August 28, 2001

Two Friends Pose at Lakeside (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

The session at York Redoubt was brought to a close by the heat of the day, with both L_ and Krista offering to do some water-nudes if I could get them to a suitably isolated space. Twenty minutes later, we were at a lake (within minutes, Lisa who'd modeled a couple of days before, was off, swimming across the lake and back) making images.
35mm infrared film
It turned out that while L_ was keen enough to actually get wet, she wasn't much for swimming, and got out of the water shortly after getting in. Apart from a very elegant portrait of the two of them sitting on a rock-point, almost all of the images I made of the two women were of Krista alone, either swimming close to the shore, and portraits of her on the rock ledge half-out of the water. In the end, it was the portraits that were the most successful of the images of her, with the wet hair and soft light working well together.
35mm infrared film
Interestingly, even though the day was overcast, the difference between the traditional and infrared film was readily apparent, with the characteristic glow of skin and the dark water making the infrared image below very distinct from the similarly framed 4"x5" portrait. The two photos have such a different feel that I show them both here as much to illustrate the differences then to revel in their similarities.
4"x5" film
Working with (relatively) still water was very different then most of my river sessions, where the time-based blur of the water is the important counterpoint to the body. With the lake, however, I focused more on reflections and distortion, framing as much around the water as Krista herself.

Friend Model in an Old Fort (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

It was almost a year after I first worked with L_ when she got back in touch, and asked about doing some more work, this time outdoors. She also mentioned a friend, Krista, who wanted to try modeling as well, and asked if it would be possible for her to come along as well. I said the more the merrier, and the plans were made.
4"x5" film
Without anything specific in mind, I decided the best place to head was York Redoubt; I haven't photographed there since June with Denise, and then it was in the woods around the Fort, not the fort itself. This time, I decided to focus on the stone and concrete fort, and while I did make a couple of single-nude images, the majority of the compositions which succeeded took advantage of both models present.

The best image of the day is actually a quote of a series of earlier images that I did with Victoria in 1999; as opposed to "remaking" the original pose, and trying to improve upon it, I saw the revisiting of the space as a chance to build upon the strengths of my first images of it.
4"x5" film
The prime challenge when working with two models is creating scenes where both models are absolutely necessary - if one can be removed, and the image still work, then the second model is superfluous. In the case of this image, while the composition of Krista in the box arching back was strong, once L_ moved into the box below her, the composition grew into a different image all together, with several new layers of meaning and intent. I am not sure if this is the definitive York Redoubt Box image, but it certainly has pushed the series forward.
4"x5" film
It was very different (and far more enjoyable) working with L_ outdoors, as opposed to our previous explorations of the studio; the addition of Krista to the session, combined with the rich setting lead to a number of striking images. The decision to use 4"x5" camera was based on the fact I was working with a new model for the first time, but I doubt the larger, slower 8"x10" camera would have caused much of a problem on the session; we worked slowly, methodically, making the images that came to mind, and comfortably moving onwards when things became static and forced.

August 27, 2001

A Session with two New Models (Chebucto Head, Nova Scotia)

The first session with new models is always a great adventure; there is no way to anticipate how it will proceed, or what kind of images might reveal themselves. Because I don't pre-plan my imagery, or even a location prior to the day of a session, both the model and the setting plays a major role in determining the direction for the day, but with new models, there is no way to anticipate how well they will work with a given space.
6x9 cm film
With Trav and Miranda, their first session was as coloured by the landscape around them as it was by what they brought to the images personally. While I'd worked at Chebucto Head for many years, the deep ravine which we found our way into on this particular afternoon presented a most delightful setting for a first session, and lead to some particularly vivid images. Initially we'd started working higher up on the cliffs, but the unexpected appearance of a dog, and shortly later (after the swift donning of clothes) its owners, pushed us further down the rocks, closer to the shore.
35mm infrared film
This move proved fortuitous, as the narrow gorge we ended up moving into has some of the richest and most unique rock striations I have come across in Nova Scotia; the water from the grass and bushes high above had flowed down the sides of the granite and stained it black. Almost as soon as I saw the space, the first pose and image came to me, and the rest of the afternoon was spent draw all the possibilities I could see out of the stone and models.
35mm infrared film
At the close of the afternoon, when all the film was exposed, and the light was fading, I felt completely satisfied. Not only had I discovered a new space, rich with potential, but both Trav and Miranda had proved more then keen as models, putting up with all sorts of long poses and strenuous positions. The results of the session were pleasing, and telling; I'd opted to work with the 4"x5" camera, and while I did end up exposing all 30 negatives I brought, over and over, I found myself once again wishing I'd opted for the larger 8"x10" camera; there is something undeniably different about working with the bigger camera, and as successful as the day's images were, I certainly shall return with the Toyo at a later date, to see what it can draw out of the space.

