April 30, 2005

A First Session for Carol's Second Pregnancy

Carol's first pregnancy was also the first time I was able to document an entire pregnancy, from start to finish, resulting in a couple of image collections (here and here) which chronicle the entire pregnancy. So when Carol let me know she was pregnant again, I didn't expect the invitation to document the second baby as well, but it was thrilled when it was made! Carol wished to have a similar series of images, and wished to began as soon as the next time I visited Halifax.
Digital original
Like the first series, we planned the images around a couple of poses we hope to recreate throughout the pregnancy. It was tempting to simply reuse the stairway pose we'd used in the first pregnancy, but I didn't want to series to simply be a second version of the initial set, so instead, we decided to work with the couch in her living room, following a couple of poses there that should nicely describe the progress of her baby's growth as her term progresses.
Digital infrared original
The real treasure of this second pregnancy for both Carol and I is that I expect to be back living in Halifax before her due day, which should give us some opportunity for outdoor images before the baby is born. With the first pregnancy, while I was able to make it down to Halifax to do one outdoor session several weeks before her baby was born, the day was quite wet and cool, forcing us to cut the session short, and work in a less than ideal setting. This time, I hope we'll be able to get out and work in a more bucolic setting, better suited to such a magical time in a woman's life.

April 13, 2005

Amber's Pregnancy

Though I don't have a formal studio to use in Moncton, I have become quite adept at improvising workable spaces where I live, especially if the images are limited to a single model, or in this case, parts of the model. For this session, I borrowed a second studio flash from a friend and set up my living room with a black background, a large sheet on the right side to diffuse the main light, and the second flash to the left to serve as rim lighting on that side. While somewhat cramped to work in, the lighting worked perfectly and gave me exactly what I was looking for.
8"x10" film
The reason for the careful focus on the lighting was the fact that this session was likely to be my only opportunity to work with Amber. We'd met to talk about the pregnancy photos a couple of days before and she was due to give birth in the next week or two; while she was quite interested in having the photos done, there was no guarantee that we'd have a second session together before she had her baby.
Digital original
The focus of this session was on the swelling belly, and the beauty of the pregnant body, reoccurring subjects in pregnancy imagery. I alternated between full-body poses and closer compositions of just Amber's belly, or her belly and hands. Towards the end of the session (just before I discovered a serious technical problem!), Amber asked about using a thin, white robe. Normally I avoid clothing in my own work but, as the session was very much focused on making images that would please both the model and me, I acquiesced and we began working with the thin shift. As it turned out, the images were quite engaging, with the lighting working well with the translucent white fabric and the hint of nudity emerging from below.
Digital original
One thing to note is that a good portion of the images from the session were seriously compromised in quality because I was using my newly acquired Nikon D70 without having fully explored its features. Unfortunately, I had it set to "Auto ISO on", which automatically boosted the ISO on the camera to 1600, because of the low light levels. I should have caught on earlier in the session than I did, because of the high power I seemed to be getting from the flashes, but as I was so focused on getting the best images in the shortest period of time, I didn't clue in until I was reviewing some images 3/4 of the way through the session, and noticed the ISO setting was at 1600! A quick resetting of the cameras functions saw me resetting the ISO to 200, adjusting the light levels, and revisiting many of the more successful poses. The blame for this error lies squarely on my shoulders, due to my lack of familiarity with the new camera, but I am glad at least that I managed to catch the problem before the end of the session, and had time to remake some of the more striking images from earlier in the session.