Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 End of Year Wrap Up


The year of 2019 was a busy year between running the Dayton-Columbus-CincinnatiCosplay Photo Shoot Group (DCC) which celebrated its 1-year anniversary,  making headpieces, doing several one-one studio shoots, attending conventions, working on a Masters degree, and getting a new position at work.  The first half of the year did not feel busy even though I was set up group shoots for the DCC, did several one-on-one creative sessions, attended a convention, and went on vacation to the Galapagos.  It wasn’t until I started my Masters program that I felt like I got busy and had no time.  The master’s program basically ate my weekends, due to having to write papers. However,  I did finish 9 of the 12 classes in the program in 6 months so I should finish that before June 2020.  Due to working on my masters, I did not shoot as much in the second half of the year as I did in the first half of the year.  I’m hoping once I’m done with the master’s program, I can focus time back to creative shooting and one-on-one sessions.

This year I shot a total of 7040 frames, of which I edited 4567 images.  Of the edited images I used ISO 100 for 2171 images, an aperture of F8 for 987 images,  a shutter speed of 1/250s for 894 images and a focal length of 18mm for 2431 images.  I had a total of 31 images published across five publication.  I had six images published in February issue of Realm Magazine, seven images published in the Issue 47 Volume 2 of Gilded Magazine,  fifteen images published in the Issue 31 of Jazzy Magazine with one of those being a featured image, two images in Cosplay Realm magazine, and one in Cosplay Zine.   So now that we got the statistics out of the way let’s talk about some events and favorite images for the year.

Cosplay and Conventions
I attended only two conventions this year Katsucon in Washington, DC and Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio.  I did paid shoots at both these conventions. Sadly, I got sick at Matsuricon and had to cancel a session, which I felt horrible about.  As usual there were several great cosplayers at Katsucon, but three sessions stick out in my mind Elphaba, Yasha Nydoorin, and Croft and Drake, the cosplayers attention to detail and overall personalities made these fun shoots. Plus, I am happy with the photos, my favorite however is one from Elphaba shoot in which we copied  the pose from the theater production poster.  I felt Matsuricon was better this year then last year and I got to work with some nice cosplayers. However, I’m still debating whether I will attend Matsuricon in 2020.  The shoots that stood out during Matsuricon were Lady Deadpool, Spider Man,  and Camie Utsushimi. Several of these shoots I did in the parking garage because of the type of character, and the fact the parking garage had a cool mural.  The shot that I liked the best from Matsuricon was of Spider Man, there are not a lot of male cosplayers and this one followed direction well and knew his character.


This year I hosted ten DCC meet ups. We shot in two studios a church that was turned into a brewery, several parks, a train yard, and a farm.  All the shoots went well.  I always like shooting in studio but the train yard was a bit of a different location, while the farm shoot for Halloween was a great night shoot. The group is slowly growing, but needs a more consistent photographer turn out.  It is hard for me to pick a favorite image from meet ups but I seem always come back to the following three images.




Creative Portrait Work
This year I did six one-on-one sessions and one group shoot.  I started the year with a shoot using a red dress I had imported from Poland, and then did a 1920’s themed shoot. From there I rolled into a shoot with my favorite purple haired lady, while experimenting with dry ice.  I then made a white and silver head piece for a very ethereal shoot that involved very large flowers and garage insulation as a backdrop.  From their the flowers and the dry ice made a reappearance for a pink flower shoot.  I finished out the year with a group shoot, where all the clothing was white in a very white studio.

    
    
Vacation
Vacation this year was eventful. I have always wanted to go the Galapagos Islands, and I went this year.  My husband and I opted for a land tour as opposed to the standard cruise. We highly recommend doing the cruise over the land tour, since you waste a lot of your day going to port and traveling out to islands on the land tour as opposed to the cruise where you don’t have the wasted travel time.  The Galapagos was nice, we went through ton of sun screen and my husband go some good photos during the whole trip.  I on the other hand only got one day’s worth of photos because salt water and DSLR’s don’t mix.  Sadly, on the first full day, my underwater housing ended up leaking, killing my camera.  (I did get a new one once we got home.)  Thankfully,  I saw most of the animals before the snorkeling trip, were my camera met its demise.  For the rest of the trip I used my husbands’ little point underwater point and shoot, while he used his Canon 5D Mark III. 


