April 30, 2006

Christine in the Woods

At the end of the studio session with Christine, we made plans to meet up again, but this time to work more in my style, focusing on the Nude outdoors. As much fun as the previous day's studio session was, the images (fashion photos) were very much just for Christine's use.
Digital infrared original, 39 frame stitch
Christine had done some figure modeling before in the studio, but apart from one short session earlier in the year, she, hadn't worked outdoors previously. After walking for ten minutes to a location I'd worked in several times before, we started with some very classical images of her sitting among the granite rocks of a glacial till. I was using a borrowed telephoto lens for the session, so I made a large stitched image (39 frames) of the most successful image, using the lens' large (f/2.8) aperture to keep the depth of field shallow. 
Digital infrared original

After our first set of images was complete, Christine had become more accustomed to the process as a whole, and began suggesting locations or poses. For several hours, we worked our way through a visually rich landscape, predominantly focusing on her posing on and among rocks, but occasionally we managed to find poses that worked with the spring-bare trees, or even the small lakes, and the shallow Canaan River that flowed near the glacial rocks.
Digital original
Several times over the session, Christine and I worked on nude portraits, but it took some effort on both our parts to make these look natural and relaxed. So much of the photography that Christine is regularly involved with is fashion-based that it was her natural inclination to "pose" every time I would make a composition that was obviously a portrait. Over the afternoon that we worked together however, she gradually relaxed enough for several fine nude portraits to be made, portraits which seem to be very much about her as a person, not just about a pose struck for the camera.

April 29, 2006

Lisa's First Session

Lisa is, to my knowledge, the first model who has come to work with me as an alternative to getting a tattoo. While searching for a tattoo artist to work with, she came across a link to my work from a good friend's tattoo company, Permanent Ink. As a result, Lisa started to consider modeling, as opposed to a tattoo, as a way to express herself and work with her body creatively. Eventually, she reached the decision that she would work with me, and contacted me by e-mail.
Digital infrared original

After a couple of weeks of conversation online, I was due in Halifax to teach a workshop, so we made plans for a studio session.

There are many ways in which first time models work through the process of moving from fully clothed to modeling nude for the first time; Lisa fell firmly into the camp that just jumps into the pool, without even testing the water with a toe first. Ten minutes after we entered the studio, she was naked and modeling, with surprising ease and lack of stress.
Digital infrared original, 4 frame stitch
I had previously discussed with Lisa my frustration with the studio, in regards to difficulties with pose and inspiration. The warning was unnecessary; between the two of us, we worked for more than two hours, moving from idea to pose to a new idea and back again, with little time spent scratching our heads trying to think of what to do next. With studio images focusing so much on the model alone, personality is important in good studio work and Lisa brought lots of this to the session which helped guide the images.
Digital infrared original
By the end of the time we had allotted, both Lisa and I felt strongly the images would reflect the success of the session. And, to top it all off, Lisa immediately inquired about working with me again, even before she saw the results!

April 23, 2006

Alexandra & Liam in the Pool

Alexandra and Liam had come through Moncton on their way west in the middle of the winter and we made plans to work together again when they were on the return leg of their trip. I had hoped that would give us the chance to work together outdoors (all the sessions we have done together to date have been indoors, either with natural light or studio flash), but the schedule of their trip had them staying overnight and being back home in Nova Scotia by the middle of the next afternoon. With this plan in mind, we decided on a studio session on the first night and working with the morning light the next day.
Digital original

After the early successes with my wading pool nudes, I still had some technical issues to overcome. The biggest change was using black plastic to line the wading pool, hoping to conceal the texture of the plastic bottom. It turned out to be the perfect solution, removing almost all sense of the pool below the water.
Digital infrared original, 10 frame stitch
By this session, my third time working with the pool, I had worked out many of the other issues, so the session was much more straightforward than the previous two. Very quickly, I settled on the fact that it would only be Alexandra posing in the pool; Liam was simply too tall to fit. For the first hour or so, the images focused on the single figure emerging from the pool, but once we had worked through all the possibilities that presented, I proposed exploring the possibilities that would arise from adding Liam's arms to the image.
Digital infrared original, 25 frame stitch

It took a little arranging to get him into a position where it was comfortable enough for him to have his hands within the pool; after a bit of experimentation, we found something that worked. As I had imagined, just as working with a couple in a studio suddenly changes how easy it is to find successful images, after working with Alexandra for over an hour, and feeling utterly at a loss for new images, the addition of Liam's hands suddenly fostered the creation of a number of completely new compositions.

A Field Trip to Hillsborough

Digital original

The second field trip of the weekend followed close on the heels of the first, and provided me with a very similar mix of subjects. The small town of Hillsborough was once a thriving industrial community, but now only hosts a railway museum to remember its hay day. This proved to be a perfect setting for a photographic field trip, as students interested in landscape and wildlife can work with the wetland preserve at the bottom of the hill, and those more attuned to the industrial or man-made side of things can spend their time exploring the rich visuals of the railway museum.
Digital original, 12 frame stitch
I spent much of my time moving between the two locales assisting students with issues and generally providing whatever support was necessary. In addition, I did manage to spend some time photographing, alternating between macro photographs of flower, and more regimented images of the old trains and buildings. I worked in both infrared and colour, but it was a colour image which crowed the day - the last image I made, and without a doubt, the strongest result as well. As I was walking about collecting students at the end of the afternoon, I happened to walk around the back of one of the old buildings, which brought me face-to-face with a pair of old, weathered doors. There was no doubt what I had to do, and 16 images later, I had the stock material for the most magical image of the day - a beautiful, perspectively correct assembled stitch of the doors!
Digital original

April 22, 2006

A Morning Walk

Digital original

A definite side-effect of spending so much time teaching photography is that I now spend much more time photographing casually, either during the photographic workshops I teach, or just to create more material for my classes. On this particular afternoon, I was leading a field-trip for a 10-week photo course, an exercise more focused on helping the students work through the process of working with their cameras than making stunning images. All the same, it is quite surprising to me how easy it is to make strong images if one is just open to the possibilities.
Digital original
The field-trip was spent walking along the side of the Petiticodiac River in Moncton, though my eye was not drawn to the landscape but rather to the new bridge across the river and the rusted, discarded remains of the old span. I  have always had a fascination with abandoned and ruined architecture, and these spaces had everything I look for in a visual abstract.
Digital infrared original

Over the morning, I vacillated between grand, sweeping images of the underside of the new bridge, and close up details of the paint peeling off of old rusted pilings. In some ways, such images are sketches, designed to keep the eye nimble and open to varied possibilities visually, but regardless the results have an edge to them that really draws me in; a thread that runs through all my images is present in these as well.