December 14, 2009

More Frozen Flowers

Digital original, 23 image exposure blend, 5 frame stitch

Digital original, 9 image exposure blend

Digital original, 10 image exposure blend, 3 frame stitch
This image was a complete surprise - the calla lily was recycled from the previous day’s work - I’d never had a flower survive a freezing, but when the previous day’s flowers melted in the sink, this lily was unchanged, which permitted me to freeze it again - yielding a completely different result!
This image was included in the 2010 exhibition `Frozen Light` which was displayed at ViewPoint Gallery, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

December 04, 2009

Ruth's First Session (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
Ruth came across my work online, and contacted me posing; she wished to mark a mile-stone in her life, and thought modeling would be the perfect way to celebrate. After meeting and going over my work, and her expectations, we scheduled a session!
Digital infrared original
Made at the very end of the session, this image was by far the strongest of the `body` images (as opposed to portraits). The soft afternoon light wrapped beautifully around her body, while the infrared camera elevated the skin tones just perfectly.

November 29, 2009

More Whole Flowers in Ice (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 30 image focus blend, 6 frame stitch

In the couple of years that I have spent working with frozen flowers, I have seldom had a “perfect” result, but this Christmas Cactus is probably the best I have produced. Fortunately, this particular flower block was created well into my explorations of the process, and takes full advantage of all the tools I've brought to the images (stitching for higher resolution, focus stacking for greater depth of field).

This image was included in the 2010 exhibition `Frozen Light` which was displayed at ViewPoint Gallery, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Digital original, 23 image focus blend, 3 frame stitch

November 21, 2009

A Day of Photography (Suris, Prince Edward Island)

Digital original, 6 image exposure blend
The primary reason for this trip to Prince Edward Island was to assist a photographer who was having challenging with her commercial photography; as part of the training, we visited the local church she frequently did weddings at - and as soon as we walked in, I knew what the primary challenge was - the building, while beautiful, has to be one of the darkest churches I have ever been in. Fortunately, with a tripod in hand, this is not an issue!
Digital infrared original
As soon as I saw the bridge between these two wharves, I knew I wanted to make an image from the middle of the bridge overlooking them both. The late autumn sky was relatively bright, and would have been pretty featureless when viewed with a conventional camera, but in infrared, the scene changed dramatically, shifting the sky towards a much more threatening role in the final composition.
Digital original
The last set of images of the evening were focused on working with the swiftly moving water - in the above case, a 30 second exposure blurred the river so much there is no distinction between the dry sand and the wet!

November 20, 2009

The Confederation Bridge (Bayfield, New Brunswick)

Digital infrared original
I've only been across the P.E.I. bridge a couple of times, but each one left me wishing I’d had time to stop and make some images. Fortunately, on this trip (to teach a workshop) I had an hour to spare, and spent some time working with the 17mm T/S lens, and the massive structure.
Digital infrared original
One of the challenges of working with the bridge is giving some sense of its scale; only a small portion of the bridge is prominent in the above image, but I hope the rapidly diminishing lines of the structure give some idea of the true scale of the bridge.

November 08, 2009

Cape Breton II (Cabot Trail, Cape Breton)

Digital original
The best part of the second day in Cape Breton was that it was covered with a light dusting of snow - not enough to accumulate in the valleys, but just the right amount to cover the hills, and set off the lovely colour of the winter trees.
Digital original
It was just by pure chance that I arrived at this highway look-off at the exact moment of sunset - in face, as it was, by the time the camera was set up and the image was made, the glow in the sky had faded noticeably.
Digital original, 2 image exposure blend
One of the frustrations I frequently have when working with landscape is how important the uncontrollable is (in this case, the weather). While this image is very pleasing, and works quite well, without the dramatic sky, it would be rather lack-lustre, bringing to the fore the question of what makes a good photograph - the photographer, or chance?

November 01, 2009

Red and Purple on Ice

Digital original, 13 frame focus blend, 2 frame stitch

Digital original, 9 frame focus blend

Digital original, 14 frame focus blend, 2 image stitch
The quest for colours continues - most of the primaries are covered now, but there a good many combinations of colours which remain to be explored, such as this pair!