 

Overall it was a good year. I’m looking forward to 2020.

White Out Group Shoot


On December 8th,  I participated in one of the Cincinnati Female Image Makers group shoots.  The theme for this shoot was White Out and it was held at Locust & Vince Studios in Cincinnati.  This was a small group shoot that lasted only an hour,  with four models and four photographers, we shot round robin style so that everyone worked with everyone.   It was a nice little group shoot,  the models were nice and it let me step away from hosting a shoot, and my school work.   (I’m in the middle of taking master’s classes, that is why the blog hasn’t been being updated as frequently.)

For this session I shot 242 frames, edited 147 frames, and delivered 70 final images.  For this set up I used a Canon 80D, with an 18-200mm lens,  a light stand, a two 430EXII-RT speedlights (one was acting as a trigger/transmitter only) and small 9x9 inch LumiQuest softbox.  I was glad I brought the flash and softbox, because while the studio would normally be full of bright natural light, it was a cloudy overcast day not providing a lot of light to the inside of the studio.  For this shoot I shot at ISO 100, with an aperture of F5, with a shutter speed varying between 1/100s to 1/200s with most shots at 1/200s, and finally my focal length varied between 18mm and 70mm, with most shots being at 18mm.

ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/100s, Focal Length 24mm
During a cosplay  group shoot,  you get characters with specific personalities, stories, and settings so it narrows and focus the shoot with that cosplayer.  However, when shooting during a general model group shoot you only have a theme, while the photographer must come up with the mood and story.  In some cases, this can be easy in others it can be more challenging.
   
This first shot (left) with Erin was just a plain simple dreamy shot. It used a combination of window light and flash.  I used the flash a fill to bright the whites and reduce some of the shadows. During post processing I bumped the whites and reduced the clarity to give it a softer look.

ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm









This second model, Alexis,  was fun to work with, and her clothing option was creative.  To me she gave off a puck vibe but in all white. One of my favorite shots (right) taken of her is of her siting on a stool.  The light stand was about 45-degree off her face with the flash raised and pointed slightly downward.  I was a little less than 15-degrees off from the light stand. I am usually not a big fan of eyes being closed in photos but in this case it just works. When editing this photo, I kept the brightness on her face,  bumped the whites slightly but then added some deeper shadows to the left of the image, were the light was naturally falling off.  I also added a slight vignette to the image.  Overall it portrays a very interesting mood.



ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 24mm


















When working with the third model, Elizabeth, I felt like I was shooting a make-up campaign.  I liked her suit jacket with the white feathers, which gave me the impression of a music star at first, however when editing the images, I felt it was more like a make-up campaign.  One of my favorite images (left) is of her laying on the floor and giving a simple beauty shot pose.  For this shot the flash was lowered to her face level and slightly less than a 45-degree angle off her face. When editing the image, I added a soft glow by reducing the clarity, bumped the whites slightly, and used a little bit of frequency separation on the face to give it a more polished look.  I also kept the crop close and added a medium square vignette to the image.


ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm





The final model, Sarah,  I worked with gave off the that 1990’s early 2000’s pop star vibe, but at the same time when I was editing her shots, I was getting a 1970’s movie actress.  Especially in this image, for some reason it screams 1970 to me.   I will say at first it was not one of my favorite images, but it grew on me.  I did not do a lot of post processing on this image,  I balanced for the whites, reduced texture, and clarity slightly, removed a bit of an orange cast, and added a slight vignette.


Overall it was a good group shoot, though I felt just an hour was a little rushed. I think 90-minutes would have been good because that would have given people 15-minutes to get ready and 15-minutes to pack up to get ready to leave.  Hopefully, I will get to attend a few more of these group shoots after my weekends clear up a bit.  You can see all the finals from this shoot here:  White Out.

Fall Cosplay Meet Up


ISO 400, Aperture F9, Shutter 1/250s,  Focal Length 18mm
On November 10  I hosted a meet up of the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photoshoot group at the Maple-Beech Lodge in Blacklick Woods Park which is part of the Columbus Metro Park system.  This event was the last event of the year and included a small basic posing workshop.   We had 6 cosplayers, 6 photographers, and 2 assistants attend, so the cosplayer to photographer ratio was relatively good.  I gave the short posing brief.  After the brief I had each coplayer come up pose for two photos, the first with no guidance on posing then the second with guidance after seeing how the first shot looked.  I used a tethered shooting method so  each cosplayer could immediately  see how they looked in the photos so they could adjust based on what they learned and group suggestions.  After the meet up, I provided each cosplayer with “contact sheet”  of each of their images from the workshop portion of the shoot so they would have it for future reference. Involving all members of the group in the discussion and having live feedback, I think helped the group in general, allowed the people to become comfortable with one another, and made for a better overall shoot.

