July 30, 2019

Ingrid & Esme at the Coast (South Shore, Nova Scotia)

A week after my most recent session with Ingrid, she and I returned with Esme, to see what the location would offer two models. The evening was quite lovely - a light fog rolled in as we arrived, and stayed during the entire session, providing both soft light, and some shelter from accidental onlookers.
Digital infrared original

The first image of the session was one I'd wanted to make for more than a year - on the rocky shoreline I'd found a lovely circular depression, perfect for a single figure to pose in. Normally too exposed to work in, the foggy evening provided just the cover Esme needed to help me make the above image!
Digital original
As the session moved forwards, I made a series of compositions of each model, and then both models, on the rocks; while the session was to be focused on working by the ocean, I wanted to do some rockscapes first, to get the creative process underway. One of the best compositions was of both models flowing with the lines of the rocks...sadly Esme's tan lines are just beginning to be visible.
Digital original
Once the session moved to the shore side of the rocks, the entire focus shifted to working with the surging ocean, and the models juxtaposed next to it. Composition after composition worked with the lines of the shore, and the motion of the water along side of it. The realization that I was using the wrong shutter speed for ocean nudes is really starting to pay off, and several images really capture the power and energy of the ocean swirling below the models.
Digital original
Towards the end of the session, I asked Esme and Ingrid if they could work physically together - essentially entwining their bodies so that one flows into the other. In the end, the idea I had couldn't be realized, but along the way, the final pose of the evening was discovered, and looking down from a low cliff above them, I made the final set of photographs.

July 22, 2019

A Solo Session with Ingrid (South Shore Coast, Nova Scotia)

As has been the trend, I planned to go photographing tonight with Esme and Ingrid...but at the last minute, it turned out Esme couldn't make it, so Ingrid and I headed out on our own, hoping the coast would be cooler than the city - and boy was it ever!
Digital Original
The first compositions of the session took inspiration from my recent focus - working with the movement and power of the ocean. I am particularly drawn the beauty of waves drawing back from seaweed, so I asked Ingrid to pose along the edge of the shore, where a larger waves broke below, and waited for the waves to come. Each time a larger wave surged in, I waited for it to break, and photographed as it drew back from the rocks below and behind Ingrid. After a couple of pose variations, I felt I had captured the potential of the space, and we moved on to other spaces.
Digital Infrared Original
For the most part, this session focused on water (as has most of my work with the Nude this year), but in contrast to much of it, we made a large number of compositions with Ingrid posing in shallow rock pools, and me focusing on both the insertion between the water and skin, and the pools and the surrounding rocks. As the evening drew closer to sunset, the sky began to have some more definition to it, making it easier to include in compositions.
Digital Original
By far the most exciting image of the evening was made towards the end of the session - as we were walking the shore, I saw a perfect "Ingrid-sized dip" in a landscape, directly in front of a wonderful shelf of rock over which waves broke with great consistency. After Ingrid found the pose (a classic back-on image), I proceeded to photograph wave after wave as the ocean broke over the rocks behind her. In the end, after a good 5 minutes, and more than a hundred images, I realized the potential of the image, blending the delicate beauty of the Nude with the raw, unpredictable power of the ocean.
Digital Infrared Original, 2 image stitch
The last set of images of the session were made on a vertical rock face above a large rock-pool (Ingrid wished to spend some time swimming, so we agreed the last set of photos would be made on this rock). The rock had small ledges in it, making it perfect to pose upon, and the near windless evening meant the water below her provided a wonderful reflection, to fill out the composition.
Digital Infrared Original
As Ingrid finished her evening swimming, I noticed the sky above was slowly becoming more dramatic, so I made a number of landscape images of the sky, with the lovely sweeping bedrock of the Nova Scotian Atlantic shore below it.