October 31, 2009

Stephanie in a Masquerade (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original
I have never hidden my disconnection to photographing in the studio; where others are drawn to the incredible subtly and control it offers, I find the clinical sterility, and lack of inspiration stifling. That being said, when Stephanie asked if I wanted to do a studio session to celebrate Halloween, I was on board immediately.
Digital infrared original
The focus of the session was a Masquerade mask, which Stephanie had thought might make a good foil to inspire the session. We began with a set of images with Stephanie in a black dress with the mask, but there wasn't much there that inspiried me.
Digital infrared original
It was the second half of the session, when we worked with the mas and Stephanie nude that things came together for me. There was something cold and dispassionate about the mask, and I found the combination of that with the obvious comfort and openness of the nude created an interesting tension to work with. I am not sure if this will be something I pursue, but for this session, it really worked.

October 29, 2009

Frozen Blue (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 8 frame focus blend
Only a few of the frozen flower images in my series use more than one blossom, but when the ice freezes just right, these are some of the most pleasing photographs in the series.

October 28, 2009

A Detail Hero (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 9 frame focus blend
I found this orchid flower on the floor of a local supermarket, and asked if I could have it (there was no putting it back now); 30 minutes later it was surrounded by water in my freezer, waiting to freeze.

This image was included in the 2010 exhibition `Frozen Light` which was displayed atViewPoint Gallery, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

October 25, 2009

A Pair of Sunday Field Trips (Halifax & Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
A morning field trip, focused on shutter speed, went well, with the creation of the above composition of the fall rains running over the short waterfall at the Dingle.
Digital Original
The evening field trip, set on the Dartmouth waterfront, came with the perfectly timed evening train - just perfect for experimenting with different shutter speeds. The above, with the perfect glimpse of blue through the train, along side the shadow of the crossing sign!

October 19, 2009

Pale Orchid (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 61 frame focus blend, 8 image stitch

A new image…I haven’t worked with frozen flowers since the summer but, with the Fall in full force, I've begun freezing images.. This orchid was a gift from a friend who couldn't resist a half-price sale!
Digital original, 13 frame focus blend
The real pleasure came when I moved in for a tighter composition - the delicate colours of the flower and the pale yellow around it really looked great closer up. The 13 images it took to get everything in focus from front to back, and yielded something that looked even better than what I could see in person.

October 17, 2009

A Bridgewater Workshop (Bridgewater, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 2 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
I made this image part way through a workshop I was teaching in Bridgewater; I was demonstrating how powerful ultra-wide lenses could be, and while the intent was only to model an approach to working, I was really pleased with the results!

October 12, 2009

Elissa at the Burned Forest (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared
Fall sessions have the advantage of having more angular, directional light, even on the sunniest of days. I usually avoid working with direct sunlight, but in this case, the harsh shadows, combined with the dramatic dark lines of the burnt trees seemed oddly appropriate,.
Digital infrared original
If trees and woodlands are challenging settings in which to work with the Nude, a burned out forest is even more challenging; in this case I was fortunate that undergrowth was just starting to come back, providing some dramatic relief in infrared from the charcoal on the forest floor, an the black branches that extend from Elissa's figure in the centre of the above composition.
Digital infrared original
The greatest struggle of this session was creating order out of chaos, and keeping the focus of the images on Elissa's figure, when it was so easy for her to become lost in the riot of hash forms around her. The easiest solution, it turned out, was to use extremely large apertures with long lenses - throwing the back ground out of focus, and forcing the eye to stay on the only in-focus elements - in this case, a screen of burnt brush, and Elissa's elongated figure.

Elissa in a Blueberry Barren (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
I have always said that trees are hard to work with, when the primary focus of the image is the Nude; in this case, the back-lit fall foliage doesn't really balance with the strong arc of the branch, though the colours are pleasing enough.
Digital original
I have always found fall colours challenging to work with; autumn can come fast, and leave even faster in Nova Scotia, so it is easy to miss the best of the season's colours. In this case, while most of the trees were bare, the low brush on the blueberry barren was alive with red, which presented the perfect setting in which to create a portrait of Elissa.
Digital infrared original
While Elissa and I were specifically looking to work with fall colours, I often found myself drawn the strong angular light of the fall afternoon, which provided strong shadows to work with. The beauty of the low light flooding across Elissa's body is just magical in this image.