I worked with 6 cosplayers.  I shot a total of  271 frames which includes the posing workshop frames. Of the 271 frames, 244 where from the actual shoot,  of which I edited 130 images and delivered 67 final images not including the posing workshop images.  Since I shot during both the posing workshop and the actual shoot, I had two different set ups.  During the posing workshop,  I set up a plain white backdrop, used a single bare off camera speed light on a light stand,  and had my camera tethered to a lap top which was hooked to a projector to show the image on projection screen.  All images shot during the workshop were at ISO 400, an aperture of f/8, a shutter speed of 1/160s, a focal length of 18mm.  For my second set up, during the actual shoot portion,  I used single bare off camera speed light on a light stand.   I used an ISO of 400 due to the daylight conditions and the consistently changing cloud cover.  My aperture and shutter speed varied throughout the shoot, due to the changing lighting conditions due to the moving clouds and transitioning from indoor to outdoors.  My aperture ranged between F3.5 and F14 with the most common being F9.  My shutter speed varied from 1/125s to 1/800s with the most common speed being /250s.  It should be noted the standard flash sync speed is 1/250s but I can push the sync speed if I switch to high-speed sync. Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 90mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm.   As unusual I like to shoot wide.

The park is nice with lots of trees and a pond, I was kind of sad that we missed a lot of the fall leaves, due to a windstorm coming through an knocking a bunch of them off the trees.  Also, right outside the lodge that was rented for the event were two large green stone turtles.  I used these stone turtles as inspiration for several of my shots.  It worked perfectly for two cosplays.  The first was IzzyQuinnzilla as Bow-Peep from Toy Story 4.   It was perfect cosplay representing a toy on a whimsical turtle for kids.  My personal favorite shot is her going lifeless, like the toys in the movie do when a kid is around, on top of the turtle. The second image is of Fishmeal (formally Gleume) cosplay as Royal Guard Zelda riding the turtle into battle. What makes this photo is that she has a very serious look on her face, while riding a turtle.  Usually one would ride a noble steed, but since none were available at the time, the turtle had to work.

ISO 400, Aperture F11, Shutter 1/250s,  Focal Length 18mm
ISO 400, Aperture F9, Shutter 1/160s,  Focal Length 18mm

Overall this was a good meet up, you can see all my final images from the meet up here: Maple-Beech Lodge.  The group will start meet ups again in January, since we take a break in December due to holidays. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Cosplay on the Farm


ISO 3200, Focal Length 15mm, Aperture F8, Exposure 1/30 (shot by my husband)

On October 5th  I hosted a meet up of the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photoshoot group at Lucas Brothers Farm in Centerville.  This was on of the rare evening shoots for the group.   We had 16 cosplayers, 7 photographers, and 3 assistants attend, so the cosplayer to photographer ratio was relatively good. The best ratio is 1.5 cosplayers to every 1 photographer.

I worked with 11 cosplayers of which 4 were in groups of two.  I shot a total of  284 frames in three hours. Of the 284 frames I edited 173 images and delivered 86 final images.  It should be noted that my husband also shot a few frames using a fisheye lens and provided 5 final images. I shot the whole meet using a light from a single bare off camera speed light on a light stand. I shot using ISO 100, which I shouldn’t have done since part of the shoot was at night.  My aperture and shutter speed varied throughout the shoot, due to the changing lighting conditions due to the setting sun.  My aperture ranged between F4.5 and F8 with the most common being F4.5.  My shutter speed varied from 2/3s to 1/250s with the most common speed being 1/250s.  It should be noted the flash sync speed is 1/250s and I used 2/3s shutter speeds for long exposure shots. Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 100mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm.   


ISO 100, Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F4.5, Exposure 1/160
This shoot was held on a farm with a pumpkin patch, a corn field, and woods making it a good location for Halloween themed cosplays. I believe Izabel Cortez had the best cosplay of the night with her gender bent Pennywise from the movie “IT”.  She is a very good cosplayer and always a pleasure to work with.  The other cosplay that was very good was Space Mermaid Cosplay as Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  I will discuss one photo of each of them. 

