Without question my favorite setting for outdoor nudes is water - rivers, lakes and the ocean have all proved to be incredibly rich settings for my work. Ingrid's love for water, and her enthusiasm for modeling has lead to numerous successful water nudes in the past, but I am always seeking to push my work further, believing that the next session just might yield that "perfect image".
For this session, I returned to the river where all my water nudes began in 1996, to continue exploring this most magical of settings. In addition to the 8"x10" view camera, I was also bringing along the EOS 10D and some neutral density filters, with which I hoped to experiment with colour water nudes.
The session had a natural progression - beginning upstream, and slowly working down, but when we arrived at the broadest part of the river, everything fell into place. A narrow shoal of rocks cut across the river, providing a perfect space for Ingrid to position herself (it was this identical shoal which was used for a different image of Victoria five years before). With almost no input from myself, Ingrid found a lovely pose, extending herself into the flow of the river. I quickly made two 8"x10" negatives, one at 1/2 a second, and the other at 4 seconds, to vary the water flow patterns.
Digital original, 12 image stitch
Confident that I had recorded the image with the view camera, I switched to the digital camera, and using the neutral density filters to get a slow shutter speed, I proceeded to record twelve images which I would later stitch together to create a high-resolution final image. As much as the digital image was a second perception, meaning I conceived of the image first in black and white, I will be the first to admit the colour image is the more striking of the two. Certainly a distinct advantage of working with the digital camera is the ability to capture a colour image for every composition, regardless of whether I plan to convert it to a monochrome image later.
The final success of the session were was made with a varied viewpoint; I moved into the river upstream from Ingrid, so the reflection of the sky was picked up in the water surrounding her (most of my river nudes are made from the side, with the nude lit by the sky, but the water reflected little of the dark banks of the river. I wanted Ingrid's face to be sharp and detailed, so I had to keep the shutterspeed as short as possible; I made the image at 1/8th of a second, which I was pretty certain she could stay still for. The final result is haunting in its beauty, and tack sharp, right down to the water drops on her cheeks!