June 30, 2003

Mother & Child

Digital original
I hadn't photographed a mother and child in over a decade so I decided I'd approach it from the same perspective as any other indoor nudes - white sheets and soft lighting.
Digital original
Working with Aurora and the baby was very different from the other work I have done with multiple models, primarily because Ray was too young to direct - try as both Aurora and I did, the baby just did was the baby wanted. Fortunately, the session was being recorded on the EOS 10D, so making more then three hundred images over the session was not an issue.
Digital original
In the end, both Aurora and I were very pleased with the results; being able to make so many images overcame Ray's tendency to fidget and move in place, and the comfort Aurora already had with me and the process made the session very relaxed and enjoyable for all.

June 29, 2003

Elisabeth and L_ Model Together

8"x10" film
This session was with Elisabeth and L_ - initially it was to be with only one of them, but as the other was free, it turned into a two-model session. Both are excellent models, both in terms of their interest and engagement with the work, and their comfort in working together. As both models were present, we began the session with some portraits; I see these as natural extensions of an earlier indoor nude portrait we created in March, but there is a different feel to the image, due to the natural setting. I really like making Nude portraits, and the chance to make one of L_ and Elisabeth together in such a different environment was great - sort of a study in how the setting can change the tone of an image. Where the indoor portrait has an implication of intimacy (an interesting fact, given the two models are only roommates), the standing portrait against the rock wall has a much more documentary feel.
8"x10" film
The most surprising image of the session came as I was directing Elisabeth into a pose - I'd asked her to stretch out along the ridge of a small cascade of water, but as she moved to lower herself, she stretched out, and I caught a glimpse of the pose, and asked her to hold it. It took a few minutes to set up the camera, and make two exposures (one with a short, and one with a long shutter speed). I knew the results would be strong, not only because of how striking the photo had looked on the 8"x10" camera's ground glass, but also because of how good previous images had turned out in the same space. In 2001, I had created two beautiful Nudes in the same space, one with Cassandra and one with R_.
Digital original, 3 frame stitch
The final images of the day were more portrait Nudes, this time with a different perspective; both the models were located on a rock shelf where the brook flows in the spring run-off; the camera was looking down upon them, which is very different for my outdoor portraits. At first, I was making portraits of Elisabeth on her own, but I realized the lighting and angle was so striking that the two models would work well in the space. It was a little hard for the models to hold their positions on the rock face, and even more frustrating for myself, working with the tripod on the rock ledge above them, but the final image has great life to it, with rich expressions on both model's faces, and beautiful light falling across them both. A great conclusion to a very successful afternoon of photography.

June 23, 2003

Rocks at Pennant Point

8"x10" film
The granite bedrock of Nova Scotia has been the backdrop for many of my figure images, but it is less and less common these days for me to go out and just photograph the rocks. This is due to the combination of the difficulty of transportation, and the reality that if I have a model available to work with, I will always chose that option, as rocks will be in the same place on another day.
8"x10" film
On this particular day, I was accompanying Miles, who was working with a model. It was foggy at the coast, but as the day was sunny and hot inland, the fog was a welcome. The change of pace dictated by the static nature of rocks was wonderful to play with - the first image I made took more then 20 minutes to compose and expose, and the other handful of images took the same or more time, partly because they were well considered compositions, and partly because I was reveling in the freedom to work slowly.

June 22, 2003

Natasha Models Indoors

8"x10" film
This session was more traditional then the one with Giselle; with her, I'd worked exclusively with the digital camera. For this session, I used the digital extensively but, when an image was particularly striking, I turned to the 8"x10" camera to make a more considered image. This is my time-proven approach, and worked well, with more fleeting, transient moments being captured with the digital alone, and more classic, static images being exposed on the slower 8"x10" camera.
Digital original
When I was working with 35mm cameras, I developed a strong affinity for narrow depth of field. With digital cameras, this is a little more difficult to do, given the small sensor size. With the EOS 10D, I've overcome this by using a 50mm f/1.4 lens for my portraits, which permits me to make images like this, where Natasha's hair and lips are in focus, but the rest of the image fades into softer focus.
8"x10" film

This was a very successful session for a variety of reasons. First, having worked in the middle apartment twice before, I was much more comfortable with the space's possibilities; there was little time spent looking for the light or the right camera position, and much more effort put into the making of the images. Also, as the session was my fourth with Natasha, there was a comfort and naturalness to the process that is impossible to artificially create. As models grow more familiar with the process, and see the results from earlier sessions, they get a better sense of what is happening during the session, and are able to contribute more, both in terms of pose suggestions, and those little changes to a pose (pointing toes, relaxing feet etc) that take a good pose and make it perfect. All of this really came together for Natasha during this session.