This first photo (left) is of Izabel as Pennywise.  For this image I had her act like she was coming out of the corn stalks and give me a creepy look. I got down on the ground and shot up, while zooming my flash to 80mm to provide a more spot light appearance.  When editing the photo, I white blanced on her make-up. I then used a preset that cranked up both the clarity and sharpness of the photo while reducing the color saturation to give it the grungy dirty look.  I also adjusted the exposure slightly, did a bit of localized adjustments round her face, then added a vignette.





ISO 100, Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F4.5, Exposure 1/80










This second photo (right) is of Space Mermaid Cosplay as Sally.  I like this photo because I think it fits the character, and who doesn’t enjoy dancing in a pumpkin patch.  For this photo I used a wider flash spread between 35mm and 50mm.  I mostly used the flash as fill to pop the cosplayer in the frame. I was relatively low to the ground to ensure I got a nice view of the pumpkin patch. As you can see the sun was setting and it was setting fast.  When editing the image, I kept it close to straight out of camera, but bumped up the color saturation slightly, and adjusted the exposure slightly.  A quarter moon was in the raw image, but showed up as a white spot, due to focal length.  I removed the original moon and add a half moon back into the image using Photoshop. To finish off the image I add a slight vignette.

Overall this was a great shoot. It was a bit challenging during the changing lighting conditions due to the setting sun, but overall, I feel I got a lot of nice images.  You can see all of my images plus my husbands five images on our web site under the Farm gallery.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fall Still Life


I like doing still life photos now and then, because it can be relaxing yet challenging to get an interesting photo.  My inspiration for this still life was autumn season, even though the weather begs to differ right now.  Really it is the end of September and we been having strings of 90-degree days.  

For this shoot the set up was simple. I used a black backdrop laid across my kitchen table. The back drop was propped up in the back by a cardboard box.  I placed a speed light with a small soft box on a light stand to the camera’s right pointed down at the gourds, basket, and straw. The flash was set to a 25mm zoom and 1/16 to 1/8 power. I also had a gold reflector on the camera’s left to reflect some light back into the image to ensure some definition and separation from the background and to give the image some warmth. (See image to left.) I used a 18-55 mm lens.  I was shooting at ISO 100 at a focal length of 18mm with an aperture of  F8.  I used two distinct shutter speeds 1/160s and 1/200s with most frames being shot at 1/160s.  I shot 76 frames and kept 33 images. 


When setting this image up I had a basic fall harvest concept in my mind and built up from the basic image of the gourds, hay, and basket to the all-inclusive image of the with the flowers and candle.  I started simply thinking of the cornucopia and having the gourds spill out. The issue with this was the one small orange pumpkin like gourd would get lost and covered by the other two gourds. To fix this I put two small blocks in the back and covered them with hay to raise the orange gourd up. This was especially important when I added the flowers.  From there I add a red candle, then relied on framing and cropping to help ensure movement and interest in the image.   I then partially broke the set up down, to set the basket up right and place flowers in it.  It was very important to use the reflector at this point to ensure decent light coverage across the scene.  When editing these images, I kept them fairly dark and moody.  However, I did pop the colors by using the “vivid” color treatment in lightroom. I also used some selective highlighting to bring out the edges of the flowers and show the separation of the petals. 

 
 



Overall, I’m happy with how the still life turned out, it was also a nice diversion for me.  In total I spent about 90 minutes on the shoot from set up through tear-down.  I then spent about 90 minutes editing the images which included uploading, culling, and exporting the final images.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Whetstone Pond Shoot



On September 8th  I hosted a meet up of the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photoshoot group at Whetstone Pond in Columbus.  Whetstone Pond is located next to the Park of Roses in Columbus.   We had 14 cosplayers and 3 photographers attend, so it was a very busy shoot.

I worked with 11 cosplayers of which 6 were in groups of two.  I shot a total of  227 frames in three hours. Of the 292 frames I edited 146 images and delivered 83 final images. I shot the whole meet using a light from a single bare off camera speed light on a light stand. I shot with a bare speed light to compensate for the sun. I shot using ISO 200.  My aperture and shutter speed varied throughout the shoot, due to the changing lighting conditions due to the drifting clouds.  My aperture ranged between F5 and F14 with the most common being F8.  My shutter speed varied from 1/40s to 1/250s with the most common speed being 1/250s.  Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 100mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm.   

