May 28, 2003

Ingrid at the Dam

Digital original, 28 frame stitch

As with the session with Christina, this was a perfect time to use the EOS 10D; there wasn't enough time to merit taking the 8"x10" camera and, after seeing the results of my stitching work with Christina and Elizabeth, I was more than confident that if I saw an image which really captivated me, I could create a composite image which would permit larger prints to be made without any problems. While the EOS 10D, with its 6 mp sensor produces a very high quality image, it is always good to have more information to work with, if a larger print is desired.

When we arrived at the dam, it was barely flowing with water. This permitted Ingrid to clamber down off the dam and into the actual water-flow; I worked my way down into the shallow stream below, and proceeded to make a number of images of Ingrid and the top of the dam. The best of these has an almost sculptural quality, with Ingrid's compact form dwarfed by the sheet of water below her.
Digital original, 14 frame stitch
The rest of the session was spent working on and around the granite blocks that made up the sidewalls of the dam. The late afternoon light was beautiful, and as the dam is under a highway overpass, it came from the side more then above, which proved to give it a particularly striking quality. Almost all the images have a drama to them which comes from this light.
Digital original
The last dozen images or so were portraits of Ingrid; I realized after her departure in 1999 that I had few portraits of her, and hoped to make up for this through concentrating more on nude portraits as I continue to work with Ingrid. Of the images from this day, the most pleasing was the one show here, with a little "Ingrid smile", which gives some insight into her playful side. I hope to continue to push the portraits, but this bodes well as a beginning.

May 20, 2003

Christina Models Outdoors

Digital original, 16 image stitch
My favourite image from the session, to the above right, was one of the most spontaneous of the session; I asked Christina to relax for a bit, as I had to download some digital images, and reload the Fuji 6x9 camera. When I looked around after finishing, Christina was leaning against the sill, looking down at her belly. I asked her not to move, and proceeded to make a series of images, both on film and with the digital camera, from a couple of different angles. In the end, the most striking composition was the first one, made from where I was standing when I glanced at her. The final digital image is a composite of 16 images, which brings the resolution of the photograph to a quality that is more then enough for any size I eventually decide to print.
Digital original
The session went quite well, working with the diffused light from the large windows and doorways. I've always loved the soft directional quality of window light, and in Spion Copp, it surrounds the models, providing rich light from almost every direction. Most of the session was spent with Christina standing near windows, and my exploring the light's revelation of her pregnant body.
Digital original
I had hoped to work with Christina in a landscape setting, but the weather was still a little cool and damp, so we decided to head to Spion Copp, and work in the abandoned military buildings there. Because the session was short, I opted to take the EOS 10D digital camera and the Fuji 6x9 rangefinder to work with; I knew I'd miss the 8"x10" camera, but it wasn't practical given Christina's tight schedule.

Elisabeth Models at York Redoubt

8"x10" film
When Elisabeth first modeled for me back in December, she had bemoaned the fact it was winter. I agreed, but given that it was the middle of winter, we did the best with the indoor spaces we had available. When spring finally came to Nova Scotia however, I was eager to build upon the work we'd already made, and see how a richer visual setting would influence the results.

We began the session with a couple of compositions using the rocks between the fort and the water; we'd arrived early enough to have the sun still low in the sky, which provided a beautiful angular light. Normally, I abhor direct sunlight, but when it is this low in the sky, it provide wonderful description of form, and in black and white, where exposure can be used to keep the shadow detail, the increased contrast is not an issue.
Digital original
After the images on the rocks, we moved into the fort proper, working with the concrete walls, doors and windows. I have never really worked out what it is that attracts me to the pairing of the Nude and worn concrete, but there is something about this combination that really appeals to me. On some levels, it makes sense on a simply textural level - the rich detail and complexity of the concrete in contrast to the smoothness of the model's skin, but I think it goes deeper then that, relating more to a natural form in a constructed landscape. Whatever the reason for my favouring this kind of setting, it works well for my aesthetic, which is why I return to it time and time again.

Many of the indoor images were created combining the lines of the visual spaces with Elisabeth's pose - placing her in doorways or passages, and breaking the straight-line flows of the concrete with the flow of her body.
8"x10" film
The most striking image was also the last made, with Elisabeth sitting in a small ledge in the middle of an engine room. Initially I didn't think she could actually fit into the space, but with a little help, she managed a beautiful pose. It took a couple of minutes to set up the 8x10 camera, and to get the composition as I liked it, but Elisabeth toughed out the wait, and in the end I'd created one of the most striking architectural nudes of the past couple of years. The simplicity of the pose and setting reminds me of another architectural nude I'd made a decade earlier.

