I looked at the results of the initial shoots (1 and 2) and wasn’t happy with either the coloured backgrounds or the cloth dollies but felt the images needed a base on which to display the shoes. A table or shelf is a classical means to achieve this in traditional still life painting, the work of Joachim Froese puts a more modern take on this photographically. Froese uses a piece of fairly rough sawn timber in a number of his images to create a similar effect -see separate blog here.
Accordingly I decided to create something similar as I remembered I have had a piece of natural edged wood, Elm, in my garage for many years waiting for the right occasion / project to utilise it on. As this is the sort of material I am likely to hoard – against significant opposition at home – it is a quietly exquisite, if guilty, pleasure when such an object comes into its time.
I planned it to appear as a shelf in the final images, and wanted to mount it in such a way that it would like it was “floating” in blackness to give the impression of infinity. To prepare the top I used the University Wood Workshop to cut the piece of Elm to approx 25 x 50 cm and then sanded it, as it had previously been varnished which I felt was too reflective for my purposes, on both sides. I rounded all the edges with a router and 6 mm rounding cutter. It was finished with 2 coats of danish oil which is a natural, non reflective surface compared to the varnish with the added advantage it was much quicker to apply and dry.
The frame is made from re-cycled 2 x 4 timber from the wood shop which was free, the triangular bracing from a piece of plywood in my garage. The metal workshop provided two small pieces of angle iron to create the shelf supports which I wanted to be invisible in the photographs so the overhang at the front of the shelf is greater than that at the rear to increase the flexibility of viewing angle. The finished frame was painted with 2 coats of non-reflective blackboard paint and then finally the Elm is mounted to the frame with 6 mm coach bolts.
The frame is massively over engineered for simply holding the shelf, the sectional timber and shelf mounting being far greater than that required for the weight of the shelf and shoes, however I envision the possibility of having a model wearing the shoes also lying on the shelf and wanted to make sure this could be done safely. It will depend on how the shoots progress whether I actually do this,
In practise the the frame proved extremely effective with the black painted frame melting into the background and achieving the effect of the well lit shelf “floating” perfectly.
Sample final image: click here to see entire shoot 3 gallery.