March 11, 2005

Gilda Models in Montreal

While the main motivation for the Montreal visit was family-orientated, one of the first things I did once the trip was confirmed was touch base with several people in  Montreal to see if they'd have time to meet up and make some photos during my visit. Jean-Francois, who I was staying with, had offered me the use of his studio (which was actually an entire 900 square meter floor of an older office building, by far the largest studio I have ever worked in), so if I could find some people to work with, in addition to gallery visits and presentations on my work, I would be able to make some new photographs too.
Digital original
My first opportunity to work with a model in Montreal was actually a chance to continue working with Gilda, whom I'd first met and photographed on New Year's Day, two months before. Where those sessions were of Gilda working with other models, this session have us a chance to work together, focusing just on her, as opposed to her in concert with other models.

I set up in the smallest room on the floor (there were three rooms usable as studios, but the smallest one was the easiest for me to work in). With two large windows, and empty walls (one white, the rest light yellow) the space was fabulous to work in - the entire session was spent working with available light, for both digital and the view camera and, while some of the exposures were a little on the long side, they were nothing that wasn't practical with a patient model.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
Because of the beautiful light available from the large windows, I spent much of the session working with portraits of Gilda, exploring the rich textures of her hair and the wonderful flow of her body. The whole session had a very interesting quality to it - as she had previously worked with me, there was already a comfort with the process, yet as her first session modeling alone, so there was an edge of the unknown to the images.

With the light so delicate and even, I made a large number of multiimag stitches during the session, especially a whole series of images I made against a pillar in the centre of the room. Because I wanted to experiment with numerous poses in the same space, I first made a multiimage stitch of the pillar alone, and then just made the images of Gilda in each pose, planning the blend the results together later in the computer (this is as opposed to having to make the additional images of the pillar where Gilda was not present for each new pose). This technique worked out very well, yielding not just a series of single images, but a wide panoramic image assembled from seven separate compositions (each made from 11 frames stitched together), which is visible in the patron's site's bonus material.
8"x10" film
My favorite portrait of the session was made just after we'd finished making the digital images against the pillar. Gilda was relaxing while I was resetting some equipment, and I happened to glance over at her. She had her hands pressed behind her back against the pillar, and looked just lovely. I asked if she could stay in the pose while I set up the view camera (such a quiet pose would be no problem to hold for the 1-2 second required to expose it), and she said no problem. A minute or so later, I was satisfied with the composition on the ground glass, and made the image - a wonderfully simple image, especially when set against the frenzied technical dance we had been going through minutes before making 77 images in a little over ten minutes for the digital stitches.

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