This was a very busy shoot because we only had three photographers for 14 cosplayers. I wanted to ensure as many cosplayers as possible got to work with a photographer and get photos for showing up.  While I shoot relatively fast, I was going faster then normal and it showed in some of the images when I was conducting my image cull.  However, there were still some very nice images.  My favorite from the shoot is of ButDragonsTho Cosplay.  While she was easy to photograph, the tricky part was the post edit, due to the tattoo sleeve she was wearing for her cosplay.  There were two issue I had to contend with 1) the seam of the tattoo sleeve and 2) the color of the tattoo sleeve, which was a shade darker than her natural skin tone.  I’m going to discuss how I changed the original image on the top into the final image on the bottom.  

To get the final image on the bottom,  I first did basic adjustments in Lightroom. These adjustments consisted of color balancing, increasing the contract, adjusting the exposure, and removing any noise from the image.  From there I exported the image into Photoshop to do the heavy lifting.  The first thing I did was use the content aware tool to remove the seam of the tattoo sleeve and touched up a few fly-away hairs.  I then applied frequency separation to the image and applied localized gaussian blur, to smooth the skin.  This was very important in the area of the tattoo sleeve to ensure a decent blend between it and the model’s natural skin.  From there I added some highlighting using dodge tool.  I then flattened the image and sent it back to Lightroom.  I did a few more minor adjustments and added a slight vignette to the image to finish it off.  While this process seems simple, it took me about 20-minutes to complete.

Original Image shot at  ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/100s, Focal Length 40mm


Final Image

Overall, it was a great shoot.  You can see all the images from that day’s event here: Whetstone Pond

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Matsuricon 2019


I attended my second Matsuricon, and I’m still not sure how to rate the overall convention. The check in process was smooth except for the confusion over the photography badges again.  I’m starting to think they need to better train their volunteers who check people in so there is less confusion about photography badges. (A photography badge is needed if you are charging for one-on-one sessions.)   This year I had 11 sessions booked, but had to cancel one, because I ended up getting sick.  The convention center felt like it was the same temperature inside as it was outside; and I do not due well in heat.  I had to cancel my last session of the convention because I was just feeling ill and it is not fair to the cosplayer if I cannot provide my best during a session.   I also attended the cosplay fashion show and shot during that.  I have two comments on the fashion show, first it needed to be longer with more cosplayers, second the cosplayers needed to be reminded to walk down the catwalk and walk all the way to the end of the catwalk.  Overall the cosplay fashion show was ok, I would attend it again.

For Matsuricon I took 988 shots, with most of the shots coming from one-on-one sessions.  Of the 988 shots, I edited 715 images.  During Matsuricon I used ISO 100 or ISO 400 depending on the conditions. My dominant focal length was 18mm,  and this is due to working in tight quarters and wanting to capture the complete cosplay.  My dominant shutter speed was 1/250, which also happens to be the highest sync speed of my flashes without changing to high-speed sync mode.  Finally, my dominate aperture was F9 with F10 being a very close second, this was most likely due to me trying to reduce ambient light and rely on the flash for lighting.   

This year I spent a lot of time walking from one end of the convention center to the other.  I did a lot of my shots at the large lattice windows in the front of the convention center and a fair number of sessions in the parking garage. Yes, parking garages make great locations, especially if they have murals and your working with comic book characters.  This year I worked with some great people and got some nice shots. I’m going to discuss a few of those shots below.

ISO 100, Aperture F7.1, Shutter 1/160s, Focal Length 35mm
My two of favorite shot shots from this year are of Raven Moonlight as Lucoa from “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid” (left) and of Cyren as Camie Utsushimi from “My Hero Academia” (lower right).  These two ladies are great to work with and easy to direct. The image of Raven Moonlight as Lucoa, I like because it is sexy yet has the bit a sweetness to it.  When editing the image, I went for a high fashion and high-key look, which really brings out the personality of the character she is trying to portray.  The image of Cyren as Cami, I like because it sexy yet under stated. It is a traditional sexy pose but by editing the portrait to be low key and fading it slightly it gives it an understated quality in my opinion. 

