Photoshoot – Little Red Riding Hood


As a personal project, I’ve had the idea for a while of doing some fairytale themed photoshoots. I kicked this off last Thursday with model Cora as Red Riding Hood.  Having laid my hands on a red cloak and a basket (thanks eBay), I met her (and her mum, as the model is aged under 18) at Stover Woods.

This is the first model shoot I’ve done since I upgraded my camera, and switched from Canon to Pentax, a couple of months ago.

We warmed up with some simple portrait shots. I used my Samsung 100mm f/2.8 macro lens; while some might regard this as an uncomfortably sharp lens for portrait shooting, it provides nice blurred backgrounds when shooting wide open. Overhead light was dominating, so to make the light more flattering for the portraits, I had Cora hold a white reflector to balance out the light on her face.

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I switched to my workhorse lens, a Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4, for the rest of the shoot.

We got the Red Riding Hood cloak out, and did the first set of shots posing against – and then behind – a tree. I wanted the woodland to look dark and foreboding. While this was a challenge on a warm sunny day, I added light to the model with a single off-camera flash to boost her brightness so I could underexpose the forest background.

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I was immediately impressed by how well the red cloak grabs the attention against the background, but couldn’t resist a couple of atmospheric black and white conversions. The first position we worked in had rather too bright a splash of sunlight behind, so we picked up the basket of apples.and moved to another spot with a deeper area of trees behind.

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At this point I added a second flash off to Cora’s left to add edge lighting, helping outline her against the background. Despite rather high shoes she’d brought (which worked great visually), I had Cora run toward me several times while throwing worried glances over her shoulder – as if worried by a wolf in the darkness. This resulted in my favourite image of the shoot:

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Having nailed the shot I’d wanted, it was time to change things around. Cora went for an outfit change and put her hair up, and we repositioned again. I also added an orange gel to my key light. The idea behind this is that I could then cool the image in post-production to bring Cora back to her natural colours while at the same time making the wood appear cooler and gloomier behind her. The effect worked but wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked; if I try this again I need to use a stronger coloured gel.

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This was only Cora’s second ever photoshoot – and the first time we’d worked together. While she’s still learning her way as a model, she followed direction well and we produced some great images together.

The shoot was good fun, and I’m now planning my next couple of fairytale-themed photoshoots.