July 25, 2000

Clair Models at the Coast (Prospect, Nova Scotia)

The second session with Claire took place on one of the best days of the year, photographically speaking. The light was absolutely perfect for the beginning of the day, with high, thin cloud softening the sun, and providing a wonderfully bright, even light to work by. The warm temperature was offset by the cool breeze off the ocean, and even when the sun did emerge from the clouds, we managed to work with the changed light, and produce another solid day's work.
6x9 cm film
One of the pleasures of Prospect as a place to work is the incredible richness and variety of the landscape. Though I'd worked on the shore at Prospect before, I'd never made it past the first 500 meters, the space was that full of potential. For this session, however, we walked right past the areas where I'd worked before, opting instead to explore the possibilities of the landscape beyond the familiar. This approach quickly produced fruit, in a series of images we created on a crest of blackened granite right by the ocean. The rock, sheltering a small tidal pool, rose between the shore and the sea, presenting a dark, crack-scarred ridge against a bright, featureless sky. Just below the crest of the ridge ran a long, deep crevasse, which I asked Claire to work with; almost instantly the image came together, as she reached her arm out along the smaller ridge. I made a number of variations of the image, but the one including the sky is by far the strongest, with Clair's pale torso and arm set against the dark rock, mirroring the sky.
4"x5" film
From the black rock, we moved almost directly to working with the whitened granite further in from the water. The sun had come out, and rather than fight against its high contrast, we worked back into the shade of the rock cliffs. I made several images of Claire's torso and hips on the narrow ledges of the cliffs, but after making those, as she was trying to maneuver into a new pose, the beauty of the light falling upon her arrested me. "Don't move" I cried as I quickly framed the image, and made the exposure. The results speak for themselves. The image is tack-sharp, down the to loose strand of hair crossing her face - a breath-taking portrait, and by far one of my best images of the year.
4"x5" film
Unfortunately, the sun remained present for the remainder of the session, forcing me to work with the increased contrast and directional shadows that brings. In response, we moved up off the rock plains directly by the ocean, and onto the glacial fields that sweep back inland - vast stretches of scrub and brush littered with glacial debris. It was these rocks with helped make some of the more dynamic images of the day - inland, thunderheads were forming, and I worked with Claire on the crest of a lone glacial bolder, set against the wispy clouds and forming clouds behind her. Using a red filter to increase the contrast of the sky, I managed to make an image that uses both the quiet, static pose, and a fluid, dramatic sky together. In some ways, the images of the rock and sky I made with Claire remind me of my water nudes - fluid and concrete at the same time.

The results of the second session with Claire certainly build on the results of the first. Her increased comfort and understanding of the process, combined with such a wonderful day and space to work with, yielded a rich variety of images, which, when combined with the work from the first session, belies the fact we have only worked together twice.

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