Sunday, November 26, 2017

Portrait Gallery Shoot

On November 11, the D.C. Cosplayers and Photographer group met at the National Portrait Gallery for their monthly meet-up.  The National Portrait Gallery is wonderful place to shoot, especially on the third floor which has what is considered Greek revival architecture. Usually the meet ups are on Sundays, which means there are fewer people at the gallery.  However, this recent meet up was held on a Saturday, which meant there were more people at the gallery, additionally the gallery changed a few of the photography flash rules in a few of the area that used to allow flash.  With the additional people and the photography changes it was a bit more challenging to shoot in some of the areas. 

For this shoot, I used my Canon 70D, my trusty 18-200mm lens, one 430 EX–III RT, one 600 EX-RT speed light, a Westcott Rapid Box 20-inch Octa Mini light modifier (mounted on metal pin).  My husband, who is my trusty assistant, held the 600 EX-RT flash with the light modifier. (No tripods or light stands are allowed in the gallery.)  I mounted the 430 EX-III RT flash on my camera to act as a trigger and to use as a second light source. I took 244 photos, edited 176 photos, and posted 100 fully edited shots.  Thus, I had a return of approximately 41 percent, which is relatively high and accounts for duplicates, flash misfires, and unflattering poses (I don’t like posting unflattering poses of my models). For all the shots, I was at an ISO of 200 and using an aperture of f4.5, with 88 percent of the photos taken between a focal length of 18mm to 32mm.  I shoot wide in the portrait gallery because, in some of my preferred areas there is not a lot of space, so I can’t back up to use a narrow focal length and still get the shot I want. The shutter speeds varied widely from 1/50s to 1/320s with the about 72 percent of the photos taken at 1/125s, 1/200s, or 1/250s depending on the lighting conditions.  I was not pushing my flash as hard as I usually would, because I was inside, so most of the photos were taken with the flash at about a quarter power just enough to provide separation of the subject from the background.  I also used the flash to create a mood in a few of the photos, based on the background elements as you’ll see in one of the photos. Below, I will discuss two of my favorite photos from the shoot.  You can see all the photos here: "Winter Meet-up"

Focal Length 18mm, Aperture f4.5, Shutter 1/250s 
This first photo (left) is of JenniferGlinzak Costumery as Aurora from “Sleeping Beauty” in a winter outfit.  Usually, I shoot low-key photos because I like dark shadows; however, I am extremely pleased with how this high-key photo came out.   This was shot in white marble hallway with the window providing a lot of the light which bounces off the wall.  My husband held the light up and to my right, and I up the flash power to half.  When editing the photo, I did increase the brightness and vibrancy. All these elements together bring a light, airy, and playful feel to the photo.

Focal Length 18mm, Aperture f4.5, Shutter 1/125s






















This second photo (right) is of OrisenCosplay as Mrs. Lovett from “Sweeny Todd”. This photo is in direct contrast to the first photos. This is photo is a low-key photo that makes use of the shadows and darkness to portray a mood. Even though this shot was taken indoors, I wanted to look as though it was taken outside at night under a streetlight. While I would have preferred that the flash was above her, that would have required a boom or pole, which isn’t allowed.  So, my husband stood to my right with the flash held above his head pointed down towards Orisen to try to give the illusion of light coming from the light post.  When editing the photo, I darkened the shadows, added a strong vignette, and then tinted the photo slightly to give it warm glow.

This last item (Left) is a photo story based on an idea from Ray Dot Ham Cosplay. The story uses seven photos presented in a comic book format to show the Starbuck Lady (Ray Dot HamCosplay) waking up Sleeping Beauty (Jennifer Glinzak Costumery).  The photos were easy to take and edit.  The problem I ran into was arranging them so they fit a rectangular shape without having large white gaps.  This would have been easier if I would have either taken the photos all in the same orientation or had a more even mix of the orientations.  The other issue I ran into was the crop ratios for each photo were slightly off from one another.  Finally, while arranging the photos I tried to make the most important frames larger than the supporting frames to place an emphasis on the highlights of the story.


Overall, I’m happy with how this shoot turned out. 

You can see all the photos here: "Winter Meet-up"

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Halloween Themed Shoot

On October 22 I went to Lake Accotink Park for the Halloween themed DCCosplay meet up.  Lake Accotink Park is a nice area, which has a lake, a wooded area and a few concrete areas.  The location was good for a Halloween shoot, set for the middle of the day since the forest area provided shade and the concrete areas worked well for a more urban setting. 

For this shoot, I used my Canon 70D, my trusty 18 -200mm lens, radio trigger, and two 430 EX –IIIRT speed light.  My husband, who is my trusty assistant, held a painter’s pole which we mounted one of the speed light to the top of without an umbrella.  I did not use an umbrella so I could have a possibility to combat the sun.  I mounted the second flash on a standard light stand without an umbrella and used it for occasional fill or back lighting. I took 300 photos, edited 232 photos, and posted 139 fully edited shots.  For all the shots, I was at an ISO of 200 using an aperture of between F7.1and F11 with 48 percent of the photos taken at focal length of 18mm.  The shutter speeds varied widely from 1/25s to 1/1600s with the about 64 percent of the photos taken between 1/125s to 1/320s depending on the lighting conditions.  I did my basic edits to the photos and the flash ensured I could separate the model from the background.  Overall, the photos are ok.  You can see all the edited photos from the shoot by following this link: Halloween Meet-up.  Below, I will discuss two of my favorite photos from the shoot.


Focal Length: 24mm, Aperture: F11, Shutter: 1/125s
This first picture is actually my favorite from the shoot. It is of JMS Cosplay as Negan from the Walking Dead.  To get this photo we actually got down into the lake run off stream, and I had him get into the tunnel.  I placed the flash to my right angled down onto the model. To edit the photo I darkened the image, increased the clarity, and then added very heavy vignette.  I think this captures the nature of the character and feel of the series.














Focal Length: 28mm, Aperture: F9, Shutter: 1/160s

This next image is of Lena Vokova as Santa Muerte. For this image I placed her up on a large stump, and placed the sun and a flash behind her.  The sun was a bit high to provide the back lighting I wanted, so I added a flash behind her to add a bit of edge lighting.  I placed the main flash down low, pointed up to my right.  To edit the photo I balanced the lighting, darkened the sky, and then added a strong vignette.  I added to vignette to ensure it looked like the model was encircled by light.


Still Life

Now that I have a little bit of down time, I took some time to work on other types of photography outside of portrait photography.   I ...