December 31, 2004

A Snow Nude Session

One of Katarina's first questions when she arrived was "When can we do snow nudes?". My initial response was that it would be too cold but she kept insisting she wanted to model in the snow.On the final day of their visit, several hours before she and Lymari drove back to New England, we headed out for what probably will be remembered as the shortest photo session I have ever had.
Digital original

If we'd had more time, I would not have chosen to work on the morning we did; the temperature was a chilly -17 C° and, while there wasn't any wind, the air temperature was bitter enough on its own. In a small attempt to mitigate the cold, Katarina bundled up in a heavy one-piece snow-suit before leaving the house, the logic being she should be toasty warm until the actual time to model arrived, in which case it was just one piece of clothing that needed to be shed and kept track of. Because of the depth of the snow (0.5-1 m), she could keep her socks and boots on through the session, which was a small blessing - I suspect the cold snow on her feet would have ended the session before it even began (not that you could have told Katarina that - she was so insistent on working in the snow before she went back to the US).

I carefully selected a space which Katarina could work into without her footprints showing in the image - I sought a smooth, unbroken sea of snow for the setting. Also, because the morning had direct sun, I chose an area with some brush, to both break up the image a little and provide some shadows to lend form to Katarina's body. When I was in place, and Katarina was ready, she quickly stripped off the snowsuit and walked a meter or so through the snow to where I wanted her to pose.
Digital original
Despite all our precautions, in the end, Katarina lasted a little more than five minutes before it became too cold to continue. I made just over a dozen exposures, mostly variations on framing the same pose before Katarina grew too cold to vary the pose much and the session came to a halt.It took several minutes to get her back into her snowsuit and back to the car where she started warming up (though I suspect the warming process took longer than a few minutes).

I hesitate to say that snow nudes hold potential, as that would imply I think they are an area I plan to pursue but I do think that the results from the short session with Katarina will please her and make an eyecatching addition to my body of work as a whole.

December 27, 2004

Lymari & Katarina Arrive

One of the unexpected rewards of working with a single subject (the Nude) for so long is the extended collaborations so integral to the pursuit of my vision. Most of these ongoing relationships have been with local models but some come from further afield. Lymari first drove up from New England to work with me in 2001 and since then has turned her visits into an annual event, coming up to photograph, be photographed, and catch up on each year's evolution in my work.
Digital original, 6 frame stitch
This year's visit was loosely planned for the fall but kept being pushed back later and later until Lymari suggested visiting during her December break. She brought Katarina, a friend who was also interested in modelling. On December 26th, in the middle of the afternoon, Lymari and Katarina arrived several hours ahead of schedule and a storm.

It wasn't until the next afternoon that we started photographing - I had hoped to start photographing in the morning but the snow-storm precluded that, keeping the light low and dull throughout the day. In the end, I opted to use the living room as a setting, taking a cue from the previous sessions with Jesse and setting up the space much the same.
Digital original
I started the session working with Lymari. Katarina, who had never modeled nude before though she had been appeared onstage nude, decided to observe for a while to get the flow of a session.As with much of my other indoor work, I began by focusing on portraits and portrait nudes, revelling in the strength of Lymari's gaze and the muted beauty of the snowstorm light. Truth be told, the light was pretty dim, but it was so even and enveloping that the longer exposures were more than worth it just to get that particular look in the images.

After an hour of working with Lymari, with an eye to the clock, I asked Katarina if she would be comfortable trying some modeling with Lymari (I figured if she was going to model today, it had better be soon as the light would begin to drop rapidly ). A minute or two later, she and Lymari were side-by-side on the futon with the late afternoon light falling over them.
Digital original
By this point the light was dropping rapidly and my exposures were growing longer which put added pressure on me to make the most of the time we had before the light totally left the session. Fortunately, I have a particular attraction to images with shallow depth of field so working with large apertures is never a problem. By the time we conceded defeat to the low light and packed in the session, I was making second-long exposures at f/1.4, indicating the light had dropped more then 256 times in brightness from my first images of Lymari ninety minutes earlier!

December 13, 2004

A Third Session with Jesse

Jesse and have seemed to developed a two-week schedule, though this session will likely be our last of the year given the coming holidays and how hectic my December work schedule is, December being the only month when I work full time. For this session, I decided to continue working in the living room (where we'd worked during the infrared test session). By putting the futon flat and moving it below the windows, I could make the most of the limited afternoon light.
Digital infrared original
For most of the session I worked between the Canon 10D and the Sigma SD-10, exploring the subtle difference that the infrared camera creates in the results. The dramatic differences possible with infrared photography will only really come into play when I resume working outdoors in the spring. Part of this is my chronic "new toy" syndrome, but it is also partly learning the new tool and its place in my working process.
Digital infrared original
Although I began the session with my usual portrait series, because of the soft side-lighting of the space I worked with more bodyscapes and abstract nudes than usual. With Jesse, this required the breaking of a long-standing personal prohibition - namely the inclusion of tattoos, of which Jesse has numerous. Traditionally I have avoided including tattoos in my work, mainly because I feel they ground the images in the individual, as opposed to the universal.
Digital infrared original
Over the past years, the number of models with tattoos has been steadily increasing but with most of them, I try to work around them, either through careful posing or limb placement. With Jesse, however, I have found myself responding more to line and pose and seeing past the tattoos. I think when I do this, at some level I am aware that I could retouch the tattoos out of the resulting image (as they are produced on a digital camera, this would be easy) but, to date, I have always opted to leave the tattoos in the image. I suspect I may feel differently about Jesse's tattoos when I start working with her outdoors but for the moment, they seem to be creeping into my work.