September 24, 2021

A Final Outdoor Nude Session for 2021

What would end up being my last figure session of 2022 was on a lovely warm fall afternoon, when Ingrid and I went out to the Nova Scotian coast in search of breaking waves. The strongest thread flowing through my last couple of years has been working with the ocean with intent (as opposed to just incidentally working there when the stars align). This year has seen some dilution of this focus, so for the last session of the fall, I hoped to reset my focus on the power of the ocean.

Digital infrared original, two frame stitch

For all that waves were the intended focus of this session, when Ingrid pointed out a massive split between a boulder and the bedrock it lay upon, we just had to make an image - the above takes full advantage of the incredible image quality of the RF 85mm f/1.2 lens at f/1.2 - incredibly crisp where in focus, and velvety soft everywhere else!

Digital infrared original

As the real intent of the session was to work with moving water (in this case, stopping the motion with fast shutter speed, as oppose to exaggerating it with slow shutter speeds, we intentionally sought out spaces where Ingrid could pose, and still be stable when ocean waves broke over her; we quickly learned the trick was to have her in a couple of feet from where the waves actually struck the shore - this way much of the energy of the surf was already dissipated by the time the water reached Ingrid. I don't often use infrared when working with models and the ocean, but for this set, I decided to experiment, and it paid off.

Digital original

The last location for wave images was also one of the most magical I have ever worked in - when walking up the beach, we'd noticed this space with an unusual rock overhang, below which the waves moved in and out. As we were walking out, at the end of the session, Ingrid suggested we do one more set of photographs, exploring the potential of the space. It ended up being a fabulous suggestion. 

As with our previous location, it presented a setting where the power of incoming waves was mostly dissipated by the rock behind Ingrid, so for the most part, there was little strength left in the waves by the time they wrapped around her. Using a higher ISO setting, and the largest aperture on the lens (f/1.2) let me get the shutter speed up to 1/4000 s, which resulted in absolutely no visible motion to either Ingrid, or the water surrounding her.

Digital original
The final photos of the session, and my final figure images for 2021, were a set of standing portraits, with Ingrid's feet surrounded by incoming waves. With the light moving towards sunset, there was a lovely warm glow around her, and it seemed a fitting end for such a successful session.

September 16, 2021

A Fall River Session with Ingrid

As soon as Ingrid saw the images from my session with Brittany, she asked if we could visit the location, so she could see what she found to work with. More than any other model I've ever worked with, Ingrid loves posing in water, and the chance to work with a new river really piqued her interest.

Digital infrared original

We arrived to find the river flow quite different from my first session there - there was less water moving through the river, and lower flow changed the nature of the falls, giving them a more delicate, subtle feel. This had some advantages however, as Ingrid was able to find poses with her body right in the river flow, where Brittany almost always had to work to the side. The above image is quite unusual for my work with the Nude in rivers, as it is a side view, as opposed to from above.

Digital infrared original, two frame shutter speed blend, two frame stitch

My absolute favorite image from the session took full advantage of the infrared camera, which rendered the fall foliage (yellow, orange and red) a brilliant luminous white. It was a little tricky for Ingrid to find a comfortable space to work in on the edge of the angular rock shelf, but when the pose came together, and she threw her head back, everything came together!

Digital infrared original

Overall, the session was really pleasing - Ingrid got to work in a new space, and yet I was revisiting a location I'd seen so much potential in. I work in such a limited number of spaces that being introduced to a new one, especially one as rich as this one, really hold great potential for future images!

September 13, 2021

Return to the Northumberland Shore 2/2

After finishing with the waterfall, we took a break for dinner, and then headed to the coast for the final images of the day. Jessica had told me of this location during my last visit, but we didn't get a chance to visit it then - so it was the logical place to finish up this session at.

On the walk in to the coast, we passed through a number of twisted, bare dead trees, bleached white by the constant onslaught of the nearby Northumberland Strait. Given the wonderful soft light on this side of the hill we were about the climb, I suggested we stop and work with the trees for a time - and was really pleased with the results.

Digital infrared original

Each model spend some time working with the trees - both focused primarily on one tree in particular that lent itself to posing, and was perfectly situated for maximal access with a camera. One of the most positive elements of switching to mirrorless cameras (Canon 5R) over the past year is how suddenly practical hand-held infrared photography is. The ease of accurate auto-focus, coupled with the incredibly broad range of focus points makes the focus issue that was constant with DSLR infrared photography non-existant, and the incredible image stabilization makes a much broader range of shutter-speeds usable - total game-changer.

Digital infrared original

The work Ingrid, Jessica and I made on the old tree was so thrilling to make - each pose worked well from multiple angles, and both models really enjoyed the posing flexibility the space presented. If there was a problem, it was on the editing end - I had so many good images, with such subtle variation between them that it took significant effort to distill them down to the best. Probably the biggest difference between working hand-held and with a tripod is how many more images I take hand-held.

