May 29, 2007

Ingrid Poses on the Glacial Barrens

I have worked with the glacial barrens of Nova Scotia for over a decade now, and still never fail to find inspiration. This session was dominated by bright sunlight (sadly, the wealth of clouds in the background stayed there for most of the session, while the sun, which was over the ocean, remained unobscured).
Digital infrared original, 12 frame stitch
As we were walking out to the shore, I noticed a large glacial erratic in a flat bed of scrub, and asked Ingrid if she could work with it; moments later she was on top of the granite bolder. Over five minutes or so, we made a number of different images working with a variety of lenses, but the above image, using a longer lens and 12 frames, is the obvious winner.
Digital infrared original
I have worked with Ingrid for a decade along the Atlantic shores of Nova Scotia, and yet we continually are able to make strong images, as the lords of weather and light smile upon us. In this case, The morning’s clouds where just beginning to clear, providing the perfect background to Ingrid’s lovely pose below.
Digital original
Made during a break in the session, this portrait was made as Ingrid sat in the shade of a rock; while we chatted, I noticed how the wind kept catching her hair, and sweeping it in front of her face. The next time it happened, I asked her not to move it away, and made photos instead.
Digital infrared original
The end of the session was spent working with the seaweed that was abundant along the edge of the ocean. Some models are hesitant to work with seaweed, fearing it contains all sorts of beasties, but Ingrid has no trepidation, and was more than happy to dive in. As we worked, the light became softer (a cloud had moved over the sun), and the hash contrast I'd been fighting all day dropped to a much more pleasant level, giving Ingrid's figure soft luminous glow. At the same time, the cloud-covered sun reflected in the water around her, giving a nice white highlight to the image.

May 27, 2007

Joe Models on a Beach

Digital infrared original, 2 frame exposure blend
Joe’s second session during his visit to Halifax (and our first chance to work together in almost 5 years) was at sunset; the sky was wonderful, with the perfect clouds to permit me to use them as compositional elements. An old driftwood log half-buried on the beach presented Joe with the perfect place to pose.
Digital infrared original, 5 frame exposure blend
When working outdoors with the nude, I am often seeking elements in the environment to contrast or reflect the model; in this case, the slight rise in the grass on the dune mirrored well the rise of Joe's shoulder, and helped make the image work compositionally. It took a five-frame exposure blend to keep full detail in the sky above Joe, due t the sun being in the composition.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
Towards the end of the session, the sky, which had started out with some scattered clouds, became much more overcast, and filled itself with a rich, subtle pattern. I immediately asked show if he could find a way to work on the dunes that orientated him to the evening sky. The results exceeded my expectation, and created my favourite image from the session.

May 26, 2007

A Visiting Joe Modeling at the Coast

Digital infrared original, 3 frame exposure blend
I haven't worked with Joe since the summer of 2001, primarily because he lives in Florida. Though Joe and I haven’t worked together in almost 5 years, when he was in Halifax for a couple of days, he made time for a few sessions; this one was an all-day outing, with us hiking along the coast, and making images when the setting called out to one or the other of us.

When the day we set aside to work together dawned bright and sunny, I was a little frustrated; sunshine is challenging to work with at the best of times, and in the middle of the summer, it is particularly harsh.
Digital original, 4 frame stitch
We headed to the mouth of Halifax harbour, and worked along the shoreline facing the open ocean. The plains of rock that sweep down to the sea are full of forms, shapes and rock pools which provide a wealth of opportunities for compositions and poses. One of my favorite images, above, used the direct sunlight to flatten the details of the landscape, and focus the composition on the form of Joe's figure, the shape of the waterpool behind him, and the contrast in colours between the land and the sky.
Digital infrared original
The end of the sessions was spent working on top of the headland, with Joe posing on a series of glacial erratics. Again, the nature of the images was heavily dictated by the hard sunlight, in this case, drawing attention to the shape and lines of Joe's back.

May 20, 2007

A Bathtub Session with Tanya

In over 20 years of photographing,  there are perhaps a handful of sessions that I would define as perfect; this isn't to say I haven't had some fabulous times photographing over the last two decades, but more to say that it is a rare day indeed when EVERYTHING lines up as it should. This session was one of those, without a doubt.
Digital infrared original, 20 frame stitch

