October 22, 2007

A Fall Session with Ingrid (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Since we started working together in 1998, Ingrid and I have pretty regularly planned to work with fall colours, only to find our schedules and the weather almost always conspire to defeat us. On this late October day however, everything came together, and we headed out on a warm, sunny far afternoon, to make what images we could.
Digital original

The best part of working so late in the year is that even direct sunlight can be worked with. It is true that in this case, it was being filtered through fall trees, but regardless, the brilliant golden highlights on Ingrid's hair are what make this image say Autumn for me.
Digital original
As soon as I saw these brightly coloured leaves against Ingrid‘s belly, I knew I would focus on this as a composition - and as I explored the possibilities, the lines of Ingrid’s legs provided the perfect way to exit the frame. This image is very much a companion to another composition made in the same space.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
As it turned out, we were about a week too late for the best of the fall colours, so many of the images we made about the light, as opposed to the colours. As we were starting to plan to pack up and leave however, Ingrid was posing by a rock when she arched back - I caught a glimpse of the pose, and immediately asked her to hold it - and then i made the above image.

October 17, 2007

Fall Flowers at the Public Gardens (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 5 frame stitch
When I first shifted to working with digital cameras, I found making images in colour all of the time quite challenging, even when I expected them to be converted in to black and white. Even now, almost 5 years later, I find colour quite difficult. I am having much the same experience with macro photography - every time I set out to work with macro, I think I have all the problems under control, and then I find more I need to work though.

In some ways this is a frustration of my own making, as I am trying to combine macro with other techniques I use frequently, such as stitching. Not wanted to be limited to the resolution of my camera, or the angle of view of the macro lens, I have been been stitching macro images whenever I can...though in the case of the above photograph, working with a moving subject is proving challenging. I am starting to wonder about bringing a rod which I can strap to the tripod and the subject, just to limit its movement.
Digital original
The colours in the above flowers were so delicate, they were just perfect for the shallow depth of field I prefer to use when photographing flowers. Working really close to the flowers permitted me to abstract the flower somewhat, and gained a strong corner to root the composition in.
Digital original, 18 frame stitch
On my way back from a catch-up class for a student, I paused in the public gardens to revisit a flower I photographed last week - I liked the direction I went in then, but wanted to push it further - so instead of a single frame, I did a three-row, six frame wide stitch. This is one of the highest resolution macro images I have done, but the blend of the shallow depth of field, and high image quality where the image is sharp is exactly what I was looking for!

October 08, 2007

A Photo 101 Field Trip (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
As much as the spiral stair-case was the focus of this composition, I was equally enthralled by the colour of the light - day light from above and two light-sources inside the room. Such riches were never part of my work before the shift to working with digital cameras, which began in 2003.
Digital original
This is one of only a handful of infrared flower photos I have made that I think actually benefit from the IR camera; in most cases flowers just go all white, but with these, the centers stayed dark, keeping some contrast in the final image.

October 05, 2007

A Fall Session with Lavender (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

After the successes of her first session, I was keen to continue working with Lavender, and as luck would have it a couple of weeks later, our schedules coincided with good weather again. One of the best aspects of working outdoors in October is now low in the sky the sun is; during the summer, it has to be quite late in the day before the sun is at such a low position in the sky, but by mid fall in Nova Scotia, the sun is low in the sky for much of the late afternoon, providing beautiful angular light to work with.
Digital infrared original
The session started in an open clearing surrounded by autumnal trees. There were a number of glacial erratics in the space which were perfect for Lavender to model upon The first, above, put her a little above my eye-line, which in turn helped me make a very unique (for me) composition, looking up across her knees to her torso, pushed back into the angular sunlight.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
The follow up to the first image was a similar approach, but this time on a much lower rock, so the surrounding scrub and trees played a more significant role in the final composition. I experimented with the placement of the sun, but I felt the flare, headed directly towards her body, was just too perfect to pass up.

The last images of the session were spent working with Lavender and trees; I avoid working in Nova Scotian forests until the fall due to the bugs which are a huge annoyance during the spring and summer. In October however, it's possible to work within the forest for hours without being bothered by a single mosquito. That could be one of the reasons I find trees so challenging to work with; I just have not put in the time necessary to really on own the setting, photographically speaking.
Digital infrared original, 15 frame stitch
This image, however came together really well/ Lavender's dance experience shone in the placement and position of her foot, and the interaction between her and the trio of trunks behind her helps pull the image together.

October 02, 2007

A Fall Session with Jenn & Kayla (Noonan, New Brunswick)

Digital infrared original
Though we’d planned on an outdoor session, it ended up being very late in the afternoon before we started headed out, and the light was fading fast. I don't know the area around Fredericton very well, so had to rely upon the models for guidance. After a short drive, we found ourselves descending into a deep valley in a forest, where we started to work in the leaf-covered forest floor.
Digital original, 11 frame stitch
The mix of the fall colours and still-green ferns around the model was just lovely; usually I focus on line, shape and form when I am photographing, but I am slowly learning to be sensitive to colours, and in this case, I knew the image would be in colour from the creation - it was too rich to give up.
Digital original
This image was from the very end of the session; Jenn was willing to model for a couple of poses in the small stream running through the woods, but the water was moving so slowly that there was very little evidence of motion, even with an 8 second exposure.

This image was featured in the 2008 exhibition Memory of Water.

A Demo with Kayla (Fredericton, New Brunswick)

For the last couple of years, every winter I do a talk and demo on photographing the Nude for the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, in Fredericton. This year, Kayla agreed to be my demo model, and in front of the second year students we worked in a new space (to me) which had lovely large windows, which were perfect to work with.

Digital infrared original
I began the demonstration with some window portraits, using the window light to create some drama on Kayla's face, and play up the lines and curves of her figure. I could have worked with that space for hours, but only had 30 minutes to walk through the entire process.
Digital original
For the second half of the session, I put down the white sheets I've been using for years, and photographed Kayla lying on the floor below the windows; the light was softer (diffused through a sheet pinned over the windows) and the prone pose lead to more languid, relaxed poses.

October 01, 2007

Tanya in Fall Colours (Riverview, Nova Scotia)

For whatever reason, I've never made the most of the colourful fall foliage we have in eastern Canada; a combination of an inevitably busy schedule, cooler weather, and  the usual challenges of working with the Nude have always conspired to against the process.
Digital original

For this session, however, I managed to overcome every issue; I was in Moncton to teach a workshop, and had made plans ahead of time to spend an afternoon working with Tanya in the woods near Riverview, south of Moncton.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
As is my tendency when working with Tanya, much of the session focused on portraiture, though often overlayed with fall colour and brilliant foliage. There is no way I could have made this work  five years ago, before I began working with digital cameras, as so much of it focused on the colours of the leaves around Tanya (the obvious exception of course if the portrait above).
Digital original
In the end, though the session was focused on working with the Nude and fall colours, it turned out we were a little early for the best colour of the year, and only found a handful of trees with really rich colours. These I focused on specifically, and made a number of variations on the theme of combining the Nude with fall colours.