August 26, 2001

Lisa poses for the First Time (Dawson Brook, Nova Scotia)

This session was quite unexpected; a photographer friend of mine, Lymari, had driven up from New England to spend a couple of days working with me, and developing her skills with infrared film; with her came a friend, Lisa, who, while not a photographer, was an admirer of my imagery.
6x9 cm film
When, over the course of our first evening's conversations, the discussions turned to the models who work with me, someone brought up the issue of "perfect bodies" and the reality that very few of the models I work with would measure up to this vague and arbitrary standard, though they prove to be excellent models. Lisa voiced how much she'd like to be part of work such as mine, but that she knew she didn't have the body for it. My eyebrows went up at this, and the question was presented - Lisa, would you like to try modeling for Lymari and me? With a little hesitation and trepidation, she accepted the invitation, and what had been a model-less weekend turned around 180 degrees.

The next afternoon, we began to work, exploring the possibilities in the slow moving water in the open shade of the surrounding wood. As the purpose of Lymari's visit was to further her experience with infrared, I left my view camera behind, and instead focused on the smaller formats - infrared in my Nikon 35mm, and colour in my Fuji 6x9 rangefinder. In the end, on one level, I did wish I had brought my view camera, but the results from the session were strong, regardless of the format choice.
35mm infrared film
Because part of the motivation of the session was to explore the possibilities of different films, we ended up working with the same poses from several different angles and with different cameras, as opposed to changing poses as soon as a successful composition was made, as is usually my approach. The results are interesting, presenting a great example of how the tools chosen by a creator can effect the end result; the tone of the colour and black and white infrared images of essentially the same pose is very different, though I am hard pressed to choose which I prefer.
35mm infrared film
Because the water was in the shade, Lisa found it hard to stay in for more then a couple of poses, so we moved her out onto a sun-lit rock to warm; it was here that some of the more striking images of the day were made, and the water on her skin beaded and ran off, following the lines of her breasts and neck. Unlike the earlier water-nudes, this image was singularly successful in colour.

August 23, 2001

Victoria, Alberta opens (ViewPoint Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia)

 The opening of Victoria, Alberta was a great success, with a wide range of friends, photographers and even newcomers to the gallery attending.

August 21, 2001

Installing the Victoria, Alberta Exhibition (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

The installation of my second solo exhibition, Victoria, Alberta is now complete. The exhibition features images from 1999's Alberta Portfolio along with other photographs of Victoria made in Alberta in the summer of 1999.

August 03, 2001

Bili & Joe Pose in the Morning (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

