October 26, 2006

Three Models in Fredericton

The reason for the visit to Fredericton was to do a session on figure photography for the New Brunswick Craft College, as I have done for the past three years. In addition to presenting at the college, the trip gave me a chance to catch up with Kayla, and work with her and Jenn for a second time this fall (the first was during a similarly brief visit to Fredericton).
Digital original
The initial hope had been to work with Jenn and Kayla the previous evening, and with a new model, Paige, on this afternoon, but as things turned out, we couldn't find a location to work in on the previous evening, so I negotiated to work with all three models on this particular afternoon. Finding a space to work in was a concern as well, until we secured a room at the local arts centre. The location have beautiful large windows, and while the weather was poor and a little damp, that didn't really impact the light coming through the windows.
Digital original, 22 frame stitch
I began the session working with each model individually, before working with first two, then all three of them together. When working away from home, where time is limited, and scheduling is of the essence, I frequently try to book photo sessions one after the other, to maximize my use of time. In this case, with three models to work with during the afternoon, I tried hard to be fair to each and make the contribution they were making in terms of time and enthusiasm as valued as I could.
Digital original, 10 frame stitch
One interesting thing about this session was how much the room we were in influenced the images; with large windows on a second floor, it permitted me to work with a great deal of natural light, and even when I shifted to working with flash, the 5 meter ceiling let me light the models in a much for flexible manner. After setting up the black backdrop (as a strong contrast to the well lit room we'd worked in at the start of the session) because of the high ceiling, I could actually place a light coming directly over the backdrop, opposite the camera position. Usually I have to light from the side of the backdrop, in rooms with 3m ceilings, but in this case, I had the freedom to light in anyway way I wished!

Gothic Revival in Fredericton

Digital original
I have not worked with architectural subjects in any concentrated way since my trip to the USA in 2000. This is due to the strength of my interest in a specific period of architectural history (later 19th century military fortifications), and my lack of interest in most modern architecture (the fact that Halifax, where I live has little in the way of interesting modern architecture doesn't help this either). All this being said, I have a deep and unsatisfied love for architectural photography, so when I was driving through Fredericton in search of a source of breakfast foods, and passed by a beautiful stone chapel, I knew I'd have to return and photograph it before I left town to head back to Moncton.
Digital original
The chapel (St Anne's Chapel of Ease) turned out to be a 19th century Gothic revival church, based upon the older designs from Europe, as opposed to more contemporary designs of the era in which it was built. As such it had great resonance for me (I lived in England briefly as a child), and as soon as I could, I was back at the chapel, camera and tripod in hand, exploring the exterior, and making what images I could in the time I had. While I was photographing outside, Joy went and tried to gain permission to photograph the interior as well, but the chapel was in use for the day, and it would only be possible to photograph the interior on another day, which wasn't possible for us, given the schedule we were on.
Digital original
In retrospect, the most interesting thing about my photographs of the chapel is that they are all details. I had no interest in showing the building as a whole, set in modern day Fredericton. I was looking for the grace and beauty of old-world architecture, and found the juxtaposition of the "real" world around it, sidewalks, power lines, and single family dwellings, to be jarring and problematic. So I kept my eyes on the details for after twenty cold minutes or so of photographing, before heading off to make plans for the the rest of the day.

October 22, 2006

A Field Trip

Digital original
I find it fascinating that for all the time I spend photographing outdoors, working with the Nude in landscape, I still find a straight landscape hard to create. Every time I have a class field trip, I focus on working with the landscape, trying to make the most of the experience, but it usually ends up lacking something.
Digital original
I suspect much of this is rooted in two distinct and different aspects of the issue. First, while most successful landscape are created within a couple of hours of sunrise or sunset, my class field trips are usually conducted during the middle of the day, when the light is the least conducive to good photograph. If I developed a strong and focused interest in landscape photography, I could of course overcome this by simply getting up earlier, or staying out later to photograph. The second aspect is much more influential, I suspect, and that has to do with my connections to the subject. When I photograph the Nude, I am working with a subject that has been at the heart of my creative endeavors for almost two decades, and when I am photographing the landscape, I am simply making images because I happen to be in the space. The two subjects in no way share the same space in my heart, and I think, ultimately, this changes how I approach the subjects at the end of the day!
Digital original, 4 frame stitch

October 10, 2006

A Final Pregnancy Session with Carol

While Carol and I had a full studio session ten days earlier, we still managed to fit in one final session before she delivered a healthy baby a week later.
Digital original, 8 frame stitch
The session was short, as I'd really headed over to Carol's house just to keep her company for the afternoon, but when she said she'd be up for a short photo session, who was I to say no? I quickly put up my white sheets and had Carol sit on some cushions in the middle of them. Fortunately the weather was cooperating, and the sun came through a window onto the sheets, providing a brilliant highlight, and some wonderful contrast to the scene.
Digital original
It is a very different way of photographing, when all you seek is a single, archetypal image.For the past six months or so, Carol and I have been following a series of poses through her pregnancy, working towards a final image compositing the six months of photographs into a single frame (like this image of Carol's first pregnancy). This session was totally different, with us simply making new images for the celebration of light, beauty and the fruition of Carol's second pregnancy.

After half an hour of photographing, I strongly felt like I'd made a couple of very striking images, and packed up the equipment, and headed off with Carol for a walk (which was actually the original idea behind the visit).
Digital original
This afternoon's photographs marked my final session of Carol's second pregnancy; as a couple of days later, she went into labor, and delivered her second healthy child!

October 03, 2006

Kayla & Jenn in Fredericton

Digital original
In the fall of this year, Kayla moved to Fredericton for school; in early October, I had to head up to Fredericton (about two hours from where I was living, in Moncton, NB) for a meeting, so I got in touch with Kayla, to see if it would be possible to spend some time working together when I was in town. As it turned out, in addition to being keen to get in a session, Kayla offered to put me up for the night, taking some of the rushed quality out of the visit and giving us even more time to work together.
Digital infrared original
In addition to setting aside some time to work with me, Kayla mentioned my visit to several friends, and let them know I am always interested in working with new models. Several expressed interest, and one, Jenn, ended up modeling, first on her own, and then with Kayla, during the session. The session was in the evening, so I set up my flash equipment in Kayla's small dorm room, bouncing the light off the ceiling to give a soft, diffused light to the entire room.
Digital original
In the end, as much as this was first session for Jenn, the biggest influence in the session was the small space. I had to work hard to make compositions that worked in the location, and in the end, the best images of the session were the ones of the two models posing together, and those images tended to use closer compositions that focused more on details and the overall view. I am always impressed by how well first sessions often go with new models, but in this case, I was even more impressed, as I was so distracted from the session by location issues (all of which were overcome during the session) that I couldn't provide all the attention, encouragement and support which I usually try to provide to someone working with me for the first time.