July 15, 1999

Victoria, the Alberta Portfolio XV (Waterton, Alberta)

From the very beginning, one of my hopes with the Alberta trip was to work with the Nude in mountains. I'd gone through the Rocky Mountains over a decade before by train, and ever since, their majesty has haunted me. That said, it was three days before Victoria and I had a chance to work with the mountains, and even then, they were only a background.
4"x5" film
Earlier, in my exploratory drive through Waterton, I'd walked out on a beach below Vimy Ridge, hoping to find a secluded spot where I'd be able to work with a model. The beach was littered with driftwood, much of which was too small to work with. At the very far end, however, just before it turned into marsh, there was a perfect log. Curving up out of the beach rock, the trunk was broad enough to lie upon, and was at exactly the right angle for the model's body to lead up into the mountain.
4"x5" film
With this space in mind, Victoria and I set off to work. The day was cool, so we worked as quickly as possible, setting up the pose and camera position while Victoria was clothed, and making the image as quickly as possible, to minimize her exposure to the cool air. Though I only had one specific section of driftwood in mind as we walked down the beach, Victoria spotted a second space, which we worked with as well. The final image on the beach was made right next to the parking lot; a wonderfully shaped trunk and root section just called out for a body to intertwine with it. Annie kept an eye on the road and parking lot while we made the image, and after perhaps 30 seconds of feverish activity, we made the final two Nudes on the beach.
4"x5" film
On the whole, I am pleased with the images, though they suffer from an issue that would crop up later, when Victoria and I would finally get to work in the mountains proper. While the grandeur of the mountains is undeniable, the battle between the figure and the landscape for the viewer's attention is particularly evident with these images. Producing images where the two are brought together in a good balance will be the most challenging aspect of working with mountain nudes.

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