May 26, 2001

R_'s First Outdoor Session (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

My first outdoor session of the year was also with R_ - after the previous day's rain, the day seemed positively perfect, but the air was pretty chilly, and R_ put up with some pretty cold breezes during our first series of images.

The space I chose to work in was one that had caught my eye for years, a stand of white birches by the side of the highway on the drive out of Halifax. I'd never actually been able to stop and work in the spot before, so I was a little uncertain of how it would work with a model. Upon our arrival, however, I knew that my intuition was right, and that I'd lucked into another strong location that would take several sessions to fully explore.
35mm infrared film
Because the trees hadn't budded yet, the woods had a stark look to them, and most of the infrared images I made played on this aspect, setting R_'s pale body against the birch trees and deep blue sky - a sky I knew the film would render as black. The first image, above, is the strongest of these explorations, with the feeling further accentuated by the extreme angle of view of the 17mm lens.

Even with my Fuji 6x9 rangefinder, I took advantage of the deep sky colour; by using an orange filter, I was able to keep R_'s figure a lighter tone then the sky, separating it from the surroundings and providing her with an almost statuesque quality. The results remind me of the Greek Nikes of two thousand years ago, which so influenced the Renaissance sculptors who, in turn, laid the seeds of my passion for imaging the human figure.
6x9 cm film
At the same time as this was my first outdoor session for the year, it was also my first session using my newly acquired Toyo 8"x10" camera with a model. I'd sold my previous 8"x10" camera in 1998, but for a variety of reasons, decided to return to the format this year. While I'd brought the 4"x5" Wisner along, after the first two images I made with it, it was retired in favour of the larger camera. Initially I was hesitant to ask a first-time model to work with such a cumbersome camera, but this was outweighed by the fact I wanted to start using the Toyo. I was chomping at the bit to use the larger camera, and R_, though a little chilly, assured me she was warm enough to deal with the longer set-up time of the larger camera.

It took me a couple of images to start getting a sense of how the 8"x10" camera was seeing (viewing the image on such a large ground-glass takes some getting used to), but by the time we'd moved to a different area of the woods, I'd begun to gain a sense of how
8"x10" film
For the last image we made (produced on the same rock R_ is standing on above) it took only a few minutes to get exactly what I wanted onto the ground glass, and then make the exposure. And the resulting negative is everything I wanted it to be - the only "small" disappointment is that R_'s far foot is out of focus...I guess f/32 just wasn't a small enough lens opening to get the whole image in focus.

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