July 30, 2018

Carol & Ingrid Return to the Coast (Polly's Cove, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original
Working with Carol and Ingrid has become something of a trend for this summer (this was our second session at Polly's Cove), which has proved productive, both in terms of making new images, and helping Carol, who is new to modeling for photos, gain experience with posing.
Digital infrared original
Though I did make images of each model separately, it is the photograph of the two women together which really engage me; after thirty years of working with the Nude, I have a plethora of images of solo models, but the chance to work with two models together outdoors let me build on a much smaller body of work.
Digital infrared original, 4 image exposure blend, 2 image stitch
The best image of this session came close to the end, as the sky became more dramatic with the lower angle of the sun, and the models explored the potential of a small tidal pool. As tends to be the approach, one model (in this case Carol) found a pose first, and the second worked their way into the composition, and completed the image. A wonderful end to a great session.

July 28, 2018

Summer Light Field Trip #3 (Scotts Bay, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
With a little internal pat on the back, the field trip participants and I arrived at Scotts Bay to find several kilometers of  low-tide stretching in front of us (meaning I read the tide-table properly). Within minutes, the group was spreading out over the beach, hunting for subjects to work with. My first really engaging composition was the above, where the outgoing tide shaped the sand around the rocks.
Digital original, three image exposure blend
As I wandered across the beach, I grew more and more interested in the little rivulets that form around the various rocks that litter the shore. As the evening progressed, the sky gradually changed from a flat overcast gray to having more variation, which made for more interesting results.
Digital original
By the time the evening was drawing to a close, I had latched onto the rivulets as my real focus for the evening, and was madly hunting them. It did amaze me that even six hours after the ocean receded, there was still water running off of the beach, and shaping the sand.

July 23, 2018

Carol & Ingrid on the Coast (Polly Cove, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
In many ways, this session was more a continuation of Carol's first session (which was both held at Polly Cove, and with Ingrid); where that session worked slowly towards the coast however, this one began right at the water's edge, working with the two models set against the surge of the open Atlantic Ocean.
Digital infrared original
As the session progressed, though I spent time with each model separately, I continually returned to working with both together, finding the dynamic of two models working together really engaging. Again and again, I'd think I'd made the best image in a particular setting, and then suggest the other model come into the composition, and see how they could build on the initial image, only to find the subsequent two-model version was stronger than the inspiration.
Digital infrared original
Only at the very end of the session did I finally make an image which the two models could no trump. As the sun was headed towards the horizon (behind the fog), I asked Ingrid if she would be able to work in a small water pool, thinking that if she placed her shoulders on the rock shelf directly below the camera, her body could stretch out into the pool. That worked fabulously, but when we added the second model to the composition, it lost all the simplicity and balance, and just didn't work.

July 20, 2018

Night & Low Light Field Trip #1 (Central Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
Created during a low-light field trip focused on hand-held photography, this served as a great example for the students of how colour temperature of lighting could influence an image, and in this case, provoke interesting questions...like "Was that on purpose...and if so, why?"

July 16, 2018

Fortress of Louisbourg #2 (Louisbourg, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
This morning saw the reproduction fortress of Louisbourg shrouded in fog, which made for great photographs. I had more than an hour to photograph the site before the doors opened for tourists, which was a real treat!
Digital original
There is nothing more haunting than a tower in the mist! Combined with a long lens (135mm) and a large aperture (f/2) it builds a beautiful image of a glimpse into the past.
Digital original
By far the best part of visiting Louisbourg during tourist hours is being able to photograph the animators; this man was working by the window of the forge, and could not have been in better light!
Digital original, 4 frame exposure blend
At the end of the day, I went for a drive to the coast, and got a glimpse of the main bastion as the sun moved lower in the sky - with the overgrown ruins of the rest of the town in the foreground!

July 15, 2018

Fortress of Louisbourg #1, (Louisbourg, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, two image stitch
A long-planned short trip focused on an overnight stay in the Fortress of Louisbourg, a replica of a french fort and town built in Cape Breton in the 18th century; the rented house was inside the walls of the fortress, which provided free range to the fortress after the site closed to the public...which was fabulous, and lead to some great photos (and burned popcorn).
Digital original
The evening light was lovely, casting soft directional light onto the dozens of replica buildings that form the heart of the historic site. It was challenging finding a composition that left out any hint of the modern age, but the above turned out pretty well.
Digital original, 3 frame exposure blend
As sunset arrived, I was on the walls, photographing the main gate; a three exposure blend (HDR) was necessary to capture all the detail in the sky, and still be able to see into the moat below me.
Digital original
The last images of the day were spent close to midnight, experimenting with painting with light; for the most part the fortress was completely dark, and I was able to light the buildings with a flashlight during a long exposure. This image, of the water gate, saw the distant light of the town across the bay add the light on the back side of the building.

July 14, 2018

Summer Light Field Trip #2 (Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
Burntcoat Head has long been one of my favorite places in Nova Scotia to photograph; only its distance from Halifax stops it from being one of my common photographic locations. Fortunately, enough Summer Light participants agreed the drive would be worth it, and with the weather gods smiling upon us, we arrived a couple of hours before sunset, to find the light soft and even (and of course, due to careful planning, the tide low).
Digital original, 3 image exposure blend
While I did make some images with long lenses, every image that really shone during this session was made with an ultra-wide (17mm on full frame); I continually utilized my tilt-shift lens to emphasize the space, and prevent distortion.
Digital original
In the end, the entire session was really enjoyable; I couldn't have asked for better light, soft and even, and yet the time of day, with the sun nearing the horizon, still provided some direction and drama.

