Cosplay on the Water Front

On September 26th, I attended a D.C Cosplay Photo Shoot meet up held along the waterfront in Old Town, Alexandria, Va.   The waterfront has changed a little bit since I was last there, with some added outdoor restaurant seating and improved park features.  Overall, it is a nice area to for general photoshoot, but you must be there early in the morning or it tends to get crowded.  Thankfully this meet up had an 8:00AM start time, so the number of people out and about would be very tiny during the three hours meet up.   

For these sessions I used:

  • Canon 80D
  • 1 Speed light
  • Trigger
  • Light stand
  • 18-200mm lens

For this shoot I ended up using a 100 ISO, since I was working with very bright sun, this is also why I used direct flash without a soft box or umbrella. My aperture varied from F8 to F13, with most shots being either F8.  I was keeping my aperture high so I could keep the shutter speed within the sync speed of my speed light. The speed light’s max sync is 1/250s unless I use highspeed sync. My shutter speed ranged from 1/50s to 1/250s, with most shots being at 1/125s.  The few very slow speeds were from the few shots that I took inside the parking garage or within the shade of a building.  My focal length ranged from 18mm to 100mm, with most shots being at 18mm or 20mm. 

I’m going to talk about two cosplays today, one of which I’m picking just because I’m a sucker for nicely tailored historical/vintage clothing and one because I was pleasantly surprised that image worked as I hoped it would.  

I’m going to start by talking about three photos I took of the lovely Laci who was dressed as Rose from the Titanic.  Note, I love a good big hat.  She had perfect poise and grace in the outfit, and it worked extremely well for the waterfront.  The first picture is one of my favorites, a close-up of her looking out over the river, which we will pretend is the ocean. To get this shot I placed the speed light to my right pointed at the side of her face to fill it in from the shadow being cast from the hat as she was looking towards the sun.  Then in post I want in and used frequency separation to smooth out the skin, since direct flash is hard on even the most perfect skin. I also went in and did a little bit of dodge and burn, to highlight some areas and darken some of the lighter shadows.  I finished with a vignette.   I used the same set up for the second picture of her which is a full-length photo in the same pose.  For the last photo and to complete the series.  I shot her standing inside the little metal gazebo/fountain looking away from the sun.  I like how the dark poles of the gazebo and the metal work of the restaurant patio in the background work together.  I feel like it gives the picture the feeling that it was taken at the pier getting ready to board the boat. To get this shot I place the flash to my left, pointed at her face to lightened the shadows since the sun was behind the model and to my right.  I did use a little frequency separation just to smooth out the tones.  Then went back with a little bit of dodge and burn, to accentuate a few highlights and darken some shadows. I finished with my standard vignette.


The last image I’m going to talk about is of Technicolor Mike B as Homer Simpson. For one of his props, he had a fake donut, and I had an idea on how to use that to capture the essence of Homer Simpson.  We had direct sunlight with no clouds, so I wanted to use the sun to my advantage to create and “aww” moment. To get the shot I envisioned, I had Technicolor Mike B stand and hold the donut so the sun was in the center basically illuminating the donut, with a magical glow.  I placed the speed light to my left pointed towards the model’s face, since I was shooting into the sun and didn’t want his face in shadow. I believe my flash was at either a half or full power to ensure as close to even exposure of the sky and the model. Then in post I did all the standard items to balance and clean the image.  Then went in with a little doge and burn to bring out the donut but keep that bright highlight around it. I finished the image with my standard vignette.

I enjoy these meet up and they always present a new challenge to my technical skill or my creativity, and sometimes both. I also enjoy seeing what cosplayers bring to these meet ups and enjoy working with the variety of skill levels.  You can see all the images from this meet up here: Old Town Waterfront.


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