Rainforest Revisited

It’s bad of me to revisit old work when I have so much wonderful new stuff to show on here – or is it? Sometimes looking back and being grateful for some very special moments is rather nice! The series below, recently put together as a montage for my website (Faerie gallery; and do go and check out some other galleries I’ve recently updated there, by clicking here) is a definite contender for one of my favourite collections of all time. These serene, natural images were shot by Dave Aharonian in ancient rainforest in BC, Canada.

My explanation of how these images came to be (recent facebook conversations): ‘He had some kind of magical camera-box which he disappeared behind and went under a cloth; everything was upside down and miraculously these images happened.’

His, slightly more helpful, explanation: ‘I shot these on a 4X5 view camera with a 6″ Darlot Petzval lens. The shallow depth of field and swirly background is a characteristic feature of these antique lenses.’

So there you have it; the truth behind the hocus pocus. What an incredibly peaceful place to have been able to experience. I am very lucky!

Siiiigh… Looking back at these is really making me crave another visit.

So far this year I’ve stuck mostly to my plan of scheduling in just one short trip per month; plans now include France, Germany, Holland/Netherlands (um…), Norway and possibly Belgium. At some point I might think beyond Europe… Will let you know when I do!

Iceland

… With the brilliant Alex Ingram. We met up in Reykjavik (having worked together earlier in the year at his beautiful – if a little rainy – domain of the Scottish Highlands). We had two days together and spent the first day just driving around in the vague aim of ‘doing’ the ‘golden circle’. Our road trip took us to Pingvellir (Viking site – oldest parliament in the world), Geysir (hot springs) and Gulfoss (massive waterfalls). We didn’t get much done at all that day, because of the constant rain, but it was nice just to sightsee in such an incredible country. We were more organised on the second day, though still it was really just a case of driving around and seeing what we saw!

Around the modelling, I also spent a day walking around on a glacier and seeing some black sand beaches along the southern coast, making friends in the accommodation I stayed at which had a party bar on the ground floor with live music, and some new friends who spent much of an evening determined to fashion me a poncho out of bin bags especially purchased so that I could walk underneath a waterfall the next day (it didn’t really work, but it was a hilarious effort!). I bizarrely bumped into an American model I’d met in Mexico before, Brooke Lynn, in one of Reykjavik’s little streets, too! Other things I did included watching a volcano documentary at a special tourist museum/cafe – it was absolutely incredible to see footage of eruptions and witness the amazing endurance of the people who live in such a unique country, constantly clearing up and dealing with what nature throws at them as best as they can. Iceland is definitely somewhere I hope to visit again, and hopefully not before too long.

A note about these images… You do have to be quite brave to model in these conditions – yes, Iceland is very cold (and I had such a clear picture in my mind of it being simply a land of ice, despite all images to the contrary previously seen; but as the plane touched down I was so enamoured with the lupins which covered so much of the land around the airport with a silvery-violet glow – they were imported from Alaska because they are tough and can survive in Volcanic earth, while rooting it together helpfully to aid with erosion control after the earth has split open again and again). I’m afraid I was also quite gung-ho about modelling nude even in such touristy areas of the country , because getting the images was too important to bother about other people (ruthless? Maybe!); we began early, aiming for maximum privacy (and I stepped quietly over the safety ropes for the scene we had in mind), but of course, the geothermal pools at Geysir (where many of the below were taken) were immediately next to a 70m upward-bursting jet of boiling water, erupting every few minutes. It’s hard to be alone at such a magnificent site as that. Luckily, Alex works quickly and efficiently, and we had the shots in the bag without much fuss. ūüôā

The outer (ahem, road-side) pools of the Blue Lagoon, a quick diversion at the end of the day (I explored it fully on my way to the airport to catch my flight home; what a magical, magical place.)

And the lupins:

………..Snapshots:

At Geysir:

Before:
After:

Road-trippin’:

A cafe we loved:

At the road-side outer pools of the Blue Lagoon:

Gulfoss:

Lupins:

Central Reykjavik:

My day-trip poncho brilliance (waterfalls, black beaches and glaciers):

I’m determined that this won’t be my only visit to Iceland. What a wonderful place!

The Far Flinging Ocean

Zoe Wiseman still holds the award for the world’s most laid back, no pressure shoots.

