Super Heroes and Villains at the Waterfront

On June 25th, I had a date with a bunch of super heroes and villains down by the Old Town Alexandria waterfront; it was DC Cosplay Photo Shoots meet up.  The theme was super heroes and villains and there was a nice assortment of heroes from the Marvel and DC universes as well as some Sailor Moon characters, and a Power Ranger. 

This shoot started at 7:00 AM to beat the heat of the day and have an area mostly devoid of people, since this was outside in a public location.  You could tell as it got later in the morning, especially when the meet up ended around 10:00AM, there were significantly more people, mostly heading out to go to brunch or walk the old town area.  For this shoot, I used my Canon 70D, my trusty 18 -200mm lens, a 430 EX –IIIRT speed light, radio trigger,  and a light stand.   I did have an umbrella with me, but because of the intensity of the sun, I shot without the umbrella so I would not have to push my flash as hard. Plus, with this being a super hero and villain shoot, the harder light worked.   I took a little over 300 photos and posted 180 fully edited shots.  For all the shots, I was at an ISO of 200 using an aperture of either F6.3 or F8 with 80 percent of the photos taken at focal length of 18mm.  The shutter speeds varied widely from 1/125s to 1/1600s with the about 56 percent of the photos taken at 1/250s or 1/500s depending on the lighting conditions.  I did my basic edits to the photos, but did extra editing mostly to bring out the blueness of the sky.  I forgot my circular polarizer, which would have helped significantly in several cases.  Overall, I am happy with the pictures from the shoot.  You can see all the edited photos from the shoot by following this link: Heroes and Villains.  Below, I will discuss four of my favorite photos from the shoot.

Focal length 18mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/400s
This first image is of Lena Volkova as Loki.  I liked her casual relaxed pose and edited the photo to give it an old street photo vibe.  To do that I started with my basic edits to adjust exposure, contrast, and luminosity to smooth out the image.  I then added a preset called faded slide film, which fades out the image and adds some split toning using yellow and purple tones; it also adds a very thick vignette and heavy grain. After applying the preset, I removed the thick vignetting, reduced the amount of added grain, and re-adjusted the sharpness and luminosity of the photo to get the desired results. 

Focal length 18mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/250s

This second image is of Sean Price as Crossbones from the Marvel Universe. I took this picture using two flashes. The first was in front and to the right of the model, while the second flash was on the ground pointing about 80 degrees up hidden behind the model’s right foot.  This is how I created the light behind the model. After I did basic edits to the photo, I applied a preset called Dirty Action Sunny, which seems appropriate for a villain.  This preset pulls out the blue in the sky and increases clarity.  I then tweaked the setting so it would not appear over processed by adjusting the exposure as well as the blacks and whites slightly.  I then applied a strong vignette to the image to draw the eye more to model and give the image an overall darker feel.

focal length 18mm, Aperture F6.3, Shutter 1/500
This image is of Patrick Benson as Gambit from the X-Men. He is actually one of the best Gambits with which I have had the pleasure of working. I took this picture in the gazebo to use it arches to frame the model. To get movement in the coat I had him pivot, as if he was swinging his staff in a fight.  I used only one flash that was placed to his left to remove shadows from the sun coming from his right. After I did basic edits to the photo, I adjusted the luminance of the blues to bring out the sky. I also increased the clarity to make him more defined. I then added a slight vignette to the photo to achieve the desired results.  

Focal length 20mm, Aperture F6.3, Shutter 1/200s

This last photo is of Life of Cosplay as Rogue from X-Men.  I love working with Life of Cosplay, because she is fun and I can get some great action shots with her. However, I took a slightly different route for this photo, since I could actually get height by using the stairs.  I like this photo because it is a relax but semi-sexy pose I could easily see in a magazine.  I did basic edit to the photo, removed a bunch of distracting cigarette butts, and then applied a preset called dark pop to give the photo a darker feel to align with the back ally location it was shot in.   I then adjusted the contrast slightly from the preset as well as the clipping for the blacks and whites.  Finally, I added some vignetting to darken the corners. 


  1. Awesome...Awesome...Awesome!! These are fantastic photos Heather...thanks you.


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