Is it weird that I’m a grown man and I like fairytales? I especially like all the different – older and newer – versions of well known tales. Combining this with my photography, I envisioned a project of making up a calendar (probably just for fun, just maybe to sell for charity) with twelve fairytale-themed photoshoots. In April I began my series with a Red Riding Hood themed shoot in Stover woods. After I posted the images I had a fair bit of interest from models interested in helping me carry on the series, and a couple of weeks ago I finally had the second shoot.
I’d bought a metre-long Rapunzel wig cheaply from eBay and lined up the only suitable tower I know of locally, at the centre of the Medieval Exe Bridge in Exeter. Unfortunately, on my way to pick up model Kasmira from the train station, I spotted that a woman in a sleeping bag had taken up residence in the centre of the tower. We had to find a secondary location at zero notice. I checked the website for Haldon Belvedere (I’d shot a wedding at Haldon Belvedere a few days previously) and saw that there was nothing booked that morning. I’d thought that the King’s Bridge, and maybe the castle itself as a backdrop, would work reasonably well.
I could have gone for a longer wig, but I’m glad I didn’t – the one we had was difficult enough to control! As usual for a photoshoot, I started with some simple portrait shots. Going for mostly wider shots (to fit in a decent amount of the hair), I worked for most of the shoot with my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. The light was a little uneven on Kasmira’s face, so I used a silver reflector to provide some fill light and catchlights.
I then had Kasmira lean over the edge of the bridge with the hair cascading down. I used a gridded flash to provide a confined beam of light to just her face, without any light spilling onto the bridge itself. It was the first time I’d tried the grid, and it worked perfectly. A softer (larger) light source might have been preferable, but I don’t yet have the supports to place one in the awkward position I needed.
I did some post-processing on some of these images to lengthen the Rapunzel hair, by cloning sections of the wig lower down. on the wall of the bridge. I’m not entirely happy with the editing – while it survives a cursory inspection, if you look closely the repetition is quite obvious. I might try another edit at a later date.
We finished off by taking a few shots up on the lawn, with the tower in the background. Kasmira was a fun model to work with; it’s a shame about the location – but even the tower at Medieval Exe Bridge wouldn’t have been ideal. Does anyone know of a good tower in the South West of England suitable for a Rapunzel shoot?
And my next fairytale shoot? Maybe The Frog Prince … I have the frog on standby =)