ISO 400, Aperture F11, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 28mm















The next two images are of shots done in a parking garage.  The first one is Marvelfanboy82 as Spiderman (left) and the second one is of Pandacosplay as Lady Deadpool (Lady Deadpool is an actual comic character not a gender bent Deadpool) (right). The reason I like this image of Marvelfanboy82 as Spiderman is because it captures the Spiderman vibe and looks like he is about to spring into action.  For this image I kept the image intentionally cool.  I also bumped the blacks, shadows, clarity and the vibrance of the image. It also has a bit of vignetting to the image.  The image of Pandacosplay as Lady Deadpool, I like because it shows action but the image is rough and gritty, just like Deadpool.   For this image I used an orange/blue split tone and cranked the clarity adjuster to the max, which make the image look gritty. I also dropped the highlights and the whites and kicked the vibrancy up a notch while adding a slight vignette.   

ISO 400, Aperture F10, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 18mm
ISO 100, Aperture F5.6, Shutter 1/160s, Focal Length 24mm


Overall this year I got to work with some great people, try my hand at shooting a fashion show, and see several interesting cosplays.  If you would like to see all the final photos from Matsuricon you can check them out here: Matsuricon 2019

As a side note, I was not worried about getting a ton of bookings this year for Matsuricon because I’m currently working on a Masters Degree, which is eating up a lot of my time.  This is also why I haven’t been posting as much.   Hopefully by June of 2020 I will be done with my degree and be back to shooting and posting more regularly.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

DCC First Anniversary

Cosplayer Group Photo (Focal Length 24mm, Aperture F11, Shutter 1/60s) 


I started the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photo Shoot Group (DCC) on Facebook in April 2018 and held the first group shoot in June 2018. Over the past 12 months it has been a significant amount of work, but the group has grown from 10 people (5 cosplayers, 4 photographers and 1 assistant) attending the very first shoot in Dayton to  34 people attending the first anniversary shoot held on June 23, 2019.  

The anniversary shoot was held at Eastwood Metro Park in Dayton and was an open themed event. The location had several places to shoot at to include stone bridges, iron bridges, nice grass areas, and several water features.  We had 22 cosplayers come out to the event so there was going to be no way I could work with all of them. I ended up working with about half of them, because 4 of them were a group cosplay.   I shot 274 frames, edited 168, and posted 100 final photos.  I forgot my light stand for this meet up so shot the whole event with one flash on its little foot stand angled up from the ground.  In some cases, it worked very well.  I shot using ISO 100.  My aperture varied from f4.5 to f11 with the most common aperture being f8 followed by f4.5.  My shutter speed varied from 1/60s to 1/640s with the most common speed being 1/160s.  Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 80mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm. 

My favorite two shots from the meet up are of Kamikaze Kendra as punk Thor.  Most cosplay images are in bright vivid color to show off the costume and detail. However, I took a different approach and made the image black and white to capture the punk nature of the cosplay.  Turning the image to black and white gives it a gritty edge that is found in several punk photos.  I believe the edit also brings out the persona that the cosplayer was trying to portray.

Focal Length 32mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/200s 
Focal Length 50mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/200s


All the cosplayers were great that day.  You can see all my final images from the event here.
If you want to participate in these great events please join our Facebook Group: Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati (DCC) Cosplay Photo Shoots.  You can also see some behind the scenes images on our Instagram page: DCC Cosplay Photoshoots

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Pink Flowers


On May 11th,  I got to work with Susan, who won a free photoshoot from me.  She won the session by commenting on a post on my Facebook page, thus winning a 60-minute session, 10 high-resolutions images, and one print. The post was held back until she selected her photos from the shoot. This shoot was inspired by a Pinterest picture that used a bed of flowers and dry ice fog.  For this session I used a bunch of pink and beach colored peonies, and pink tulle to create the background.

