August 29, 2007

L_ and I spend an Afternoon at Prospect

Digital infrared original, 23 frame stitch
Direct mid-day summer sun is one of the most challenging situations to work in, photographically. The light is unforgiving, revealing surface flaws readily, and there are only a few poses and settings which really benefit from it. Fortunately, L_ and I have worked together enough that we're both willing to put the effort in to make the best of a difficult situation.
Digital infrared original
The vast majority of the images work with L_'s figure orientated towards the light; in the case above, I liked playing with the layers of granite to create depth in an image with little sense of scale.
Digital infrared original
I think this is one of the most magical portraits I have ever made of L_ ; after an hour or so of focusing on the body in landscape, I shifted to focusing on portrait. We'd found a rock shelf that cast just enough shadow for L_ to pose in, and just then, the wind came up, and tousled her hair in the most delightful way.

August 27, 2007

Ingrid at Sunset on the Tantramar

Digital original
The last session of a wonderful weekend of photography was spent on the Tantramar Marshes that form the border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; I'd never worked in this space before, and didn't even know the best way to find a good place to photograph, so it was just by sheer luck that we discovered a wonderful isolated area in which to work.
Digital infrared original
As a sunset session, Ingrid and I had the pleasure of working with low, angular light - and in the above case, even make some images with Ingrid set against the sky. In colour, this image would have been incredibly harsh, but the luminous shadows in infrared worked well to balance Ingrid's figure with the surrounding grass, beach and sky.
Digital original, 7 frame stitch and focus blend
It is now 5 years since my first experiment with digital photography, and to be candid, I can't think of a single reason to prefer film over digital. For images like the one above, I would have never made such a strong translation of the scene into a photograph if I was working with film; it is true that a view camera would have added much to the image (increasing the depth of field significantly though the use of lens tilt, specifically), but as colour was something I almost never worked with, I suspect the results would have looked closer to the images of R_ at the coast, as opposed to the warm, welcoming feel of the above image.
Digital original
The most magical  part of this session was after the sun set, a full moon rose; we'd just begun packing up when I saw the round globe rising slowly in the east. I quickly asked Ingrid if she was up for one more image set and we reversed position - and the above was made. A wonderful end to a fabulous weekend of photography.

A Second Day in Shenstone with Ingrid & Tanya

Digital infrared original
The high grasses around the pond at Shenstone were perfect for portraits, with the back-lit sun picking up the leaves, and back lighting Ingrid and Tanya. Careful exposure, combined with the extra luminosity inherent in skin tone with an infrared camera, made this a wonderfully delicate portrait.
Digital original/digital infrared original
Though most of the small river at the back of the Shenstone property was shallow (less than a foot deep at most points), there was one point with a deep wading pool - perfect for making some watery portraits. In this case, I made both colour and infrared portraits - and rather than choose between the two, I have decided to show both - each of which I love for different reasons.
Digital infrared original
I have always loved the way water looks in infrared; when light strikes water, most of the infrared spectrum is absorbed, so with an infrared sensitive camera, elements in the image that are below the water’s surface are noticeably darker than those above it. In this case, the luminosity of Ingrid and Tanya’s figure above the water are surrounded by the deep dark tones of the river around them..
Digital infrared original
I think there is little harder than standing nude, and looking at a camera, but Tanya does it wonderfully. This portrait of Tanya makes me think of the white marble statues in Victorian gardens; perhaps it is the wonderful expression on her face.

August 26, 2007

Ingrid on the Shores of the Petitcodiac

At the end of a long day of shooting (working with three models), Ingrid and I headed to the shores of the Peticodia River, 20 minutes from where we were staying. The evening light was lovely and soft, and, even better, the low tide was just turning, and the muddy riverbank had been baking all day!
Digital original, 6 frame stitch
I have had a long love-affair with panoramic images, and the riverbank, with Ingrid standing among the grass, was a perfect place to use this approach, emphasizing the lines of the shore, and picking up the sky reflected off the wet mud and water.
Digital infrared original
With hesitation, Ingrid tried walking on the mud, and found it only lightly marker her feet. Minutes later we were working on the cracked riverbank, and making slow progress out into the mud, finally making this image. Perhaps once a year I am lucky enough to make an image as striking as this.
Digital original, 2 frame exposure blend
The last images of the session were spent working with colour, exploring the warm tones of the mud and Ingrid's skin, and the cool blues of the evening sky. I still find colour challenging to work with, but with the freedom to work in colour, black and white, or infrared opens all sorts of possibilies.

Ingrid along the Petitcodiac River

There are session which from the beginning feel perfect;  this session, at the end of an already awesome day working with three models, was absolutely that. Ingrid and I headed to the riverside of the Peticodiac River to work together for an hour or so. The evening was perfect, with lovely angular light and not a breath of wind.
Digital original, 8 frame stitch
The sea of grasses that surround the river, as it flows towards Moncton, are beautiful swept by wind and tide (the river is tidal until Moncton itself). This contrast between Ingrid‘s warm skin tones and the green and yellow around her helped make a beautiful place even more lovely. I created the images with an eight-frame stitch to ensure I had as much detail as possible in the grasses.

