small pool to the side of the main river. To the left of this pool, the water poured through a narrow cut, and the froth from the rapids was swept by the current into the inlet in a slow circle, and then back upstream towards the rapids. As soon as I saw the foam, I knew it would be the focus of the images.
4"x5" film
The first couple of images were made with the foam and model separate - I didn’t want Trisha to disturb the foam before I had used it in several images with her on the rocks surrounding the water, as I was unsure of how her being in the water would affect the foam. My concerns were misplaced. Once a pose was found, all we had to do was be patient, and the foam would swirl in around Trisha, and flow around her. There was a severe restriction on the number of poses which Trisha could find, give the depth of the water, but fortunately there was a well placed rock upon which she could lay. Where many of my other water nudes use long shutter-speeds to blur moving water, with these images I used the fastest speeds possible, to freeze any motion of the froth.
4"x5" film
The second image in the water was made in the same space, but with a different camera position and the introduction of a male model, Miles. The strong angular light across the figures, combined lack of any context to the swirling foam makes the image almost surreal.
4"x5" film
All told, this session was one of the most thrilling to date this year. The setting was beyond compare, and a wonderful space in which to work. The session was short, lasting no more than two hours, but the successes are unlike any other images I have produced to date. Also, it marked something of a technical accomplishment for me; it was a session completed without the aid of a light-meter. When we arrived in the space, I discovered the battery in my Seconic meter was dead. I realized there was nothing for it but to begin working, and use experience to guide the exposures. As one can see from the images, the sunny-16 rule (1/ISO as the shutter speed at f/16 for images in full sunlight), combined with experience, worked more then well enough. 

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