July 01, 2002

Miles & J_ Pose in an Abandoned Building (The Valley, Nova Scotia)

Since I first met Miles in 1998, it has become something of a tradition for us to spend July 1st, Canada Day, photographing. On this day, the weather was less then perfect in Halifax, so rather then give up on the day, we set off on a early afternoon drive, hoping the rain and drizzle would be absent on the other side of the province.
8"x10" film
Unfortunately, the poor weather was pervasive; for every time the sun seemed almost about to break through the clouds, there was a time when the heavens seemed just about to open and drench the world. As a final desperate act, we decided to try driving all the way to the coast of the Bay of Fundy, which is separated from the rest of the province by a long, steep-sided hill called "North Mountain". The fog and rain was just as present on the other side, and we were pretty much ready to turn around and go home when we spotted a burned out building beside the road.

We stopped the car, and walked through the brush to see if the space had possibilities; it turned out to be an old church that had suffered a fire; one entire corner of the building was gone, but much of the rest of the structure was still intact.
8"x10" film

At first I was hesitant to work with the space because it was a church, but it was pointed out that when a church is abandoned, it is deconsecrated, meaning that, while it had formerly been a church, it was nothing more then an abandoned building now. Given the visual possibilities of the space, and the fact that, because of the roof, it was sheltered from the weather, we decided to work in the building, placing models in the windows and other spaces in the old church.

As it turned out, because of the low light levels, the only spaces in which we could work were the windows. Even in that space, most of the exposures were at least two seconds long. This limited the imagery somewhat, as the models had to be in positions where they could stay perfectly still.
8"x10" film
At the end of the day, after exposing 14 sheets of 8"x10" film, I was very pleased with that came out of such an unexpected location. I have a strong preference for working in landscape whenever I can, but given that the day was not conducive to landscape images, the abandoned building was an excellent second option. The balance between the beauty and elegance of the human body, and the random chaos of the fractured and burned building appeals to me very strongly and yielded images that catch the eye. I do wish we had found the space earlier in the day when there would have been enough light to work in the interior but, knowing the space is there, I certainly will keep it in mind as a place to return to in the future.

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