Ingrid and I had come to the banks of the Petitcodiac River, and found the mud, usually soft and squishy, baked hard by the afternoon sun. With great hesitation, Ingrid tried walking on the mud, and found it only lightly marker her feet. Minutes later we were working on the cracked riverbank, and making slow progress out into the mud, photographing as we went.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
Initially, Ingrid and I worked with standing and crouching on the dried mud, as I was concerned the mud would mark her skin, and mar future images. As things turned out, the mud was more that dry enough to lie upon, so the session moved on to some of the best images.
Digital infrared original
Perhaps once a year I am lucky enough to make an image as striking as this. Once Ingrid and I had made a set of images with her on the edge of the mud, she and I both moved onto the cracked surface, which permitted me to move the camera lower, and create the strong composition lines of the above photograph.

Three Models at Shenstone

The real focus of this weekend at Shenstone was the chance to work with three models - Ingrid, Miranda and Jesse on this day, and Tanya (as opposed to Jesse) on the next. The weather smiled on the weekend, and after a break for lunch, the three models and myself headed back to the small river that flows at the back of Shenstone, to begin the afternoon's session.
Digital infrared original

One of the joys of working with infrared photography is the magic of how it works with fabric - in this image, Jesse is wearing little black shoes, but in infrared, they became almost as luminous as her skin tone.
Digital infrared original, 3 frame stitch
Most of the session was spent with the three models posing together, working their lines into the flow of the river. Truth be told, there wasn't enough water for the women to really become immersed in, but the interplay between their bodies, with curve meeting line meeting shadow, was just wonderful to photograph.
Digital infrared original
After an afternoon of modeling in a stream, Jesse was air-drying, sunning her self in a towel by the river. The sunlight was falling directly upon her, but by photographing into the shade, I turned what otherwise would have been a serious problem (the contrast of the sun) into an advantage, providing rim lighting, and separating Jessie from the darker surroundings behind her.

It is hard to describe the privilege of working with such comfortable, keen and confident models, and spend an afternoon celebrating beauty in such a fabulous setting.

Morning Light with Miranda and Ingrid

After a relaxing breakfast with Ingrid, Miranda and Jesse (who had driven down from Moncton for the day), we headed out into the fields that surround the house at Shenstone. The morning light was horribly harsh, and my first inclination was to head to shade, but on a whim, I decided to check how the contrast looked with the infrared camera...and it was surprisingly low, so after asking the women to move into the field, we began making a series of portraits.
Digital original infrared
I don’t think I have a better portrait of these two fabulous women, though I have worked with Ingrid and Miranda for more than sixteen years, combined. The key of course is how well the two know each other; their pre-existing comfort and rapport is totally evident in the image
Digital original, 9 frame stitch

Just as I finished the portraits in the grass, some clouds began to roll in, providing some relief from the hard sunlight. The three models and I moved over to an old farming cart, and over fifteen minutes, we moved through a whole variety of poses, each of which could be combined with the others, through the stitching process. The above photograph combined the best poses of each model.
Digital infrared original, 3 frame stitch
As we worked with the cart, the light kept changing back and forth between sun and shade; each time the sun came out (when it looked to be out for some time) I switched to the infrared camera, and continued to photograph. My favorite of theses images is the above photo of Miranda arched out on the old cart.

This image was featured in the 2014 exhibition Evolving Beauty Miranda.

An Early Morning Tradition

Digital original
It seems that no matter how optimistic I am about working with models early in the morning at Shenstone, it is always either wet, or too early for the models. This time around it was the latter, but as the morning light was so lovely, I was up and out photographing while the two women slept in.
Digital original
I got lost in the garden for an hour or so, working between details and extreme close-ups of the flowers...then the breakfast bell rang, and I packed up the gear and headed to the house for breakfast.

August 19, 2007

Christine Models in a River

This was a near perfect day for photographs; lovely and warm, with high cloud and bright, but not harsh, light. Christine and I headed for my favorite river, to see what images could be made
Digital original, 13 frame stitch
The sweep of dark water around Christine helps focus this image upon the flow of her body - the line where it enters the water, coupled with the reflection below her breast are the only hints that the water is present around her.
Digital infrared original, 4 frame stitch
I frequently work between colour and infrared cameras, especially when working with water. There is a real beauty to how infrared records skin, and when that is combined with the deep blacks that it provides when working with water, the results can be really striking.
Digital infrared original, 18 frame stitch
Like the most perfect dream of a summer’s afternoon. This image was made after Christine had dried off, and we were making some Nudes in the woodland around the river. I caught a glimpse of the overhanging trees above a bed of moss, and instantly asked Christine if she'd try to find a pose that worked in the space; moments later, I started making this image.

I remember clearly asking in Art College why we always made square or rectangular images…my instructor said “because you never think to make circular ones”.

August 08, 2007

Another First Session!

Digital infrared original
The summer of 2007 has been slower than anticipated, in regards to creating new images, between the weather, work and scarcity of models. This being said, three days before this session I received a phone call from a woman who’d come across my work online (and happened to have gone to school with me, though we didn't know each other then), and wished to model. Less than 72 hours later, we headed to the coast for a four hour session, and got some great results!
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
 I couldn't have asked for a better day for this session; we arrived at the coast late in the afternoon, and the sky was a sweeping drama of wispy clouds and deep blue - the perfect sky for infrared photography. Mia was more than willing to work in the water-pools near the ocean, and helped me make a really striking photograph.

This image was included in the 2008 exhibition Memory of Water. A short video of the post-production of this image is online here
Digital original, 4 frame exposure blend, two frame stitch
The end of the session demonstrated why I love working in this setting so much - it is one of the few beaches on this side of Nova Scotia which permits a sunset to be photographed over water. A long shutter speed was used to soften the water, while a multi-frame stitch was used to balance the massive rock Mia was posing on against the water and sky behind her.