November 24, 2001

Victoria in a Dark Room (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

8"x10" film
In the fall of 2001, Victoria began renovating a small house she'd bought, gutting it down to the bare wood walls. This presented an unusual opportunity for image making; the top level of this house, when stripped totally, was almost black, with soot-darkened walls and floors presenting a soft, dark backdrop against which to work. When I asked Victoria if she'd model in the room, she was enthusiastic - we'd talked about doing more work together and the chance seemed perfect.
8"x10" film
The 8"x10" camera was perfect for the session, as the light was so low that I had to make each image with the lenses at their widest-aperture. Normally, this would have a serious impact on the depth of field with the images, but because of the ability to change the angle of the lens, I was able to compensate easily for this limitation and have the plane of focus follow Victoria's body. The limited light available in the room was less of a concern than the possibility of Victoria getting a splinter or worse from the floor, so for much of the session, she kept her shoes on.
8"x10" film
The most surprising images of the session came at the very end, as the sun was about to leave the sky. I had made all the earlier images with the portrait (375mm) lens, but wanted to finish up the session with a composition using the wide angle lens - such a lens would provide a much better sense of the room then the portrait lens had done. The composition that most caught my eye was placing the camera looking straight out the window, and them shifting the lens down so it could see Victoria, on the floor below. On the ground-glass the results were awesome, but I was unsure if there would be enough light to capture it. In the end, the exposure for the two images was 15 second each, with a reflector being used to add a little fill light to Victoria's body. The two photos go well together and probably will end up being printed as a diptych in the same frame.

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