September 11, 2005

Miranda at a Dam

Since moving to New Brunswick from Nova Scotia in 2003, I haven't had much chance to explore new locations as much of my time photographing in Nova Scotia has been spent working with places I was already familiar with, the logic being that it is better to make images in known spaces than risk spending a day looking for a location, only to find nothing workable. This session, however, saw me journeying to a new location, guided by my friend, fellow photographer and occasional model, Miles. He'd worked at the Sandy Dam several weeks earlier with Ingrid and, after viewing those images, I agreed with him that this would be a great place to spend a day working at with Miranda during my next visit to Halifax.
Digital infrared original
The location turned out to be near ideal, especially given the weather. The day was both sunny and windy, and being an early fall day, the wind was quite cool. Miranda was well sheltered, however, as the dam dropped down below the surrounding landscape and protected her from the chill wind that swept across the lake above.

While I was somewhat frustrated by the harsh sunlight, I was well aware that it was all that made it possible for Miranda to model; without the sun, the day would have been quite chilly. In light of that, the first images I made worked aggressively with the shadows, both on Miranda. Using an extremely wide angle lens on the DSLR camera, I use the shadows as a composition element, drawing the eye to corners, and emphasizing the flow of the image.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch

The other prevalent feature of the back side of the dam was the small set of steps that lead up to an access door. The steps were perfectly centred with the doorway above them; it was this symmetry that I worked with first, making an image with the view camera that centered Miranda on the stairs and used a rise movement (shifting the lens up higher in front of the film) to show all of the doorway alcove above her, without any distortion. Fortune shone her brightest as I was about to make the image and a small cloud passed over the sun, causing a brief shadow to fall across the scene.
Digital infrared original, 16 frame stitch

The final images of the session were created using the same pose of Miranda lying back on the steps but I prowled around her, exploring other angles of view. These I made with the infrared camera, using the different tonal response of the modified digital camera to give Miranda's skin a particularly sculptural quality that is impossible to obtain by any other method. In this case, it also showing some of the veining that infrared film can sometimes display under the right conditions. Again, fortune shone on me and, just as I began to make the image which would eventually be assembled into a 16 images stitch, the sun went behind a cloud, giving me the soft, even lighting I am so enamoured with and which produces such lovely results.

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