May 10, 2004

Ingrid Poses in a Gypsum Tower

During one of my first photo trips to New Brunswick in 2003, I was teaching a black & white photographic workshop. I came across an incredible space - an abandoned concrete structure by the side of the Petitcodiac River which was once used as a gypsum silo. The workshop ended up spending a couple of hours working in the space, and I was just itching to return with a model, to explore the possibilities I could see in my mind's eye.
8"x10" film
My first thought when I saw the building was that the most appropriate model for the space is Ingrid - her love for precarious spaces and dramatic poses instantly made me think of her.Once the weather started warming up, I encouraged Ingrid to come for a visit - my recent visit to Hopewell Rocks was the initial impetus for the proposed visit but the gypsum silos were also on my mind.

The day we had to work at Hillsborough was a good one to be working indoors - it was reasonably warm but the wind was quite high and put a chill in the air. With that in mind, we started with a short pose in a high window (Ingrid's idea, helped out with a sturdy climbing rope) and then we quickly moved to working inside away from the wind, with frequent breaks to let Ingrid warm up.
Digital original
As I suspected, Ingrid was perfect for the space, taking cues from her surroundings for poses, and working with the space. It is always a trick to keep the spontaneity to images made with the view camera, but with Ingrid's patience, we could determine the pose ahead of time and then frame the composition up with the camera, and when all was ready, recreate the pose and make the exposure - usually with a 1/4 to full second exposure!

To some degree, the building was a little limiting to work with; basically it had two interior parts, the base of the silos, which were dominated by large piles of crushed gypsum, and the narrow connecting room, which was open to the sky, some 30 metres above. That being said, between Ingrid and myself we managed to work for well over ninety minutes before we began grasping at straws.
Digital original
The greatest problem with the space turned out not to be the light which was abundant, but the limited spaces for camera positions; several times, images were quite engaging, but I couldn't get the camera in the right place to make what my mind's eye envisioned. Even with extreme wide or moderate long lenses, several photos went unrecorded because the only way to make them would have been to cut a hole in the concrete wall and place the camera outside.

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