August 28, 2019

Esme at Sunset (Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia)

Two weeks after Ingrid's solo session at Burntcoat Head, I planned to return with both Ingrid and Esme to continue our explorations, but as things happened, Ingrid wasn't able, so Esme and I headed out on our own (the real irony of this is that Esme had hoped to come on the previous session, but was unable to attend for somewhat similar reasons).
Digital infrared original

As seems to be the weather this summer, the day was both sunny and hot, but unlike the previous Fundy session with Ingrid, I spent much of this session working with the direct evening light, taking advantage of the angular light closer to sunset. One of the first set of real successes was of Esme standing on a rock ledge, set against a shadowy cliff behind her. The light flooded across Esme's figure from the side,
Digital infrared original
As the session progressed, Esme and I moved further down the beach then I'd ever explored previously, which game a lovely feeling on exploration to the session, for all that we were working in a space I'd previously photographed in. The greatest find of this venture was a broad sweep of rock covered with fine green seaweed. Our first images here were made in infrared, focusing on a small rock at the edge, with a fan of lines in the sand flowing out from it. After some experimentation, I suggested Esme try arching right across the rock, with her hands flowing into the lines - and the above image was born.
Digital original, two frame stitch
Both Esme and I felt that the shock of the delicate green seaweed was too usual too unusual to pass by, so we spent some time working with it, both on the sun-lit side, and over the ridge in the shade. Both sets of images worked, but I decided the above composition, which presented a more delicate scene overall was the best counterpoint to the previous image, which drew heavily upon the contrast of the evening light.
Digital infrared original
By the time we finished working with the seaweed covered bedrock, the sun was approaching the horizon, so Esme and I began to move towards the shore, to make our final images of the session. On our way, we stopped on a small line or rocks that rose out of the sea of sand, to make some images of Esme against he distant horizon - the evening was quite breezy, so we had some fun with Esme holding her hair up and letting it fly free!
Digital original, 3 image exposure blend
As has been the focus all summer long, we ended the session working at the shoreline, with the incoming time at sunset. The challenge of doing this on the Bay of Fundy is further increased by the speed at which the tide comes in. Over the eight minutes I worked with the sunset, Esme had to move inland three times, as the rising water made each space she posed in too set to continue working with. As a result, I worked far faster my usual approach, but the results were worth the rush! While the sky lacked some of the drama I was hoping for, the bright yellow sky provided some lovely highlights on Esme's figure, and made the rock below her look like molten gold in some parts.

After making the last image, Esme quickly dressed as I packed up the camera and tripod, and we rushed through the darkening dusk to the car, as the tide continued to lap at our heels. All in all, a great way to spend a lovely evening!

August 27, 2019

Esme & Ingrid Continue Exploring the Coast (Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
In many ways, this summer is less a series of photo sessions (which is more typical for me), and more one single extended session, working with both Esme and Ingrid. This is in part because of both model's love of working with water, and the simple fact that 90%+ of the images I have made this summer have been of the two of them (with Carol being the third model along for a couple of sessions). Thus, the first image, above, is a continuation of the shorter-shutters speed I have been using with the ocean for the last couple of sessions - in this case, revealing some really lovely colours and textures in the ocean below Esme.
Digital infrared original
I'd been trying to make the above image since late June; during a solo session with Esme, I made a set of images at the end of her body surfacing in seaweed, surrounded by calm water. For session after session since, I'd hoped to have the right circumstances arise, but no luck - until this session. As soon as I saw the space above, I asked Ingrid and Esme to move into it and pose parallel to the camera, with the bodies flowing out into, and under the water. The evening light was just lovely, and I realized exactly what I'd had in my mind's eye from over 8 weeks earlier.
Digital infrared original
In 2005 (14 years ago) I made some similar portraits when working on the Miranda Portfolio; ever since I have had a real love of infrared portraits made in high grasses - and along one section of the shore line, a perfect patch of high beach grasses grows above the shoreline. I pauses to make portraits of both Ingrid (above) and Esme (below) there...if I had thought of it, I would have made some portraits of both models together (echoing the portrait of Ingrid and Miranda I made in 2007)...but I was so caught up in the beauty of the light, I totally blanked on that possibility.
Digital infrared original
The last image of the day (below) was something of a surprise. After finishing in the grasses, the three of us simultaneously realized that sunset was imminent - so we rushed down to the shore, and sought out a last location to work in, focusing on the sunset light falling across the two models. After a few minutes, we found a good spot, and as the sun crossed the horizon, both models worked their way into the rocks, facing the sunset. I made a couple of colour compositions, and then, on a whim, shifted to working in infrared - and the light was just lovely. Where the earlier direct sunlight was giving stark highlights and deep shadows, the sunset sky provided soft, yet directional that flowed across the women in just the right way. While I do agree the colours of sunset can be lovely, in this case, I'll take the lumious tones of infrared!
Digital infrared original

