July 16, 1999

Victoria, the Alberta Portfolio XVI (Writing-on-Stone, Alberta)

When I began planning to go to Alberta, most of my hopes were set on the Rockies, anticipating working with the Nude against their rugged heights. After my first taste of the hoodoos near Cardston, however, I had far more interest in continuing to explore these strange rock forms, drawn to their soft-carved shapes and dramatic stratification.
4"x5" film

It seemed like most of Alberta was miles away from Annie's, and Writing-on-Stone was no exception, being over two hours away by car. The drive was more than worth it, though, for as we came down off the plain into the coulee, the rocks literally made me gasp. The Cardston hoodoos looked like child's models compared to the hundreds of varied shapes which unfolded before us as we traveled along the top of the rock-forms. The space was even more amazing when we moved off the road.
35mm infrared film
Being a national park, Writing-on-Stone was a more populated than most of the places Victoria and I have worked in the past but, with Annie watching from above, we started working immediately, totally entranced by the multiplicity of potentialities. Our enthusiasm was a little premature, however, as time and time again we were interrupted by Annie's casual comment of "Group approaching" or "Family coming up." It seemed like every image or two, Victoria would have to huddle back into cover and we'd wait for people to pass. It was only at the end of the session that we discovered it was not the large format camera and possibly nude model that was attracting all the attention, but a small grey rabbit, huddled under a rock just above where we were working.
4"x5" film
Eventually, we gave up trying to work in the spaces that called to me directly, and changed our approach. Annie found an area that was well shielded from view, and stationed herself as lookout between us and the main path. This permitted us more freedom to work, and lead to the strongest poses of the day. Where before I time and again found the perfect space, and was unable to work with it because of the random appearance of tourists, here Victoria had freedom to find the poses which worked, and though the rockscapes were less dramatic, the end results were more than pleasing.

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