August 01, 2005

Ingrid & Natasha at the Killdevils

After the previous evening's unplanned session with Ingrid at Chain Lake, one might think I would have had my fill of water settings for this visit to Halifax and seek to work in a different locale, but nothing could have been farther from the truth. With last night's images still resonating in my mind, I couldn't say no when it was suggested we try working at Gold River. This was a space I hadn't visited since 1999 when Ingrid and I had our last session before she moved to the Pacific coast and, based on the strength of our collaboration since her return, I knew the setting would inspire both of us.
Digital infrared original
Ingrid and Natasha were both available to model for the day, so with the models, myself and my good friend Miles, a fellow photographer who was the model for the River God I & II images, we headed off to Gold River. The day was overcast with a forecast for rain but we all held out the hope that the weather would be different on the South Shore, or at the very least, hold off until the session was over.

As I haven't worked at Gold River in six years, I was prepared for change, but all the same, was rather surprised to see a handful of houses built overlooking the river, not close enough to interrupt our process working by the Killdevils (a specific place where the river narrows through a rocky passage, and then widens into a broad, deep bottomed bowl), but certainly preventing us ever working in the up area of the river again. Even so, the river was beautifully to behold, with plenty of water for motion-orientated images, but not enough to ever put the models at risk of being swept downstream.
Digital infrared original, 4 frame stitch
I began working in the Killdevils proper, exploring the possibilities of the slow moving water and more careful, refined poses. When working in water, the pose is often dictated by a combination of the setting and the temper of the water - a calm lake provides much more opportunity for careful composition and posing than a swift moving river.

I made a number of compositions working with both models in the same frame, before heading off with Natasha to make some images of her alone. I was particularly enamoured with the possibilities suggested by her pale body emerging from the deep, dark water of the Killdevils - a stark contrast further enhanced by the creation of the images in infrared. The final results, with her pale, radiant torso set among the darker water was everything I'd hoped. One interesting side effect of working with digital infrared is that I find myself back in the world of a darkroom-based image; while I can get a sense in the field of how an image will look, I don't know for certain until I am back at home and have processed the image in the computer.
8"x10" film
After finishing the series of images of Natasha, I switched to working with Ingrid, who had been further up river modeling for Miles. Ingrid has always had a love of water and, for perhaps fifteen minutes, I made a series of multi-frame stitches of Ingrid in the swirling river. At this point, I decided to switch from the digital SLRs to my 8"x10" view camera. I had seen a number of possibilities in the spontaneous river nudes of Ingrid that I wished to try with the larger camera. After carefully clambering over the rocks with the camera and lenses, I proceeded to make the previsualized series of images with varying success. Most missed the freshness that I'd seen with the digital cameras, but one in particular, of Ingrid lying back along a rock, with her hand stretched out over the raging water behind her, looked perfect on the ground glass. After refining the pose to get the angle of Ingrid's body just right, I made the exposure. With a bit of cropping in the printing, the image is just as I envisioned it - drawing subtly on the hand of Adam in Michelangelo's Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.

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