Art Nude In The Landscape Experience
19th-25th April 2019
Our Art Nude In The Landscape Experience takes place every Easter in the Scottish Highlands but this year, following feedback from the last two years, we decided to run it twice in one week so that more people could attend. We also changed the venue, so that participants would have single rooms in a comfortable hotel with meals provided, instead of sharing twin rooms in a hostel and cooking their own food, like they have in previous years. This obviously added to the cost but we felt it would provide a more enjoyable experience and enable people to concentrate on learning as much as possible and getting as creative as possible during the event.
Our four models for the first session were the uniquely talented Rachelle Summers, Helen Stephens, Keira Lavelle and Scarlot Rose. All of the ladies had already modelled for this event previously and brought all their experience of the genre and knowledge of the locations into the mix to provide a masterclass in location nude modelling for our participants.
|Water Nymphs (L to R Rachelle, Scarlot & Keira)|
|Scarlot, Rachelle and Keira are tiny in the landscape, as the dawn light fights its way through the cloud to put some colour on Quinag.|
|Helen gave us her Terminator pose as the light finally broke through in earnest.|
After a successful beginning, Scarlot kindly demonstrated for everyone how easy it is for a model to find herself in Stage One hypothermia without realising it.
On our safety talk, we discuss in detail the risks and the early signs of hypothermia and why it is essential for photographers to look for these signs on outdoor nude shoots, as people in the early stages of hypothermia rarely understand that they have a problem, especially models who are trying their best to give a good performance and things can progress very quickly if not caught in time.
Scarlot continued to model after a break to warm up, saying she felt fine, until we called a halt and it was only when she stopped posing that it became apparent to everyone that she had gone too far. The difference between no problems and potentially dangerous problems was only around 20 seconds of posing but had we not stopped when we did, Scarlot could have been in serious danger without even knowing it.
The indications to us that she was not as well as she thought were first that she took a few seconds to decide on a pose change, then repeated a previous pose. In moving into the pose, she also had a little wobble. These were all indicators that her cognition was being impaired and her fine motor control and balance were being affected. It was only subtle changes but enough to make us stop the shoot.
As soon as Scarlot stopped, she became aware of the problem herself, as she had difficulty in dressing and began to shiver and feel confused. Hot soup and additional layers of down clothing arrested the decline and we returned to the hotel, where Scarlot had a long bath after breakfast to fully re-set her body temperature. We also suggested that she should not model on the Bone Caves trek , or at least until we reached the caves and only then if she felt 100% better.
After breakfast, we had an image review session and then prepared to head out to the Bone Caves. Our first location was the lovely waterfall at the bottom of the Allt nan Uamh. We then decided to head straight to the Bone Caves and use other locations on the route on the way back down afterwards.
|Rachelle in contemplative mood by the waterfall at the bottom of Allt nan Uamh|
At the Bone Caves, Keira gave everyone a "wow!" moment, as she did a little naked free climbing up the rock face to pose. Meanwhile, in one of the caves, Rachelle and Scarlot spent some time planning and practicing some duo poses to suit the location. Whilst this was going on, to add something different, Jason and I set up some off-camera flash in one of the caves, to add a little extra for people. I used the Sony off-camera system and Jason used Pocket Wizard on Nikon with gelled flashes. Canon users could pop a card in either my or Jason's camera, Sony users could use my system, and Nikon users could also shoot with Jason's system.
Helen decided that this was another modelling opportunity not to be missed, so whilst Keira was climbing and Rachelle and Scarlot were practicing their set, Helen put her camera down and modelled for the off-camera flash set.
