The Red Shoe Diaries; well sort of …
I have known Glyn for a few years now having met him at the very first of Scott Kelby’s World Wide Photowalks over in Windsor, UK that he was leading. Our friendship has continued to grow over those years and now I am honoured to be asked to be his first Monthly Guest Blogger!
I am not formally trained, but I have been taking photographs for over thirty years now in one format or another. The fascination with photography started when I was a mere lad in secondary school where we were lucky enough to have a darkroom; I can still remember the delightful smell of the stop bath.
Before digital came along I was using, and loving, an old Bronica ETRSi. I loved the clarity of the seemingly huge transparencies; I fancied myself as a landscape photographer at the time and recall how magical it was when you put a roll of Velvia through the Bronica. I still have it, but haven’t used it for so long; must put that on the ‘to do’ list.
Digital changed everything: Instant gratification, Instant photographs, and lots more of them, without having to pay and pay and pay! I was able to experiment like never before; no more did I paint a light trail and have to wait a week for the transparencies to come back. I could now see how I’d got on there and then.
My philosophy has always been not to just take photographs, but to make them, and this is generally what I do late in the evening once everyone is in bed; it’s then that the mind is racing and thinking of the next photograph.
It was on one such night that I got the idea for the Red Shoes shot. My wife, Catherine, has an undisclosed amount of shoes; I don’t think even she knows how many pairs she has, but these red ones are a pair of the more extreme.
The Red Shoes – Light Painting Technique
First off I grabbed a pair of ridiculously high heeled shoes; I chose red for this particular series of shots but any colour will do. I laid them out on a piece of black paper and tried various arrangements until I came on the one that I thought was most pleasing.
I wanted to convey ‘outgoing, sexy and extreme’ the shot had to be a bit more dynamic than just a pair of shoes, so I we had to make it a bit special, a bit magical. I set the camera to Manual and dialed in a 20 second exposure at f8. It was a guess, but it proved to be spot on. I then took a Maglite torch, took off the reflector head and with the bare bulb got ready to start ‘light painting’.
From then on it was all a matter of timing. Oh, and of course all this was done in the dark, room lights off and hope no one decides to come into the room! Set the shutter on self timer, wait for the shutter click and start painting. I must have done about twenty shots before I was happy, and then I chose the first one! That’s a bit like going shoe shopping with my wife; all shops have to be visited; many pairs tried on and invariably it’s back to the first shop for the first pair of shoes! And remember it’s twenty shots at twenty seconds (twenty shops at twenty minutes…) with fiddling around with the self timer and torch and possibly the arrangement, so we are talking half an hour and most of it in the dark with just a pair of sexy red shoes… on your own, go figure…
I really enjoyed this technique and began to worry I might be developing a red shoe fetish. There was no need to worry; it was already there. Another opportunity arose to use the technique; Jimmy Choo were running a competition to promote a charity in Africa and all you had to do was photograph a pair of shoes.I immediately thought ‘Red Shoes’. The prize was lots of pairs of Jimmy Choos. As you can image Catherine was rather excited that I was entering, to say the least. This time she had to stand still in the shoes for the duration of the shot, about 10 or 12 seconds but it was only right that she was to be involved if she was to reap the benefits!
I was lucky enough to be a runner up and I got, I mean Catherine got, a Jimmy Choo Tote Bag for my trouble. It was a fun shot to take.
These shots are simple and fun, not too quick, but they keep the creativity flowing and are useful in pushing the boundaries a bit and making the ordinary a bit extraordinary. I have seen the same technique used with cars, people and I think Picasso even drew one of his animals as a light trail for a photograph many years ago.
A big thank you to Glyn for this opportunity to be a Monthly Guest Blogger, in fact the very first, so no pressure, and to rant on about a pair of red shoes!
Oh and here’s a little gift to say good luck with the new website and blog Glyn:
If you’ve got any thoughts or comments, I’d love to read them in the comments section below, and any questions posted I’ll be sure to post a reply.
Also, you can check out more of my work over at my new web site: www.noelhannan.com
Take care and all the Best,