August 26, 2006

Lisa on McNab's Island

This session was a relatively short one, placed in the middle of an afternoon of sailing around Halifax Harbour. When I first started photographing the Nude, McNabs Island was one of my most common locations, as it was isolated, and easy to get to (as I had access to a boat and didn't know how to drive a car). Over the years though, I've visited it with less and less frequency, so the chance to work on it with Lisa was a double bonus - another session with a keen model, and a chance to work on the island.
Digital infrared original
The day was bright, so I decided to walk to the breakwater, in hopes of finding some shade to work in (most of my work on McNabs has been created with models posing in the various forts on the island, but with the time restrictions on the session, that was a little farther than we had time to go to). The walk to the breakwater proved how long it had been since I'd last visited, as part of the shore had been washed out by Hurricane Juan in 2003, forcing us to walk through a tidal stream to get to the breakwater.
Digital infrared original
Once we started working, the day proved to be near perfect; there were enough high clouds that shade was available, if infrequently, and the high clouds provided a perfect sky for working in infrared. Occasionally for some poses we found ourselves waiting for a cloud to move between us and the sun, or the reverse, but for the most part, we were able to work quite fluidly for almost an hour, before deciding to return to the boat and sail home.
Digital infrared original, 27 frame stitch
As we were walking back to the wharf, I found myself pondering on how different things were with this session from much earlier ones on the island. Then, I'd felt almost a sense of panic, not knowing where I wanted to work, what kind of images I'd be making, or what to expect in general. With years of working however, many of those questions had faded to a whisper, or disappeared altogether. I seldom worry about where to work, and never even both to anticipate what kind of images I'll be making, having long since learned that I prefer to discover possibilities as they present themselves, as opposed to forcing them artificially into existence.

August 22, 2006

Christine & Elisabeth at Pennant Point

Digital original
Christine and I had made arrangements to work together on this particular Sunday, and as I knew Lisa was also available that day, I asked Christine if she would mind a second model coming along; she had no problem with the company, so just after lunch, the three of us set out on a bright and sunny day. Because of the relentless sunlight, I opted to head to Pennant Point, where the rock faces on the shoreline would provide us with some shelter from the harsh sunlight.
Digital infrared original
I spent most of the session alternating between the two models, working with Christine for a while, and then switching to working with Lisa. This gave each model a chance to be the focus of the images and also gave each time to just hang out, relaxing on the coast line (and keeping an eye out for the next location in which they'd like to model).
Digital infrared original
This being said, I had the added advantage of being able to call upon the second model for any spaces that called out for a second body. Whenever this occurred, I completed the first image (with only one model) and then would call upon the other model, let them see from the camera position what I was looking for in the composition, and then ask them to explore the possibilities. More often than not, the final pose and composition was an evolution of my initial idea (as often models can find an even stronger pose through their own investigation of the space).
Digital infrared original, 6 frame image blend, 32 frame stitch
Overall, the afternoon at the coast was a pleasure, with the two model and I working our way along more than a kilometer of shoreline before we ran out of time and had to head back. For the most part, we followed my initial plan and kept to working in the shadows thrown by the high granite rocks, but that being said, from time to time we worked with direct sunlight, just to throw some variation into the mix.

August 18, 2006

Elena at Pennant River

Digital original, 25 frame stitch
My second session working with Elena was quite different from the first; the day was bright and sunny, we were working alongside a river in from the coast (though with water and rocks) and we had a little more of a time restriction. This is not to say any of these elements were serious issues (though the direct sunlight was frustrating), more to point out how different a session it was, especially to yield such striking successes.Elena had the time available to work with me, and we both wanted to work with moving water, so the other elements simply had to be worked around.
Digital infrared original
The session alternated between water nudes, and images made on the riverbanks, as Elena took a break from the water (the water wasn't terribly cool, but after thirty minutes or so, Elena needed a break to warm up). One advantage of this is that the session yielded a broader range of styles than a usual session at a river would, as we explored portraits and land-based nudes when working on the riverbanks.
Digital infrared original
As mentioned above, the day was bright and sunny, and this had a major impact the water nudes. As the sun was coming from almost directly overhead, finding poses that worked with the light wasn't all that hard, but getting long enough exposures to blur the water as I'd like proved to be near impossible. Normally I work with 6-stop (64x longer exposure) filters when making my water nudes, and on overcast days, these are perfect, but with the bright sunlight, even my 10-stop filters (1024x longer exposure) filters wouldn't cut the light enough to get a nice fluid look to the water. I could have stacked the filters (placed one over the other), but just like using very small apertures, this would have lowered the image quality, something I was loathe to do. As a result, while I was very pleased with several of the water nudes Elena and I created, I can't help but think of how much stronger they would have been with a longer exposure.
Digital infrared original, 30 frame stitch

