July 10, 2001

Cassandra, Nova Scotia XII (Feltzen South, Nova Scotia)

I never plan more then a session ahead of time, generally speaking, but when I first worked with the Lunenburg shore, and ran out of film as the light was fading, I knew I wanted to return to the space, to continue exploring it. As I had already used the 12x20 camera indoors, I was interested in applying it to working with the nude outdoors, to see what the "mother of all cameras" could do that no other camera could.
12"x20" film
The first lesson of the camera outdoors is that it was incredibly large and slow. This was the first camera where having a second set of hands wasn't a bonus, it was close to a necessity; even moving it often involved asking someone to hold it while I scrambled up or down the low rock faces with the tripod and film. Fortunately, with so many other people (no less then five, including Cassandra and I) on the session, there was no lack of help with the camera, and the four images we made were accomplished with relative ease. The most successful of these, to the left, emphasizes the mirroring of Cassandra's body by the landscape, with the incredible detail of the ultra-large negative only adding to an already successful image.
35mm infrared film
As we progressed through the 12x20 images, we also made explorations with 35mm infrared and 120 black and white, working swiftly and spontaneously. The two ways of working complimented each other well, with long, careful compositions being made with the larger camera, and then, when those were concluded, a series of "sketches" were made with the smaller cameras, either pursuing compositions or angles unavailable to the more cumbersome camera, or experimenting with images that I wasn't willing to commit onto the (much) more expensive sheet film.
35mm infrared film
At the end of the session, I was filled with an incredible sense of fulfillment; the simple act of working with the 12x20 camera outdoors was an accomplishment of sorts, but the feeling that I had made successful images heightened the feeling even more. At the time, neither Jeff (who owns the camera) nor I had actually seen images made with the camera, but the possibilities which I had set to film danced in my mind's eye. It would actually take us another ten weeks to work through the issues of processing such large film, and successfully process negatives. With the processing of each negative taking twenty minutes in the dark, and a full forty minutes in total, developing the dozen negs I made with Cassandra would ultimately take almost as long as processing all the 8"x10" sheet film we exposed over the entire two week expedition; that said, the results more then speak for themselves, and I very much look forward to continuing my exploration of this camera format over the coming years, as my comfort and understanding of it grow.

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