November 26, 2022

An Indoor Session with a New Model

A undeniable fact is that it is becoming increasingly uncommon to find new people to photograph; whether this is due to the continued fall-out from COVID-19, my age (now mid-50's) or my approach (which admittedly is completely passive, hoping people will see my work and approach me about modeling), I cannot say, but when I got a message from Y_ asking about modeling, I was more than happy to meet up and discuss my process. After a lovely chat, and reviewing my images in print (which is SO much better than online/digitally), Y_ confirmed her interest, and we committed to making some images...sometime soon!

Digital infrared original

As Y_ lives hours away from Halifax, it was some time between our first meeting to discuss working together, and her next time in the area, but once she confirmed her plans, we put our heads together, and arranged to meet up for a first session.  Though my obvious preference is to work outdoors, given the time of year, we had to be practical, and work indoors. I brought studio lighting with me, but as it turned out, the Air B&B Y_ was staying had had wonderful natural light, and the entire session was spent working with that.

Digital infrared original
My favourite thing about working with natural light is it is quite similar to my approach to working in landscape; I spent much of the session hunting for a composition based upon what is available before me (unlike studio photography, which is a lot about setting the light as you wish, and then working with the model to make the most of the light). The best part of this location was it had a large bare wall, which I spent most of the session working with; with large windows to my left and right, this gave a wonderful wrap-around lighting effect which really worked well with Y's figure.
Digital infrared original

The last images of the session were made on a dark leather couch below a large window - this gave some wonderful textures to contrast Y_'s skin, and presented some different pose possibilities, when compared to working against the wall. 

Overall the session was really pleasing. Y_ is a delight to work with, and have a wonderful work ethic and buckets of enthusiasm. Given her location, I am not sure how often we will get a chance to work together, but I look forward to taking what we made today, and putting it in a more natural setting!

May 14, 2022

An Outdoor Pregnancy Session

It is close to 33 years since I first photographed a pregnancy, and it still remains such an honour to be asked to help celebrate this incredible point in a woman's life. As was the case with our first session two years earlier, this was planned as "the" session to celebrate this pregnancy; though I offered the option of multiple sessions following her pregnancy's progress, the model preferred to have a single sessions late in the term, trusting to my skills to make the best image possible.
Digital original

Learning from the first session, we avoided the coast for this one, and instead worked on the glacial plain that line much of Nova Scotia's eastern coast, taking advantage of the wild landscape and massive glacial erratics (glacially deposited rock differing from the type of rock native to the area in which it rests). Our first set of images were made with the early evening sunlight providing some wonderful edging to the breast and belly, and picking up the warm highlights in the model's hair.

Digital original

Though the session began with some lovely evening sunlight, the sky gradually clouded over through the session, and by the middle of the 75 minute session, this had changed to wonderfully soft evening light which was just a delight to work with. While much of the early portion of the session was spent on poses mirroring the shape of the rocks with the shape of the pregnant belly, one of my favourite rock images is above. I'd worked in this exact location 13 years earlier, and loved how the rock looked with the foliage around it - this time however, as opposed to working with infrared light, I kept the image in colour, enjoying the delicate contrast between all the warm tones in the foreground, and the blue sky above.

Digital infrared original

The final set of images we made, bringing the session to a close, were the ones that really resonated with me. By this time, the sky had clouded over completely, and the evening light was incredibly soft and even. Where most of the session had been focused on standing (or prone) poses, for the last set of photos, I asked the model to lean back into a small rock which allowed me to frame her figure with a large dark-lichen covered rock behind her. Working with an extremely wide-angle lens help keep the figure prominent, while still showing the space around her. The sweeping drama of sky above, and the luminous infrared tones of the model's skin make this image an absolute celebration of the full, curving lines of the pregnant body!

May 09, 2022

A Short Morning Session

In the late 1990's, I bought a fine art nude print - an image of a pregnant mother holder an infant on top of her bare belly; this image has hung on my wall for more than 2 decades,but I have never had a chance to take inspiration from this for my own work. When discussing our upcoming outdoor pregnancy session, I asked the model if she'd be interested in any images with her first child...and much to my surprise, she was keen to see what would come out of that idea, and we set a time to meet and make some photos.

Digital original

While this session was not created using my infrared camera, the luminous skin tones I was seeking in the post production certainly are more in line with that approach, but as the day was pretty overcast, working indoors with the infrared camera would have been challenging. Fortunately, the high ISO performance on contemporary cameras is nothing short of stunning, so using ISO 800 throughout the session presented no quality issues.

Digital original

As short and focused as this session was, I am absolutely floored by how lovely the results were - the last image, above, is so far above my expectations it make my heart sing. Photographing straight into the windows covered with sheers created the luminous space I have long been enamoured with (since at least 1998), and the lovely connection between mother and child is all the richer for the pregnant belly the child is perched on! Such a beautiful session.

January 28, 2022

Ingrid, Snow and Ice

I first worked with Ingrid on snow and ice in 2008, and this is literally the first time since those two back-to-back sessions that the weather, our schedules and river ice thick enough to work on has occurred at the right time, and in the right way to facilitate a return to the idea. Thew challenge of repeating this approach is probably more of a comment on global warming than any other factor in the co-ordination of a winter session.

Digital original, 8 image stitch

The first snow and ice session with Ingrid was very much an experiment, but this time, we had a much better idea of how to approach it, and what processes would make it easier, and more effective (less because of any extensive experience working with winter conditions, and more because of all the successes we had in Ireland, working in cool weather). This session was actually quite a bit colder then our first sessions in 2008 - the temperature was at the freezing point (0c or 32F), but with this location, there was not a breath of wind, and Ingrid could warm up between image sets, so the cold did not present much of an issue. Any poses which included contact with the ice involved cloth padding between skin and ice, minimizing the impact of the setting on Ingrid.

Digital original, 11 image stitch
As I'd worked in this setting several times before, I had a pretty good idea of were I wanted to work with Ingrid, and quickly we moved to these spaces. By far my favourite image sets were at the bottom of the watercourse, where it flows over a broad, flat rock in to a small basin (where the second image in Ingrid's first session in this space was made). With the winter freeze, with provided a solid platform of ice for Ingrid to pose on, right next to the cascading water and the pool below. After making images of a handful of pose variations, Ingrid got dressed, and I continued to make the rest of the composition, creating another 10 images of the space to stitch together into the final composition.
Digital original
Ultimately, the biggest challenge of this winter session was not for Ingrid, working on the snow and ice, but myself - shortly after we started , my foot went through the ice (I was standing where I would not have let Ingrid pose, so I knew I was on thin ice), and ice cold river water got into my boot. For the remainder of the session, my left foot grew progressively colder, but I am proud to say we worked until the images stopped presenting themselves, not until I could no longer bear the chill in my foot. in the end, we called the session as we'd run out of ideas for the spaces we felt were safe to work, and we headed home, happy in the knowledge we'd built on the two previous winter sessions fourteen years earlier.

January 01, 2022

New Year's Day at Peggy's Cove

Since at least 2008, I have been marking the arrival of each new calendar year with a photo trip to Peggy's Cove - most have been cold, many with snow, but this year was mild, with no snow or ice in sight. Most of these Peggy's Cove trips have been tied to my teaching, but this year, with COVID-19 still overshadowing society, I kept the event to myself, friends and family.