June 10, 2001

Denise Models along the Harbour (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

The second half of the day was spent working on the rocks down by the Atlantic shore, taking advantage of the open shade and occasionally, and afternoon sun. In some ways this was a more limited space, as there was only a narrow band of rocks to work with, but at the same time, the setting was such a strong contrast to the woods of the morning that it provided a great end to the day's work.
35mm transparency film
The biggest drawback to the limited space was that I wasn't able to work with the 8"x10" camera for the first series of images, made with Denise on a small rocky outcrop surrounded by seaweed and the rising tide. The sloped rock which I was photographing from was simply too precarious to place a tripod on, so I switched to using the 6x9 and 35mm cameras. Given the speed and ease of using these two cameras, Denise and made a variety of images, subtly varying the pose and framing, before we were satisfied that we'd exhausted the possibilities. The difference in the speed and style of the cameras I was using was readily apparent.
8"x10" film
In contrast to the fast, varied work we did on the rock outcrop, the next image we made was a portrait, taking advantage of the soft, even light of the shaded rocks. One of the realities of working with 8"x10" cameras is the very long lenses necessary for portraiture - in this case, I was using a 375mm lens, which on a 35mm camera is a really long lens, more appropriate for wildlife photography then portraiture with a person four feet away! The larger negative however, requires a longer lens for the same perspective - in this case, the 375mm lens gives the same perspective as a 60mm lens would on my Nikon! The result, regardless of all the technical details, is exceptionally pleasing, with a richness and detail that would have been hard to convey on 35mm or even medium format film.
8"x10" film
My favourite image, and one of the more unique of the day, was one that also served to test my equipment's stability. After making the above portrait, we continued along the coastline, looking for possibilities. One space immediately called out to me, a sharp V in the rocks looked down 5 feet or so to a flat shelf, complete with a small tidal pool. I knew I wanted to work with the camera looking down onto Denise and the water, but wasn't sure if the tripod would support 11 kg of the camera and lens. Once in place, however, it was obvious that the position was more than stable enough, and we began working on the pose. Because of the perspective and the slightly tight space, the options were limited, but I wanted something that would both reflect and contrast the rocks around her. In the end, the roundness of her torso, and the soft triangles of her arms seemed perfect, and the image was made.
35mm infrared film
The final image set of the day was made working with all three camera, playing on the strengths of each. The pose, Denise stretching along a rock below long grasses, called for wide angle lenses, and in the end, I managed to make successful images with each camera. The choice of which to place in the diary was a hard one, eventually decided upon by the simple visual impact of the infrared image. The vivid contrast of the body and pale grasses against the rocks just draws me into the image, and the extended flow of the figure, accentuated by the lens, pulls the gaze across the photo and keeps the image live.

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