September 09, 2023

25 Years of Working with Ingrid (and perhaps our final session ever)!

This session was a special one on three levels; it was a celebration of working with Ingrid for more than 25 years, it was our last chance to work together for some time (or possibly ever) as Ingrid will be moving away shortly after the session, and finally, it was a victorious session that yielded some incredible water images that add to the already voluminous body of work we had made with water to date!
Digital infrared original
The plan for this session was wildly different from the results; wearrived at the beach stupid early (having got up at 5:30am), expecting to photograph in the pre-dawn and early morning light, only to arrive at a coast socked in with fog. Not wishing to waste our effort, we walked down the beach, and eventually found a location that resonated, and we made our first set of images of Ingrid on the edge of the beach, where a river flowed out to the sea. This created a sharper-than-usual slope to the beach, which made for an interesting space. As the light was soft and even, there was no sense of time-of-day, but the results were pleasing, none-the-less. There is something rather magical about the ocean disappearing into a wall of fog in the distance.
Digital infrared original

After we finished the images on the shoreline, Ingrid and I moved to working further inland with some long beach grass and dead trees. Combined with the mist this was a very evocative location to work in. Using my 85mm lens and the largest aperture (f/1.2), I was able to separate the tree Ingrid was standing against out from the background, and create a really moody composition. I often avoid using infrared on overcast/cloudy days as the skies just go featureless white, but in this case, it suited the composition.

Digital Original

The real focus of this session was a set of images of Ingrid in breaking waves. I made more than 2,800 of these, taking advantage of the camera's high frame rate to make the most of the fleeting moments presented by the setting. Ingrid and I have worked with water since our first session 25 years ago, and it has always been a theme that have flowed through the images we have made - but working in breaking ocean waves is something we have only attempted a couple of times. Of those sessions, this was by far both the safest, and the most successful. Unlike previous sessions, where Ingrid was once picked up and moved by a wave as it broke over the rock she was posing on, these were low, rolling waves that broke around her figure, as opposed to picked her up and moved her. Because of the persistent thin fog, and as we were located on a series of low sand bars out from the shore, Ingrid and I were able to work for close to an hour uninterrupted, as dog walkers and morning beach-explorers walked past hundreds of feet away, on the beach proper. If we'd had our initial hope, of a beautiful bright sunrise, the images this session yielded would not have been possible.

Digital original

For over 45 minutes, Ingrid and I explored the potential offered by the waves; time and again, we made image sets (at 20 frames/second) that didn't pan out, with waves that either failed to materialize, or were lackluster. However, for each handful of image sets that didn't work, one wave would shine through, and create images that were really pleasing, making the whole process worthwhile. In the end, I kept 27 images, literally meaning the keepers were 1 in a thousand...but the volume was worth it for the split moments that were available for selections. With the shutter speed at 1/3200 or faster, every motion is frozen, creating image that are a marked contrast to years of working with fluid, motion-blurred water!

July 31, 2023

A Second Session with L_

After our first session in the fall of 2022, it was more than 8 months later that the stars aligned, and Y_ and I could put together another session - time time outdoors. To make things as fair as possible, we agreed to meet 1/2 way between our respective homes, and work on the Fundy coast in the early evening, giving us both a 2 hour drive home, but also making it possible to do another photo session.

Digital infrared original

I'd previously worked in this location in 2004, but have not had a chance to visit it again since, so was quite enthusiastic to revisit it; this time however, I pushed well past where Monique and I had explored, and worked right on the outer edge of the shoreline, with nothing between Y_ and the Bay of Fundy.

Once I found an interesting space to begin - a long thing outcropping of rock surrounded by sand and seaweed, Y_ disrobed and began to explore the pose possibilities. The rock was selected for both its orientation and setting - the light was direct, uninterrupted evening sun, which made this an idea setting to pose upon, and in infrared, I knew the rock weed that cascaded off the stone would become light an luminous, giving great contrast to the smoothness of Y_'s skin.

photo by Ingrid

After making a full set of images with a variety of lenses, compositions and poses on the flat portion of the shoreline, Y_ and I walked further along, with an eye to working with a massive rock outcropping that interrupted the shore line. I made several sets of images as we approached the rock, but the most pleasing is the below composition, with Y_ arching back, framed by the massive is misleading because of the use of an ultra-wide lens, but the rock behind towered over Y_, and yet with the lens and composition, the power and confidence of her pose dominates the image! I really like the confidence and power this image coveys, and it comes directly from Y_'s sense of self, and her presence in the space.

Digital infrared original
From start to finish, this session was fabulous - the location was rich in potential for spaces to work in, L_ was fabulous to photograph; she enjoyed exploring pose options, and was always open to suggestions or revisions (it is amazing how much a shift of a hand here, or redirection of a foot there can make or break a pose). The two hours we worked together was more than worth the more than 10 hours invested in travel time between the two of us, and it makes me hope we can build on this work in the future.
Digital infrared original
There is a simple irony to the reality that the biggest frustration of the session, the harsh, direct sunlight, is also one of the strongest contributors to the strength of the successes we realized. Rather than fight against the light, I embraced it, and time and again made images where the directional quality of the light worked well. The above images, one of the last compositions of the session, is all about the light, both on Y_'s figure, and the distant clouds over Nova Scotia in the background.