July 10, 2018

The First Session with Esme, Accompanied by Carol & Ingrid (Prospect, Nova Scotia)


Digital original
This session was several weeks in the planning; Carol has been trying to introduce me to Esme, a potential model, but plans kept falling through. Finally, on this days, the stars aligned, and Esme and I, along with Carol and Ingrid (because one can never have enough company!), headed out onto the rocks and shoreline of Prospect, to make some images. I started the session with a couple of composition of Carol, and Carol and Ingrid, to give Esme some insight into how I work, but very quickly jumped in with two feet, and we made some compositions of her along the rocky shoreline, taking advantage of the angular evening light.
Digital infrared original
As first sessions go, the evening was less than ideal; it was quite windy, which mixed with the evening air to create quite a cool ambient temperature. Esme insisted it was fine (she grew up in the Canadian arctic), and continued, enthusiastically, to work with me. One of the best images of her was set against a small glacial erratic; the initial composition had her arching towards the ground, but the light on her back was not very descriptive...then I asked her to arch back, pushing her shoulders back, and the angular light provided beautiful description of her back, placing a delicate line running down her spine!
Digital infrared original
Though the intent of the session was to give Esme an introduction to working with me, the presence of Carol and Ingrid made the temptation of creating multi-model images too hard to resist. Quite rapidly, each location turned into a multi-model exploration, with me frequently finding more possibilities than I could reasonably realize, given the chill in the air. Time and time again, the models would finish a particular location, and I'd suggest that it might be getting too cool to continue, and time and time again the three would agree I was crazy, the evening was beautiful, and one more would be possible.
Digital infrared original, 25 image mean blend
The last composition of this session was created in a space I know well, having worked there with models at least half-a-dozen times over the past 20+ years. A lovely but challenging settings with several fingers of rock reaching into a rock pool, I have always struggled with how small a figure looks in such a dramatic setting. For the first time, I found a solution - multiple models. When I asked Carol and Esme to pose together in the space, I realized I was onto something. The final addition of Ingrid as a third figure, and third layer, brought everything together. The above image, the final of the session, is the kind of photograph that I hunger for - an image that sums up all I seek when making images of the Nude. To have such an image come out of the first session with a new model (who is featured front and centre in the image) is especially surprising!

July 07, 2018

Summer Light Field Trip #1 (Prospect, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original
I have photographed Prospect for over 20 years, but still find it an inspiring, engaging location. The rolling sheets of bedrock scattered with glacial erratics is incredibly beautiful. The timing of this field trip, in the last hours of the day, provided beautiful angular light which played out beautifully across the rock surface. The above image is of my favourite rock at Prospect, which I have used numerous times in images of the nude (including the second image in this session from 1997)
Digital infrared original
A great discovery during this field trip was a small tool edged in richly coloured deep green seaweed; in colour it was interesting, but when I switched to working in infrared, the seaweed really came to life! The resulting image (above) has a strong sense of motion and direction, almost as if the seaweed was lava flowing out of the small pool onto the rocks around it.
Digital original, 5 image stitch
The field trip end was timed with the sunset, and with the participants positioned on the top of the headland, we had a wonderful view of the majesty of the oncoming night. Hopson Island was set below a delicate blue-pink sky, which was just so lovely to photograph.

July 05, 2018

Carol & Ingrid in a River (Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 18 image mean blend
I think the easiest way to explain why I love working with water so much is it provide such a strong visual connection to the lines of the body. The smooth current of a river mirrors the flow of a breast, hip or thigh. As my favorite river to work with is currently a construction sight, the three of us went further afield, and worked just off the highway, in a small river coming out of a lake.
Digital infrared original, 2 image shutter blend
This location is perfect for the end of the day, as much of the site is sheltered from direct evening light by the trees that line its eastern bank. This means that regardless of the quality of the light, on the river itself the light is ways soft and even. This plays particularly well with infrared images, where soft light makes the model's skin become luminous and bright.
Digital original, 10 image mean blend
Right at the end of the session, the sun broke through the clouds, and provided a bright shock of white on the river, where it flowed out of the lake. I immediately shifted my angle to include the full flow of the river, and asked Carol and Ingrid if they could pose along the river's edge. The dramatic perspective of the wide lens worked well the focus the lines of the models towards the light, and overall, it was a great composition with which to finish the session.
Digital original, 2image focus blend
The last image (above) is shared just as it occurred to me - a surprise at the close of the session, seen moments before I placed the gear in the car and headed back to Halifax. A moment of simple beauty in the last night of the day.

July 02, 2018

Carol & Ingrid (Dawson Brook, Nova Scotia)

For Carol's second session, she was keen to continue working with water, so we headed to Dawson Brook (which I have worked with since 2000). As with the previous session, Ingrid also joined us, as she enjoyed working with Carol during her first session, and always loves working in water.
Digital infrared original

The first set of images was of Carol lying upon a rock shelf, where the water moved around her in a soft cascade. One of the challenges of working with moving water (as opposed to a water pool) is keeping still - I typically make 4 or more exposures of the same composition to ensure one is sharper than the rest.
Digital infrared original
After finishing the first image set with Carol, I switched to working with Ingrid - and took a very different approach. As she worked her way into the river, I clambered up the side of the ravine the brook is within, and looked down upon the scene below. Using a long lens (135mm) I was able to flatten the space out, and provide a very different perspective on a setting I have worked with for almost two decades. Part of the reason this approach worked is Ingrid's strong posing ability - there was no way to communicate over the distance between us, so it was only hand-signals and years of experience working together that made the distant composition possible.
Digital infrared original
The final set of photographs were made at the base of the falls; I have worked here numerous times, and always found it challenging to compose images that capture the full drama of the falls, but keep the figure from being dwarfed by the space. The obvious solution is to be close to the model, but given there is a 2 metre deep water pool in the way, this is never going to happen...so the above is about as good as it gets!