October 29, 2002

An Indoor Session with Victoria

Though Victoria now lives less then a block from me, it seems that we never have time to get together and make new images together; between her teaching, dancing and working, and my equally complex schedule, 're lucky if we even get to chat on the phone occasionally.
35mm infrared film
All that being said, since before her house even started last fall, I had my heart set on working with her in her claw-footed bathtub, which she intended to install in her renovated home. So, when the house was finally civilized, and the tub installed and working, we set a date...and managed to keep it!

The day was perfect, with bright sunlight providing enough light through the light curtains for me to work with. I began the session working with infra-red film in my 35mm camera, and Ilford's SFX near infra-red film in my Mamiya RB camera; I was interested to see how these two films worked against each other in diffused, low light situations. One of the greatest gifts of a long term collaboration with a model is the freedom to experiment - with an inexperienced or first-time model, there is less room for experimentation. As I knew from earlier tests, the look of the Ilford SFX was not identical to Kodak's HIE, but in the soft light of the room, it was quite pleasing, and definitely different from what would have been recorded by conventional film.
6x7 cm film
Once we finished working with the couch and window light, we moved upstairs to the bathroom. Having worked on her house renovations, I knew the space was small, but I knew that this would prove to be less of a problem with the wide-angle lenses that I prefer for so much of my work. What I hadn't realized was that the image I'd end up wanting the most would be from the head of the tub.

After making a series of images looking from the foot of the tub, on a whim, I moved to the head of the bath, and checked to see if there were possibilities from that angle. What I saw was beautiful, with the curves of Victoria's body moving along the receding lines of the tub, an interwoven figure within the simplicity of the bath. I wasn't sure if I could get either of my cameras into position there (because of the angled ceiling and close wall), but I knew that I had to try. As it turned out, the Mamiya RB was perfect - once the prism finder was removed, I could see just enough to compose the image, and while I had to focus by guesswork, the final exposure (four seconds in length) more then met my expectations.
6x7 cm film
For such a short session, the couple of striking images are very pleasing. The flexibility of the Mamiya in such closed quarters was unexpected yet crucial to making the day a success, photographically. If I had only had my 35mm equipment, I could never have framed up the image, because of the position of the walls and ceiling.

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