November 27, 2013

Nuart Review Feature (Halifax, Nova Scotia)


A selection of my fine art Nudes have been featured in the Winter 2013 issue of NuartReview. The selection includes a broad range of my work, the oldest image being a self portrait from 1991, and the newest an image made with Ingrid last year (twenty-one years of work!).If you click on my name on the cover, you’ll go right to the feature on my work (beginning on page 256).

November 16, 2013

Fort George Details (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

I have always loved these alcoves, drawn to the contrast between the soft shadows on the curve, and the hard edge of the wall. Using a tilf-shift lens, I have the camera even with the top of the alcove, and have dropped the lens, to exagerate the perspective of the floor.
Digital original
Even through they are almost 150 years old, the 7" RML guns at the Citadel are in amazing shape, and provide a beautiful subject to work with.
Digital original
This whole session was flavoured by the long lens I was using (a Sigma 120-400mm); I am not completely sold on lenses this long, as I find it harder to relate to the subject from the distances it forces upon the process. All the same, images like this, abstracting the side of the RML into repeating shapes, couldn't be realized with another lens.

October 26, 2013

Fall Foliage (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 2 frame focus blend
On the way back to my car from a Photo 101 field trip, I saw this leaf, either fallen or placed in the fence around the Public Gardens; the colours wewre just lovely, so I paused a photographed it. To ensure the background would be as soft as possible, I blended two images, one with the 150mm lens's maximum aperture (f/2.8) and one at f/8.

October 19, 2013

A Dartmouth Waterfront Field Trip (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
Though I have no real affection for modern architecture, there is something quite beautiful about a sky reflected in a glass building.
Digital infrared, three frame stitch
One reason I am seldom without my infrared converted DSLR body is skies; there is not comparison between an infrared image of a dramatic sky, and one made with a colour camera, and converted to black and white.
Digital original, two frame stitch
The most magical part of this field trip was just after twilight, when the ambient light started to mix well with the man-made light of the ferry terminal. I particularly like the coloured reflections on the tires.

October 12, 2013

Jenn and K_ Model by a Fall River (Dawson Brook, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 6 frame stitch
K_ had accompanied Jenn on her previous session, to get a sense of what it was like to model Nude; at this session, she decided to take the plunge, so the first set of images were made of her reclining by the river.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
The reason for choosing to work at Dawson's Brook was the water, but given the time of year (late fall), actually posing in the water was not an option, so as many of the poses as possible worked along the edge of the water, mixing the static poses of the models with fluid, motion-blurred water.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
The final image set of the day was made at the foot of the water fall, working with the small waterfalls that flowed out of the pool there. Using an ultra-wide angle of view (accomplished by stitching together 17 images made with a 40mm lens) I was able to balance Jenn's figure against the foot-high water fall directly in front of me, something that would have been impossible with a narrower angle of view.
Digital original, 17 frame stitch

October 05, 2013

A Fall Session with Jenn (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
One of the rewards of how I work is the long term relationships that can develop with models; I first worked with Jenn in New Brunswick in 2006, and photographed her four times between then and 2008. I hadn't heard from here for five years, when out of the blue, she got in touch, revealed she now lived near Halifax, and asked if I'd be interested in doing some more photos. There is no doubt what the answer was, and though it was early October, the weather smiled upon us, and on the next weekend, we went out and began our 5th session working together in  seven years.
Digital original
In some ways, this session was more of an exercise talk than a photo session; as neither of us was familiar with the setting, we spent easily half our time walking around and looking for spaces for Jenn to pose in. Ironically, for all that we spent 90 minutes working together, most of the successful images (two of the three shown here) were made less than five minutes from where we parked).
Digital infrared original
One of the most surprising images from this session was of Jenn posing on the base of a transmission tower. Initially I was dubious about the possibilities the space offered - it seemed a little unrelated to place a body against such a frail, angular form, but as Jenn explored the possibilities, so really striking compositions emerged, including this, my favorite.

September 30, 2013

Monique Celebrates her Pregnancy (Bedford, Nova Scotia)


Digital infrared, 16 frame stitch
When Monique, who moved away from Nova Scotia years ago, got in touch to let me know she was pregnant, planning to be in Nova Scotia, and wondering if I'd have time to do a pregnancy session, I immediately replied "YES", and proceeded to clear my schedule as much as possible, to facilitate her narrow window of opportunity.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
With only an hour or so to work with, Monique and I worked quickly between a number of different settings and poses; one advantage was her previous experiance working with me (we'd first worked together nine years earlier), which made the transition from walking into the space, and making our first images almost non-existant. That, coupled with the fact that I knew the location well and already had some compositions and poses in mind, made the session both fluid and productive.
Digital infrared original
I chose the location for the session for two reasons; first it is one of the closest spaces I know if, so little time was spent on transportations, and second, it contains fomr great settings for infrared photography. Surrounded by woods, there is plenty of light foliage to work with if desired, while if the composition focuses on the river, the dark rocks and water give some great contrast to the luminosity of bare skin.

