August 01, 2000

Victoria in a Lost Fort (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Since early spring of this year, I'd known my time to work with Victoria would be curtailed; between her dancing, school and preparing to leave in August for a job in Ecuador, it was pretty clear that she would have little time to work with me. Ever indulgent and supportive, on this particular day, she managed to find a few hours of time to help me with a favour, and to aid in exploring a specific space I wished to work with.
4"x5" film
I'd discovered the small bunker at York Redoubt in May of 1999, and instantly known I wanted to work with a model in the space. I knew the low levels of light inside the bunker would be a severe limitation, but still felt it was a space that warranted exploring.
4"x5" film

As suspected, when we arrived and started working, I learned just how dark it was inside the space. Though the day outside was sunny and bright, under the thick canopy of the forest outside, there was a very small amount of light that actually filtered into the small passageway between the entrance and the sighting station itself. The indoor exposure was 30 seconds at f8, which is 15 stops, or more than 30,000 times, more light than was necessary for an image under direct sunlight. I had never asked Victoria to hold a 30 second exposure before, but we both felt that it would be worth the effort, and proceeded to made a number of long exposures in the heart of the bunker. In reality, it was less the 30 second exposure, and more the low light to focus by that proved a problem with the focus on a number of the images failing totally to fall on the model. I will have to remember to take a brighter flashlight with me next time, to focus with.
6x9 cm film
Once we'd exhausted the possibilities inside the bunker (after all, the space was less than 5 meters end to end), Victoria and I moved outside to finish the images for the day (I had promised her the session would be under 2 hours, and wanted to get her back to her thesis on time). The sunlight was cascading down the hillside, and casting wonderful shadows from the ferns which grew on the forest floor. I was immediately drawn to the patterns and flow of the shadows along Victoria's body, and the last photos we were to make in 2000 were made in this space. Interestingly, the strongest of these images, to the right, would resonate in my work for more than six weeks, inspiring two very different variations of the theme, and pushing my work in a totally new direction.

While Victoria's departure for Ecuador left me short one of the strongest models I have ever worked with, I know she will, over time, return to Nova Scotia, and hopefully, will continue to work with me to build on the already strong body of work we have created together to date.

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