Tag Archives: scorpio

Zodiac series – Second Scorpio shoot

As I started to share the images from the Zodiac series it became easier to recruit models, and in fact for many of the signs I had multiple people sign up. As written in this previous post I had originally had Kimberley down for Scorpio, so when Jasmine expressed an interest I actually told her that I had selected a subject. What I did notice was that Jasmine had some impressive sleeve tattoos so I asked her if she was interested in taking part in my tattoo project. She agreed so a shoot day was set.

As it turned out time constraints in the original Scorpio shoot meant that I did not get the exact look I was going for, so I suggested to her that we incorporate both tattoos and zodiac together. Fortunately she agreed.

Doing a second shoot on a subject is not something that I normally do but it did have the advantage that I could refine the exact lighting settings before Jazmine arrived. My white seamless is much wider than the backdrops previously used with helped with setting the lights.

As before we shot two images with one containing the tail and one without, positioned in such a way that I could get a good separation between the Jazmine’s body and the shadow. When I shoot in studio I am always tethered to the computer so I can see the images full size on the monitor. This means that I can check details like focus, but it also means that I see how a shot lines up with one previously taken.

I also wanted to try some different variations in pose so I asked Jasmine to change from a standing pose to a crawling one. This did require some alteration of the lights, however this was not too difficult as the practise sessions I had done enabled me to reset easily. It was also fortunate that I have a Manfrotto nano stand that is quite small when not extended.

A model session is very much a collaboration and so I am more than happy when the model suggests poses, which is what Jazmine was doing. As it turned out the last pose of the day ended up being the shot used.

After doing the initial culls I ended up with three possibilities that I then took through into Photoshop. It was there that I started to encounter some issues. The final stage of the set was to run a recipe in Nik Color Pro across the image. It created the high texture grunge look I was after but it also brought out details in the blends and especially light differences. These were mainly caused by the difference in the hard light to create the shadow and the soft light on Jazmine.

However as the same time that this was happening I started to realise that I actually liked the tail being in the scene, and so therefore I changed the approach from removing it, to simply removing the stand.

As it turned out the pattern on the tail, which was actually a mistake in making, worked perfect as it fitted with Jazmine’s tattoos.

Zodiac series – first Scorpio shoot

Although the Zodiac set was being done as a personal project there was another goal in mind. That was to submit the finished set for the associate honours with in the Photographic Society of New Zealand. For a print set there was a requirement that the set must hang together.

Although most people think of the year starting starting in January, the Zodiac signs have Aries as the first sign. When you map the signs into their elements you end up with the following structure

AriesTaurusGeminiCancer
LeoVirgoLibraScorpio
SagittariusCapricornAquariusPisces

To maintain consistency in the seat I had decided that all of the images on the second row would have heavy shadows, and like my Leo image it would be the shadow that showed the nature of the sign.

I initially thought that I would make the tail out of cardboard because all I really needed was a shadow. And then decided though that I wanted to have some substance to it because I was not sure which angle I would be shooting it at. Therefore I drew a pattern and made a a scorpion tail using some old material. I did make one mistake and I pinned the material the wrong way around and when I pulled it together realised that the pattern was on the outside. I used some wire to create a frame to support the tail and then connected it to a lightstand.

It was in a matter of trying to determine what sort of light was needed to create a sharp shadow. As was to be expected a bare bulb or a small bowl reflector produced very sharp edges on the shadow.

I then worked on what was the best position of the light that would enable me to create a clean cut out of just the shadow. This did require me to move the stand further away from the backdrop, which did result in a less defined shadow.

For my initial shoot Kimberley had indicated that Scorpio was her sign. Unfortunately arranging a time to shoot proved to be difficult and we tried to do it when we were both attending the post Covid catch up.

The problem with this was that she had already agreed to do another shoot with a different photographer, so the amount of time that we had to play with the settings was limited. Furthermore while the studio has a full set of lights week none of the triggers to work on my camera. So therefore I was limited to the one light I has taken in.

In the end I got a useable image from it but merging the two images together proved to be difficult as there was a lot of variation in the quality of light between the two. I therefore decided to shoot it again when I had more time. That will be the subject of another post.