August 20, 2013

L_ Models aat the Coast (Prospect, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared, 2 frame shutter blend

For L_'s fourth session working with me, we headed back to the coast, to work with the rocks and ocean that have long been my love, aesthetically. The day's forecast was for nothing but sun, and we could only work together during the middle of the day (i.e. when the light is at it's worst), but knowing the location well, I expected I could work around the light, and get some images worth our mutual time and effort.
Digital infrared, 2 frame shutter blend
One of the great advantage of working in infrared is how it renders foliage and plants - including seaweed. The rockweed in this image, a dull green-brown in colour, is almost as luminous as L_'s skin, and when combined with a long shutter speed to blur the waves breaking against the shore, it creates a magical environment for L_ to post in. All told, we made a dozen or more variations on this image, experimenting with different poses.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
I really like the classic lines of this pose; coupled with the rock that almost envelopes L_, and the flow of the sky above, it all comes together into a really pleasing composition. The second last image of the session, made almost three hours after the first, provides some evidence of how little the sun changed during the session - the light was still harsh, direct, and from almost directly above.

August 12, 2013

L_ Poses on a Spiral Stairway (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, two frame stitch
I'd explored the photographic potential of the stairs in the Dingle tower before, but this time, was fortunate to have a model (and spotter) with me. During the earlier visit, I'd determined that there really was only one point of view that I liked, so after a lot of adjustments and careful camera placement, L_ and I could begin working.
Digital original, two frame stitch
I'd had some hopes to work with infrared on the stairs with L_, but the light levels were so low that it was impractical (only small windows light the space, which foreced the exposures to be 2.5 second long at 800 iso...for conventional light - the infrared exposures would have been more than 10x that long - impractical on a variety of levels.
Digital original, two frame stitch
As it turned out, from start to finish, L_ spent just a little over 6 minutes working with the stairs; as soon as she found a pose I felt worked, she'd freeze, and I'd make the image, and then when that was done, take another step down, and continue to explore the space.

August 08, 2013

A Sunset Session (Long Beach, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original

I am often asked why I am so attracted to working with infrared light, and this image is a great example of what I find so engaging. The drama in the sky is 100% rooted in infrared photography, as are the light tones of the seaweed on the rock below Liz. In colour, the image would work, but in infrared, it transcends the literal, and becomes an interpretation of the scene, as opposed to just a representation of it.
Digital infrared, two frame stitch
For a good ten minutes I worked with this basic composition, experimenting with different camera angles, and poses for Liz; what made the image different for me was I focused more on the shadows and negative space than the highlights, which is backwards from my usual approach.
Digital infrared original
One of the best parts of working close to sunset is how low and angular the light becomes; with this portrait of Liz, the low light looked wonderful on her skin, and created a beautiful graphic quality to the final portrait.

August 03, 2013

Natal Day Fireworks (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

I have been working closer and closer to getting the firework results I've seen elsewhere, created by shifting the lens focus during the exposure. This image I particularly like as it clearly shows the MacDonald Bridge, which the fireworks are fired from.
Digital original
The challenge of the technique is the lack of predicatability of the firework, combined with only an approximate sense of what the image will look like. In the end, out of hundreds of exposures, only a handful were worth keeping.
Digital original
With only two large firework displays a year, I do eventually expect to get this technique down to an exact science, but I suspect will be at least another year before I get that far.

August 01, 2013

A Waterfront Field Trip (Halifax, Nova Scotia)


There is no denying that part of the joy of working with infrared is the magic of now always knowing how things will turn out; I was attracted to the reflections of the morning sun off the glass in this building, but when I made the image in infrared, it looked dramatically different that when seen in colour, and shifted the whole image in a more surreal direction.
Digital infrared original
I have always had a deep and abiding love for corners, and simplicity, and in this image, I found both.
Digital infrared original
I always keep one eye on the sky, when walking around with my infrared converted camera; more than any other element, it is the sky that makes or breaks an infrared image. In this case, I saw these wispy clouds approaching, and knew that as soon as they moved above the tree, the image would begin to work (as opposed to the same composition with a dark, featureless sky).
Digital infrared original

July 23, 2013

A Graveyard Field Trip (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared
One of my first exposures to infrared photography was in the 1980's, in a book of Edgar Allan Poe poetry, which was illustrated with infrared photographs of graveyards. During this one-on-one field trip, the student was enthusiastic about walking through an old buying ground, so who was I to argue.
Digital infrared
One thing that always pleases me is how open the shadows are in infrared, when working on bright, sunny days; that, combined with the magic of how foliage is rendered, explains much of what I find so enthralling about infrared photography.
Digital infrared
I really enjoy the haphazard angle of the older tombstones, in such an ordered, planned environment.

