Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 End of Year Wrap Up

The year of 2019 was a busy year between running the Dayton-Columbus-CincinnatiCosplay Photo Shoot Group (DCC) which celebrated its 1-year anniversary,  making headpieces, doing several one-one studio shoots, attending conventions, working on a Masters degree, and getting a new position at work.  The first half of the year did not feel busy even though I was set up group shoots for the DCC, did several one-on-one creative sessions, attended a convention, and went on vacation to the Galapagos.  It wasn’t until I started my Masters program that I felt like I got busy and had no time.  The master’s program basically ate my weekends, due to having to write papers. However,  I did finish 9 of the 12 classes in the program in 6 months so I should finish that before June 2020.  Due to working on my masters, I did not shoot as much in the second half of the year as I did in the first half of the year.  I’m hoping once I’m done with the master’s program, I can focus time back to creative shooting and one-on-one sessions.

This year I shot a total of 7040 frames, of which I edited 4567 images.  Of the edited images I used ISO 100 for 2171 images, an aperture of F8 for 987 images,  a shutter speed of 1/250s for 894 images and a focal length of 18mm for 2431 images.  I had a total of 31 images published across five publication.  I had six images published in February issue of Realm Magazine, seven images published in the Issue 47 Volume 2 of Gilded Magazine,  fifteen images published in the Issue 31 of Jazzy Magazine with one of those being a featured image, two images in Cosplay Realm magazine, and one in Cosplay Zine.   So now that we got the statistics out of the way let’s talk about some events and favorite images for the year.

Cosplay and Conventions
I attended only two conventions this year Katsucon in Washington, DC and Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio.  I did paid shoots at both these conventions. Sadly, I got sick at Matsuricon and had to cancel a session, which I felt horrible about.  As usual there were several great cosplayers at Katsucon, but three sessions stick out in my mind Elphaba, Yasha Nydoorin, and Croft and Drake, the cosplayers attention to detail and overall personalities made these fun shoots. Plus, I am happy with the photos, my favorite however is one from Elphaba shoot in which we copied  the pose from the theater production poster.  I felt Matsuricon was better this year then last year and I got to work with some nice cosplayers. However, I’m still debating whether I will attend Matsuricon in 2020.  The shoots that stood out during Matsuricon were Lady Deadpool, Spider Man,  and Camie Utsushimi. Several of these shoots I did in the parking garage because of the type of character, and the fact the parking garage had a cool mural.  The shot that I liked the best from Matsuricon was of Spider Man, there are not a lot of male cosplayers and this one followed direction well and knew his character.

This year I hosted ten DCC meet ups. We shot in two studios a church that was turned into a brewery, several parks, a train yard, and a farm.  All the shoots went well.  I always like shooting in studio but the train yard was a bit of a different location, while the farm shoot for Halloween was a great night shoot. The group is slowly growing, but needs a more consistent photographer turn out.  It is hard for me to pick a favorite image from meet ups but I seem always come back to the following three images.

Creative Portrait Work
This year I did six one-on-one sessions and one group shoot.  I started the year with a shoot using a red dress I had imported from Poland, and then did a 1920’s themed shoot. From there I rolled into a shoot with my favorite purple haired lady, while experimenting with dry ice.  I then made a white and silver head piece for a very ethereal shoot that involved very large flowers and garage insulation as a backdrop.  From their the flowers and the dry ice made a reappearance for a pink flower shoot.  I finished out the year with a group shoot, where all the clothing was white in a very white studio.

Vacation this year was eventful. I have always wanted to go the Galapagos Islands, and I went this year.  My husband and I opted for a land tour as opposed to the standard cruise. We highly recommend doing the cruise over the land tour, since you waste a lot of your day going to port and traveling out to islands on the land tour as opposed to the cruise where you don’t have the wasted travel time.  The Galapagos was nice, we went through ton of sun screen and my husband go some good photos during the whole trip.  I on the other hand only got one day’s worth of photos because salt water and DSLR’s don’t mix.  Sadly, on the first full day, my underwater housing ended up leaking, killing my camera.  (I did get a new one once we got home.)  Thankfully,  I saw most of the animals before the snorkeling trip, were my camera met its demise.  For the rest of the trip I used my husbands’ little point underwater point and shoot, while he used his Canon 5D Mark III. 


Overall it was a good year. I’m looking forward to 2020.

White Out Group Shoot

On December 8th,  I participated in one of the Cincinnati Female Image Makers group shoots.  The theme for this shoot was White Out and it was held at Locust & Vince Studios in Cincinnati.  This was a small group shoot that lasted only an hour,  with four models and four photographers, we shot round robin style so that everyone worked with everyone.   It was a nice little group shoot,  the models were nice and it let me step away from hosting a shoot, and my school work.   (I’m in the middle of taking master’s classes, that is why the blog hasn’t been being updated as frequently.)

For this session I shot 242 frames, edited 147 frames, and delivered 70 final images.  For this set up I used a Canon 80D, with an 18-200mm lens,  a light stand, a two 430EXII-RT speedlights (one was acting as a trigger/transmitter only) and small 9x9 inch LumiQuest softbox.  I was glad I brought the flash and softbox, because while the studio would normally be full of bright natural light, it was a cloudy overcast day not providing a lot of light to the inside of the studio.  For this shoot I shot at ISO 100, with an aperture of F5, with a shutter speed varying between 1/100s to 1/200s with most shots at 1/200s, and finally my focal length varied between 18mm and 70mm, with most shots being at 18mm.

ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/100s, Focal Length 24mm
During a cosplay  group shoot,  you get characters with specific personalities, stories, and settings so it narrows and focus the shoot with that cosplayer.  However, when shooting during a general model group shoot you only have a theme, while the photographer must come up with the mood and story.  In some cases, this can be easy in others it can be more challenging.
This first shot (left) with Erin was just a plain simple dreamy shot. It used a combination of window light and flash.  I used the flash a fill to bright the whites and reduce some of the shadows. During post processing I bumped the whites and reduced the clarity to give it a softer look.

ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm

This second model, Alexis,  was fun to work with, and her clothing option was creative.  To me she gave off a puck vibe but in all white. One of my favorite shots (right) taken of her is of her siting on a stool.  The light stand was about 45-degree off her face with the flash raised and pointed slightly downward.  I was a little less than 15-degrees off from the light stand. I am usually not a big fan of eyes being closed in photos but in this case it just works. When editing this photo, I kept the brightness on her face,  bumped the whites slightly but then added some deeper shadows to the left of the image, were the light was naturally falling off.  I also added a slight vignette to the image.  Overall it portrays a very interesting mood.

ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 24mm

When working with the third model, Elizabeth, I felt like I was shooting a make-up campaign.  I liked her suit jacket with the white feathers, which gave me the impression of a music star at first, however when editing the images, I felt it was more like a make-up campaign.  One of my favorite images (left) is of her laying on the floor and giving a simple beauty shot pose.  For this shot the flash was lowered to her face level and slightly less than a 45-degree angle off her face. When editing the image, I added a soft glow by reducing the clarity, bumped the whites slightly, and used a little bit of frequency separation on the face to give it a more polished look.  I also kept the crop close and added a medium square vignette to the image.

ISO 100, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm

The final model, Sarah,  I worked with gave off the that 1990’s early 2000’s pop star vibe, but at the same time when I was editing her shots, I was getting a 1970’s movie actress.  Especially in this image, for some reason it screams 1970 to me.   I will say at first it was not one of my favorite images, but it grew on me.  I did not do a lot of post processing on this image,  I balanced for the whites, reduced texture, and clarity slightly, removed a bit of an orange cast, and added a slight vignette.

Overall it was a good group shoot, though I felt just an hour was a little rushed. I think 90-minutes would have been good because that would have given people 15-minutes to get ready and 15-minutes to pack up to get ready to leave.  Hopefully, I will get to attend a few more of these group shoots after my weekends clear up a bit.  You can see all the finals from this shoot here:  White Out.

Fall Cosplay Meet Up

ISO 400, Aperture F9, Shutter 1/250s,  Focal Length 18mm
On November 10  I hosted a meet up of the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photoshoot group at the Maple-Beech Lodge in Blacklick Woods Park which is part of the Columbus Metro Park system.  This event was the last event of the year and included a small basic posing workshop.   We had 6 cosplayers, 6 photographers, and 2 assistants attend, so the cosplayer to photographer ratio was relatively good.  I gave the short posing brief.  After the brief I had each coplayer come up pose for two photos, the first with no guidance on posing then the second with guidance after seeing how the first shot looked.  I used a tethered shooting method so  each cosplayer could immediately  see how they looked in the photos so they could adjust based on what they learned and group suggestions.  After the meet up, I provided each cosplayer with “contact sheet”  of each of their images from the workshop portion of the shoot so they would have it for future reference. Involving all members of the group in the discussion and having live feedback, I think helped the group in general, allowed the people to become comfortable with one another, and made for a better overall shoot.

I worked with 6 cosplayers.  I shot a total of  271 frames which includes the posing workshop frames. Of the 271 frames, 244 where from the actual shoot,  of which I edited 130 images and delivered 67 final images not including the posing workshop images.  Since I shot during both the posing workshop and the actual shoot, I had two different set ups.  During the posing workshop,  I set up a plain white backdrop, used a single bare off camera speed light on a light stand,  and had my camera tethered to a lap top which was hooked to a projector to show the image on projection screen.  All images shot during the workshop were at ISO 400, an aperture of f/8, a shutter speed of 1/160s, a focal length of 18mm.  For my second set up, during the actual shoot portion,  I used single bare off camera speed light on a light stand.   I used an ISO of 400 due to the daylight conditions and the consistently changing cloud cover.  My aperture and shutter speed varied throughout the shoot, due to the changing lighting conditions due to the moving clouds and transitioning from indoor to outdoors.  My aperture ranged between F3.5 and F14 with the most common being F9.  My shutter speed varied from 1/125s to 1/800s with the most common speed being /250s.  It should be noted the standard flash sync speed is 1/250s but I can push the sync speed if I switch to high-speed sync. Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 90mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm.   As unusual I like to shoot wide.

The park is nice with lots of trees and a pond, I was kind of sad that we missed a lot of the fall leaves, due to a windstorm coming through an knocking a bunch of them off the trees.  Also, right outside the lodge that was rented for the event were two large green stone turtles.  I used these stone turtles as inspiration for several of my shots.  It worked perfectly for two cosplays.  The first was IzzyQuinnzilla as Bow-Peep from Toy Story 4.   It was perfect cosplay representing a toy on a whimsical turtle for kids.  My personal favorite shot is her going lifeless, like the toys in the movie do when a kid is around, on top of the turtle. The second image is of Fishmeal (formally Gleume) cosplay as Royal Guard Zelda riding the turtle into battle. What makes this photo is that she has a very serious look on her face, while riding a turtle.  Usually one would ride a noble steed, but since none were available at the time, the turtle had to work.

ISO 400, Aperture F11, Shutter 1/250s,  Focal Length 18mm
ISO 400, Aperture F9, Shutter 1/160s,  Focal Length 18mm

Overall this was a good meet up, you can see all my final images from the meet up here: Maple-Beech Lodge.  The group will start meet ups again in January, since we take a break in December due to holidays. 

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...