August 21, 2000

Yvette on a Beach (Dolphin Beach, New York)

Though we had stayed up past midnight the night before, Yvette and I were up before dawn, arriving at Dolphin Beach just as the sun slid above the horizon and into the day proper. We were lucky that the day was calm and clear, without a cloud in seamless blue morning sky.
35mm infrared film
Though Nova Scotia has beaches, they are nothing like what met my eyes when we stepped between two dunes, and down onto the beach - an unbroken white strip from horizon to horizon being raked by the warm morning sun (and backed by summer residences, on the other side of the low dunes). Knowing that the light would be changing by the minute, Yvette and I began working immediately with the long shadows being cast along the sand. Having only worked on a beach in morning sun once before, I didn't have much previous experience to draw upon (and the session in 1998 was on a beach with rocks).
4"x5" film
Initially, the hardest part of working on Dolphin Beach was its utter lack of features. Most of the spaces I work with are rich with textures, variation and possibilities which suggest images, but the beach was flat, subtle and near featureless. When the sun was just on the horizon, I worked with Yvette up on a dune, silhouetted against the sky, but just as the flare of the 14mm had caused problems in Fort Knox, they pretty much ruined these first images. Once the sun was a hands breath above the horizon, we moved down onto the beach plain, and made a series of images on the sand, using its flat simplicity to play with the long shadows from the new sun. From there, we moved swiftly to work in the water (surprisingly warm for 7 in the morning), and then back onto the beach.
4"x5" film
In reality, the session was spent less thinking about what to photograph, and more thinking of how to best keep my cameras away from the sand (working in a camera store has taught me nothing if not the danger of sand and water to cameras). That said, the success, and consistency of the work on the beach surprises me - work with a first-time model is seldom this strong, and the setting, though new to me, worked well. Given that so much of my attention was dedicated to keeping my gear out of the sand, the variety and impact of some of the images we made is really an accomplishment.

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