July 15, 2001

Cassandra, Nova Scotia XVII (Dawson Brook, Nova Scotia)

This session was inspired by earlier work I'd done with J , at Dawson Brook, where we'd discovered the wonderful reflective quality of one particular area of the slow-flowing stream. I'd been very pleased with the images of R_, but as they were initial explorations, they were made on 35mm slide film, which presented some issues in regard to printing them. This time, with Cassandra, I was working with medium format (6x9) colour negative film, and could be assured that both the image quality as a whole, and the ability to print the images, would be improved. Because I'd worked in the space before, little time was spent actually finding the image, and more on the pose, which paid off in a well-seen photo that pays homage to its origins, but manages to be distinct enough to avoid being a simple copy.
6x9 cm film
After we made the initial image, we moved off, working our way slowly down the river, and making images as we went. After making a series of images photographing across the stream, I moved closer to Cassandra and made a portrait, filling the 8"x10" with her strong arms and shoulders as a frame within the frame. The slight dappling from the sunlight through the trees added some brilliant highlights to the image, and the outcome proved very successful, a blend of a portrait of a powerful young woman, and a striking Nude with a great sense of presence.
8"x10" film
The very end of the session was spent working with (as opposed to in) the waterfall at the end of the upper stream. As with ever other time I've been to Dawson Brook, the water level was low, with very little water flowing downstream; what could have been a chaotic, frothing waterfall was instead a small, almost negligible amount of water trickling down the rock steps to the pool below. As Cassandra was still chilled from the earlier water work, and the rocks were slippery, we opted to work with her above the waterfall, in contrast to its motion-blurred flow.
8"x10" film
Because the falls were in direct sunlight, and Cassandra was almost all in the shade, contrast issues were inherent to the light conditions. I opted to heavily over-expose the film (from 400 ISO to 50 ISO), and compensate for this in the subsequent development to tame the contrast. This worked remarkably well; the resulting images have a wonderful sense of luminosity in the blurred waters, while keeping a rich amount of detail in the shadowed forest floor behind Cassandra's form.

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