July 31, 2001

Bili & Joe Model Together (Dawson Brook, Nova Scotia)

I'd known that Bili and Joe were planning to come and work with me for over a month, but somehow communication wires got crossed, and Bili and Joe didn't get in touch until Tuesday - the day before I began my four work week. Faced with the prospect of not having any time to work at all, we quickly arranged to meet late that afternoon, and make at least some images while I had time to photograph them.
35mm infrared film
As we all wanted to do water nudes, I chose to work at Dawson Brook - it was close enough to Halifax to make it convenient, and, more importantly, it is perfect for afternoon light. Earlier in the day, when the sun is higher, if falls directly onto the falls, and creates a very contrasty scene that is very hard to work with - later in the day, however, the sun moves behind the trees and casts everything into a wonderfully even light, lit from above and radiant in the most wonderful way.

Ironically, the perfect light caused other problems; hot though the day was, down in the river's ravine, as soon as the sun left, so did much of the heat; very quickly making working in the water uncomfortably cool, reminding me (unfortunately) of the first time I'd work with Joe, in 1999. Just like then, however, both Joe and Bili were real troopers, and bore the cold in the name of art. Trying to make the most of the time we had, I did my best to work swiftly, while trying to keep the images fresh and dynamic.
4"x5" film
One difficulty that comes up again and again with water work is camera position; with small rivers, like most of Dawson Brook, this is less of a problem, but in the area we were working in, with the pool at the bottom of the falls, there really was only one place to stand with the camera. As a result, almost all the images were made with the same camera position. The only thing I could really change was the pose and position of the models.
4"x5" transparency film
The final images of the session, made further down-stream, really show how low the water-level in Nova Scotia has become this summer; there was barely a trickle flowing, which by happy accident meant that it was easier for Bili and Joe to hold their poses for the long exposures I required to blur the water. One of the most successful of these images, to the left, was made on colour transparency films (probably the last large format colour I will do for some-time, on account that I plan to sell my 4"x5" camera at the end of the summer, and colour 8"x10" is just unbelievable expensive). The warm, soft skin of the models against the cool rocks, littered with green and grey lichen is just everything that colour needs to be for me.

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