June 30, 2001

Victoria by Available Light (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Victoria is without a doubt the model I've photographed the most; since my first image of her made in 1998, we must have spent hundreds of hours working together, exploring light and landscape, and building an extensive body of work. Even after all those images however, it always surprises me how easy it is to come up with new and strong imagery with her.
8"x10" film
One of the most rewarding aspects that this long relationship gives to the process is that I have more freedom to take chances when I work with Victoria, as she is less interested in the results of a single session then she is in the overall flow of my imagery. On this day, she'd contacted me about modeling, but between both our schedules, we only managed to come up with an hour or so in which we were both free. We made the plans, however, as I had wanted to do some exploration of the possibilities of the 8"x10" Toyo indoors, and Victoria was more then happy to be a test subject.
8"x10" film
The mast majority of my natural light indoor images have been made with 35mm colour film (as exhibited in my Thalamus folio), so the shift to working with black and white film on a much larger camera was one I was a little unsure of. The biggest difference, and the hardest to overcome, was the longer lenses of the view camera - the portrait lens on my 35mm camera is 85mm, while the portrait lens on my 8"x10" is 375mm! The longer lens on the 8"x10" gave MUCH less depth of field, and while the incredible sharpness and detail of the larger negative was wonderful, I struggled throughout the session to keep enough of Victoria in focus to hold the images together.
8"x10" film
In the end, after ninety minutes of working, we'd made 12 negatives, with a number of very pleasing portraits. The session more then proved that the 8"x10" Toyo is workable indoors; while slow and ungainly, the fine controls and delicate tonality the large camera and negatives give are more then worth the effort.

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