July 30, 2015

A Short Session with Ingrid (Sandy Lake, Nova Scotia)

Ingrid and I had no destination in mind when we set out to work on this lovely summer evening, but very quickly, we narrowed down the options (close to Halifax, few to no bugs) and ended up at the old saw mill site; we'd both worked here before, but not together.
Digital infrared original, three frame stitch
The first set of images was made on the saw-dust pile (to call it a pile does not do it justice; it would be like calling the Sahara a sand-box); there was not much machinery left, but the main drive shaft, where I'd worked with Miranda during my last session working with film in 2005, was still there. Ingrid explored a number of pose possibilities over a handful of compositions, but the above image was my favorite, with a really pleasing composition, and a lovely interplay between the lines of Ingrid, and the wheels upon which she posed.
Digital infrared original, nine frame stitch, two frame image blend
The second space Ingrid and I worked in was also a part of the old mill; a mix of concrete and metal. Because of the setting and time of day, there really was only one angle that worked aesthetically, so once Ingrid got up onto the structure, we made a quick series of images with a variety of poses - the final image that most draws me in is actually a combination of two poses, which creates a rich interplay between the two figures (all be it both of them Ingrid).
Digital original, three frame stitch
The final set of images were the most engaging for me - off to the side of the site was a massive rusting hunk of machinery (obviously part of the old mill); there was no sense of its purpose, but just by chance, it was at a perfect height for Ingrid to pose upon. We spent a good fifteen minutes explore the possibilities of the space, and I ended up with a really interesting set of images. It will take some time before I can "internalize" them to the point where I really know which is the strongest, but the first one that really caught my eye is above, with a great sense of life and motion to Ingrid's pose, and a really pleasing interplay between her body and the gears.

July 29, 2015

St George's Interior (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 14 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
My second chance to photograph in St George's Church built on the work I made earlier in the summer, but with the increased resolution of the Canon EOS 5DsR, the images took things to a new level of detail and fidelity.
Digital original
As with the previous session in the church, I worked between the ultra-wide 17mm tilt-shift, and longer lenses - a 300mm. The above detail of the organ took full advantage of the compressed perspective and narrow angle of view of the long lens.
Digital original, 5frame exposure blend

July 27, 2015

A Wet Rainy Monday (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

I was hoping to be out photographing today, but the constant rain and fog wrote off that plan. Instead, I moved ahead with improving my Lightroom catalogue; I spent the fall and winter replacing old scans of medium format film with new copies, photographed using a copy stand I built, a macro lens, and my Canon EOS 5D MKII. Today I took that same approach with my new Canon EOS 5DsR, and applied it to the largest format film I used, a collection of 12"x20" film images I made in 2001.
Mounting a 12"x20" negative on a frosted window
After an initial test with a diffuser proving the back light for the negative showed up issues (the copy image also recorded the fabric pattern of the diffuser material). I tried again with a sheet of vellum, which proved perfect, providing a soft, diffuse light behind the film, but not transferring a pattern behind the negative.
12"x20" film
Once all the film was copied, I imported the RAW files into Lightroom (as a negative image, above), applied an inverse curve (shifting the negative image into a positive), cropped out the rebate, applied some tonal adjustments and retouched some dust and marks on the image. The final result (below) is a 39 megapixel resolution image from the original film file.
12"x20" film

July 17, 2015

St Paul's Church (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, three image exposure blend
I spent this morning working with a one-on-one client in St Paul's Church, in downtown Halifax; the oldest building in the city, it was a perfect place to practice photographing indoors. The first composition I made is almost mandatory for me when working in a church - a view down the central isle, looking towards the altar. I took advantage of the new HDR and PhotoMerge options in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to finish this image in a faction of the time it would have taken me a year ago!
Digital original, three image exposure blend
As we moved towards the end of the church, the organ pipes became the focus; I enjoyed the interplay between the pulpit and the pipes, and made this vertical image to emphasis the space around the altar. For this image I used my Canon 24mm TS-E lens; ironically, when Canon came out with the EOS 5DsR, they also release a list of recommended lenses - and this lens was not on the list, but as this image proves, the lens has no problem recording all the rich detail of the scene.
Digital original

July 15, 2015

Upon a Foggy Evening (Long Beach, Nova Scotia)

This session was my first working with K_ on her own; she'd first posed in the fall of 2013, but that session, and each time she modeled since, was with her friend Jenn. There are definite advantages to working with multiple models; it permits each model some downtime while I work with the other, and opens up the opportunity to make images with two figures, as opposed to just one, but at the same time, there are distinct advantages to working one-on-one, the greatest of which is establishing a rhythm to work the work.
Digital original, two frame stitch

After many days of harsh sunlight, it was a pleasure to have a chance to work with soft light - and even more pleasing when we arrived at the coast to find it was overlaid with fog; I've only worked with the Nude in fog a handful of times, but each time has marveled at the quality of the light.
Digital original, two frame resolution stack
The portion of the beach K_ and I worked upon was scattered with long-bleached tree stumps and standing remains of trees; these provided a wealth of spaces for K_ to pose, and occupied the majority of the session. There is a real pleasure to working with a confident model, in a location rich in potential, with perfect light and no concern about time or pace
Digital original, 2 frame stitch

July 14, 2015

The IR Converted EOS 5Ds (Polly Cove, Nova Scotia)

Though I received my new Canon cameras (a Canon 5Ds and a Canon 5DsR) almost a month ago, it was only today that I finally managed to get out and work with the infrared converted EOS 5Ds with a model.

