My plan was to replace the dust with flour and the elephants with dancers. The flour would be lined along the limbs of a stationary dancer, who would then burst into movement at the moment the photograph was taken.I first attempted the shoot in a dance studio with a professional ballet dancer, but was not able to control the lighting sufficiently to make the flour show up.I resolved this problem on a second attempt — this time in my own studio and with proper lighting. But on this second try I used a different dancer who was not a professional and lacked the strength and control of the previous dancer. She needed to pull her arms back to gather the momentum for the jump, thus spilling the flour before the photograph was taken. The professional in the first session was able to make the jump using his legs only.
"However, this time I wanted to explore a different subject matter and decided to work with a gymnast rather than a ballet dancer."
The third attempt — which resulted in the photograph published here — was made under optimal conditions, in the studio with a professional subject. However, this time I wanted to explore a different subject matter and decided to work with a gymnast rather than a ballet dancer. I got in contact with Giada, a former Italian champion. She had already worked with a colleague of mine, so I knew she would be able to perform the movements I needed. On the day of the shoot, the camera was set on a tripod about 20 feet (6–7 meters) from the gymnast, in a centered position. A black paper background was placed behind her in order to maximize the contrast with the white flour. A back light was placed behind the gymnast at a 45-degree angle to bring out the contour of her figure against the black background. I used a parabolic reflector to direct the light in a very precise way. In order to avoid any lens flare caused by light spilling into the lens, I mounted the flash about 7 feet high (2 meters), and angled it down at 45 degrees toward the subject. I mounted two flashes, each with a softbox attached. One was placed above the other, and they were both 90 degrees to the camera and parallel to the gymnast. These acted as a fill light to bring out the details in the body. I set the aperture to f/8 to achieve a depth of field in which the entire subject would be in focus, including the flour. I used the Canon EF 24–70mm f/2.8 L USM lens at focal length 24 mm, which allowed me to capture all the movement within the field of action without distortion. In order to freeze the moment, I selected a shutter speed of 1/250, the fastest shutter speed available with a standard professional flash. The session lasted three hours, and I took 20–25 photographs.