July 28, 2020

Esme on the Coast at Sunset

Though we intended to to focus on water Nudes, this session started with Esme and I working with the granite bedrock and glacial erratic that line the Atlantic Shore of Nova Scotia. With the long evening shadows, the texture of the rocks was emphasized, making the contrast between skin and stone even stronger. Esme and I made a number of photos focused on this, but the strongest of the session was one in which Esme sought to become an augmentation to a stone's shadow, hugging the edge of the rock; I built the composition around the flow of the rocks around her, and the shadow that fell behind. Using the infrared camera permitted me to open up the shadows, and prevent the final image from becoming a mess of blown highlights and pitch black shadows.

Digital infrared original

As we worked our way along the shore, Esme and I came across a bed of shore grass, exposed by the low tide. We both agreed the space was about as different as one could get from the rocks we had started the session with, and stopped to make some photos. After making a number of body-focused images, I shifted to creating some portraits - the strong back-lighting provided by the evening sun was challenging to work with (I had to shelter my lens with my hat, to prevent flare from completely destroying the images), but provided beautiful results, especially when combined with the unique tonal rending of skin in infrared.
 
Digital infrared original

From the sessions' beginning, the intent was to focus on working with the ocean. Since I first worked with Esme in 2018, I've more and more been drawn to working with the body in the sea, both celebrating its quiet moments, and its power. In 2008, I exhibited Memory of Water, a gallery show  focused on the Nude in lakes and river (there were a couple of Nudes in on or by the ocean, but all of these were focused on still water). With the work I made with Ingrid and Esme last year and so far this year, I feel I am working forwards a new exhibition, this time focused on the power of the ocean. With this in mind, Esme and I made a number of images sets focused on water breaking around (and over, occasionally) her figure. The setting sun provided the perfect back lighting for the waves, and Esme's patience and enthusiasm helped us make some really dramatic images.

Digital original

For the below image, I positioned myself so the camera was looking at Esme, directly below the setting sun (while shielding the lens from the sun itself). This created both a wash of warmth across the images, but also a really lovely tonality - even though the lens was protected from flare, the strong back-lighting washed over the foreground subjects, lowering their overall contrast, and making the image all the stronger for it.

Digital original

The end of the session came with a rather quiet sunset - there was just one string of clouds in the sky, and it only lit up for a couple of minutes. Fortunately, Esme was already in the water with a pose selected, so we could make a couple of images before the light faded. Truth be told, after making the above image, I ran to my gear to change lenses, but by the time I returned with a long lens, the light had faded, and the cloud was just a gray smear in a darkening sky...so we packed up, and headed back to civilization.
 
Digital original, 2 image exposure blend

Overall, this was a great session; the earlier work built on years of my work with infrared light, and yielded my favorite portrait of Esme to date, but as soon as we started working with the waves, everything just took off (in colour too), proving that this new direction was absolutely one to pursue. Due to the capricious nature of the ocean, I think it may be several years before I can assemble a full exhibition which shares what I am seeing in this work, but I am now certain it needs to be seen!

No comments:

Post a comment

Feel free to make a comment, or ask questions!