July 06, 2001

Cassandra, Nova Scotia III (New Germany, Nova Scotia)

The first outdoor session with Cassandra was actually unplanned; about six weeks earlier, I'd gone along the same route we were taking with R_, and noticed a striking tree and rock in an abandoned farm field by the road, but as we were driving R_ home, there was not time to stop. This trip, however, was of a different nature, so when I spotted the tree again, we pulled off the road, broke out the camera gear, and walked up into the field to work with the space.
8"x10" film
The first, and more serious concern was obvious; the space was visible from the road (in the documentary image you can see the road behind me). The final decision to work with the setting was made after watching the road for several minutes - as a secondary route in rural Nova Scotia, there were very few cars, and those that did pass by were visible and audible before they hit the curve and we came into view.

As it was the rock and tree combined that had first called to me from the setting, it was these two elements which I combined with Cassandra for the first images. The difficulty was that the rock and tree were so massive, and Cassandra so small, relatively speaking, that she was literally dwarfed by them. The only solution was to have her on the very front edge of the rock, and use a wide-angle lens to force the rest of the scene to recede behind her. In the end I made both horizontal and vertical negatives of this setting, but only the vertical turned out as I'd envisioned; the other negative had motion blur in the tree from the strong winds of the early afternoon.
8"x10" film
After we finished with the images of the rock and tree as a whole, we moved uphill to the other side of the tree, out of sight of the road. Most of the tree nudes I have done have been in the context of a full forest, where the light is low, and the trees are surrounded by other trees. This solitary tree presented me with an opportunity to work with a model in a tree and not be limited physically in terms of how far back from the model I could be; this also permitted me the freedom to use a longer portrait lens, compressing the tree and rock into a flatter plane, with the lines of the model stretching across it. The resulting image was all I strove for: the strong angular lines of the tree and Cassandra's body carry the eye through the image.

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