Digital infrared original

The real goal for the location was the crest of a large rock outcrop, right by the ocean. The afternoon was bright and sunny, which made for some harsh light on the top, but thankfully it was getting later, and the angle at least was low and pleasing. Unfortunately, just after we started working, a young couple came by....we spend some time waiting them out, but eventually Jessica just went over and asked them if they would mind if she modeled nude....which the pair found amusing, and said wasn't an issue. So we resumed working with the low, angular sun and a disinterested audience.

Digital infrared original, 14 frame stitch

By far the best image of the day however, was made just after sunset (as had been the trend for the past 2-3 years, since I made the decision to never photograph in bad light). We'd worked our way down to the shoreline, and initially I had a plan for an image of the two models against a large rock, surrounded on three sides by the ocean...but I caught sight of a small glint sunset on water over a rock further down the beach. Leaving the models behind, I went to investigate, and found a lovely narrow rock pool, with a perfect low rock-outcrop for the two models to pose on. After signaling to them that I wish them to join me further down the beach, I frantically set the camera up, and worked out the composition. After initially composing it with my 17mm lens, I realized it would work even better with a narrow crop - which meant I could use a longer lens and stitch it. 

By the time Ingrid and Jessica arrived and found their pose, I had everything ready, and began to photograph. I made four sets of images of the models, exploring subtle variations in their posing. Once that was done, they moved out-of-frame and dressed (it was getting cool), and I finished the full width of the stitch. The resulting file was over 200mp in resolution - now I need an excuse to print it BIG!

Return to the Northumberland Shore 1/2

 After my first visit to this waterfall with Jessica, I was keen to return when it had water flowing over it - and to this end, Ingrid and I headed up to the North Shore for an afternoon, to work with Jessica. Sadly, though it had rained in the previous couple of days, there seemed to be no change in the slow flow of the falls - it may be early spring before this space runs with water in the way I can only imagine it must!

Digital infrared original

Still, water or not, the space was amazing to be in, and very quickly the two models started exploring its potential - given that Jessica and I have been here 6 weeks before, I already had a number of images in mind when we arrived. The first set to really resonate with me was the two women working with the lower drop, with the camera angled up towards the sky - this gives some impression of the majesty of the space, and the poses worked well with the drama.

Digital infrared original

After making images embracing the entire falls. I shifted to focusing on Ingrid and Jessica along the lower part of the falls - the stacked stratification in the rocks was beautiful to work with visually, and gave the models lots to work with, in regards to posing. I shifted to working with a longer lens for this, but opted for a mid-range aperture to ensure both models were in focus.

Digital infrared original

For the last images of the session, we moved up onto the second level of the falls, and I asked if would be possible for the models to work on the actual wall of the falls themselves. I initially thought it wouldn't work, as the wall was wet, and many parts covered with moss & lichen, but with little effort, Ingrid and Jessica found a couple of spaces that worked, and the final image set was made! The wide lens was the only option, as showing the small pool at the base of the wall was so important!

September 08, 2021

Working in a New River!

After the success of Brittany's first session, I was keen to work with her again, but between our schedules and the weather, it wasn't until two months later that we were able to build on the foundation we'd begun. For this session, I let her select the location, a "secret" river location that she thought would appeal to me.

Digital Infrared original

Her intuition about the location was exactly right, and within a couple of minutes of arriving at the river, we were making our first set of images. A low line of rock was at the edge of a large patch of dark, deeper water, and seemed to be the perfect space to place Brittany. After some experimentation with the pose, and selecting a long lens to flatten the overall perspective of the composition, we made the above image, which set a great tone for the session as a whole.

Digital Infrared original

As we moved further along the river, there was this wonderful spot where an offshoot of the main flow raced through a gap between two rocks, and over a smaller rock between. It seemed a perfect spot to place Brittany. I switched to a wide lens, to enhance the drama of Brittany's pose against the swirling water around her.

Digital Infrared original

By far the most dramatic space in the river was just a little past where we made the previous image. The river divided, and one portion dropped a full 2 metres through a steeply angled fissure in the rock. Brittany carefully worked her way into the fissure, and was able to bridge it with her body. I made a broad range of images of a variety of poses in the setting, but the above, made with my new RF 85mm f/1.2 lens at f/1.2 is by far my favorite - the shallow depth of field is just lovely, and helps focus the frame upon the figure in the centre.

Digital Infrared original

The last set of images of the session further explored the potential of the rock fissure, this time with me working much closer to Brittany, with a wide angle lens. We quickly explored a variety of poses and compositions, with the above being my favorite. 

All in all, this was a fabulous session - the river space recommended by Brittany was just fabulous to work in, and the work we made build on the rapport established during the first session, and the rate of success clearly showed this! I look forward to seeing what ever can be created - both in this space, and in future work with Brittany.