June 28, 2001

R_ Poses in a River (Dawson Brook, Nova Scotia)

When R_ first contacted me about modeling, of her primary interests was in water Nudes; we had to wait almost four months, however, for the rivers and streams to warm up enough to facilitate working with them.
4"x5" film
I'd worked at Dawson Brook before with Claire, but felt the space still had great potential, some of which I hoped to tap into R_ with . The biggest problem we had to overcome was the incredible contrast caused by the bright sunny day; in the deep woods, the bright shafts of sunlight were almost blinding against the shadowed underbrush and open shade of the forest. Fortunately, one of the better spaces to work in was totally in shade, giving us both the low light levels I prefer for river work (to permit longer shutter speeds for water blur) and nice even light which gives such a glow to R_'s pale skin.

I began working with a small pool in the brook, where the slow-flowing water cascaded down a series of small steps before filling the shallow basin. The photos we made in this space are very strongly related to my other water Nudes, playing on the same relationships between the live, flowing water, and the lines of the body. Once we fully explored the possibilities of that space, we moved five feet upstream, and discovered one of the most magical water spaces I have ever worked with.
35mm transparency film
The early summer in Nova Scotia has been a dry one to date, and as a result, the water level has been lower then usual; this in turn has made the flow of streams like Dawson Brook more lethargic and leisurely - in this case, the water upstream from where we started filled a broad, shallow rock-shelf, and looked more like ice or standing water then a moving stream. The real magic, however, came from the sunlight on the trees above the pool, reflected into the water. When R_moved into the pool, and let the water around her settle, everything just came alive; the dance of the eye between the figure and the reflection, and back again is a real pleasure. My most immediate response was to work in colour (on 35mm), and while I was pleased with the black and white 4"x5" images we made (the best of which is below) it was the 35mm colour which really draws me in.

4"x5" film
The rest of the session at Dawson Brook was spent working further downstream, where the brook cascades down a 5 meter waterfall. It was here where the inherent contrast of the sunlit-day wreaked havoc; the colour images I made have only a few successes, ad the black and white eve fewer; I was so focused on working with the composition and flow of the body and water that I neglected to take into account the extreme contrast, and take the simple step to counteract it (over-exposing my black-and-white negatives, and then compensating in the development would have worked wonders). On the whole, however, I am not displeased; the surprise and delight I find in the earlier images in the flat slow water upstream more then compensates for the less then perfect results of the end of the day.

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