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Karlsruhe Panoramic Nudes

1. Taking Helmut Newton's 'Big Nudes' as a starting point, I've been trying to find a way of photographing the figure which is free of the aggression or air of menace that Newton conveys, but retaining the strength. Talking with Bianka, who modelled for the first of these images, we discussed 'Staerke' and 'Weiblichkeit'. Staerke is easily translated as 'strength', but Weiblichkeit is not so simple ... it is not 'femininity', 'womanliness' would be nearer. We discussed the Newton nudes together, and we also discussed the classical 'contraposto' pose, with its connotations of humanism and notions of harmony.

When Bianka was about four years old, she suffered an accident in the kitchen with a hot drink. Her left breast still shows the scars. Using a shorter focal length lens (135mm, compared with the standard lens of the 3A which is usually around 160mm) on the Kodak, and with the bellows extension provided for the original lens, I was able to focus much closer than the Kodaks were originally able to. The images of Bianka's breasts are taken from about 75cm. I am interested in scarring as evidence of the 'agonistic', and in Bianka's confidence in her scarred body as a testimony to her strength.

2. The first three images below were taken with the 3A, having swapped the original lens for a 105mm taken from a 6x9 folder camera. The 6x9 lens can't cover the 6x14 film I'm exposing with the 3A when the lens to film distance is relatively short (i.e. with focus at relatively long distance ... in fact it gives full coverage of 6x14 from about two metres). The first three images were taken from a distance of about 1 metre. Using a well-known image by Edward Weston as a guide, I simply wanted to see how it would look in the 3A. I find the marked vignetting somehow suits the image, and I also like the fact that it is evidence of the natural shape of a photographic image ... which is a circle, since this is what lenses naturally project. The fourth image below, using a 3A with its original lens, came out of discussions with the model, who did not want to show her face, and who herself suggested the similarity with the hooded head of a person about to be hanged.

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