May 20, 2003

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.

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