The Quest for Light and Form

Sarah Ellis
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

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Sarah on the Rocks

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis

Four Years…FOUR YEARS!!!!….I cannot believe that was the last time I worked with the beautiful and talented Sarah Ellis, and in the majestic Northwest.  I have missed her intelligence, goofy grace, geekiness…and, of course, her talented modeling skills. The Northwest landscape is my favorite place to be with its lush green and overwhelming features.  Four years ago, we toured Western WA and created some memorable images in the Hoh Rain Forest, abandoned forts and several Pacific Beaches while battling vampires and werewolves near Forks (aka Twlightsville) . :) On this visit, we explored a variety of scenic wonders in Oregon – from a replica of Stonehenge on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River, through waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge to about every Pacific coast beach from West Oswald State Park to the tip of Oregon at  Ft. Stevens - with massive sea stacks, cliffs, fog, tidal pools, ship wreck remnants, and old growth forests.

We were not having much luck shooting nudes on the beaches because of the crowds.  But we did get some stunning swimsuit shots as a Plan B (future posts). So, on our last day, we decided to hit a beach early in the morning in an attempt to at last capture some nude beach shots.  We headed through hills with cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean to Smuggler’s Cove in West Oswald Park.  This location had its own microclimate. You can be driving in sunshine one minute and then suddenly find yourself in dense fog with a corresponding temperature drop that just seems to hover in the immediate area. We were rewarded with our first ray of hope seeing the parking lot at at the beach trailhead almost empty.  To get to the beach, you hiked almost a half mile  along a creek through a dense green and mossy old growth forest with massive Spruce trees, and then have to climb over a log jamb at the end of the trail guarding the entrance to the beach.  It starts out as a pebble beach, then turns into a wide expanse of sand with the cove surrounded at each end by high cliffs and a series of rock outcroppings extending into the ocean.

Our next ray of hope was just a few surfers were around….and they were more interested in the waves than Sarah’s curves.  OK, well, MAYBE they were  interested, but they didn’t bother us :)   The light was perfect with a layer of fog at tree top level acting as a natural schrim for the morning sunshine. We started shooting near the rock outcroppings where the waves were breaking.  But the phenomena known as “sneaker waves” (i.e., quickly going from low tide to a higher tide within one or two wave cycles) pushed us closer up the baech.

I like to think the Sneaker Waves were the Photo Gods way of gently pushing us to find the spot  where the attached set of images was created.  I love the large gray boulders with green, rubbery sea vegetation,  barnacles and mossy green rocks that accentuate Sarah’s pale skin to make her pop from the gray and green surroundings. Then Sarah does her magic of beautifully weaving her form among the rocks and sand to create something fabulous.  As my most excellent creative partner, Sarah reminded me that I wanted to get some bodyscapes. We captured a beautiful one in this set with her wedged between some rocks.  I am always focused on the eyes and face trying to capture the person rather than just body parts. So, more than likely, I always complete a shoot and forget one of my goals  is the capture more anonomous images.

There will be much more to share from the Tour d’Oregon avec Sarah, including artistic nudes, swimwear and glamour.  The four year Sarah drought as been quenched and my cup overfloweth!

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A Squatter’s Life

Caitlin
Caitlin
Caitlin
Caitlin
Caitlin
Caitlin

I’ve never explored the beautiful Delaware Gap region where the Delaware River cuts through the Appalachian Mountains between PA and NJ much.  So time to check one off the bucket list. The national park area has an interesting history and recent past. First used as an area by native American tribes, then the Dutch established mines in the area (hence the main road’s name “Old Mine Road”), some of which are still visible. The British established small forts along the river here during the French and Indian War on the “frontier”. There are still houses throughout the area dating from the 1700 and 1800′s. In 1960, the government bought several thousand acres of land and evicted 15,000 residents and several towns because it was going to build a dam and flood the area.  The dam was never built and the government eventually created a park with the purchased land.  The towns and homes throughout the area remain abandoned and falling into ruin.

So, my good friend and model, Caitie, and I set on a recent Fall day to explore the area and see what abandoned places we could find.  We found a variety of places to shoot – old barns, homes…ranging in age from 1800′s, early 1900′s and as late as the 1940′s. It was very surreal. Some places looked relatively intact and you got the feeling like you were in a tableau like “The Walking Dead”, with the people just recently left.  It was obvious some of the homes people were using to squat in – with mattresses on the floor and old furniture laying about.