For the session I used the following items:
  • Canon 70D
  • 18 -200 mm lens
  • Strobes with power supply
  • 7-foot reflective umbrella
  • C-stand with boom arm
  • 2 speed lights
  • RF-transmitter
  • Tether line
  • Desktop
  • Foam core board (to make a corral for the fog)
  • White backdrop
  • Pink tulle
  • Fake peonies
  • Dry ice and hot water
  • Step stool
  • Handsome assistant
I did two set ups for this session using a large 7-foot umbrella placed on a boom arm.  In the first set up the umbrella was positioned directly over the model, who was laying on the flowers and tulle.  I then placed 12-inch high by 24-inch long foam core board round the model to create a little corral to keep the fog from the dry ice in.  Before bringing the dry ice, into the stet-up we took a few shots without, just to be able to get comfortable working with the props and posing. After  doing a few shots without the dry ice, I placed a metal bowl in corner of the corral with the dry, which my assistant dumped hot water over to create the fog.  When using the dry ice, we ensure there was plenty of ventilation in the studio.  I shot pointing down at the model by standing on a step stool or directly over her.  This dry ice did not create as much fog as previously, and I believe that was because we were using large chunks this time around.  So, in the future I will be using smaller pieces which react quicker thus producing more fog.  In the second set up the model was sitting up and the umbrella was pointed straight on to the model’s face. Two small speed lights were placed behind the model to blow the background to give the images a high key look.

Now onto the image descriptions.  I shot 221 frames, edited 101 frames, and delivered 78 final images. I shot using ISO 100, with an aperture of F8, and a shutter speed of 1/250s. My focal length ranged from 18mm to 60mm, with the most common 28mm.    

Two of my favorite images from the shoot was taken early in the session. I edited both images so it would be soft, and slightly faded to give them a dream like look.  I also used a bit of frequency separation to smooth the skin out just slightly and highlighted a few areas using a doge and burn technique to add a bit of glow to the skin.

 




This image was taken after asking the model to play with the tulle. She place the tulle over her head and work with it. It is a little reminiscent of the BeyoncĂ© pregnancy photo where she wore a piece of green tulle over her head with a flower background.  I feel this image works a little better and it is different then my standard work.  I might do a session in the future that just involves the model working the tulle, because I think some interesting images could come out that.


Overall it was a good session, that produced some very nice images.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Galapagos Wrap Up

Day 7 and 8 – May 30 and 31

We are home from the Galapagos.  Our day started in San Cristobal around 6:00AM MST (8:00 AM EST). We did not need to be up that early but we just naturally woke up at that time.  We had breakfast, repacked our bags, and hung around the hotel till our pick up time of 11:30 AM MST to take us to the airport.  It was a short ride to the San Cristobal airport, were we waited for our 1:30 PM MST flight back to Quito, Ecuador.  We arrived in Quito around 5:00 PM CST (6:00 PM EST).  We then had about a four-hour layover till our flight back home.  Our flight to Atlanta left at 11:30 PM CST (12:30 AM EST May 31).  We arrived in Atlanta at 5:00 AM EST, were we had another layover before our flight to Cleveland. I tried to nap in the Delta lounge, because I didn’t sleep on the plane. We left Atlanta on a 10:00 AM EST flight and arrived in Cleveland at 11:45 AM EST.  After collecting our luggage and car, we ran through a drive-thru for lunch before picking up our dog Teddy from my mom’s house.   From there we had a three-hour drive home to Dayton.  We got home around 5:00PM EST.    We went to bed around 8:30 PM EST.  In total we were up for about 36 hours.

Overall, it was nice to go to the Galapagos once, but I don’t feel I need to go again.  If I had the trip to do over, I would do the cruise route instead of the land tour.  The land tour had too much wasted time in traveling  to ports to get boats and the travel between islands.  At least on a cruse much of the travel between islands would occur in the evening.

If you plan on going to the Galapagos here are a few things you should know. Remember you will need a lot of sunscreen.  Jim and I  used one full bottle of SPF 70 sunscreen between the two of us for 6 days.  You must apply the sunscreen often.  They get 12 hours of sunlight; in this case it was from 6:00AM to 6:00PM every day.   If you do decide to go to the Galapagos remember to pack a roll of toilet paper for yourself, since most of the public restrooms do not have toilet paper in them.  Also, you don’t flush toilet paper in the Galapagos, you through it in a trashcan in the bathroom/stall; because their plumbing can’t handle it.  When you transfer between islands (boat or plane), your luggage is search for fruit, nuts, seeds, sand, rocks, and coral because they don’t want species of any type transferred between islands.  They will put a special zip-tie on your luggage after inspection to show it was inspected.  They also have contraband sniffing dogs at each port of entry to ensure nothing was missed.  Finally, if you think you will have cell service or internet, think again.  The cell service and internet on all the islands is horribly spotty and slow at best.  And, no, internet is not better at the hotels, we were lucky if the Wi-Fi reached our room.