July 16, 2019

Three Models on the Ocean Floor (Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia)

I first worked with models in the Bay of Fundy in 2003, and have worked there a handful of times since, but it has been over a decade since the last time I worked there with the Nude. As we planned this session, I realized the tide table (which is quite important in the Bay of Fundy, as there isn't much to photograph at high tide) would align with our plans, so we shifted from working on the Atlantic Coast to the Bay of Fundy.
Digital infrared original
The first compositions of the session focused on the models working in a massive piece of driftwood; the stark white wood was perfect for the three models to work on, and while I made images of both one and two models in the tree, it really was only when all three were set upon the worn wood that the while composition came together.
Digital infrared original
The next composition of the three models was created in a very similar way - initially I had created a photograph of Esme arched back on the red rock, but felt something was missing - and asked Carol to work her way into the left side of the composition. With her in place, it only made sense to ask Ingrid to fill in the area in the front over which the two others arched - and this this was created.
Digital infrared original
From this point onward, it was the images of single models which really shone. I am not sure if this was because of the challenges of working in the space (mud is not the best surface to put camera gear down on, and challenging for models to move around on), but while I worked with all three models together in the above space, it was Esme's simpler mirroring of the curved rock with her body that stuck me as the strongest image.
Digital infrared original
Shortly after finishing the image of Esme and the curved rock face, Ingrid asked if we could work with a series of ripples in the sand, and after a couple of other compositions, I made this one, with the lines of the rocks and Ingrid's figure flowing in the same direction as the sand. In many ways, this feels like a complimentary image to one Ingrid and I made 12 years earlier, on the banks of the Petitcodiac River in New Brunswick.
Digital original, 2 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
The last images of the session were unplanned, but incredible. After we had packed up and were walking back to the car (disappointed that our hoped-for sunset had turned out to be a wall of fog), we came across a wonderful flat field of rock, with water sitting in the low spots - the lines of the rock, highlighted by the reflected sky, were just magical and full of motion. Though the air had chilled by this point, both Ingrid and Esme were enthusiastic to make the most of the moment, and I made a set of images of both women, with the final composition, of Esme above, being the strongest of the set.

July 13, 2019

A Photo 101 Field Trip (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
The first Summer Photo 101 field trip was on a cool overcast morning, with the threat of rain (I did bring an umbrella though, so it never actually rained). While students were exploring the potential of focal length, I wandered about with my 150mm macro lens, working the the flowers.
Digital original
The best thing about the morning was the water-drops on most of the flowers - they added an additional dimension to their beauty, and made composition I normally wouldn't try work - as evidenced by the above image of the back end of a rose.
Digital original
The greatest discovery of the session was a row of tropical plants (who knows what has to be done to get these to grow in Nova Scotia - some sort of agricultural magic) - including a pineapple. I never knew a) they grew up, not down, and b) they are bright red! It was wonderful to photograph...and made me hungry!

July 11, 2019

A Sunset Session with Carol, Esme & Ingrid (Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia)

The focus of this year's work with the Nude seems to be coastal, and this is no accident; the summer is hot, buggy, and 2/3 of the models I have been working with love working in water. For this session, in hopes of finding some different environments to work in, we drove 90 minutes from Halifax to the eastern shore. Arriving at the beach in mid-evening, I expected to find at least some people on the sand, but the beach was empty, so we set about working, reveling in having the space to our own!
Digital infrared original, two frame stitch
After an initial set of images on rocks emerging from the falling tide, Esme suggested working with a large piece of driftwood high on the rocky shore. It was a perfect inspiration, and fit more than fifteen minutes Carol, Esme and Ingrid experimented with a variety of poses (and combinations of models) on the worn tree. The results were really striking, making it challenging to select a single image to share - I selected the below as one of the most dramatic, in part because of the balance provided by the clouds on the right side.
Digital infrared original
As the session progressed, the tide continued to fall, providing access to a pale rock shelf at the far end of the beach - this proved to be one of the best finds of the session, with lots of nooks and cranny's to pose in. After making some initial image of the three models, the evening light was starting to soften up, so I worked with each model individually, with the image of Esme below being one of my favorites. 
Digital infrared original
After last summer's successes (starting with the first time I worked with Esme), the theme of trios-of-models has been something of a sub-thread through my work; with this session being the first time I have worked with Carol, Esme and Ingrid in 2019, it seemed fitting to create an image that would build on the other photographs we have created together. The below composition was more directed than other images of the three I have made in the past. The angular evening light made it hard to keep each model from casting a shadow one another, and I wished to both compliment and contrast the landscape around the models. In the end, after some subtle adjustments, I achieved exactly what I had in my mind's eye.
Digital infrared original
The last images of the night were one of the reasons I selected this location - after the images of the last two sessions (the last image of Esme in seaweed, and the second image of Esme and Ingrid by the ocean), I was particularly interested in working with relatively short shutter speeds, and water sheeting off the beach. Usually, when working with water, I have fallen back to worked with 64x and 1024x neutral density filters, and used shutter speeds in the 4-30 second range...but recent images have forced me to reconsider this - thus the above, final image of the session.
Digital original
By the time the sun was setting, the temperature had cooled below the comfort level for casual modeling, but Ingrid's and Esme's love of water proved stronger, so for the last 15 minutes of the session, the two posed on the slope of the beach as the water rose and fell around then. I made 124 images, but only five had the mixture of model stillness and motion blur to the water around them that I sought...but the last image - literally the last one of the session, show above, was exactly what I had hoped to create - two women awash in a sea of light!

