First Cosplay Meet Up of the Year

On January 23rd, I attended a D.C Cosplay Photo Shoot meet up held Blue Valley Winery in Delaplane, Virginia. The winery is located off I-66 as you head towards Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains, which provides for views across farmland and rocky ridges. We had a snow storm a few days before, which impacted the southern area more then the northern areas of Virginia thus there was still a nice amount of snow cover at the winery due to its location, which was great for some more dramatic shots.  Although the inside of the winery had a nice modern yet rustic vibe which also worked for those cosplays that weren’t quite suited for the outdoors and snow.  

For these sessions I used:

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

The weather that day was cold with a cloudy and a bit overcast and not overly dramatic sky.  I thought I might run into a problem with my lens fogging by going from warm to cold and back again so I had my lens warmer with me, however I didn’t need it since the air was relatively dry and I had no fogging issues.  I shot using 100 ISO and for my aperture I used F8, F9, and F13, with most shots being taken at F8. My shutter speed ranged from 1/40s to 1/250s. My shutter speed seemed to be concentrated at 1/125s, 1/60s and 1/250s. My focal length ranged from 18mm to 90mm, with most shots being concentrated in the 18mm to 24mm range. This made sense for several of the outdoor images where I wanted to capture the sweeping background to provide some additional context to the image.

Let’s start with the_engineers_cosplay who were doing Vex and Keyleth from Critical Role. These are great cosplayers to work with and they put a lot of effort into their cosplays, I chose to shoot them outside at a rocky outcrop because it best suited the overall cosplays. While I did shoot them as a duo, I ended up liking their individual images a more, because I feel it gives a little more insight to the character.  I shot both images using the same location and light set up, just changed my overall perspective.  This first image, of Vex, I wanted to go for power and show off the archer portion of the character as well as show off the full outfit.  I placed the model up on the rock and shot up towards her from the ground, there was about a 4-foot difference in height between the ground I was standing on and the ground the model was standing on. The flash was raised up and to my right. The sun was behind the model covered by the clouds, so a lot of editing when into the image to bring out the detail.  I did all the basic adjustments of balancing the image, pulling out details, and adjusting contrast. I then went in and added a blue/orange color grade with the blues in the shadows and the oranges in the highlights, this kept the image cool toned to alight with winter but gave some color to the sky and the model. I also adjusted exposure of the sky separate from the model, to bring out small bit detail in the sky and clouds that was lost with the proper exposure of the model. I then finished the image off with a vignette.

For the second image, of Keyleth, I wanted to ensure I was showing off the cape as well as show the druid side of the character.  I should note, it was a bit breezy so the cape was not always the most cooperative for the photos. I used the same location as previous image but change my location and the location of the flash.  In this case while the model was still on the higher ground, that ground was about even to my line of sight looking straight on so I could capture a bit more of the valley below.  I also placed the flash to my left to light this image. I did a lot of the same steps as for the previous image; however, this image has no color grading.  It does have a vignette which I tend to add to all my images.  I like this image because it has a silent strength in direct comparison to the previous image which was a more dominate show of strength.  I think both images capture the persona each cosplayer was trying to portray.

Now I’m going to talk about the lovely lacie.neal who was cosplaying Marilyn Monroe in her famous pink dress from the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds”.  I obviously shot this inside the winery, because outside was not going to work for this elegant cosplay.  Now I feel I really lucked out because on the second level of the winery had these beautiful blue velvet drapes that I used to help create the drama in the shot below.  To get this image I zoomed the speed light to about 80mm, placed it about 90 degrees to my right, raised it up high, then pointed it down to look like a spot.  I then told the model to look towards the light, informing her this will be very dramatic lighting.  The raw of this image was very dark, but only need slight exposure adjustments to bring it towards a polished image.  I also upped the vibrancy and saturation a little bit to bring out that pink.  This is a very hard light photo, so to smooth out some of the texture I did lower the clarity slightly.  I then went in an added a blue/orange color grade, with the blues in the shadows and the oranges in highlights which added a bit of warmth to the photo and brought back the skin tones. I then finished the image with a vignette. In the end I feel like this image plays homage to an old Hollywood photo.

As usual the cosplays at this event were superb and I could talk about every image but I won’t because that would be pages upon pages of description.  You can see all the cosplayer I worked with and the images from this meet up here: Blue Mountain Winery Meet Up.  This way a great way to start the new year and prep for my next event Katsucon. It will be my first convention since 2020, I’m looking forward to shooting at a convention again.


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