July 20, 2013

A Night Photography Field Trip (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original , 2 frame stitch
I grew up sailing past this building, the empty husk of an old power plant; seeing it rejuvenated and renewed, as the head of Emera (formerly Nova Scotia Power) is a real pleasure. Most people photograph it in the morning, when the sun and morning sky reflect off the glass, but I quite like it at dusk, when it is back-lit against the fading evening sky.
Digital original
My last image of this field trip, focused on night photography, was of Pier 21, took full advantage of the strong reflection of the street lights on the side of the old rail car. The 90 second exposure rendered the couple of people who walked through the image invisible.
Digital original

July 19, 2013

A Waterfront Field Trip (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
While talking with a student about the importance of being open to "light" as a subject, I happened to see the reflections from the water's surface on this side of tall ship; initially I thought the image would just be of the hull and reflection, but when I saw the sail in the net above, I knew it would be the perfect way to complete the composition.
Digital original
Walking back from the waterfront to my car, I caught a glimpse of this beautiful wall; the blue light was perfectly positioned to overlay the meeting of the horizontal and vertcal beams, and the simplicity of the setting was just lovely to work with , compositionally.

July 06, 2013

A Waterfront Walk (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, two frame stitch
This evening was spent walking along the Halifax waterfront, waiting for the sun to set (at which point a Night Photography field trip would commence. As I walked out Purdy's wharf, I was greeted by a lovely evening sky, stretching out across the harbour.
Digital original, four frame exposure blend
The evening sky was a perfect backdrop for an image of the Purdy's Wharf office complex; as the sun was setting behind it, a careful exposure blend was necessary to capture all the detail in the sky, and in the building itself.
Digital original, 4 frame stitch
The last images of the day were actually made after sunset, when the sky was turning a rich deep bue. My 17mm lens wasn't wide enough to capture the dramatic vista above me, so I had to stitch the final image together from four separate exposures (giving an angle of view closer to 12mm or so).

July 03, 2013

L_ at the Coast (Polly Cove, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
I have a near terminal aversion to working with direct sunlight, but as this session started later in the afternoon, and the sky seemed to promise some respite, L_ and I set out for the coast regardless of the sunshine. Luck was with us, as by the time we reached the coast, the sky was almost toally cloud covered, though the very first set of images, above, had the tail end of the sunlight.
Digital infrared original
When I'd asked Liz what she wanted to do for her first session, she replied "I'd love to create some images laying over/inbetween big rocks, small pools of water etc" - so she got her wish. We worked with this rock for some time, exploring the possibilities in regards to posing. The side of the rock Liz worked on was never a question, as by this time, the evening sun was starting to break through the low clouds and fog, giving some directional light to provide some definition to Liz's figure.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame exposure blend, 3 frame stitch
The last images of the session played off a small water pool; I made two sets of photographs, one close, with ultra wide lenses, and the other above, using a long lens to compress the perspective, and use the pool to provide a partial reflection of L_'s pose.

June 27, 2013

A Replica Fort (Louisburg, Cape Breton)


Digital original, two frame stitch
The last time I visited Louisbourg was in 2002 when I was still working with film. The first image of this trip points out the difference the new digital world can make; using my 17mm tilt-shift, I made two exposures, one with the lens shifted all the way left, and another all the way right - then in post I put the two frames together, effectively producing an image with about a 10mm angle of view. With film, this would have been impossible (even ignoring the fact it is in colour, and I only worked in B&W the last time I was here).
Digital original
This image has almost the same point of view as the above photograph, but made with a 400mm lens, it has more than 40 times more magnification, focusing on the distant spire and crenulations, as opposed to the moat in front of me.
Digital original
Walking through the Governor's Apartments and the King's Bastion Barracks, I enjoyed working with the natual light, coming through the relatively small windows. The rich directional light was great to work with - the only thing that would have made it better would have been a model (in period clothing of course) to set into the scene.

June 15, 2013

An Evening on the Island (Charlettown, Prince Edward Island)

Digital original
After a day of teaching, a friend and I walked around Charlottetown , photographing in the quiet light of the early evening. As I often do, I alternated between working with my widest and longest lenses - the above photograph of the back of the legislature being made with my 400mm lens.
Digital original, 3 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
One of the last images of the walk around town was this celebration of these stairs. I really like the simple, clean facade of the building, but the flowing steps coming down from the main door present a great contrast to work with photographically.
Digital original
After driving north from Charlottetown, a friend and I waited on the north shore of PEI for the sunset; fortune shone on us, and the moon rose shortly before, providing a great contrast in the sky as it darkened with the end of the day.