July 08, 2019

Esme, Ingrid, and a Misfocused Session (Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia)

This session was planned for over a week; typically, when I head out to photograph I don't have any preconceived images in mind, but after the previous session with Esme, I had the image we made of Esme rising out of the ocean and seaweed (the last image in the blog) stuck in my head...I though it would be great to work with a couple of models in the same setting, with the forms mirroring each other, and focused tighter on the interplay between the water, seaweed and skin.
Digital Infrared Original

Almost from the start of the session though, this planned set of images seemed destined not to be made. After walking to the coast, the space I'd hoped to work in turned out to be directly below some hikers, so after some debate, we decided to head to a different spot to the right, where the people wouldn't be able to see us. After arriving in the new location, I quickly realized there wasn't any spaces where my idea of sea, seaweed and bodies would work. Fortunately, there was a great flat area of seaweed right by the ocean and a small water-pool...so for lack of a better space to work in, I suggested we start making images there, and find the space for the images in my mind's eye later in the session.
Digital Original
After making some images of each model individually on the seaweed, I changed my vantage point to be directly above the rock shelf (looking down on the seaweed and models) and asked Esme and Ingrid to model together. Once the pose was worked out, I photographed them through a hand-full of wave breaks, wanting the image to play between the still serenity of the models and the raw power and motion of the ocean around them.
Digital Original
After finishing the images on the seaweed point (which was rapidly disappearing under the rising tide), the three of us moved inland, again searching for a space to pursue the images I'd planned the session around. The issue was the light, and landscape were just wrong for what I was hoping to do. Instead, I decided to take inspiration from the images we'd just finished, and work with the waves breaking over the models. An early success of this is above (make after Ingrid wrapped herself in kelp.
Digital Original
As the tide was rising, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that every second wave seemed to come in higher than the previous - but for one image of Esme, the sea literally enveloped her (fortunately she was sitting, as opposed to lying down, as Ingrid had minutes before in the same place). The chaotic energy of the wave around Esme's is really pleasing, and a strong contrast to my usual approach to photographing moving water (as displayed in a session last year with Esme in a river). Between this session, and the couple before it, I am coming to realize I may have been photographing the ocean in a completely inappropriate way...and will begin consciously exploring how to take things in a different direction in future sessions.
Digital Infrared Original
As the evening progressed, we eventually stopped working in the ocean, and made a final set of images working the the dramatic, angular light and some shallow rock pools a little inland. And I never got to make the images I'd thought the entire session would be revolving around. In the end, I am more certain than ever that planning and specific photographs (for me) do not go hand-in-hand. I certainly plan sessions out (the model(s), location, time etc), but for this session I ignored a simple truth - my work is driven by happenstance and the magic of the moment...not by planning.

July 06, 2019

A Summer Light Field Trip (High Head, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
This Summer Light field trip was spent at High Head, near Prospect. While intended to focus on the evening and sunset light, but when we arrived at the coast, much of the sky was overcast, so instead, the participants and I focused on working with the coastal landscape. While I have worked with water as a subject for decades, much of that has been spent photographing rivers, waterfalls and streams, but with those, I have always used long exposures (second to minutes, at times). For this field trip, I decided to explore the potential of much shorter long exposures (from 1/8 to 1/2 a second) - with very pleasing results.
Digital infrared original
As the evening proceeded, the clouds began to be backlit by the evening sun, providing a rather dramatic spectacle to photograph in infrared.
Digital original
By the end of the field trip, I was fully engaged by the potential of shorter exposures (short long exposures, more accurately), and had hand a handful of different compositions focused on the power of the ocean. I am enthusiastic to mix this with my work with the Nude (especially given Esme's and Ingrid's love for working in water).