The last session of Bili and Joe's visit was an early morning one; as I had to work at 10 am the session had to be over by 8:30. We met shortly after sunrise, and arrived at the York Shore Battery when the sun was only a hand's breadth above the horizon. Fortunately, the morning was a hazy one, diffusing the direct sun, and softening the light considerably.
6x9 cm film
Because we only had two hours to work, very little ground was physically covered in the session. I doubt we moved more then 40 metres from the first image to the last, yet the rich variety of the session was great, ranging from classic, carefully posed poses to totally spontaneous ones. Partially this came from the Bili and Joe's comfort with the process, and their previous experience, but I also believe that a degree of it came form the reality that we all knew this was the last chance we'd have to work together before their return to Florida.
8"x10" film
In light of my feelings about our last session, I brought the 8"x10" as the main camera for this session. The more I work with the 8"x10" camera, the easier it is to translate my intent onto film fluidly, even more so then with the smaller 4"x5" camera. I am not positive where this comfort with the format comes from, but part of me feels it comes, quite simply, from the size of the ground-glass, where the image is composed. When I first moved to using view cameras in 1991, I reveled in all the information visible on the camera's focusing screen, but with the 8"x10" camera, with four times larger a ground glass, I can see so much more as I am composing. Whatever the reason, I find working with the Toyo an absolute joy, and I think this enthusiasm and pleasure translates well though my images with the camera.

As short as the session was, it produced some strong images with a variety of emotional tones. The light changed rapidly as the sun rose, and before we left, the entire for where we were working was bathed in a warm morning light, as the sun rose above the haze. While never as contrasty as noon light, this morning light provided great description for the model's bodies, in contrast to the hard and linear lines of the concrete and metal that surrounded them.
8"x10" film
At the end of the session 11 8"x10" negatives had been exposed, along with a roll of colour, and a partial roll of infrared. The results made we wish that we'd had more time to pursue other possibilities in the space, but given the time we had, I am incredibly pleased with the results. Given that I can count the number of early-morning session I have done in my life on one hand, I think in that I shall try to pursue more of this light in the future, if I can find models who'll brave the chill morning air.

August 01, 2001

Bili & Joe Model Together (Duncan's Cove, Nova Scotia)

As it luck had it, I was able to trade a shift at work for an extra day off while Bili and Joe were in Halifax, so we managed to put in a full day-long photo session in after all (which only painfully pointed out the possibilities that may have been had if the scheduling problem hadn't arose, but that is just sadistic thinking on my part).
4"x5" film
 As the day was promising to be hot and clear, we headed for the coast, expecting cooler temperatures near the Atlantic. What we didn't expect was the high surf that was running that day; there must have been a storm off-shore recently. While the day was clear and warm, with a light breeze off the sea, the waves were several meters high, and crashed onto the shore with great energy and spectacle.

With this as a constant backdrop, we began a long, uninterrupted session. There is a particular pleasure in working for a full day uninterrupted, with two willing models and a wealth of possibilities in the landscape around us. The day was spent in a meandering dance, moving down the coast as the images presented themselves, pausing here and there to eat or just relax and enjoy the day, and generally having a fantastic time. Bili and Joe's gift of a full day of their time was incalculable, given the wealth of work we produced, and all the possibilities that could be realized.
6x9 cm film
 While both Bili and Joe were more then happy to model separately, the majority of the images were of both of them, either as two separate figures in the landscape, or as interwoven bodies. When dual-model nudes work, they have a complexity that isn't possible with one model. Usually with a model, I chose to have the model either emulate the lines of the landscape, or to pose in opposition to them. With two models, however, these two approaches can be mixed, or abandoned altogether, with the new possibility of posing the models in the landscape, using it as a background, as opposed to an integral part of the image.

After working with Cassandra for two weeks, I have become pretty convinced that the anticipated shift from 4"x5" to 8"x10" for my view camera of choice will happen at the end of this year. That said, for this session with Bili and Joe, I opted to take the 4"x5" along, hoping to make the most of the opportunity they facilitated. By the end of the day I'd exposed over sixty large format negatives, and felt fully satisfied with the session.
4"x5" film
In retrospect, however, I suspect that if I'd taken along the larger Toyo, with its restriction of only 12 images a session, I would have felt more satisfied with the results. Knowing I could made dozens of images over the afternoon seemed to make me overly casual about the compositions I made, and while there were more then enough strong images, the focus that the 8"x10"'s limitations forces on the process does nothing but good for the results. My initial impetus to using large format, its greater investment, is still attracting me today.