September 26, 2019

A First & Final Session (South Shore, Nova Scotia)

Digital infrared original

First sessions are always challenging; I have to walk the balance of engaging the model and gaining their confidence, while still pursuing images that move my work forward. For this session, after a couple of missed attempts, E_ and I managed to synchronize our schedules, and headed to the coast for an afternoon session. The session had to be short due to other commitments, so once we arrived at the coast, the two of us dove into the process of making art.

Digital infrared original

A great advantage to Nova Scotia in the fall is that when it is warm enough (as it was on this day), the light is lovely all day long - for this session there wasn't a cloud in the sky, but the sun was low enough to provide contrast and definition to both the landscape and E_'s figure. A great advantage of the coast where we were working faces the afternoon sun, so the light was about as good as it gets at that time of day.

Digital infrared original

After a little over and hour, the session had to be called to a close, to get back to Halifax on time. I could have photographed to sunset, but as a collaborative process, it isn't always what I want that come to pass. In the end, E_'s first session was also my final work with the Nude for 2019 - so it was a first session, and the last.

September 23, 2019

A Final Session in the Forest (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Since Esme and I first worked together in 2018, we have worked almost exclusively at the coast, with a focus on working in water (following her passion on that front). For this session, I suggested we try working with something new, and work in a forest close to Halifax.


Digital infrared original

The fascinating realization that came out early in the session was that Esme's spent little to no time in forests; she grew up in the Canadian North, and found all the trees, underbrush and ferns quite overwhelming. It was not possible to convey this in the images we made, but her constant wonder and surprise at the nature of the landscape she was in was a definite undertone to the session.

Digital infrared original

Though I have worked in Nova Scotia forests for several decades, I still find them challenging settings to photograph - trees are, ultimately, big vertical sticks, and as such can be quite challenging to photograph a model with. Fortunately, in the area we were working in, a fair number of the trees has some shape (or in the above case, lean) to them, which provided some inspiration to work with.

Digital infrared original

The final images of the session were created with the intention of merging them into a single photograph. Esme commented that it was too bad there wasn't another model available to pose with (given that for many of the sessions we've had together have had two or even three models, this was not an unusual thing) - I then proposed she could model with herself, using the magic of digital. Thus the last composition of the session was created.

September 16, 2019

Ocean Sunset with Esme (South Shore, Nova Scotia)

On this evening, Esme and I had about 90 minutes to work before sunset, so we headed out to explore the possibilities. We've both explored the shore on which we were working extensively, but still managed to find a space completely new to both of us.

Digital infrared original, 2 image exposure blend

Below a high rocky outcrop we found a narrow pseudo-cave, formed between the outcrop and a massive granite boulder. With some care, we both moved into the space and Esme found a perfect rock shelf to lie upon. The light coming into the crevasse was quite delicate, and provided lovely highlights on Esme's reclining torso.

Digital infrared original

After emerging from the crevasse, the evening light was even more striking than it had been earlier, so we made a series of images taking advantage of the low, raking light. Working right by the calm Atlantic ocean permitted me to keep the horizon low, and balance the busy, highly textured foreground against the largely empty sky above.


Digital infrared origina

In contrast to the dramatic wide-angle of the shoreline images, I creagted a set of images of Esme posing in high grasses just inland from the rocks. Using a portrait lens and large aperture to create a wonderland of shallow depth of field, I took advantage of the magic of infrared kept the image from being too contrasty (I was photographing directly into evening sunlight, after all)

Digital original, 4 image exposure blend

The last images of the session were spent enjoying the warm wash of light the sunset provided; Esme and I had moved right down to the shore for these images, and I used a super-wide lens to set Esme's figure against the broad atlantic shore she posed upen. A lovely end to a September session.

September 03, 2019

Ingrid and Esme at the Coast for Sunset (Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia)

As soon  as the calendar turns to September, I begin to watch the weather, aware that the warm days and lovely evenings will eventually draw to a close. With this in mind, in Early September, Ingrid, Esme and I headed to the coast, and spent a lovely evening explore the landscape and light.

Digital infrared original

One of the first successes of the evening was a set of images I made of Esme on a rock, in front of a scrubby stand of trees. The evening sky had some lovely low clouds on the horizon, and I used a long lens with a large aperture to keep the background soft, and provide some distinct separation between Esme and her surroundings.

Digital infrared original

The passion that Ingrid and Emse have for working in water has been a huge influence in the work the they have helped me create over the past couple of years. The ocean on this evening was particularly calm, which made working with these seaweed covered rocks particularly easy - as the waves came in, water swept through the channel, and reinforced the flow of the bodies between the rocks.

Digital infrared original

As the evening progressed, the light became softer and softer, to the point where it lost almost all sense of direction. That helps give this image of Esme on a rocky outcrop a very strange feeling of timelessness. The sliver of dark horizon above her is less striking in the small online version, but if a full sized print, it is a hint of drama in an otherwise subdued image.

Digital original, five image exposure blend

The last images of the session fulfilled the real hope for the session - a sunset-focused photograph. Until moments before, I was feeling quite negative about the chances of getting some colour in the gray evening sky (and therefore was working with my infrared-camera) but in a split second, a red wash of light spread across the horizon, and sent me scrambling to change cameras. Fortunately it was near at hand, and Ingrid and Esme already had poses worked out, to permit me to make a handful of images before the sun disappeared for the day.

September 02, 2019

A Final Island Day (Prince Edward Island)

Digital original
On my last day of this brief visit to Prince Edward Island, I decided I needed to get a quintessential hay-field photograph, and as it happened, just outside of New Glasgow, I spotted a field of freshly cut hay. Ten minutes later, I had made a couple of dozen different compositions - the best of which is above.

September 01, 2019

A Butterfly House (New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island)

Digital original, three frame focus stack
By far my favourite part of this trip to PEI was the discovery of a Butterfly House in the Gardens of Hope, New Glasgow. I'd wanted to go to the butterfly house in Halifax (at the Nova Scotia Museum) but never have managed to make the planning work...but in this case, we arrived at the garden about an hour before the butterfly house closed...so there was more than enough time to photograph.
Digital original, two frame focus stack
Tough I had my tripod with me, there was just too much congestion (between the butterflies and the people) to set it up, so I photographed hand-held for the entire time, but that didn't stop me from making numerous focus stacked images!
Digital original, two frame focus stack
One of the last images I made in the butterfly house was also one of the most pleasing focus blends - I made two images, one of each butterfly, and then manually combined the images together, to better reflect what my eye saw.
Digital original
The last images of the day were of a beautiful gray heron hunting in the evening light - not easy to photograph, even with a 420mm lens.