July 12, 1999

Victoria, the Alberta Portfolio V (Cardston, Alberta)

My first chance to work with Victoria in Alberta came the next morning, when Annie dropped us off at the site of some small hoodoos, near Cardston, in south-eastern Alberta. Before I had talked to Annie, when I envisioned the landscape in  Alberta, I  thought solely of the Rocky Mountains, and the Badlands around Drumheller. In the conversations with Annie, however, the term hoodoo came up over and over again. "What," I asked innocently, "are hoodoos?" In reply she e-mailed me a couple of photographs, and my desire to travel to the west and work in Alberta redoubled.
4"x5" film
Hoodoos are pillars of eroded rock, typically sedimentary rock, that are protected at the top by a more resistant boulder (more about these amazing structures can be found here). From my first glimpse of these intriguing formations, I knew they would work wonderfully with the Nude. The swirling lines of the rock were very anthropomorphic, and even the low resolution scans which Annie shared with me showed a wealth of potential.
35mm infrared film
The hoodoos near Cardston are part of a long ridge of rock that runs for miles through south-western Alberta. In some places it crops out and is visible, while in others it is submerged under the broad plains. The hoodoos where we spent the late morning and early afternoon working were on a low hill, above the highway, and directly behind a bustling farmhouse, and looked rather small as we walked up the hill. Upon arrival, however, it quickly became apparent how wrong our impressions were; the hoodoos were a complex series of about five outcrops, each about 25 feet in height. The soft sandstone was riddled with pockets, holes and ledges, which both Victoria and I could immediately see held numerous possibilities.
4"x5" film
As we were approaching the site, both Victoria and I were worried we'd have to limit our images to areas of the hoodoos which faced away from the road, but having reached them, and realized the true size of the rocks, this faded as a concern. Against the side of the rocks, it was very unlikely a nude body would be visible, especially from a fast-moving vehicle half a mile away.
Victoria and I worked for four hours at the hoodoos, exposing every sheet of film I'd brought with me, and four rolls of 35mm infra-red. The morning was hot to begin with, and the day only grew more so; we ran out of water about half-way through the session, and ended up sharing a rutabaga near the end, more for its moisture content than a need to eat. When we finally were picked up by Annie, Victoria and I were both quite hot and tired, but felt the work was strong and well worth the effort. Our first session together in the West was a rousing success, though the lack of water and heat of the afternoon made it hard of Victoria, who was still adjusting to the four hour time change.

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