We found this one home built in the 1940′s with beautiful wood floors and paneling and early linoleum floor with interesting patterns, and holes in the ceiling, and a recent jar of spaghetti sauce just sitting full and unopened in the kitchen.  I saw this one bedroom with an interesting patterned floor, an old mattress and lamp and nicely lite by two windows.  Catie found a broom (oddly enough) and swept the mattress and we arranged the room with it and an old lamp. We started shooting some standing poses to get the light, and, then Catie fell into this squatting pose -  kind of part reverie, part despair, staring into space and then looking up at me as if surprised by my intrusion. I thought it very nicely captured the mood of the moment as shown in these three images.  As we left the house we wondered about the mystery of the spaghetti jar, and if the squatter’s would come back to find that we had swept their room and appreciate it….or complain that we had moved the furniture around.

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The Factory: Vassanta

Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

In November 2012, Vassanta and I spent the day shooting around an abandoned factory and quarry in Birmingham.

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My Style

Every now and then you  create an image that really speaks to your heart and soul that you know makes a statement about your style and what you want to achieve as an artist. This is such an image.  I love the contrasts of the rough environment with the grace and beauty of Vassanta and her expressiveness. It speaks to the beauty and strength of woman. In editing it with cross processing, the richness and color depth make it resonate with the eye. And, of course, none of this is possible without such a beautiful subject that emotes the essence of who she is and the feeling that I’ve captured her at her best.

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The Quarry: Vassanta

Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

Last November 2012, we had been shooting in this abandoned quarry most of the day.  We finished up the day among these massive mountains of rock and sand, with hardened mud flats and ponds in between the mounds.  The sun was setting and it was golden shooting time. We shot in the mud flats first catching the light before it started falling below the tops of the mountains.  Then Vassanta raced (and fell) and raced (and slide down) until she got to the top of the mountain of rock before the last rays of sunlight faded.  The light and her form were amazing!  I’m never sure how she climbs to a shooting position like this rock mountain, taking so much effort, but then looking so composed and glamorous once the shooting starts. One day, I’ll have to create an album of outtakes of models sliding down sand hills and other goofy stuff that always happens in a shoot. In the mean time, the beautiful results speak for themselves.

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Vassanta Abandoned

Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

These images were taken in November, 2012 when Vassanta and I explored an abandoned village.  It was a really cool place with Spanish moss draping the trees. It had a very ghostly feel to it.  I love this series of images we took in one house.  Vassanta does a fantastic job of creating a play within the pictures….a feeling of abandonment, despair and longing and then sexual energy among the ruins. I shot these overexposed to give it a spectral look. In post processing, I treated the background and her differently.  I used split toning with a slightly blue / yellow cast for the building and then used a different tone on her to standout. I added back sharpness and contrast to the building, while leaving elements of the overexposure to give her a softer, more glamorous, and spectral feel.

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Vassanta Creative Window III

Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

Vassanta exhibits a fabulous range of emotions and poses in the limited space of the casement window.  I like the different ways I shot them from hi key to lots of shadow with highlights. It’s amazing what you can do at the spur of a moment :)

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Vassanta Creative Window II

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Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

More images using the light from one casement window.  Vassanta makes the best use of some beautiful shadow and the wall architecture to accentuate the forms in the image.

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Vassanta Creative Window

Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

“What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Vassanta is the sun….” to paraphrase Shakespeare. ;)   Using only the light from a casement window in St. Petersburg, I captured Vassanta with one of her signature, spur of the moment, creative looks with expressions and poses she does so well. For post processing, I used cross processing to add to the mystery and heighten the color of her look with a soft DOF – partially as an artistic choice…partially from technical necessity due to the low light.  I had fun with these images – a different look from my typical work.

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Vassanta on the Volga

Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta
Vassanta

On a recent trip to Russia with my dear friend and Muse Vassanta, we went on a Volga River cruise. We didn’t have much time for shooting, but did get this one impromptu shoot in. You can plan and plan a shoot and it turns out like crap……and then you just do something on the spur of the moment (like these images) and magic happens.  I love Vassanta’s natural beauty…very little makeup…just her, on a boat in the beautiful natural light of the setting sun.  The thing I have always loved about shooting with Vassanta is the way she emotes with her expressions and use of her body. In these images, you see the full range of her talents as she exudes sensuality in one frame to beautiful natural innocence in the next.  That is why she is my Muse and it’s always a joy to portray her.

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