Ingrid was kind enough to come out to the coast this morning, and spend an hour working with me and the camera; because of my schedule, we ended up working in some of the worst light of the day, with hard, unrelenting sunlight falling almost directly down upon Ingird.

Fortunately, we managed to find a number of spaces the had enough curve and drop to them that there began to be some form to the figure from the falling off of the sunlight.
Digital infrared original
Long ago I discovered how rich seaweed could be in infrared, and one of my favorite images from this session was made in a small patch of seaweed near to breaking surf; a narrow ledge on the opposite side was enough to give Ingrid a space to pose in, and after paying some attention to the direction of the light, we together came up with a pose that brought the image together.
Digital infrared original, two frame stitch
One of the final photographs of the short session was also one of my favourites; made from almost directly above Ingrid, I really like the surreal quality of the light, pose and setting.

All in all, it was a good full test of the new camera, and setting aside small differences of button layout, and the obvious advantages of 2.5x more resolution, it was just another photo session - which is idea, because while the camera brings so much more to the process, in terms of the quality of the results, it didn't seem to really make much of a change to the process as a whole.
Digital infrared original

July 12, 2015

Working with my New IR Camera (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

After obsessively tracking it's route, my new Canon EOS 5Ds finally arrived back from infrared conversion by LifePixel; I won't be able to use it in a session with a model for a couple of days, but I did manage to spend a bit of time photographing with the camera today, just to check it out.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn't ideal for infrared photography - the sky was hazy and lacked the drama of a clear blue sky with fluffy clouds. Wanting to work with a familiar subject, I headed to the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, in the Holy Cross Cemetery. I'd included an image of this building in my exhibition The Light Beyond (2012), and was interested to see how the new camera compared to that photograph (which was a five-frame stitch from an IR converted Nikon D70).
Digital infrared original

Overall, my first impressions are really positive; the camera didn't seem as sensitive (in regard to the exposure) as the previous Canon EOS 5D MKII, but that will be easy to measure in a side-by-side comparison with the older camera. Working on the images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, the added resolution (50mp vs 21mp) presented a wealth of detail that would have been missing from the same image on a lower resolution camera.
Digital infrared original
The real advantages of the higher resolution was revealed in the second image (with the two trees towering over the building). Made with the EF 16-35mm f/4 lens, I used manual lens correction in Lightroom to remove much of the lens distortion. This in turn required the image to be cropped some. In the past, I've been hesitant to use this technique, as it cost image resolution, but with the Canon EOS 5Ds, after cropping the image was still over 31mp in size!

July 08, 2015

Ingrid and Evening Light (Polly Cove, Nova Scotia)

After Ingrid and I finished working at the river, we began the drive back to Halifax. With some time and light still left however, we decided to take a slower route, and take a bit of time to work with the evening light on the glacial barrens.

The first setting that caught our eye a massive glacial erratic, sitting isolated below a side-lit evening sky. Seeing the sky, I immediately planned to work in infrared, using a super wide angle lens to add some drama. As the evening sun was soft and angular, I asked Ingrid to lean back against the rock, and found the best composition to blend the drama of the rock with the lovely sky above.
Digital infrared original, 3 frame stitch
After we finished working with Ingrid at the base of the erratic, she clambered up on it, and I made a series of photographs with the line of her body on the rock edge, set against the sky. Again, the infrared camera was the ideal took, adding more drama to the rock, and adding some drama to an already pleasing sky (in colour, the sky was quite delicate, where in infrared, it had significantly more kick).
Digital infrared original
The final photographs of the day were made working directly on the bedrock; after working for most of the session with infrared, I decided to work in colour, and see what I could do with the soft evening sunlight.
Digital original
Using a wide angle lens permitted me to keep the focus on Ingrid’s figure, while still including an erratic rock in the background, and showing much of the landscape around her. The colour is really pleasing in the image, making me glad I shifted to working that way for the end of the session.

July 07, 2015

At a River with Ingrid (Dorey Lake, Nova Scotia)

For this session, Ingrid and I hoped to work with a river; as my favorite place to photograph models in water is no longer an option, we had to search out a new place to work. Fortunately, I had a location in mind, and after some driving and a little walking, we found ourselves beside of a smooth flowing river, contemplating where to begin.

After a few compositions made in the verdant moss beside the river, we shifted to working with the river. The first image of Ingrid perched on a rock is a little unusual for me, as I usually work with models immersed in water, but I was drawn to how the light wrapped around her, and the break in the trees just behind her head.
Digital original

For this point onward, Ingrid posed in the river, and she and I moved through a familiar dance, with me suggesting a space, her finding a pose, and me refining it, and then finding the compositions. Often I photographed from multiple perspective, and made several successful images of the same pose (which makes it hard to select a favorite, sometimes).
Digital infrared original
After working in the river for an hour, we packed up and headed back to the car. Before we left however, we made a final set of photographs of Ingrid in the shallows of the lake that fed the river we started in. Where the earlier images focused on water motion, these portraits played more with shallow depth of field, and the soft light in the afternoon shade.
Digital original
Without a doubt, the best part of working with the same person for seventeen years is how strong a rapport this creates between the model and the photographer. With Ingrid, this comes through in how well she knows what I seek in my images, and how she can craft poses that help propel my work forward.

July 04, 2015

Delayed Canada Day Fireworks (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original

After a foggy evening on Wednesday, July 1, the Canada Day fireworks were held on Friday July 3rd As I was setting up waiting for them, I tested the defocus technique on the bridge.
Digital original
In contrast to last year's Natal Day Fireworks, I felt the Canada Day display a little lack luster; most of the large explosions were white, and as such, they didn't work as well as expected with the defocus technique.