July 30, 2017

Tall Ships Fireworks (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

This was actually my second night trying for the tall ships fireworks; the first night was fogged out. The good thing about that was that I knew where I wanted to be on the second night, so when it ended up being a warm, clear night, I was on the pier, waiting for the show to start.
Digital original
The first image was the only one with light on the tall ship in the foreground...as soon as the fireworks began, they turned off their lights...but I was 30 second into an exposure when they began the show, so I had some ambient light on the ship to go with the first volley of fireworks.

Digital original
From there forward, it was image after image, for over 200 frames...as the show progressed the sky filled with smoke, but as it took on the colours of the show, it wasn't that bad.
Digital original
The low-resolution files here don't show the full detail of these images, especially in the shadows, but they do give a good hint to how impressive the show was o made all the stronger for the tall ship in the foreground!

July 21, 2017

A Cool Session on a Hot Day (Polly Cove, Nova Scotia)

One of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer day in Nova Scotia is to head to the coast and wade into the ocean...or if you are Ingrid, model Nude in it. In recent days, Halifax has been sunny and swelteringly hot, so when Ingrid phoned and asked if I had time to do a coastal session, so she could cool off in the ocean, I enthusiastically cleared the time in my schedule, and the next day, we arrived at the coast in the early evening, enjoying the ocean breeze, and the cooling balm of the Atlantic Ocean.
Digital original
Ingrid's love of water has always influenced the images we have made (she is in 1/3 of the images in my 2008 water-focused exhibition Memory of Water). While I started working with the Nude in water a couple of years before we began working together in 1998, there is no denying that Ingrid's love of all things aquatic (except for sharks) has helped shape an entire direction in my work. 

We began the session working at the end of narrow spine of rock the pushed out into the ocean proper; though we saw some promising water pools en-route, the shallow water at the end of the rock, surrounded by beds of sea weed, seemed to be the perfect location to start the session.

Within minutes of starting to photograph, Ingrid was fully immersed in the ocean, cooling off and having the best of time.
Digital infrared original
Most of the session was spent working under a blazing summer sun, which made working with my infrared camera extra challenging. As infrared light can't be focused on with a traditional auto-focus system, I rely upon LiveView, and manual focus when using the infrared camera..and with the sun so bright, even this tried and true method proved challenging, to say the least. Many of the images I made took full advantage of smaller apertures and wide-angle lenses to ensure sharp images.
Digital original
As the session progressed, some low clouds began to form, softening the light some, and providing some welcome relief from the heat of the direct sun. This improved the sessions significantly, as it became much easier to focus the infrared camera, and in turn, easier to compose using the LiveView screen (many tout a major advantage of the SLR camera system is the ability to view the composition directly through the lens, but personally I prefer to work with the LiveView image, evaluating the entire image on the screen).
Digital infrared original
Towards the end of the session, with the tide coming in, Ingrid and I finally shifted to working with the tidal pools we'd seen when we first arrived...although by this point, they were no longer pools, but inlets, as the ocean gently reabsorbed them. To our benefit however, this formed a wonderful space for Ingrid to work with, creating a shallow inlet dividing two lines of bedrock. We worked for perhaps fifteen minutes in this space, refining the pose and composition until the final result (above) was made, bringing the line of the sky and the rock below Ingrid into alignment with the corners of the frame.

Ingrid and I both felt very positive about this session, and while our first session of the year provided some strong images, this session, especially towards the end, felt much more familiar - as if the one-year break between our work in Ireland and now, had only been a matter of days or weeks!

July 18, 2017

Ingrid and I mark 19 Years (Prospect, Nova Scotia)

This session marked two mile-stones; it took place a little over 19 years after Ingrid and I first worked together (our first session was in 1998), and it was Ingrid's first time modeling since her cancer diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy. Even before her surgery, we'd discussed continuing to work together after she recovered, and this session was the first chance we had to resume our collaboration

Though it was forecast to be a hot and sunny day in Halifax, Ingrid and I headed for the coast, to Prospect. Ingrid and I had only worked here once before, so there was a wealth of potential to be explored, as she encountered a landscape I knew well with fresh eyes. An added bonus was we arrived to find the coast shrouded in fog, which was far preferable to sunshine for photography.
Digital infrared original
We began the session with a set of images focused on Ingrid set against the breaking waves below her, but it was the second set, made in infrared, of Ingrid posing in a shallow crevasse on a black granite rock face that really caught my eye. The infrared made the figure practically glow, and the dark granite had just enough texture and detail to keep the image from becoming too harsh.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
Though it has been over a year since we last worked together (in Ireland), we quickly found our creative stride, and increasingly over the session, images presented themselves to us quite spontaneously. The above image, made about half-way through the session was one of these - Ingrid was shifting her pose, moving from lying on her stomach to a back-on pose, when she reached up - the the line from her hand to her shoulder, hip and into the leg revealed itself. I asked her to recreate the movement, and hold it as I made a set of images.
Digital infrared original
By far the most challenging images of the session were the last set, which were all focused on a small waterpool Ingrid came across, and asked to pose beside. Her initial idea was to set her body against the black rock on the right side of the pool...but she quickly discovered that rock was VERY slipper, so opted to pose upon the granite on the left side of the water...which left me very gently walking over the slippery, black rock to find the angle to photograph from.

The beauty of the rock pool became otherworldly when photographed in infrared - the bright green algae at the edges shifted into a ghostly white, and the black rock upon which I carefully moved dropped to a near dead black, which all contrasted perfectly with the delicate highlights of Ingrid's figure on the rock above the pool.

About the only hitch in the session was a minor technical one - I only had one tripod mount between my two cameras (one colour, and one infrared), so rather than using my usual approach of switching between the two cameras as need-be, I opted to switch between the cameras only when Ingrid and I changed our locations - essentially dedicating one camera to each pose, without real consideration of whether the colour or infrared was actually benefiting the results.

July 02, 2017

A Cala Lily (Sherbrooke Lake, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 21 image focus blend
On a hot summer afternoon, while reading a book, I caught sight of a shaft of window light falling upon this particularly beautiful flower. Not one to pass up such a moment  of beauty, I made this image. Nothing but a flower, natural light, and advanced camera technique!

July 01, 2017

A Waterfall (Indian Falls, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
I've been to Indian Falls before, but never really photographed it seriously, so on this visit, I explored the potential of the river (as it is a well-signed and easily accessible space, it will never work as a location to work with models, but I didn't see that as a reason to ignore it all together).
Digital original
After making some images of the rapids, I walked downstream (below the man-made dam) and set up to explore the potential of super-long exposures below the falls, where there was a significant amount of white foam on the water. It turned out to be quite pleasing - and without a breath of wind, the foliage on the far shore stayed completely still, for the most part.
Digital original, 2 image exposure blend
The final images were made back up by the falls, focused on the small water pools that lined the edge of the river. Overall, I really enjoyed working with the river, but (as is always the case) I wished I had a model to work in the space, to really made some images that would sing.