August 21, 2000

A Forest Session with Yvette (Long Island, New York)

The late afternoon of this day of furious image-making was spent deep within a coastal wood. The former site of a children's summer retreat, the woods where we worked were varied, from open grassy fields to older trees towering over the clearings, broad branches sheltering the grasses below. For almost all the time we worked in these woods, we explored the possibilities the trees offered - they were so different from the tall, straight trees of the Cathedral pines that we reveled in their spaces.
4"x5" film
Initially, Yvette worked within some smaller trees (in fact we spent more than five minutes clearing one of these of poison ivy, only to then decide the light wasn't right for what we had in mind), but further along, we came across an older, spreading group of thick trunks which offered up great possibilities. Because the trees sheltered their lower trunks, the light within this space was stunning, originating in the sun-lit field that was beside the tree and giving a soft, brilliant highlight appearing across the top of Yvette's body.
4"x5" film
From this tree, we moved further along, and came across an even more elaborate tree, with no less than four thick trunks emerging from the same root system. These trunks provided a rich area to work within, and occupied Yvette and I for the better part of an hour, with me trying to translate what was happening on the tree into successful images, and Yvette working with the lines and flow of the tree to come up with successful poses. Again, the strength of the space came as much from the setting itself, as it did from the light; the setting sun behind the trees, being softened and filtered through the leaves that surrounded it, gave enough contrast to the figure to provide a distinct side light to the poses, separating Yvette from the trees around her. It never ceases to amaze me how many disparate and successful images can be made in such a simple space.
4"x5" film
Of all the work Yvette and I did on this day, the images we made within this forest are by far the strongest, created thought the combination of perfect lighting, and a rich graphical quality, coming from the combination of strong poses and a striking setting. I think it is no mistake that these images came towards the close of the day, when Yvette had become comfortable with the experience and was more familiar with the process overall.

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