August 15, 2006

Lisa Indoors

Digital original, 5 frame stitch
Normally, I'd almost never work indoors, when an outdoor session is possible (thus, from April to October, indoor sessions are a rare beast), but this afternoon was dreary and wet, so Lisa and I opted to work indoors.. This was my first session in my new home in Halifax, and would serve to give me some idea of what the space would be like to work with models in.
Digital original, 6 frame stitch
I followed my standard modus operendi, covering the large front window with one white sheet, and draping the couch with a second. The result was exactly what I'd hoped for - a near reproduction of almost every other indoor space I have used this approach with! When I began working with white sheets to diffuse room light and cover objectionable pillow patterns and the like in 1999, I hadn't though about how uniform the resulting images would become, regardless of the location (I have used this approach in easily a dozen different locations, in three cities in two provinces).
Digital original
As Lisa and I had first started working together indoors, the session was nothing new for her, but having worked outdoors several times since, she was quite aware of how different the process was. An outdoor session is driven and motivated by the surroundings, both in terms of setting, and light. By contrast, an indoor session revolves almost exclusively around the model, to the exclusion of everything else. While the illumination levels will vary between locations and times of day, the actual look and style of the resulting images is nearly identical, with all the focus and attention being placed upon the model's body. For some models, this can be disconcerting, but in Lisa's case, she reveled in the attention, and from start to finish, helped me make a very consistent series of strong images, be them portraits or body abstracts.

August 13, 2006

Ingrid & Natasha at the Coast

Early August marked my return to Halifax, after three years of living in Moncton (it is a wonderful thing to be able to move home, as opposed to move away). It also put me arriving back in Halifax only a handful of days before Miles (who helped me make the striking Rivergod I and Rivergod II images), would be leaving to pursue his PhD. Miles has grown into a great friend over years since we first met, and has introduced me to some of the most important models to my evolution photographically, including both Ingrid and Victoria.
Digital infrared original
So, with his impending departure in the winds, Miles proposed to mark his leaving in a similar what to how we met in 1998 - by going to Pennant Point with Ingrid (and this time, Natasha as well) to photograph for the afternoon. The session wouldn't be as long as the one nine years earlier (Miles still had packing to do), but over the couple of hours we spent at the coast, I not only was able to make some striking Nudes (including my favorite image of Ingrid for the year), but also some portraits, both of Ingrid (clothed!), but also of Miles and Natasha.
Digital infrared original
The session began with a series of nudes, working with Ingrid, and Ingrid and Natasha together; the day was bright and sunny, so I opted to work in the shade cast by the granite bedrock along the coast. From these images came a photograph of Ingrid sitting on a rock ledge, head arched back. The simplicity of this image belies the strength and impact I feel every time I look at it. The pale skin tones (due, in part, from the image being made in infrared) are set against dark granite, making the figure leap forward from the surroundings.

After the figure portion of the session was over, and people were packing up to leave, began making a number of portraits, first of Ingrid, and then Miles and Natasha. I seldom show my portraiture work online, as it is seldom germain to my fine art photography, but in this case, all the subjects are central to what I do, and the images celebrate them in a very different context from the Nudes which I have made of each of them.
Digital infrared original, 46 frame stitch
By the end of the afternoon, I'd had the chance to hang out with good friends, make a number of very pleasing images, and produce some portraits that are among my best of these highly photographed friends. All in all, a great way to mark a friend's departure for higher learning!

August 12, 2006

Carol's Pregnancy

Digital original, 10 frame stitch
The documentation of Carol's pregnancy continues forward, with us meeting roughly once a month, to follow the same three poses through her pregnancy. As her body changes though, more and more of our time is spent working on other images, exploring other visual elements of the beauty that is abounding in her ever changing body.
Digital original, 4 frame stitch
From this session onward, I will be living in Halifax, so the hope is that over the next two months, Carol and I will be able to meet more often, and create a broader range of images towards the end of her pregnancy, so we not only have the second series of belly-evolution images, but also another set of photographs celebrating the beauty that is the creation of her second child.

August 11, 2006

Elena at Long Beach

Elena and I had everything in our favour for our first session working together. The day was warm but windy, the light was bright with no chance of rain, but the sky was full of low, fast moving cloud cover, and we both had the whole day available to work, meaning there'd be no restrictions, time wise. It is a wonderful privilege, being able to work until the images are finished, or energy levels drops, as opposed to the time runs out.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
Elena had only modeled nude once before, but had lots of experience in front of a camera, so there was very little time spent adjusting to the process, once we got started.
Digital infrared original, 3 frame stitch
For the session, I decided to head to the coast, in hopes of dramatic sky-scapes, and some water nudes. As it turned out, the wind was a little too brisk for full water immersion, so we began with a whole series of images exploring the large rock forms along the shoreline, and working with the dramatic sky above.

The rest of the session was spent working our way slowly along the coastline, making the most of spaces as they presented themselves. The entire session was a pleasure, with a wonderful setting and total seclusion providing us the opportunity to work continually for an entire afternoon (this session was one of only two even in which I came close to running out of memory cards).
Digital infrared original
Right at the end of the session, before we packed up and headed back to Halifax, Elena did pose in a small tidal pool, helping me create both some beautiful water nudes, and a couple of stunning portraits. I find it ironic that we worked together for a whole afternoon, and yet two of the images three featured in my photo diary entry came from the last fifteen minutes that we worked together!