June 28, 2016

Ireland VI (Kilcooley Abbey, Ireland)

If asked to explain, in a single word, why I wished to go to Ireland to create a figure-based portfolio to celebrate 30 years of photography, I would have to answer "Kilcooley"; of all the places I visited in Ireland in 2014, it was my short exploration of Kilcooley Abbey that cemented my desire to return to Ireland someday with a model, and blend my two loves (photographing the Nude, and gothic architecture) together into a new body of work.
Kilcooley Abbey is a Cistercian abbey founded in 1182 when Donal Mor O’Brien granted lands to the Cistercians. The abbey, which is a sister house to both Jerpoint and Holy Cross Abbey, is considered to be a hidden gem, tucked away in a remote corner of County Tipperary. 

Ingrid and I began working with the most distinct feature of the abbey - a beautiful west window complete with delicate stone tracery. I actually made three sets of images, making the most of the lenses I had with me - the first is above, made with a long lens and Ingrid quite far from the window. This created some great compression of space, and helped keep the window from overpowering Ingrid's figure. The other two sets worked with Ingrid much closer to the window, and actually upon the window (which is Ingrid's favourite).
Once we finished photographing with the West Window, Ingrid and I moved a little further into the abbey, where we worked with a lovely doorway and hall, which was lit by a pair of lancet windows. The space was rich in possibility, and we made a whole series of really pleasing photographs. One that stands out for me, however, is the above image her arching in the lovely window light, with the the beautifully carved wall behind her.
As Ingrid and I moved through working in the abbey, I was in seventh heaven - the light was stunning, the setting was captivating, and Ingrid and I were clearly drawing upon the almost eighteen years that we have worked together. The only real challenge was deciding which of all the different options the abbey presented to pursue next. Fortunately, one obvious location to work in was a beautiful tomb located in near the East Window. The final resting place of a knight named Piers Fitz Oge Butler, who died in 1526, the tomb is famous for carvings of 10 apostles on the front side.
After working on the stone floor in front of the tomb, Ingrid and I shifted to exploring the possibilities of a beautiful small circular window set in the side wall of the nave. I worked in both colour and infrared with this space, unsure about how important the colour would be to the final results (I am finding that colour is not all that important to most of these images). Of all the spaces we worked at in the abbey, Ingrid enjoyed this on the most. At the very end of the explorations of the space, I asked Ingrid if she could do one additional pose with her on the tomb in front of the window, specifically thinking that adding a second figure to the images of Ingrid working with the circular window would work well.
The last image set of the day was made of Ingrid with the yew tree, which was planted in the centre of the cloister (though sadly no actual cloisters remain. Ingrid and I had worked our way slowly over to the tree, and were in the middle of working with it (in it in fact) when Angie came around the corner, and let us know there was a hiker approaching. Within a minute, we were all wrapped up, and after some discussion, decided to call the session (and the day's photography) to a close.

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