June 10, 2001

Denise Models outdoors (York Redoubt, NS, Canada)

Denise is one of the first models I ever worked with back in 1989 when I was just venturing into the realm of figure photography. Over the last decade, Denise worked with me a number of times, contributing several strong images. Needless to say, when I met up with Denise several months ago, I was more then enthusiastic when she asked about the possibility of continuing to work with me this summer.
6x9 cm film
As neither Denise or I have a car and had no alternate transportation for the day, we had to work in a space accessible by bus, so we settled on York Redoubt, a 19th century fort and park on Halifax's southern edge. A large and diverse space, it is more than suitable for the work I like to do, and proved perfect for the day we had to work. The lighting was ideal - the morning was lightly overcast, with wonderfully even light for working in the leafy woods.
35mm infrared film
The forests of Nova Scotia are one of the most difficult natural spaces I have tried to photograph in - most of the province is covered with scrubby conifer woods which are dense and difficult to walk through, let alone photograph in. The woods around York Redoubt, however, have grown up with many hardwood trees, their broad branches and large leaves sheltering the forest floor, and leaving it open to ferns and other small foliage. The spaces call out to me for a model, and it was into these woods that Denise and I headed to begin working.

Where the previous month saw my first session with my 8"x10" camera, this session marked my first time with the camera and the three lenses I'd acquired - a wide, slightly wide and short portrait lens (159mm, 240mm and 375mm respectively). While I was working with my other cameras, the main focus of the session was on the 8"x10" camera, and putting it through its paces. Though Denise and I hadn't worked together since 1994, she and I have a strong rapport, and the patience such a camera demanded didn't seem to be much of a burden on her - she took the pace in stride, and worked hard to make each image count.
8"x10" film
Very quickly, a pattern emerged that would continue through the day - I'd see a space that appealed to me visually and we'd work on the pose and camera position. Once that was set, I'd get the 8"x10" camera in position (sometimes quite a feat; the camera and tripod weigh in at 14 kg) and frame up the image. Once the initial photo was made, I would then bring out one or both of the roll film cameras (a 6x9 rangefinder, and a 35mm loaded with infrared) and continue to explore the scene for other possibilities. This is somewhat the reverse of my normal modus operandi, but as I was trying to push my work with the 8"x10" as far as I could, I was deliberately choosing to follow my first intuition with that camera, and left alternate images to smaller, more spontaneous tools.

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