July 13, 1999

Victoria, the Alberta Portfolio IX (Mountain View, Alberta)

This day dawned cool and overcast, the sky a single blanket of clouds as far as the eye could see. As the morning progressed, the clouds burned off, but to the west, the mountain-tops remained covered in clouds. Given the weather, Victoria and I opted to stay close to Annie's, and went into the small town of Mountain View to work with an abandoned house. In preparation for the retreat, Annie had received permission to work within a number of spaces close to her home.
4"x5" film
The light within the building was wonderful, with direct shafts of light flowing between the roof boards and enough ambient light reflected off the disintegrating plaster and wood walls to more than fill in the shadows. The real problems arose with the crumbling conditions inside. There was ample evidence of horses walking through the ground floor, but the sagging condition of some parts of the second floor made me seriously question its stability. The stairs were solid enough, however, and once some debris was cleared, there was more than enough space for us to begin by making a series of images on the stairs.
4"x5" film
The allure of ruined buildings for me is in how rich the textures are; setting the Nude against them only accentuates the chaos of the surroundings. I had previously worked with Victoria in York Redoubt, an abandoned Halifax fort, but the images we produced on this day were quite different, working more with the lighting and atmosphere of the space than the physical layout. On the whole, the results were more than I'd expected.
35mm infrared film
When we first looked into the house, I feared that it would be too unstable to work on the stairs and second floor, yet almost all the images we produced were made using these spaces. The direct sunlight which streamed through the roof slats helped give a strong sense of space to the stairway, while the soft light which was reflected off the interior walls gave a lovely, even illumination to the remainder of the rooms.

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