March 06, 2000

Victoria Returns to the Studio (Halifaax, Nova Scotia)

There seems to be a decided lack of interest on my part in working with studio lighting this winter. Where last winter I worked extensively with the studio, this year, both times I have used the studio to date, I began the session using the natural light that comes in through the window normally located behind the backdrops. As powerful and flexible as studio lights are, I by far prefer reacting to what natural light reveals.
35mm transparency film
We started working with the mirror in colour, building on the work from the first session of the year. I used the much slower Fuji Astia film this time, which gave me a very narrow depth of field. This made the work reminiscent of both the defocused studio images and Thalamus work from 1999. We finished using the window light with Victoria working on a white sheet on the floor, reveling in the descriptive quality of the diffused light.
4"x5" film
The only images we did using the studio flash were a series of portraits; while we've made some strong portraits together outdoors, I still feel I have not made the quintessential "Victoria" studio portrait. With this in mind, I switched over to the studio 4"x5" (as opposed to mine, which could not support the heavy 360mm lens I wished to use) and proceeded to focus on portraiture - with nudity present, but not the focus of the work. The results were pleasing, with three or four interesting images, my favourite of which is to the right. In some ways, portraiture is far harder than figure work, in that it is important to portray something of the model as well as the photographer in the image.
35mm transparency film
After looking at the dancing images from the previous session, both Victoria and I agreed that while they were successful, they were only a beginning of what could be done. While most photographers focus on the strength and power of a dancer's body, we both felt it was the grace and movement which made the dance so powerful, so we decided to begin an experiment with motion blur and dance. At the close of this session, I turned off the flash-pack, and lit the studio with just the modeling lights - providing just enough light for a 2 second exposure. We produced 16 images of Victoria dancing, exposing the film for two seconds during the peak of the motion. The biggest lesson of the session was that two seconds is a REALLY long time to dance slowly; most of the images are almost pure white, as the dance moves were carried out too quickly, and only Victoria's torso and legs were recorded on the film.
6x7 transparency film
All that said, a number of the images met my expectations, with my favourite being on the left. The soft, delicate tones of the image is exactly what I was hoping for, and the motion, which led to just a hint of her torso and hair, giving me a sense of mystery to the image.

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