Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cherry Blossoms

Last weekend was peak bloom for the Washington, DC cherry blossoms along the tidal basin.  I did not take as many photos as previous years because it was so busy due to the lovely weather.  I went down to the tidal basin twice that weekend.  Once in the morning on Saturday with my mother, who was in town visiting and then again at sunrise on Sunday with my husband.  I took more photos on Sunday then Saturday. 

On Sunday, my husband and I arrived at the Tidal Basin around 6:20 AM (we left the house around 5:45 AM). We tried to find locations that were unique and did not have oodles of photographers with tripods already gathered.  Many of those photographers already gathered were not even shooting at the time they were set up and waiting for the sun to crest the Jefferson Memorial.  While I did take some of the traditional shots, I tried to mix it up with different vantage points.  I also shot hand held the whole time, since I did not take my tripod in anticipation of the crowds.  I think next year if peak bloom falls right, I’ll take a day off work and go during the week in the early morning.  I did enjoy going at sunrise, it was pretty, but I may try sunset at some point.

As stated earlier I shot hand held using a 18-200mm lens. I used an ISO of 200 or 400 with varying apertures and shutter speeds depending on the subject and lighting conditions. For the landscapes I tended to use f8 or above and for close up f5 or lower.  I did have a flash mounted on my camera for occasional fill light, when the blossoms were in deep shadow.  I post processed several of the images using light room to gain the desired effect.

Overall I like several of my pictures you can see the whole collection here

Katsucon 2015 Wrap Up (a bit late)

I know this about three months after the fact, but I have been busy. 

Katsucon was good but I definitely learned a few things that I plan to put into practice for next year.  I loved doing all the photos shoots but found I had no time to go to any of the panels or do hall shots/spur of the moment sessions.  Now while my main reason for going to the convention is photography, I still would have liked to go a few of the panels and have the option do some sporadic shoots with cosplayers who catch my eye.  Therefore, next year I may open booking after the convention schedule is released and limit the number of scheduled shoots.    I also found the best times for shoots are the early morning and evening, the afternoon is too crowded for some of the best locations. Now this may have been due to the fact it was so cold this last Katsucon that no one went outside, so everyone was jockeying for an indoor location.   The other thing I found is ‘The Gazebo’ is not that magical a place to shoot. I know that is almost sacrilege to say, but unless the cosplay lends itself to that location. In my opinion, it is not that impressive.  (Yes, I did do a shoot in the gazebo.)  However, one thing I did like was some of the patters in the carpeting; I just needed a stepladder to capture the patterns properly.  Finally, I had 15 photo shoots scheduled and did 12 of them, because of cosplayer cancellation.  This number of shoots was defiantly realistic; but I may not offer shoots on Sunday next year, since that was the day, I got the cancellations.  Overall, I would say I had a good experience at the convention this year, and found items I need to tweak.

Ame Cosplay as Lily Baskerville from Pandora Hearts

Ubiquitin Cosplay as Saber Alter from Fate Zero

Now I have some advice for the cosplayers, I work with or who want to work with me.  First and foremost, make sure you fill out the pre-shoot questionnaire I send out before the convention or photo shoot.  The questionnaire is important because it makes sure I know how to contact you during the convention, describes your cosplay to me, and lets me know what your expectations/ideas are for your photo shoot. The questionnaire also gives me a baseline to start planning the shoot in my head, think of poses, think of location, and do some research on the character.  I found the shoots that went really well, were ones where the character and expectations were described well in the questionnaire.  I found other things that make the shoot go well were the cosplayer really embodying the character’s personality and mannerisms.  It also helps me if you tell me if this is the first time, you are cosplaying the character because it helps me with knowing how much direction to give and the types of questions to ask during the shoot.  Finally, I do not mind if you have to change your cosplay, I just ask that you let me know so I have some time to look it up or if you cancel an hour before the shoot due to some technical issue.  What I do mind is when a person arrives extremely late, or calls when the shoot was supposed to start and/or after the fact to cancel.  While my shoots are free, I do expect some courtesy because I may have someone on a wait list that could take the spot, attend a panel during that time, or my favorite things possibly take a break and eat something.   Overall, though I would say the cosplayers I worked with were very professional and great to work with. 

Ame and Minomotu Cosplay as Astrid and Hiccup from How to Train your Dragon 2
Pandamic Bear &YuriPaws Cosplay as Korra & Asami from Ledgend of Kora

Now for the breakdown of the photo shoots. As sated earlier I did 12 shoots.  During those shoots, I used an 18 – 200mm lens; this is my go to lens and allows me a greater range of shots in the confined spaces of the convention.  I mostly shot around ISO 200 to 400, in a few cases I did bump it up but that was when it was dark.  The shutter speed was all over but I tried not to go below 1/60s.  I did have a flash mounted with an attached soft box.  I found the soft box to be cumbersome, and affected my style since I prefer to use bonce flash.  For two of the late evening shoots I had an assistant (my husband) hold a reflector. I loved the way the reflector worked out especially for the Tokyo Ghoul shoot.  (I plan to use a reflector next year for evening shoots.)  I also followed the rules of the convention; I did not use any try pods or non-handheld equipment and did not have cosplayers climb on or into any of the gardens.  

Gabriella Juliet Cosplay as Touka from Tokyo Ghoul.
Alina Marie Cosplay as Junko Enoshima from Dangan Ronpa


In conclusion, I would say it was a good convention and am looking forward to next years.  You can see all the photos from Katsucon 2015 here. 

Headshots and Tulips

Since all of Ohio is on a stay at home order currently,   I thought I would update my headshot and take some photos of the potted tulips m...