July 30, 2021

A Water Pregnancy Session (on a rainy day!)

When Stephanie and I first talked about me photographing her pregnancy, I showed her the images I made of Miranda in 2019 - and her first question was "Where is that bathroom, and can I work in it?" Sadly, it was no longer available, but I beat some bushes, and came up with an alternative bathroom to work in.

Digital infrared original

In an odd sort of irony, it was poring with rain on the day we had to work in the bathroom - this provided a more even window light, and made it easier to balance the exposure between outdoors (natural light) and the bathroom (which I lit with a single strobe). The resulting images looked very natural, but would have been impossible without using the flash. The other tool I employed was my 17mm tilt-shift lens. The bathroom was so small it was really hard to get the entire tub, and Stephanie, into one frame; using the tile-shift lens, I kept the tub from being distorted, but also managed to keep Stephanie within the composition. It would have been really hard to get a similar result without such a specialized lens.

The second set of images was surprisingly challenging to make; in addition to the lovely bathtub, there was a large walk-in shower, so the plan was to make some shower images of Stephanie, before we make the final set of images of her in the bathtub proper. The first challenge was lighting - I had hoped to get some direction to the light, but with such a small room, no matter where I put the flash, the reflections off the other wall filled in the shadows. In the end, I put the strobe in the top corner behind the door, which gave some modeling to the light, though not as much as I had hoped. The other consequence of lighting from this angle is that it put all the shower hardware behind Stephanie - and while digital retouching is never an issue, it is frustrating to have to do it to a whole set of images.

Digital infrared original
The second challenge was the condensation on the shower walls; all my other shower images were made in bathtubs with shower curtains - in those the condensation was not an issue (except for on the lens, which is easily cleaned off), but in the walk-in shower, within a minute (well before I was ready to photograph) the glass was covered with condensation, and try as she might, Stephanie was unable to clean it off. The lighting and condensation issues didn't stand in the way of getting a couple of really pleasing photos, but the were far from the images I had in my mind's eye.

Digital infrared original
The final photos of the session were made in the tub (inspired by the IR images I made of Tanya in a tub in 2007). Again, the room size played a major role in what was possible, and with that in mind, I began with a portrait lens, focusing on breast and belly details, and the liminal line, which has always fascinated me in my work with water.
Digital infrared original
Overall, the bathroom session was a success; the first images of Stephanie standing in the stark white tub where what I was really after, and as much as the shower images were a source of frustration, they worked well enough to be worth making!

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