Fascinated by the classic beauty of the Discobolo di Mirone (455 BC), I wanted to create an image that explored the classic idea of perfection as an expression of harmony and balance, combined with a modern photographic vision. The Discobolo project is the outcome of this personal quest.
THE IDEA - inspiration and goals
Discobolo is a photographic project that was developed and realized in collaboration with lighttools.com.
Having worked successfully in the past with an extensive selection of Lighttools original Soft Egg Crates, I have gained consistent experience in light occlusion techniques, while becoming even more familiar with high-end tools for light control.
The knowledge I gained afforded me the opportunity to experiment with prototypes of the new Lighttools Ultra Soft Egg Crates.
Certainly my experience in photographing marble had an influence in conceiving this ambitious project. Over the last few years, I came across marble as a subject and really got to know the extraordinary properties of stone in terms of how incredibly well it reacts to light.
In fact, working with the marble industry has definitely had an impact on my photographic interpretation of shapes, volumes and surfaces.
Being fascinated by the classic aesthetics of harmony and balance, I challenged myself to reinterpret the beauty of the human form through a new and modern lighting technique, emphasizing sculptural beauty.
The Discobolo project is essentially a combination of experience and inspiration aimed at exploring beauty through fine photography.
THE GOAL - between skin and marble
My visual goal was to craft an original look that suggested a mixed feeling of skin and marble.
The creative process started with studying the iconic figure of the Discobolo di Mirone, the world famous masterpiece of ancient Greek art that dates back to 455 BC.
I preserved the exact position of the athlete in the marble statue, and transposed it to an athlete in the flesh. It all added up to the ideal subject to work my lighting for the best expression of my vision.
The Discobolo project has been the perfect opportunity for me to explore the groundbreaking version of light occlusion provided by Lighttools Ultra Soft Egg Crates.
Thanks to this new version of the legendary Original Soft Egg Crates, much charming shadow detail is available to the camera sensor, while the occlusion effect is still virtually the same. This is due to the 33% reflective fabric the Ultra Soft Egg Crate is made of. Technically, the mid-gray color combined with the thoroughly tested level of reflectiveness provide an amazing relationship between light occlusion and detail in the shadows.
I designed the Discobolo lighting diagram to be relatively simple and effective. It built a pleasing contrast while serving my camera system with a wider dynamic range of tones to visually express the human form at best. I had Ultra Soft Egg Crates working on the overhead light as well as on the two sides, and camera left active fill.
For the overhead, I chose a Chimera medium size Superpro equipped with a 40° Ultra Soft Egg Crate. Over the course of a few test shots, I fine-tuned the model’s position to make the top light gently swing over the subject defining my key light.
It was really interesting to see how the overhead light generally works just having it roughly in place.
By fine-tuning its position, I was able to play with an incredible range of different looks and effects to find my way to the desired style. I then used small strips on the sides and kept them a bit asymmetrical to better match the athlete in the Discobolo position.
Finally, I had a Chimera 3ft Octaplus slightly feathered upward, with a 30° Ultra Soft Egg Crate, on camera left to add a subtle frontal kick. I used the 30° crate here in order to play my contrast game on the subject without overboarding into a washed out effects.
THE TOOLS USED - a time-saving and quality-efficient equation
Of course, every piece of equipment I used had an impact on the outcome.
I’m not the kind of photographer who disregards the importance of good equipment. Let’s be honest, excellent equipment makes life easier and also makes my work far more efficient in terms of time spent on set. Most of all, I feel free to work toward my goals instead of fixing things.
I end up enjoying the work while feeling confident in my tools and focused on the creative process. These are the reasons why I love to shoot on high performing cameras like my Hasselblad, and shape my light with Chimera Lighting and use Lighttools modifiers.
BEHIND THE SCENES
I believe in the equation Work / Tools = Time Needed.
The bigger the value of my tools (in terms of quality and efficiency), the less time (and effort) I need the get a good job done.
As long as knowledge takes priority over the tools stack, the direct relationship between high-end tools and overall quality of the output is undeniable to my eyes.
I strongly believe that both education and experience are key to getting the best out of any equipment. It’s why I continually keep myself engaged in learning and experimenting with new techniques to further my photography.
As learned from the appreciation of ancient and classical art, I think that beauty itself hides into a perfect balance of every element. My photographic ambition for this project was to create a unique image, perfectly balancing light and shadow, to serve beauty as an artistic expression.
Describing the athlete's sculptural body has been a great photographic challenge, requiring good control over each part of the image-making process, from planning to final output.
Personally, I’m very pleased with the outcome and hopeful that my final image lives up to the timeless and inspiring beauty of the original Discobolo di Mirone.