July 02, 2016

Ireland XVII (Neolithic Tombs, Ireland)

If Kilcooley is the easiest one-word answer as to why I wished to create the Ingrid Portfolio in Ireland, neolithic ruins might be the best two word answer. Ever since my 2008 trip to Scotland, I have been aware of how strongly these ancient sites resonate with me. In 2014, I visited the Poulnabrone portal tomb, and knew immediately it wouldn't work for images of the Nude (though it is stunningly beautiful, it is WAY too popular with tourists), so much of my pre-trip research went into finding neolithic tombs that might work for Ingrid and I.
The Parknabinnia (Irish: Páirc na binne - the field of the summit) wedge tomb is one of the more accessible tombs in the dramatic landscape of the Burren, and is surrounded by the remains of its cairn. The roofstone is over 3 metres long and now growing a crop of grass. Situated with one side facing the road, and the other overlooking rolling hills and fields, it was perfect for Ingrid and I, providing us with an incredible historic site to work with, and at the same time, being a secure place to work in. Located in an open field, the setting was blustery and cool, but the overcast sky has enough breaks in it to provide some contrast. Ingrid and I worked relatively quickly (given the cool temperature), but our years of working together paid off, with a number of strong poses combining with dramatic views of this ancient tomb with strong poses.
The second neolithic site we worked at this afternoon was Creevagh Wedge Tomb; set even further from the road in rough, overgrown countryside, it was a real pleasure to work with. By this time, the sky had begun to clear some, and the sun present more often then not. While Ingrid enjoyed the warmth of the sun, it did present some challenges photographically, and I continued to work with the infrared camera, both because of how it separated the prehistoric stones from the surrounding brush, and because of how it controlled the contrast of the sunny afternoon.
Unlike Parknabinnia, where Ingrid and I spent less than 10 minutes working, we spent more than half-an-hour at Creevagh, working with every angle, and trying to make the most of the posing potential. This investment in time and effort paid off, with a number of really pleasing images of Ingrid and the neolithic tomb coming out of the session.

An unexpected impact of how the Ireland project has evolved is that I have made no use to date of my neutral density filters; most of the settings Ingrid and I have worked in have encouraged a swift working process, which is the opposite of what neutral density filters require. At the Creevagh tomb, however, the afternoon had warmed up enough for Ingrid to be comfortable with longer poses, and a slower process, so for the first time, I made some long exposures, creating some motion in the clouds that moved above the Burren. In the end, I used layer masks in Adobe Photoshop to combine the long exposure images with the best of the Nudes upon the tomb, to minimise motion of the figure (the sky exposures took 30 seconds to create - too long a time for any human model to stay perfectly still).

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