June 16, 2001

Victoria Models on a Sunny Afternoon (Chebucto Head, Nova Scotia)

If you go to the movie K-19 in the fall, you will probably see scenes shot where Victoria and I are in the background...way in the background...five kilometres in the background! When we arrived out at Chebucto Head to work for the day, the harbour mouth was full of tugs, warships, and an old Russian sub, where the film was being made. The whole first series of images that we made used the horizon as a backdrop, and I had to be careful with the framing not to include any of the ships, as they'd have broken the flow of the distant horizon. Fortunately, my efforts were rewarded with the above image, a wonderful combination of the direct sunlight on Victoria, and the distant haze, which softened the line between the water and the sky.
35mm infrared film
I haven't worked with Victoria for almost a year, because of her working in South America since last fall. Her return for the summer permits us to continue to build on the extensive body of work we've made since 1998, when we first met. The comfort of working with a model with whom I've already established a relationship is hard to describe; the process becomes somewhat like a ballet, with myself providing the basic choreography, and Victoria (who is, by chance, a dancer) providing the performance. Because of how long we've worked together, Victoria can often anticipate my requests, and often set up images on her own, before I can even let her know what I am searching for.
35mm infrared film
While I was really pleased to be working with Victoria again, the day itself lead to only a  few successful images. We could only work for the afternoon when the sun was high in the sky, and while the horizon all around had clouds, where we were working was under a blazing sun, which provided a harsh and unforgiving light. While direct sunlight can work well in the morning and evening because of its low angle, in midday it presents real problems because of how contrasty the light is.
4"x5" film
So on the whole, the day was an exercise in frustration. Victoria and I managed to make a number of good images, but the difficulties of the numerous large ships on the horizon, the harsh light, and the limited time-frame conspired to minimize the successes. The infrared was more successful then the traditional film (either in the 6x9 or the 8"x10") because of its inherent contrast, but the closing image, a portrait of Victoria lying under a rock, with her hair cascading over one of her eyes, was well worth carrying the 8"x10" around all afternoon for.

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