June 17, 2001

Victoria Models in a Forest (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

I don't do a lot of work in Nova Scotian woods, because of the bugs, and the scrubby nature of the woods around Halifax. There are, however, both excellent bug repellents (we use Natrapel, and highly recommend it), and areas of hard wood, which are more open and quite appropriate for the images I seek. This particular location is about 200m into the woods from the side of the highway; all through the session you could hear the traffic passing, and, in some images, I had to time them carefully to avoid the flash of cars though the trees. A small price to pay for such a wonderful setting.
8"x10" film
In contrast to the day before, this day's session was as close to photographic perfect as I have had since Alberta in 1999 (which was also filled with work with Victoria). The light was perfect, the setting rich in possibilities, the model excellent, and the flow from image to image was like sleepwalking - everything came together for one composition to the next, all through the afternoon. And when the session drew to a close, our time ended just as the film did, leaving me walking back to the car with a great feeling of satisfaction, and images dancing in my mind's eye. In stark contrast to the previous day, I worked almost exclusively with the 8"x10", taking full advantage of the rich tonal range of the film to capture all the detail and complexity of the setting.

What most impressed me about the work I did during this session was how consistent it was; only two of the 8"x10" images I made failed outright (flaws in composition or posing) and the three images displayed here are the first, eighth and eleventh exposure of the twelve produced; usually one end or the other of a session have the successes, marking where I hit my stride.
8"x10" film
With this session though, each image took an average of 20 minutes to create; first the setting was selected (and in the case of these images, cleaned of fallen branches and debris), then the pose was established. Once these basics were established, the camera lens and position were chosen, and the final refinements were made looking at the image on the ground glass.

One doesn't need a large bulky camera to take this much time and effort making a single image, but given that there isn't really any other way to work with an 8"x10", and that each image made uses 1/12th of the film I have along with me (not to mention the high cost of the actual film), the compulsion to get the image right the first time is high.
8"x10" film
At the end of the day, I was totally satisfied with the work, unprocessed as it was. The flow of this session closely mirrored the work from two days before at Peggy's Cove - each image came in its own time, according to its need to be seen. The clarity of the translation from my intent to the final image, through the 8"x10" camera, makes me totally convinced that this new tool was an excellent addition to my resources, for all the things I gave up to obtain it.

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