I have always had a love of claw-footed bathtubs, so when I saw this one (I actually helped tile the floor it is on), I knew I’d have to work with a model in it. Fortunately, Tanya was more than keen at the idea, and we spent a couple of hours of a wintery afternoon working with her in the tub. I initially started working with colour, but after seeing how infrared darkened her body as it was submerged under the water, I quickly shifted to working in infrared for most of the session.
Digital original
The light in the bathroom was wonderful to work with - the window was positioned perfectly at the head of the tub, and the reflected light off the white tub provided perfect fill for Tanya's face and figure. While most of the images with the bath were made with her lying in it, from time to time, as she sat up between compositions, I made portraits.
Digital original
This is probably the happiest I have ever seen a model during a session; we'd just finished working in the tub, and as Tanya dried off, she was talking with her boyfriend, and laughing about how much fun modeling was. I caught a glimpse of her in the mirror, and managed to make a candid image of the glee on her face!
Digital original
The second half of the session was spent in another room, working with a beautiful window and a couple of chairs; by the window was a large elaborate armchair that must have been over 100 years old, and while the images made with Tanya curled up on it were great, it was when she shifted to sitting in a plainer chair, still orientated towards the window that the best portraits were made.

May 16, 2007

Further Macro Explorations

Digital Original
In some ways I see my exploration and fascination with macro photograph to be parallel to my challenges of working in with digital cameras in colour - having worked for years in a black & white, making images that work in colour is not easy. Many of the approaches and assumptions I have used for years must be set aside when working in colour, and it is the same with macro photography.
Digital Original, 2 frame focus stitch
Having worked out that I almost always prefer shallow depth of field to deep, I have been really focusing on the question of where to focus, which brought up an interesting question: why should I be limited to using just one image to determine where to focus. So, with these last two images, I decided to experiment with blending together two images of the same scene, with different points of focus. I am really pleased with the results, and will have to see how far I can push this idea.
Digital Original, 2 frame focus stitch

May 14, 2007

Experiments & a Field Trip

This afternoon was spent working with students on a field trip. After a whole class discussion about knowing your preferences, and working against your "go-to" approaches, I decided to spend the whole field trip working with my longest lens (a 70-200mm lens at the 200mm end) as so often I work for entire field trips with ultra-wide lenses.
Digital original
The decision paid off almost immediately with an image of a small waterfall - the longer lens let me make a much more stylized composition than I would have usually created, and while I used a long shutter speed as usual, the motion blur was more about smoothing out the flow, the blurring any swirling and turbulence, which is usually my focus.
Digital original
An early sprint growth against a beach, lawn and water makes for a simple study of light and beauty with a long lens and large aperture.
Digital original
After getting home from the field trip, I made another set of images using a full set of extension tubes on my macro lens, this time focusing it on a dandelion. It proved really challenging to focus, and the depth of field was also really frustrating (very shallow, even at a relatively small aperture). It is essentially a perfect storm of issues, with diffraction, close focus (which reduced the brightness of the light severely) and depth of field all presenting serious issues. All that bring true, I still am determined to work the issue through.

May 09, 2007

Another Walk through the Public Gardens

Digital original
I will forever think of the above photograph as "Talk to the Hand:; the clean simplicity of the deep green background is what really makes this image work - it is amazing how beautiful grass is when completely out of focus.
Digital original
The same element is what make this image of a rose so pleasing to me - I am still new to macro photograph, and whenever possible make images at both extreme of the depth of field range...and almost always it seems, I prefer the image with the shallow depth of field.

May 08, 2007

A Spring Session with Christine

Digital infrared original
I would never have said I could have made a successful image under a highway overpass, but desperation leads to invention - this session was so sunny that we drove for twenty minutes to find shade - in this case, under a highway bridge.
Digital original

In addition to focusing on the body against the concrete structure, we made a number of portraits below the bridge, taking advantage of the shade it provided. Portraits rely so much on the connection between the model and the photographer, and this one is no exception, but in this case, there is also a certain magic coming from the subtle motion which makes the results really pleasing.
Digital infrared original, 36 frame stitch
After exhausting the potential under the highway bridge, Christine and I moved further down the railway track (the reason for bridge), and found a beautiful rock shelf that provided the perfect setting for an image set against the forest rising behind. I use a 120mm lens to make the source images for this composition, taking advantage of the limited depth of field of the longer lens to separate Christine's figure fro the foliage behind.

There are some settings where working with infrared has only a subtle influence on the results, but in this case, with the dark evergreen trees surrounding Christine, infrared took what would have been a dark and murky setting, and created something quite luminous, which works beautifully with Christine’s fair hair.

May 07, 2007

A Colourful Morning

Digital original
My work with macro and flowers is kind of a double exploration; though I have been working with digital for over two years now, I still find colour challenging, and even though it is "just a different lens", I am finding macro photography an interesting challenge as well. Combine the two, and I am almost out of my depth!
Digital original

May 05, 2007

Another Field Trip

Digital original
During a spring field trip for an intro photo course, I was drawn to the brilliant colour and gloss of water on the hood of a bright red car.
Digital original, 2 frame focus blend
The majority of the images I made during this field trip focused on the early signs of spring; flowers emerging from their winter sleep make for great subjects!
Digital original