Nouveau Lady

This year at Katsucon I got to shoot a cosplay concept I have wanted to shoot for several years, a Hannah Alexander  design.  What makes these designs special in my opinion is that  HannahAlexander  takes a character, like a Disney Princess’s cloths and interprets its as art nouveau fashion. So, the character is re-imaged in a dress along the lines of a late 1910 and early 1920s evening gown. The designs are extremely intricate, beautifully colored, and just simply stunning.  Thus, I have been wishing to be able to shoot one of these cosplays.

At this recent Katsucon, I had the pleasure of working with Sara Cosplay who made the Hannah Alexandra version of Merida from Brave.  I have worked with Sara Cosplay several times in the past, and she does impeccable work.  She made this gown herself, including the intricate burn in designs on the velvet.  So, because of the cosplay and the cosplayer, I wanted to be able to do an elegant shoot that aligned more with the style of the dress then the Disney princess, which is hard to do at a very crowded convention with only handheld equipment. To pull the shoot off, required an assistant holding a light, finding non-crowded areas, and a little post processing magic.

I edited 84 photos and provided 66 final images. I shot with a focal length between 18mm – 35mm with the most common focal length being 18mm.  I used a shutter speed between 1/125s to 1/640s with the most comment speed being 1/640s to get rid of ambient light.  My aperture varied between f5.0 and f7.1, with most images being taken at f5.0.  I’m now going to discuss a few of my favorite images.

ISO 400, Focal Length 32mm, Aperture f5, Shutter Speed 1/320s
This first image (right) is my favorite because I think it captures the era and overall concept.  This image was shot in a hallway with several mirrors, the challenge with doing mirror shots is making sure you and your flash are not reflected in the mirror.  For this photo I as sitting on the ground with my camera, with a bounce mounted on the flash, my assistant was standing to my right with second flash held up above the model at an angle.  The flash to the right was considered the main, and the flash on camera was just fill.  When I pulled the shot in for editing, I cropped it to give it a long narrow appearance, balanced out the light and increased the clarity and contrast.  I then applied a baseline pre-set that faded out the photo slightly and gave it a more antique feel by toning the image.  From there I added some vignetting to finish the image off.

ISO 400, Focal Length 20mm, Aperture f5, Shutter Speed 1/320s

This seconded image (left) is very similar to the first except more of a close-up. I used the same exact lighting set up as the previous image. During editing I balanced out the light slightly faded the image.  I found using bold colors and strong clarity settings made the image lose its softness.  During the whole shoot I wanted to keep a softness and relaxed very 1920’s rich person lounging around the mansion feel to the image. I also feel her expression really worked for this image.  I added some brightness to her face, and then finished off the image with some vignetting.

ISO 400, Focal Length 20mm, Aperture f5, Shutter Speed 1/320s
This last photo (right) I just love. The light hit her perfectly and her expression is perfect. The photos in my opinion highlights a relax elegance.  The lighting set up as similar to that of the other two photos. When I brought it into light room to edit I balanced out the light then went in and increase the light hitting her face and upper body. I did this to make it appear more like a solid narrow stream of light was hitting her.  I then increase the clarity slightly and balanced the color out, due to the yellowness of this hallway.  From there I added some vignetting to finish off the image.

While I’m happy with the results of the shoot; I still feel I could have done this whole shoot better. (You can see all the images here.) I wanted to shoot a bit outside under this lovely little pergola but it was raining, icing, and snowing simultaneously during this shoot so outside was not an option. Also due to the weather everyone who was outside was now trying to come inside and due to it being peak hours for the convention it made it traversing the hallways and elevators extremely difficult and took up most of the shoot time.  I felt like I need a full 90 minutes for this shoot to work, because there were a few additional locations I would have loved to shoot at, but not the gazebo. Never, never the gazebo.  But, if I’m being truly honest with my self I would love to reshoot this session in studio with some antique props or a very nice park around sunset.  I love Hannah Alexander designs and hope to be able to shoot more of them in the future. 


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