September 11, 2005

Miranda on a Hill of Sawdust

The second half of the day I spent working with Miranda was spent exploring the possibilities presented by a massive pile of sawdust from a long abandoned saw mill in the middle of the woods. I am not exaggerating by using the word massive - this sawdust pile has to have been close to 500m long, and easily 8m high - putting us close to the top of some of the trees that surrounded it.
8"x10" flm
Initially, I was somewhat dubious that the sawdust hill would present much of interest visually, but when we can across the first piece of abandoned machinery, a line of half-buried chain of massive dimension, I began to change my mind. Then, moments later we came across a partially buried drive shaft of some huge machine, and I immediately set down the camera gear, my eyes suddenly alive with the possibilities.
Digital infrared original
Five minutes later, Miranda and I were exploring the possibilities of the piece of machinery. We both were very careful to avoid placing footprints in the soft sawdust around the metal, while doing our best to discover the most successful pose possibilities. After a couple of minutes of experimentation and sketching with the infrared DSLR, we'd worked out a number of successful poses, and changed over to working with the 8"x10" view camera. I worked with the camera placed on the shady side of the drive shaft, using the direct sunlight as a rim light, which also had the side effect of helping to set Miranda's figure off against the surroundings.

After we finished working with the half-buried machinery, I made a small series of portraits of Miranda, standing with her back to the sun. This was somewhat of a hold over from the New Brunswick Portfolio, where our mods-operndi was to constantly inject a portrait series into almost every location.
Digital infrared original, 18 frame stitch
The end of the session was spent working with the huge chain that we'd seen when we first arrived on the sawdust pile. I wasn't sure what could be done with it, but the lines and shapes of the links, emerging and disappearing over and over again was quite engaging visually. After some experimentation, Miranda managed to find a number of very successful poses, which when combined with the lower autumnal angle of the sun, lead to some very dramatic images in this desolate location.

One thing to note about this session is that is was my last using my 8"x10" view camera. For personal reasons, over the fall of 2005, I made the transition to working 100% digitally, selling the last of my film cameras, and changing my chemical darkroom over to a digital one.

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