We walk (a few metres) to the beach. We consider the wind. We sit down. We consider the waves. We stand up. We consider the rocks. We scramble gently over them, dodging the puddles of water growing fast from the flinging sea. I perch; she crouches, wedged between jagged rock. We shoot a few frames of film. We stand up and look around a bit more. We move a bit further…. The Australian waves were really crashing in – it wasn’t a long shoot.

Zoe’s such a pleasure to meet every year.

These few had the benefit of the amazingly-faced Sara Liz, a US playboy model who is really friendly and funny:

Earth Blood

I’m just about ready-ish for my imminent far-flinging-of-self to outward geographical extremities, from Kuala to koala, with some rice paddies, dragon-formed island cliffs, yoga classes & treehouse bars, ‘old quarters’ and kaleidoscopic underwater creature-greeting in between. I’m getting those last minute heebyjeebies, of course (well, they’ve been creeping up for a while..), but I’m used to that and I know things always tend to work out once you’re there. It’s hard to tear myself away from home, but hard not to! Adventures are calling.

I’ll be back sometime before Christmas (I’m not currently sure exactly when), and am now taking bookings for January. (Also, just to note, I’m keeping a list of photographers who’ve asked me to contact them to let them know when I’m back, in case we can fit something in before the end of the year. Please let me know if you’d like to be added to that list. My email address is ellarosemuse@live.co.uk.)

A final update before I go:

Modelling for the extremely talented 19-year-old woman that is Katie Eleanor was a pleasure. I had a quick jaunt to Hampstead Heath on a recent Saturday, to cavort with papier maché toadstools and have paper cut-out moths stuck to my body, before meeting friends in a Caribbean bar staged in an old shipping container in Shoreditch.

Katie is such an exciting, passionately creative person, and her style and penchant for whimsy and ethereal confusion and myth, stories and (tainted) nature is right up my street.

These were shot on film, then painted by hand afterwards. I think they’re a bit Victorian looking; a grown up flower fairy minus the flowers? I’m excited about following her work and seeing what she does next!

Monbachtal

Another blog post in quick succession, but I’m keen to show off some images from another session in Germany, working with the excellent Steven Billups in the Baden-Wurttemberg area.

These were all taken on film, so we took relatively few compared to the average photoshoot (digital shoots can results in hundreds and hundreds of images), and there are so many that came out beautifully, we think. I love the tones and shapes and textures in these, and the water’s caught really well (not always the easiest thing, capturing moving water). There’s always such a sense of uncertainty with film – it’s not like digital where you can look at the back of the camera for reassurance – you have to trust you’re doing the best job you can (both the photographer and model), so maybe there’s something extra valuable about the feeling of getting it right!

Congratulations to Steven for selling quite a few prints recently of a shot we did last year, too!

Gaia, Jetty

I have yet another collection of images to show you from photographer Jeremy Howitt today. A recent concoction of curves, bokeh, grass and reflections…

Jeremy found this beautiful location in Sussex and I had the immediate idea that I should lie down for this first close-in, abstract crop – I have no idea why, it just felt obvious when I saw the frame of the long grass in the foreground and water behind; and Jeremy got it pretty much how I’d imagined, if not better, with a slightly voyeuristic hint and beautiful focus – I love the three little dots of bokeh in the diagonal line as well! Then Jeremy played around with some reflections as I sat/stood/lay on the little wooden jetties that surrounded the lake. To finish, we did a little ‘Gaia’ set in the nearby field. We don’t often do portraits so thought it would be a good idea, then finished with some explosive hair, naturally.

Swiss Alps: Soaring through landscapes

I was lucky enough to be asked to meet Jim Furness in Switzerland earlier this month for a two-day adventure into the high-altitude glorious vistas of the alps! This was my first visit to Switzerland, and I have to say, the country is just utterly beautiful. I really hope to go back sometime. You’ll be able to see from the images how idyllic it really is. I couldn’t believe how fresh and vivid everything looked.