I’m glad I went to the Galapagos; it was an experience. I personally don’t think I have been that close to wild animals before, or near animals they just don’t really care if people are around or not.  If you get the change to go, go  but do the cruise.


 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Galapagos Day 6

Day 6 - May 29

Today was our last full day in the Galapagos. It started with a 7:30 AM pick up to go snorkeling on Tintoreras. We were supposed to do that yesterday but the tour company changed the itinerary on us because they thought doing the volcano and snorkeling in one day would be too much. This change had a domino effect on the rest of the itinerary, because it also changed our flight out of Isabella to San Cristobal which affected the things we where to do on San Cristobal. So I was picked up at 7:30 AM to go snorkeling. Jim did not go because he was having stomach issues, and just didn't feel like it.
Snorkeling around Tintoreras was ok. The water was not as clear as in the other two locations I went snorkeling on this trip. However on this snorkel I got to see sea turtles up close and personal while in the water, swim with a penguin, and have two sea lions swim right under me. I was too slow to get a picture of the sea lions swimming under me. Also the water was colder in Tintoreras than other places, and considering this was a longer swim, I was rather tired afterwards. At the conclusion of the snorkeling, they took me back to the hotel where they were supposed to have a room for me to shower in. However they didn't, so I didn't get to shower, but I was at least able to change in the restroom into dry cloths.
Our guide picked us up at 11:45 AM to have lunch before our 1:30PM flight out of Isabella. Lunch was ok. From lunch we drove to the airport, which is more of an air taxi staging area. They weighed our bags, and checked them for fruit, from there we were good to go. It was a 45-minute flight on a 9 seat turboprop airplane. We flew at an altitude of 5,500ft, I was surprised that it was a smooth flight. Once arriving at the airport we took a taxi, which is just a pick-up truck, to the hotel, where we met our guide. After checking in and getting situated we had our little adventure on San Cristobal.
The guide took us sea kayaking. We launched from a sandy beach that had a bunch of sea lions on it. The launch was a bit wet since the water was getting a little rough closer into shore. Once we were out on the sea paddling it wasn't too bad. It was a double kayak, so hopefully I contributed to the paddling effort. We kayaked over to Darwin Cove and saw a few birds, several snorkelers, sea lions, and a sea turtle. After floating around for 10 minutes in the cove we paddled back to the starting point. That was basically the end of our adventure. We went back to the hotel, changed, and then went out to get something to eat. 


We head home tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Galapagos Day 5

Day 5 - May 28
Today we had a 7:15 AM pick up today to go hike the Sierra Negra Volcano. The hike was 17 kilometers (about 9 miles) round trip. We only did the first portion of the hike up the side of the volcano and round part of the caldera, we did not do the second portion into the lava field. We decided against doing the lava field because it was very rocky, my knee was bothering me, and I already fell once on this vacation.  I might have done the lava field walk if we rode horses up, the main trail like one couple from the group did. They met us at the top of the trail.  The cute thing was the one of the horses, was a mom and her little foal followed her all the way to the top. That was one tired little foal when they got to the top. 


The hike up the volcano and around part of the caldera was misty when we started. Due to the fog we couldn't get a clear view of the caldera or across it. Apparently, the caldera is 26 miles around, but the two trails up the sides don't meet so there is not a complete loop trail. It took about 2 hours to hike up the side of the caldera and part way around it to the little shelter. We stopped at the shelter for a snack break, before the rest of the group traveled into the lava field. We only went about 10-minute walk into the lava field, to the first major viewpoint there before turning around and heading back to the starting location for the overall hike. On the way back along the trail the fog cleared up and you could see across the caldera and part of the valley below. Overall, it was a nice hike.






After the hike we stopped for lunch at Campo Duro Restaurant. We had some nice roasted chicken, vegetables, rice, and lentils. Dessert consisted of fruit (banana, watermelon, peach). From there we were taken back to the hotel. We got back to the hotel around 2:30 PM. Because we were back at a reasonable time, we walked along the main street, which doesn't have much, and stopped at a store to pick up some drinks, munchies, and ice cream. So far I haven't found any good souvenirs to bring back from the trip.

2019 End of Year Wrap Up

The year of 2019 was a busy year between running the Dayton-Columbus-CincinnatiCosplay Photo Shoot Group (DCC) which celebrated its 1-y...