July 12, 2005

Miranda VI

After leaving Bas-Cap-Pele, we journeyed west, hoping the weather would ease, and perhaps even clear. Being less than familiar with the area, I decided to head to Cape Tormentine , where the ferry used to run to Prince Edward Island (this service was replace by a fixed link bridge in the 1990's). The small town was less than inspiration, in regards to finding spaces to work in with Miranda , until I found the old railway bridge, which would have been used to carry rail cars onto the ferry to the island. Sitting in the middle of a broad, overgrown field, the iron bridge was a riot of peeling paint, rusting metal and protruding rivets – a perfect space to use as a backdrop.
Digital original
By the time I'd discovered the possibilities offered by the railway however, Miranda was already well into a well deserved nap, recovering from the chill and effort of working on the rocks at Bas-Cap-Pele. With free time on my hands, I spent the better part of an hour clambering over the structure, and making abstract rustscapes, all the while seeing where the possibilities lay for images with a model (though the old bridge was in a field, it was easily within sight of a dozen or more houses, so discretion was necessary for any images we planned to make. By the time Miranda was warmed up and rested, the weather had settled on ominously overcast, but without actual rain. This was a marked improvement on the earlier part of the day, and Miranda, having come over to look at the railway bridge, declared she was willing and able to make whatever photos I had in my mind's eye.
Digital infrared original, 11 frame stitch
The first and most compelling composition was where we began, with the camera positioned as high as possible, looking down upon the edge of the bridge. As I am doing increasingly with multi-image stitches, I pre-made the bulk of the image, making the 18 exposures necessary for the surrounding image, and waiting until all that was complete and recorded before having Miranda disrobe and begin to work the pose. This approach has a number of advantages, the foremost of which is it keep the actual time that Miranda has to hold the pose to a minimum – for this image, I still needed three frames to capture the whole pose, but making three images is exponentially faster than making 18.

Once we finished working inside the rail bridge, Miranda and I moved onto the far side of it, where the peeling paint was a very attractive craqueline white, undershot with the deep tones of rusting iron. Here I was drawn to the deteriorating metal set against the verdant underbrush which had grown up around it. I explored the possibilities with no specific images in mind, and gave Miranda as few directions as were reasonable, telling her where I'd like her to position herself, and giving her a sense of what I was seeing through the lens. Where the compositions we made within the bridge were very formal and deliberate, here the images were much freer and spontaneous, exploring fleeting moments or subtle variations in pose, as opposed to investing time, effort and energy in a singular, particularly striking photograph.
Digital infrared original
The images that came from the abandoned rail bridge were quite unexpected, and very striking, especially in contrast to the other portfolio sessions so far, all of which have been rooted in the natural landscape. The two different approaches to image making – large, high resolution images from multi-image stitching and the spontaneous, less rehearsed compositions made outside the bridge were studies in opposite, but made with the same tool, interestingly enough.

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