Someone To Watch Over Me

New Mexico Nude, 1998, #9

I’ve decided to go into the vaults to bring you an oldie today: New Mexico Nude, 1998, #9.  Here’s the story:
In 1998, for the second straight year, I attended a couple of workshops at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  The previous year, I took a nude photo workshop with a local artist named Louise Roach, and then a second one with the well known Hollywood photographer Greg Gorman.
I had actually planned to sign up for just one in 1998, with a very good instructor named Elizabeth Opalenik, but as it turned out, one of my color photographs of Iceland won first prize in a major photo competition in Santa Fe and I got a free workshop as part of the prize.   I could have used it to pay for Elizabeth’s workshop, but as Joyce Tenneson was teaching one the following week, I decided to go for two.
This photo was not made at either of those workshops.  Rather, it was made a few days after the second workshop ended with a model I had met at the workshops.  The location, a ranch outside of Santa Fe, was also used by the workshops.
My primary camera then, as it still is now, was my Pentax 67.  However, I had also brought my Rolleicord twin lens reflex camera, which used to be my dad’s, along with me.  That’s because it was the only camera I had at the time that could do multiple exposures and I wanted to play around with that idea a little.  (I subsequently had the Pentax modified to do it, too.)
The idea I had in mind for this particular image was that of the model being watched over by her spirit.  It wasn’t easy to pull off.  First I made a normal photo of the model in a semi-reclining position on the right.  Then came the tricky part.  I wanted her to have the transparent look on the left, signifying an incorporeal spirit, but I wanted her to be solid on the right to look like a real person.
To do this, for the second exposure, I had to use a black card to cover the right two third of the lens, only allowing the left one third to be exposed.  I was hoping to not have any overlap between the model’s outstretched arm and her figure on the left.  As I could not see both of her at the same time, I had to guess where she had been in the first exposure and hope that she was far enough to the left for second.  If that weren’t hard enough, I had to get the black card in the right position over the lens, too.
Well, I don’t know how I did it, but somehow it worked.  Look at how close the outstretched arm came to the transparent figure.  If I had held the black card just a little further to the right, the model’s hand could have become transparent, which would effectively ruin the image.
As I said, I don’t know how I did it, but I did.   Could someone have been watching over me???

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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