September 28, 2003

L_ before the Hurricane

In some ways, this session answered some of the questions that were uncertain, in regards to my relocation to Moncton, New Brunswick, and maintaining my relationships and work with the models I work with in Nova Scotia.
8"x10" film
From the time we decided to move, the intent had been to keep returning to Halifax on a regular basis to photograph and this session marked the first attempt; after a three hour drive, we picked up L_, and headed out to York Redoubt to work for the afternoon. As it happened, the day was the eve of a major Hurricane strike on Halifax. As the afternoon progressed, the light grew more and more eerie and the wind gradually increased. It would have been a great afternoon to work by the ocean but the cooler temperatures, combined with the wind, made it more sensible to work in the shelter of the woods.

Of all the landscape I work in, probably the least common is woods and forests. This is partially because the woods in Nova Scotia tend to be thick and dark and partially because trees often present a problem for compositions and posing - being thin and generally vertical, it becomes hard to compose an image focusing on the Nude without abruptly cutting off trees at the top or bottom of the composition. With the first images we made, this was addressed by using an extreme wide angle lens (a 75mm lens, equal to a 12mm lens on a 35mm camera). This resulted in a circular image (because the lens is designed for a 4x5 camera, but used on an 8x10 camera, it did not create an image that extended to all the corners of the film) but it also gave a great sense of space, with the trees exploding away from the center of the image. The use of the super-wide lens helped overcome this, giving a sense of the space around L_ without truncating the space and cropping in too tightly.
8"x10" film
After working with such a wide lens, I shifted to a longer lens (19", or 482.6mm in length); this gave a more pleasing perspective for portraits and tightly framed compositions. A side effect of long lenses is that they also reduce the depth of field, effectively throwing the background out of focus, isolating the figure from the surroundings. Working with this lens, I made a number of successful compositions, first focusing on L_ standing in a bed of ferns, and then with her set amongst the limbs of a tree.
8"x10" film
In the end, the even, diffused light that heralded the coming of Hurricane Juan shaped this session as much as the space or model. As the session progressed, the light grew more and more even, with a particular sullen quality which was quite different from high-overcast light, which also gives very even illumination of surroundings.

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