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.

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