August 15, 2019

Ingrid Returns to the Ocean Floor (Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original
A month after the session with the three models at Burntcoat Head, Ingrid and I returned on our own, to continue to explore the potential of this space. Where the previous session took advantage of the presence of multiple models, this session, focused solely upon Ingrid, had a very different flow to it. From the first images made by a wonderfully undercut rock to the sunset that ended the session, Ingrid and I moved from space to space, drawing inspiration from the setting and light.
Digital original
One of the most pleasing images from this session centered around a massive sea-weed covered rock; after focusing so much on working with my infrared camera, it was refreshing to make an image that was undeniably a colour composition - the rick red rocks set off the seaweed perfectly, and after some pose refinement, we created this image. I did make an alternative version in infrared, but it pales next to the rich, yet delicate colours present in the first image.
Digital infrared original
When Ingrid and I shifted to working in the water-carved caves in the rock walls, I immediately shifted back to working in infrared - the lovely rock textures show up far better in that medium, and I just love how it records skin tones. After numerous different compositions, I made the above image of Ingrid wigged right back into the rock-face - a composition reminiscent of work I did fourteen years ago with Miranda and Krista.
Digital infrared original
As the sun moved lower in the sky, the shadows grew longer, and more dramatic - I caught sight of this lone rock set into a small water pool, and immediately wished to work with Ingrid upon it. I photographed the rock before she moved into position, and composited the untouched sand back into the final image!
Digital original, 4 image exposure blend, 2 image stitch
The final images of the session were made in the fading post-sunset light; we set up by a large water pool, catching the reflection of the sky in the still water. The planned pose, of Ingrid arching back against the rock behind her, worked well enough, but when I asked her to experiment with other positions, she folded forward, and the above composition was made.

August 07, 2019

A Flower (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
During a recent class, a student brought up how frustrated she was with shallow depth of field and photos of flowers...which sent me out to the back yard, to make some examples of how I approach the very same issue. It took a couple of minutes to revise the composition until I liked it, and while I made images at f/2.8, f/8 and f/22, the only one I really liked was the first image, with the shallowest depth of field.

August 06, 2019

Ingrid and Esme on a Calm Evening (Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia)

The weekly trend of going to the coast with Ingrid &/or Esme continues - both model's love and comfort with working in the ocean has propelled my work with water forward in ways I could never have anticipated a couple of months ago.
Digital infrared original, two image stitch

That being said, the first image set of this evening was of Esme posing with a worn and battered tree right on the path to the coast - the evening light was perfect for the space, and with no hikers visible in either distance, and Ingrid on watch, Esme and I made a handful of compositions with the space, before continuing the walk to the headland.
Digital infrared original
When we finally arrived at the headland, quite a surprise awaited us. Unlike every other coastal session this year (and perhaps ever, to my memory), the ocean was calm...instead of waves arriving every couple of sessions, the ocean just...rose and fell. It was quite literally calm. Initially, I was disappointing, as the whole reason for these ocean-side session was to work with the ocean's movement and power...and it was, essentially, subdued. Then I caught sight of a large rock covered in kelp - it was gently appearing and disappearing every 20 second or so...quite magical. The only issue was that there was nowhere near the rock for me to potion my camera...except where I was then - hundreds of feet away, and probably 40 above sea level. Fortunately, I had brought my 300mm lens, and it was just about the perfect focal length to work with.
Digital infrared original
For the next forty minutes (which contained only 20 minutes of photography, as we took a break as a group of hikers came up, chatted for a bit, and walked on) I worked from that vantage point - separately with each model, and then with both of them posting together. The outcome was fabulous - the rock was one I'd never suggest working with normally - too exposed and precarious, but with the gentle rise and fall of the ocean, it was more than safe to work on. The real magic of the composition came from the kelp blades, which measured 6" or wider in some cases, and made the entire setting look quite magical in infrared. Due to the kelp, the sense of scale is somewhat off, making the models took like miniature kelpies in a magical world of surreal pale seaweed.

The only real issue was that I invested so much time in the space that with 30 minutes of light left, I had really only made one set of compositions.
Digital infrared original
The last images of the session were made right by the shore (in contrast to the earlier images were I was hundreds of feet away from the models), again taking advantage of the calm sea. With the low sun, the horizon was becoming leaden, and the angular light lit up the seaweed along the shore, and models posing upon it. I would have loved to continue the session for another hour, but with the fading light, we finished up what images would could, and headed for home.