Lolita Photoshoot

I have always liked Lolita fashion because it is cute and whimsical. For those that do not know, Lolita fashion is a subculture originating in Japan based on Victorian and Edwardian clothing. The Lolita look is one of modesty with a silhouette featuring knee length skirt or dress with either a "cupcake" or "A-line" shape assisted by petticoats, it can also include items such as blouses, knee high socks, or stockings, and headdresses, which are usually elaborate bows.  Within the Lolita culture there are several types of subcultures ranging from classic, sweet, and gothic; however, the photoshoots do not appear to have the same range of looks.  A typical Lolita shoot usually has a garden, tea party, or fairytale theme.  I wanted to do something different, so I did Lolita in a playground, to capture the fun and sweet side of the Lolita culture.

I was happy to work on this shoot with the lovely cosplayer Nerdenheim Jen, who is a lovely and fun person to work with.  This was her first Lolita shoot, and I have to say she definitely captured the look and personality.  I was supremely pleased with how this shoot turned out; I had so many good photos, that it was hard to cull the set down to a manageable number of photos. Overall, I took 280 shots, edited 214 shots, and released 160 photos of which I favorited or starred 30 photos.   

I did this shoot on location in the morning at a local park that had a small playground in a shaded area and a rose garden in the bright sun. I took advantage of both areas, but I did wish the playground had swings.  However, the playground did have a slide, which thankfully Jen had no problem going up and down several times for me.  For equipment I used a Cannon 70D, a 18 - 200mm lens, Young Nu radio triggers, Westcott light stand and portable umbrella, and one 430 EXII Speedlight.  I then edited the photos in Lightroom; many of the photos looked good straight out of camera and just needed basic adjustments such as increase in saturation and removal of hotspots to make the photos pop.

I had so many favorites from this shoot, which makes it very hard to pick one or two discuss. Therefore, I am going to discuss the shoot in general. I used ISO 100 for all the shots. I used an aperture of F5.0 for 60% of the shots followed by F8 for 33% of the shots and F9 for 6% of the shots.  My focal length varied between 18mm and 49mm with 65% of the shots being at 18mm followed by 14% of the shots taken at 20mm and only 1% of the shots were taken at 49mm.  The thing that varied the most was my shutter speed, which went from 1/50s to 1/1600s; did I mention I was shooting in both shade and bright sunlight.  About 23% of the shots were taken at 1/200s followed by 16% of the shots taken at 1/250s and 15% of the shots taken at 1/80s. I had 9 shots at my lowest shutter speed of 1/50s and 1 shot taken at my fastest shutter speed 1/1600s.   I cannot pull specific data on the flash power but I was pushing the flash hard staying anywhere between 1/8 power to full power. 

I edited all the raw photos in Lightroom. I adjusted the photos for colorcast, and warmed them up slightly. I also had to adjust the red tone in the photo, because my camera tends to oversaturate reds.  I used a strong contrast for all the photos, and up the clarity to no more than 15 and the saturation to no more than 5.  I did adjust sharpness and luminosity and that varied per photo. Finally, I did not add very many presets since I liked the look out of camera, however I did add vignetting around some of the photos to draw attention the cosplayers face.

Below are three side-by-side comparison of the before and afters of the photos. As you can see in the first photo the before is a little dark and the colors slightly muted; it is also a little wide. As you can see from the edits, I cropped the photo to get rid of the excess playground equipment to put more focus on Jen. I also up the color saturation while warming the image slightly.  The second photo is one of my personal favorites. It actually looked fairly good straight out of camera, however I decided to tighten the crop, warm the photo up slightly and lighten it up slightly.  The final image, I absolutely adore and it happened to be one of the last images from the shoot. As you can see in the original image the sky is a bit washed out, parts of her dress are blown out, and there is a bag in the grass, but other from that it is a nice image.  Thus to improve the image I tightened the cropped, brought down the exposure just a touch and made sure to recover the highlights. I then increased the saturation of the color a touch, warmed the image up, and finally added a slight vignette around the photo.  Overall, I am happy with how the shoot turned out.  You can see all the final images here.

Original: ISO 100, F5, 1/50s, at 18mm


Original: ISO 100, F5, 1/250s, at 24mm

Original: ISO 100, F8, 1/200s, at 28mm


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