June 15, 2003

Gizelle in Halifax

Digital original

Similar to the session with L_ earlier, this session was spent working with the model below the bay windows, taking advantage of the copious light cascading down upon the sheet-covered mattress. Many of the first images of the session were spent working parallel to the model, with Giselle's body directly below the window and myself. Working with the soft, but angular light provided a rich sense of form and volume. All this was set against the lines of the white molding below the windows -  a beautiful juxtaposition of curves and fluid lines against straight edges and angles.
Digital original
After making the most immediately obvious images, I moved to more experimental approaches, working with a new Sigma EX 17-35mm zoom lens I'd recently acquired. I am not a big fan of zoom lenses, but with the 1.6x magnification factor of the EOS 10D, a wide-angle zoom is about the only affordable way to get an ultra-wide lens. While I have a penchant for using wide-angle lenses outdoors, it is much less common for me to work with them indoors; usually the perspective distortion is objectionable, and the space is too small to use such lenses effectively (a notable exception to this was a nude made in 1999).
Digital original
Both the portrait nude and the image of Giselle's back and hip take full advantage of the strong perspective of the 17mm lens (equal to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera). I hadn't thought that the small indoor spaces I normally work in were cramping my style, but both these images make me realize how much more can be realized in larger spaces (not to mention that there is more room to spread out with equipment).

June 06, 2003

Miranda Models on White Sheets

Digital original, 6 image stitch
One of the first comments a friend made when I told him I was considering replacing my medium format system with a digital SLR for my second-line camera was "Oh, but a digital camera wouldn't produce those luminous highlights you are so used to!" Happily, I can report that I have more than proved my friend's concerns were unfounded - even before I owned the EOS 10D, I suspect it wouldn't be a problem, based on some earlier testing. Now that I actually own the camera, and can experiment and test, I have learned well the lengths to which the camera can be pushed.
Digital original, 5 image stitch
As much as I enjoy the magic of working with new models, there is a great advantage to long term relationships with models, including their tolerance for testing. In this case I wanted to see how functional my image stitching technique (which I have been quite successful with outdoors) would be in a more constrained space. Miranda was more than willing to put up with the longer poses this approach requires, given the trust in the end results that had built between us, over the many sessions we've worked together.
Digital original
Stitching images aside, the session flowed quite well; it was my first chance to use a new 17-35mm Sigma zoom lens (the first zoom lens I have owned in more then a decade), and I was quite pleased with its performance; several images relied upon the distorted perspective it provided at its widest setting (equal to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera). As I suspected, the temptation to interrupt the flow of the session to share a particularly successful image with a model was nonexistent - in fact, I only glanced at the post-view image the digital camera provided briefly after each image, to check the exposure via the histogram view, before moving on to the next composition.

June 05, 2003

Portolio XV Exhibition Opening

Probably the hardest editing job I have ever tackled was working out which images to include in the Portfolio XV. I started off with just under 200 possible images, and then culled that down to just under 80. After that was the hard part, balancing off particular images strengths against the flow of the chronology (the work in the portfolio spans 1991-2002, though it is celebrating the fifteen years spanned between my first nude in 1988 and the close of 2002). In the end, with much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair (as if I could afford to lose what little I have), the fifteen were selected - fifteen nudes for fifteen years of work.
Victoria is by far the most prolific and giving of the models I have worked with; between her work with me in Alberta in 1999, and our regular work in Nova Scotia, we have created hundred of beautiful images, all of which draw upon the evolving work and our well-established rapport. One image informs another, and so the work grows.
My work with Ingrid has led to some of my most dynamic images - she has an affinity for the challenging pose. Though she moved out west in 1999, 2003 saw her return to Atlantic Canada, and the resumption of work that began five years earlier.
Miles is certainly one of the most influential friends and models I've worked with to date. Besides facilitating many photo sessions through providing transportation, he introduced me to several models, including Victoria and Ingrid, and has helped me create a number of very striking male nudes, including River God I and River God II.

June 02, 2003

L_ Modeling Indoors

8"x10" film
When I first worked with L_, she was unsure about signing a full model release so, while we made some Nude Portraits during that session, it wasn't until six months later that she signed a release so I could show the images. Since then, one of the things I most value about our collaboration is her comfort with portrait nudes; she has such a confident presence before the camera, and this translates beautifully into nude portraits.
8"x10" film
I started the session off in the same manner as the majority of my other indoor work, using white sheets to cover the mattress L_ was lying upon. This session was in an empty apartment, which game us an abundance of space to work in. Not only could I work over an almost 180 degrees of direction, but I could change the angle of view to a great degree, no only working from floor level, but also from various heights, something I am not able to do in my more cramped apartment.
Digital original
Very little of my indoor work uses upright poses, for a couple of reasons; primarily it is because much of the light is limited to smaller windows, which work better with prone poses. More significant, however, is the fact that much of my indoor work tries to create a sense of intimacy and tenderness, and working on the beds and mattresses I use plays on our associations of beds with intimacy. For the standing poses (possible because of the bright sunny afternoon and double deck doors), the images changed from the more demure approach of my "thalamus" work to images with a focus upon L_'s gaze and pose.