When I posted the call for the Libra in the Zodiac series I literally had quite a few models say that it was their sign. So many in fact that my original concept was to do a shoot with three models rather than the usual one or two.
Libra is normally depicted with a set of measuring scales so in my original concept I was going to have one model holding the scales and the other two lying in the weighing cups. Unfortunately that concept did not advance mainly because I couldn’t find any scales (at the price I was willing to pay from them).
In the end I decided that I would make some and I found a suitable bowl in a thrift store and bought a small length of chain and some split pins. I thought it would be a simple matter of putting it together. I had not factored that in the bowl with stainless steel and that it was incredibly difficult to drill through. While I did succeed my drill bit got so hot that the piece of timber I had under the bowl caught fire when it went through.
Unfortunately I was only able to buy one bowl so therefore it became obvious that I was going to only use one model and I would have to composite the final image together. At the time that the shoot was to happen Zaniah agreed to be my model.
The major advantage of being able to shoot in the studio is that you don’t have to break down each time. Therefore it lets you try things out ahead of time.
I used my manikin to test lighting and I also tried out different backgrounds to see how they would look in the final image. It was necessary to actually take these images all the way through into Photoshop and Nik software to see the full impact. In the end, all of the pattern backgrounds ended up to dominant so I settled for a white seamless backdrop.
Lighting for the shoot involved three lights. My two 400 watt Elinchrom strobes were positioned in line with Zaniah but feathered to only light the background. The main light was my Godox AD600 at a very low setting which was sitting to camera right, with no modifier on it. This is because I wanted very clear shadows on the backdrop.
It was then a matter of positioning Zaniah, putting the scale in one hand, taking the photo and then doing the same with the scale in her other hand.
Sometime before I had borrowed a skull and when I saw it sitting in the office I thought it would add a life and death element to the shoot so I balanced it with a small fern.
With consistent lighting and Zaniah holding a fairly static pose, it was easy to compose it the two images together and I was really pleased with the end result.
As often happens when you stop looking for something you end up finding them and a couple weeks after the shoot I actually found the scales that I had planned to use.