July 13, 2005

Miranda XI

Abandoned houses are some of the richest spaces to work in with figure models, being both haunting visually, and generally quite private. Miranda and I have only once worked together in an old house, but the images from that session were so successful, I was quite hoping to have the opportunity to do so again, during the creation of the New Brunswick Portfolio.
8"x10" film
Fortunately, our guide to the area around Woodstock had already scouted out several locations, including one beautifully weathered house alongside the road in Bellville. A quick exploration revealed numerous spaces to work in (sadly, the stairs to the second floor were removed, so we were limited to working on the main floor only), and in relatively short order, we'd set up and started making images.

The majority of the photographs Miranda and I made in the old house revolved around window light, both because this was where the brightest light was, and where the most beautiful light could be found. One interesting element to working in a man-made structure like a house is that it lends itself to upright poses, where many natural settings tend to work better with extended prone position (stretching out on rocks, or curling up in a pool of water). This helps inject some variety into the resulting images (sometimes my work is criticized for containing too many elongated, prone poses).
Digital infrared original, 3 frame stitch
As we worked within the house, I was somewhat oblivious to the weather outside, but as I changed my approach to using the outside of the house I started to have to consider the light - by this time, the sky had cleared enough to permit the occasional patch of sunlight to come through, and as welcome as these were as a sign of the end of two days of rain and drizzle, the harsh sunlight on the weather-worn white building was hard to work with. For the first image, looking into the building to see Miranda looking through another window, it was crucial to have the light on the building as soft as possible, so we had to wait until the sun was behind clouds before making the image.

The final series of images Miranda and I made with the abandoned house focused on working with the doorway on the side of the building. I chose the space both because of the wonderful skew to the door, from the slow decline of the house, and because it was sheltered from the direct sunlight.
Digital infrared original
The session in the house was perfectly spaced within our day - with the arrival of the intermittent sun, the afternoon had warmed up considerably, with some of the most difficult light to photograph in, so the chance to work with window light and doorways was most welcome, and while the house was definately in decline, it was more than safe enough structually to accomidate out attentioned for the afternoon.

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