October 09, 2009

Sunset (Prospect, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
This was an unusual evening; usually I visit Prospect in the company of models, and spend all my time working with the body and landscape, but on this particular evening, I was visiting for the evening itself. On the walk out to the coast, I noticed this granite rock emerging from the calm water, and made the above image.
Digital original, 8 frame stitch
The real magic of the evening was the subset; usually brilliant and colourful towards the east, on this night, it was out to sea, to the south-west that had all the colour - some lovely yellow-pink tones that were just breathtaking to see.

October 03, 2009

Night with a Lighthouse (Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 2 image stitch
The beauty of the Atlantic Coast after sunset is seldom explored, but this field trip did just that, with myself and students first working on the ocean side of the rocks at Peggy's Cove (far from the bright lights of the parking lot and restaurant).
Digital original
The best image of the field trip came towards the end, as soft high clouds rolled across the sky - this provided a lovely backdrop to the rocks and lighthouse below.

September 21, 2009

Vanessa in the Burned Forest (Halifaax, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original
When I described the burnt forest to Vanessa, she immediately responded that it sounded like a great place to photograph - and off we went. The challenge of working in the location, of soot-covered trees and stark contrasts never materialized, as Vanessa immediately began to explore the space physically, suggesting poses and settings for images.
Digital infrared original
All through the site of the forest fire, I saw potential - dramatic shapes set against the new growth on the forest floor.Towards the end of the session I caught sight of a beautifully curved tree that was too large to have Vanessa pose against.  I realized, however, that by using it in the background, I could mirror its lines in the model’s body. The lovely, silky bokeh of the 85mm f/1.2 perfectly completed the image.
Digital original
I have had such success with infrared over the last couple of years that I frequently go entire sessions without making any really memorable images in colour. During this session however, I was frequently shifting back to colour, as the sky was a strong, rich blue, which was beautiful to set Vanessa's body against - especially with the out-of-focus trees behind her.

Vanessa in the Engine Room (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original
There is nothing as beautiful as window light, and this portrait of Vanessa, made in an abandoned World War Two era engine room takes full advantage of that. The large lens aperture helps keep the focus on Vanessa, not the setting, and the light on her face is near studio perfect.
Digital infrared original, 2 image exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
I have always loved the drama of wide-angle lenses, but have frequently been frustrated by the distortion and warped perspective that they often add to an image when used with smaller cameras (as opposed to wide-angle lenses on large format cameras, which can correct perspective with camera movements). All this changed in June of 2009, when I received my 17mm tilt-shift lens, which opened up much the same possibilities with my digital SLR camera.
Digital infrared original, 2 image exposure blend
I don't normally use the tilt portion of my tilt-shift lens (though I did use tilt all the time when working with 4"x" and 8"x10" cameras), but in this case, to emphasize and downplay to the room around her, I tilted the lens severely towards Vanessa. I am not certain I like the effect, but it was fun to experiment with.

September 05, 2009

Vanessa on the Barrens (Polly's Cove, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original, 3 image exposure blend
Vanessa came to my work through a mutual friend, and as soon as a day came along that worked for both of us, we headed out to my favorite Nova Scotian space to work in - the glacial barrens. The first successful composition, above, was made with one of the largest erratics in the area, and took full advantage of the exposure blending I have become so enamored with lately.
Digital original
It is hard to represent a session like this accurately in the blog format - I saved 115 images from the day's work, and only display three here. Vanessa and I made some really lovely image all through the afternoon, with her previous modeling experience blended with my persona aesthetic perfectly! The above photograph, one of dozens we made working in the ocean, is just magical with the sky reflected in the concentric circles around Vanessa.
Digital original
As we were walking back to the car, I kept looking for one more space to photograph in - for most of the session I'd concentrated on more dramatic images focused on the body in landscape, but I felt I hadn't made a really solid portrait of Vanessa yet. As it happened, a rock beside the path we were on was perfectly situated for the afternoon light to make a series of portraits, the best of which is above.