(First, I have to mention that I had a bit of a ‘life affirming’ moment on the way to the airport for this trip, when I forgot that I couldn’t pay for a bus ticket to Heathrow by card after noon and didn’t have enough cash. Before I even had time to panic, a helpful member of staff at the park and ride (Pedro from Portugal) simply GAVE me ¬£20. I couldn’t believe it. I asked him how I could pay him back, wondering if I could do a bank transfer there and then using my phone, but he just shrugged and said ‘take it’. Of course, when I arrived back from Switzerland and saw him there again, I was able to pay him back in Scottish money, which he was fascinated by. For those of you who might be thinking ‘I bet he likes to help out all the pretty girls…’ or something along those lines: firstly, he wasn’t flirting whatsoever, though we had a good conversation about his life (he was a successful artist working with metal, keen to find his way back into that field now that he lives in the UK), and secondly, he told me that he frequently gives money to passengers in a rush who realise they can’t pay by card. I asked him, ‘don’t you go broke just giving your money away so often?’ and he said he often finds stray notes around the car park. I thought he was brilliant.)

We stayed in Jim’s friend’s cabin, enjoyed fondue and R√∂sti, and spent the days riding up cable cars (which ranged from the commercial and modern to the more… well… ‘wooden box’ variety, being little more than a crate used by locals to transport milk!) and walking around the mountains for the best views. We got the best of both worlds in terms of weather – it was warm and sunny, with snow-topped peaks! I also got to practise my German a bit, despite initially thinking it would be a French speaking part of the country (duh!). As Jim had described to me beforehand, the sound of cowbells is almost omnipresent, as the four-legged wander around the hills.

Here are my favourites:

…You can see a full screen slide show with music:¬†click here
I’ve also got some ‘behind-the-scenes’ shots, courtesy of Wendy, Jim’s friend and host….

….as well as my own photos, taken while snap-happy-journeying into the sky or while Jim set up his own shots (just a few here, but if you wanted to see more, I’ve got a ‘Nice People, Places and Things’ album on facebook¬†which makes me very very happy to look back through):

(It’s OK, if the wooden box falls apart halfway up the mountain, simply press this red button…’)

(Wendy and I)
Last but not least, one idea Jim had prior to the shoot was the idea of possibly doing some video while out in Switzerland. I was a bit unsure. Having done nude video before I wasn’t new to it, but also feel strongly that it’s something that can easily become a little too ‘erotic’ for my tastes. Often video becomes all about the model, which can be very indulgent, and when nudity is added to the mix it can be difficult to control the mood of the output… Stills, on the other hand, while hopefully portraying plenty of narrative, are miniscule captures of fleeting moments; videos are so much more substantial (literally). There is a lot more responsibility as a model and perhaps a lot more scope for misinterpretation. Then again, I knew that Jim saw things exactly the same way, and wanted a result that was in line with what I would be happy to do, and I’m so glad we decided to just go for it. As such, despite the deliberation beforehand, the video below was completely spontaneous.
Having listened to the music, we did it in just two full-length takes (the one below is the first, and our favourite), and just moments before the camera started rolling I was saying ‘I have no idea what on earth I’m going to do, by the way.’ Jim is completely new to video work, so we are extra grateful that this came out so well! I think we succeeded in making a piece that is not necessarily about ‘me’, but about the glory and beauty of nature, and the innocence of a nude woman within that.
Jim’s portable ‘JamBox’ blasted out the dream-like sounds of Hildegarde von Bingen’s ‘Veni spiritus eternorum alme’ (lyrics beneath the video). The only plan I had was to begin by walking on set, but following the music felt easy, with soft, flowing movements that expressed the¬†splendour¬†of the incredible view and the gravity and beauty of the lyrics.


Here are the words:


Come, kind spirit of the ages,

visit the hearts of your people, casting out ill conduct;
fill with supernal grace
each earth-born heart.

You who are the gift of the most high God, perpetual fount,
balm for the spirit,

promised gift of the almighty, you merit our faith.
Upon the holy apostles
you poured forth fiery tongues.

Give light to hearts, strengthening the wretched
with abiding courage.
Impart true love
and the manifold gifts of charity.

Drive away the envious foe,
grant the joy of heavenly peace.
Thus lead, going before us,
that we may have the strength to climb up

to the vault of heaven.

Translation: Susan Hellauer


So once again, a big thank you to Jim for this opportunity to visit Switzerland, the images and great conversations, and the chance to push boundaries!

PS. This is the book I mentioned a couple of posts back, for those of you who’ve been asking. I’d recommend it!¬†