The poses that Scarlot and Rachelle had been working on turned out to be a stunning duo and the similarity between the two of them made the set look even more beautiful. Meanwhile Keira provided a breathtaking set on the edge of the rocks, looking out over the landscape.
|The similarity between the two models helps add balance to this image at the cave entrance|
|In order to calculate the area of the cave entrance, one needs to use Pi|
On our descent back towards the minibus, we stopped again at the waterfall at the bottom of the Allt nan Uamh, where Keira did a wild swimming set in the plunge pool. This also provided an opportunity to demonstrate the value of a polarizing filter, as we could shoot the same scene with and without, to demonstrate the effect of using full polarization on water.
|Keira swimming in the plunge pool with no polarization|
|A couple of seconds later with full polarization taking the glare off the water surface|
Back at the hotel, we had another fun image review session before dinner and after dinner enjoyed a laughter-filled game of "Cards Against Humanity".
The next morning, we had another early start to head for the view across to the five peaks from above Achmelvich and once more the weather was not kind but at least it was not raining. Each participant had a one-to-one shoot with one of the models here, before we headed back to the hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, we had our talk on communication and checked out before heading to the Wailing Widow Waterfall. We had been concerned that the drizzle during breakfast would get heavier and once more make the path along to the waterfall too tricky but it had dried up nicely and we made it along easily. After a couple of sets with all three models and then one with Rachelle and Scarlot, we achieved something we have not been able to on previous visits here.
The waterfall has a large plunge pool and usually at this time of year, the water comes thundering down and creates dangerous currents that can easily pull someone under the many overhanging rocks beneath the surface, so we have never attempted to photograph a model in the waterfall. However, on this occasion to our surprise, the waterfall was a mild trickle and the currents normally produced in the plunge pool were non-existent. Keira, as an experienced wild swimmer, has had her eye on this location since she started modelling for this event and we agreed a plan for her to model in the waterfall on this occasion.
|Mimicking the waters meeting and separating on their way down the waterfall, the three models produce a lovely image by the Wailing Widow|
|Scarlot and Rachelle with the waterfall|
|Escape from The Land that Time Forgot ~ Keira finally gets to pose in the waterfall|
Our final shoot of the week was a return to the viewpoint towards Cul Mor, Cul Beag and Stac Pollaidh and this time the sky had something extra for us. The clouds rising from Cul Mor looked like a volcanic eruption, which added something extra to the scene.
|More beautiful teamwork from Scarlot and Rachelle to mirror the shape of the mountains on the final shoot of our 2019 Art Nude In The Landscape Experience|
|The clouds rising from Cul Mor add a prehistoric feel to the landscape and Keira's pose mimics the rising plume|
We finished off with Tsavo joining the human models for a sad remembrance of all that was lost in this area. Sutherland was particularly hard hit during the Highland Clearances, as tens of thousands of people were forcibly removed from their farms, villages and crofts to make way for sheep farming. In the process, an entire culture was essentially wiped out.
|In mourning for what was lost ~ Tsavo's expression perfectly fitted the sombre theme|
With the final shoot of our 2019 Art Nude In The landscape Experience over, we headed to Ullapool for a farewell lunch and on to our various destinations.
This year was the first time we had run the event twice, back to back, in one week and to be honest it will probably be the last. Although we all enjoyed every minute, it was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. That we were able to achieve so much in that week is a testament to the dedication to their art of four amazing people that I am delighted to call friends and to have worked with so much over the years. It has also only been possible with the assistance of my fantastic wife, Karen and my very great friend, Jason from Icarus Images.
Next year there will be some big changes to this event. Helen is retiring from touring as a model; Rachelle and Scarlot will not be available, as they will be in Japan for their Summers Abroad Cherry Blossom Photographic Holiday. When we discussed these changes with Keira, she felt that this would also be a good time for her to take time out from it too, so we will have an all-new line up of three superb models for next year.
We will also be spending some time this year doing extended recce trips to add new locations to the mix. If any models would be interested in modelling on this event, we would need to see how you work in the environment if we haven't worked with you before, so please feel free to contact me if you would like to join us on one of the recce trips to see how you get on. Models for this event need to be experienced in and comfortable with artistic nude work and free from tattoos and other body modifications.
If you have read this far, thank you very much for your patience :-)