May 19, 2003

Ingrid Returns!

Digital original
When Ingrid moved out to the west coast of Canada in 1999, I felt like a body of work we'd been developing for over a year was abruptly cut off. With some models (R_and Claire come to mind), there was a flow to evolution of the imagery and, for what ever reason, when the work came to a conclusion (because of a move abroad or the passing of the seasons), it was a natural completion, and had a sense of closure. With Ingrid, however, she left rather suddenly in the summer of 1999, and I wasn't sure when she'd return. This was frustrating to deal with, given how striking a model she is and how much fun I enjoy spending time with her. I was very pleased when I learned she was returning to Halifax.
Digital original, 8 image stitch
This session also marked my first extensive use of multi-image stitching. While the EOS 10D's 6.3 megapixel resolution is more then adequate for many applications, I view it as something of a limitation, and therefore have been experimenting with stitching together multiple frames to make larger images (effectively increasing the camera's resolution). While this puts more demand upon my time in post processing, after this session's results, I know that I will be using this approach more and more as my work evolves.
Digital original
My first session with Ingrid was short, limited by both her time and mine. Sticking to a familiar location, we headed to York Redoubt and, because of the time limit, I brought only the digital camera. This proved a good decision, both in terms of a sensible use of the time available, and the fact it permitted her to view the work we created in process. This helped quickly establish the rapport we'd had before her departure.

May 18, 2003

Miranda Models on Glacial Barrens

Digital original
Extended collaborations with models have many benefits, besides the obvious advantages of the ever-developing rapport that grows between the model and photographer. One that isn't immediately apparent is that often a model will often work several times in the same space, building a relationship with it as well as with the photographer. The benefits of this can range from the model suggesting poses (this often happens even in first sessions) to the model selecting the space from the beginning, guiding the session from the inception.
6x9 cm film
The day was more then warm enough for Miranda to work in comfort (unlike our first outdoor session a month earlier), and from the start, Miranda's poses and approach to the space were influenced by our earlier work (finding the rock raised on other rocks reminded us both of the stone circle she worked in before). As the session progressed, I worked between the 8"x10" view camera, 6x9 cm rangefinder and the digital camera, using the smaller, more spontaneous EOS 10D to sketch out ideas and make preliminary images.
8"x10" film
My favourite image of the day was as much a technical test as it was an aesthetic response to a pose. A week before the session, I'd received a long lens (traded for with a friend for my 375mm lens) - a 19" (480mm) portrait lens, and I wanted to use this session with Miranda as an opportunity to push the lens, and see how well it performed. Because the lens had such a long focal length (equal to an 85mm lens on a 35mm camera), I needed space to work in, and the flat fen that surrounded the rocky outcrops seemed perfect. In the end, to make the composition I was after, I had to back almost 8m from Miranda, but the final composition was exactly what I wanted, and had a perspective not possible with a shorter lens.

May 12, 2003

Elisabeth in the Studio

Digital original
Ever since my first session with Elisabeth in December 2002, I'd wanted to work with her in the studio; her gaze was so captivating in the available light images, I wanted to see what would happen with the greater control of the studio and with fine grained films (for our first session I'd used 400 or 1600 speed film) or high resolution digital cameras. Probably the biggest shortcoming of working with natural light is having to use higher-speed (and therefore grainier) film to make the images. While I'd rather have a great image on high-speed film, at the same time, knowing that with a slower film, the image would look better, it is frustrating at times to have to settle with less then ideal combinations.
Digital original
All that being said, the studio is a difficult space to work in at times; basically a blank canvas upon which the model is placed, the studio relies upon the model and the photographer to provide all the inspiration and ideas. As I had expected, with Elisabeth, this didn't prove a problem. Her compelling gaze carried much of the session and, when the camera was not focused on her face, more stylized images emerged.

8"x10" film
While I did make a number of successful images of Elisabeth with my 8"x10" view camera, the real wealth of the session was created using the digital camera; this marked my first session with the Canon EOS 10D, and it proved more than capable of delivering the kind of quality I was looking for in the studio. It will be interesting to see how this new tool pushes my work (both indoors and outdoors), and in what directions it will take me as a result of its influence.