June 24, 2019

Esme & I Return to the Coast (Atlantic Shore, Nova Scotia)

My second session of the year with Esme was something of a mirror of the first; faced with a lovely warm, sunny evening, we headed for the coast, both to avoid hordes of bugs, and to give Esme a chance to work with water - her favourite environment to model in.
Digital infrared original

We began the session with Esme working in a thick bed of seaweed, and me taking advantage of how infrared light renders the rock-weed (Fucus vesiculosus). After some initial compositions with longer lenses, made on tripods, I decided to risk working out on the seaweed covered rocks with a wide-lens (hand held). The result was a much wider composition, with luminous seaweed in the foreground wrapped around a pale, elegant figure, below a dark, dramatic sky.
Digital infrared original
From working on the seaweed, Esme moved on to working IN the seaweed, clambering out into the ocean proper, and finding a rock to work around; after making some photos of her on the rock, she slipped into the ocean. Initially, I made some images of her arching back onto the rock, but when I told her I was going to change lenses, she relaxed and just hung out bay the rock...which I caught a glimpse of, and asked her to hold until I could made the above image - a perfect use for my 300mm lens!
Digital infrared original
After finishing in the water, we moved a little down the coast, until I saw the perfect sea-weed covered rock, surrounded by water, and able to be photographed from above (standing on the shore, about 2m above the ocean. I asked Esme if she'd be able to pose on the rock (as opposed to in the water around it), and after some refining of the pose, I started making images. I quickly realized I wanted more dimension to the ocean around her, and used a neutral density filter to show the motion of the water.
Digital infrared original, 2-image shutter speed blend
Taking a break from the ocean to allow Esme to warm up a little (the ocean is averaging 6.7°C / 44°F at the moment), I asked if she'd be able to work below a large erratic balanced on a cliff-edge. After refining the pose a little, we made a small series of images of a couple of poses - then I made a 2 minute exposure (taking inspiration from the movement-focused image of the sea weed), permitting me to blend the two images together into the final image, above.
Digital infrared original
The last image set of the session saw Esme returning to posing in the ocean - the sun was moving lower in the sky by this time, and providing long, dramatic shadows to work with - yielding a striking series of images, of which my favourite is the above! The only thing missing was additional models - something I hope to add to the process in upcoming session!

June 22, 2019

A Gymnast in the Studio (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

B_ is the daughter of a former student who has posed numerous times for portrait field trips - she is an excellent model, and really enjoying being photographed. At the most recent portrait field trip I hired her for, it was mentioned that she'd gone to the Gymnastic Provincials - at which point I asked how hard it was to photographer gymnastics competitions...and was surprised to hear that
photography isn't permitted.
Digital original
Upon hearing this, I had to ask - would B_ be interested in doing some studio photographs of her routine? Since I started photography, I have had a fascination with frozen movement, and have long wished to photograph dance in a studio...an gymnastics have many of the same elements found in dance - extreme motion, grace and beauty. So, about three weeks later, B_, her mother and I met at a studio, and began making a set of gymnastics images.
Digital original

Working with B_ in the studio was awesome! It took me some time to work out the camera position (right at ground level) and angles (she jumped well above the limit of the 10' tall backdrop), but once that was set up, each time I saw a motion I wished to work with, B_ could repeat it exactly time and time again.
Digital original
The other reason I asked about photographing B_ was it would give me another chance to explore the potential of motion blur. In 2015 I did some long explore images of dancers, and was quite taken with the results, but as it was part of workshop I was assisting with, there wasn't any room to direct the dancers, or really push the idea in any direction.
Digital original
With B_'s gymnastics routines, I could ask her to repeat the same motion again and again (with crazy consistency I might add). This went a long way to helping me better understand the potential of the process, and ultimately, decide it isn't a direction to head in. As much as I love the look, and feel it is really quite beautiful, it just doesn't have enough for me to want to invest in pursuing it to the logical conclusion...so thanks to B_, I long standing question has been answered!

June 20, 2019

A Macro Field Trip (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital Original
This morning I spent a couple of hours in the Public Gardens with a student, assisting them with their macro photography. The two of us worked in tandem, with them calling out subjects they were attracted to, and me walking them through the process I using my macro work.
Digital Original
While the morning we were working on was bright and sunny, we managed to take advantage of the directional light time and time again, creating compositions of flowers set against dark shadows, as was the case with the above image of a magnolia flower.
Digital Original, two image focus blend
The last composition of the field trip focused on a trio of tulips - one of which had lost its petals. I loved the contrast of the naked stalk and the full, luminous white petals of the other two tulips.

June 17, 2019

Esme Models at the Coast (High Head, Nova Scotia)

As I mentioned in my first outdoor session of 2019, this spring has been wet and cold; as a result, I have done little outdoor work with models, so when Esme was available, and the weather was promising, I enthusiastically headed to the coast for an evening of photography!
Digital infrared original

The rocky Atlantic shoreline of Nova Scotia is just a delight to work with, and shortly into the session, I came across a large rock pool perfect for working with - set high above the ocean, the pool was deep black in colour, and created a dramatic division of the rocks around it. Esme and I worked in the space for almost 30 minutes, working with portraits, reflections, and reclining poses, but the above image, with a brilliant reflection of the sun balancing against the empty pool surrounding Esme is definitely my favourite.
Digital infrared original
As the session progressed, the number of spaces in shade increased, and by 1/2 way through the session, we were able to start working with soft light, as well as evening sun. This composition was created looking straight down upon Esme - as we refined the pose, she started arching her body, and for this image, I asked to to twist as much as she could - creating a wonderfully sinuous line to her torso in the process.
Digital infrared original
The above photograph is easily the most sculptural image I made during the session - the delicate descriptions of Esme's figure by the soft light was incredible, and the two tones of the rough granite she was posing upon creates the perfect setting to place her in.
Digital infrared original
The final images of the session were focused on worked with reflections of the evening sky in rock pools in from the coast; it took some time before we could actually make the images however, as several hikers were out enjoying the evening, and we had to wait for them to head back towards civilization before making the images. By that time, the sky had changed some, but fortunately for us, there were still enough high clouds catching the setting sun's light to create the magic we had seen before. It was a little challenging for Esme to find spaces to pose within the dark water, but with some care and patience, she found spaces she could work with, and a beautiful set of photographs was born!
Digital original
This portrait of Esme was one of the last images of the session - the sun was setting, and the reflection on the rockpools was brilliant and bright. I asked Esme is she'd stand in the middle of a large rock pool with the reflection surrounding her, and stretch her hands out onto the surface of the water - and this portrait was born.

The hardest part of writing this blog entry has been selecting the images - in the three-hour session Esme and I made some really lovely images, and yet I usually post only 3 per blog post. As a compromise, I have posted 5 - and another set (with one repeat) to my Instagram account.