February 01, 2005

Indoors with Jesse

When I picked up Jesse for the drive to Fredericton, I'd caught a small glimpse inside her house and commented that I'd love to work with the space. Jesse's reply was "no problem, just let me know when" - a week later, I was on her doorstep again, this time with cameras in hand. The day was bright and sunny, with fresh-fallen snow, so it was more then bright enough to work, even with the smaller windows that fill her house.
Digital original, 4 frame stitch
We started the session with the image that was stuck in my mind from the week before - between Jesse's living room and den is a set of glass-windowed double doors. I'd caught a glimpse of the light coming through the glass, and knew that with the right pose, the compliment between the luminous glass and the nearshadow of the figure set against them. As it turned out, the real struggle with the image was not the contrast, which I'd expected to be hard to control, but Jesse's height. When I'd seen the doors, I'd thought of the figure set against them grasping the top of the molding ...another 20 cm above the highest Jesse could reach. After a quick modification of the posing., and some experimentation, we managed to make an image that better mirrored my intention.

The second location we used was the staircase, which had also caught my eye, both because of the quality of the light and the intricate carving on the newel post. Similar to the difficulties I'd experienced in Lynn-Marie's house, the only real problems I had with this space was difficulty in getting far enough from the subject to use the lens I wanted. In the end, I had to work with my back right to the wall before I could get the perspective I sought.
Digital original, 5 frame stitch
Once we'd completed working with the two spaces I'd had in mind when I'd first seen her house, I asked Jesse if there was anywhere else that might have potential - she led the way and, after a short tour of the house, we settled on working in her bedroom for the final images of the session. The light in the room was not the best but the setting, an iron-post bed with soft white covers, was perfect.

We started working with some simple portraits, eventually working so Jesse lay at the foot of the bed, half-covered by the white comforter. I couldn't get quite high enough to keep the metal work at the bottom of the frame out of the image, so I decided that the final image would be more stylized (similar to an image I made of Veronica in the summer of 2003), and I would erase all the problematic areas when I assembled the images into the final composition. The end result is one of  my favorite portraits of Jesse, on par with the image I made of her during the first session we worked together.
8"x10" film
In the end, the day's fading light brought an end to the session but the closing images in the small, dim bedroom upstairs were such a highpoint of the session that it felt like it ended when it was finished, as opposed to when the light died.

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