July 12, 2005

Miranda V

The second day of the New Brunswick Portfolio dawned much as the first had, overcast sky, a forecast for drizzle and rain, and little sign of respite. Miranda's spirits were high though, so we decided to return to Bas-Cap-Pele and work with some of the other spaces we'd seen on our brief visit the day before, but didn't have the opportunity to investigate.
Digital infrared original, 28 frame stitch
Much to our frustration, when we arrived at the coast, the weather had shifted from ominous to inclement, with the rain being whipped about by the wind off the ocean. Fortunately, one of the spaces created by the eons of waves crashing upon the shore was made up of a series of interlinked caves, perfect for sheltering both Miranda and the camera-gear from the weather (though because of the slippery rocks and rainy walk out to the caves, I declined to bring along the 8"x10" camera). After making a five minute walk along the shoreline, we found ourselves nicely sheltered from the weather, working in a location overflowing with potential - that which sheltered us from the rain and wind also provided a magical background against which to work.

The session itself progressed well in spite of the weather, through Miranda did take numerous breaks to warm up. We worked out way backwards through the space, beginning at the farthest (and largest) cave, and working our way back towards where we'd arrived over the session. Almost all the images played off the lines and flow to the rock, with either Miranda finding the pose herself, or myself showing her what I'd envisioned, and her getting a sense of the pose from the camera's position.
Digital infrared original, 5 frame stitch
As the caves were so small, and the lines of the rocks so dramatic and sweeping, almost all the images of Miranda in the grottoes were multi frame stitches, often made with the 12mm wide lens. These describe the spaces quite well, but are often quite challenging to assemble in the computer, do to the distortion inherent in wide angle lenses. For a small number of images, I was able to be further back from Miranda (without moving out in to the rain) and could use a longer 50mm or 105mm lens to make the images for the stitch - often these images end up with the same dramatic wide-angle of a stitch made with a 12mm lens, but they are much easier to assemble (and much higher in resolution) due to the narrower angle of view of the longer lenses.

Because of my earlier work at Burntcoat Head, which shares the same deep red rocks, I knew that the exposures in the caves would be difficult at best, so I was especially careful to try to balance Miranda's pale skin with the dark red rocks that surrounded her. The temptation is to expose for the rich detail in the rocks, but this inevitably leads to loosing detail in the model's skin, so instead, exposures are biased towards ensuring detail in Miranda's figure, and the tones of the rocks, rendered too dark in the original image, are corrected in post-production later in the computer.
Digital infrared original, 26 frame stitch
In the end, as sheltered as we were, the weather put an end to the session, with Miranda simply becoming too chilly to continue working. We gathered up the equipment and set out back to the car, but I knew that behind me lay one of the best spaces to work I'd found yet in my eighteen years of photographing the Nude. A space to which I would return to again and again.

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