Katsucon 2022 Wrap Up
The last Katsucon I attended was in 2020 right before the pandemic shut everything down. Returning to Katsucon 2022 felt like returning to something normal, and it was good just to be at a convention again. The convention did put Covid precautions in place by only allowing those fully vaccinated to attend, checking vaccination cards, and instituting a mask mandate within the building. I believe these precautions significantly reduced the attendance and crowds. Though the convention staff still can’t figure out how to manage the registration lines. The crowd felt more like the size of the crowd in 2015 before it became wall to wall people like at the 2020 convention.
Due to the mask mandate, people either tried to incorporate their mask into their cosplay, or only did photoshoots outside where they could have their mask off. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t play nice this year. It was the windiest Katsucon I have been to, with sustained winds of 20mph and gusts up to 40mps, with temperatures in the low 40s. While the winds in the morning were workable, by afternoon I had to inform the cosplayers that I was working with we couldn’t shoot outside and get useable pictures because the wind was just too much, so those sessions were done inside. This year I had 20 sessions booked, with shooting mornings and afternoons on Friday and Saturday; then only mornings on Sunday. I can shoot Sunday morning again, since I’m living back in D.C. and don’t have to worry about making a long drive home.
Now let’s talk some photo stats before I highlight a few of the sessions. I shot 1917 frames across two and half days. The most prevalent focal length used was 18mm; the most prevalent shutter speed used was 1/250s; the most prevalent aperture used was F8. I used ISO 100, ISO 200, and ISO 400 equally.
First off, I did get to shoot at the cosplay “Met Gala” meet up again this year. I love attending that meet up, just because it is more like a fashion show then the standard fandom meet up. It is very different from a traditional fandom meet up, let say like Disney Princesses for example, because you know what you will see at the Disney Princesses meet up and each princess will be shot in a group of similar princesses. While the Gala has a theme, one is always surprised because you don’t know how each cosplayer selected to participate will interpret the theme and translate it into their cosplay. Plus, each cosplayer gets to walk individually, so you can admire the craftmanship. This year they were limited to 15 people due to Covid restrictions but it was still very impressive. You can see all the images here.
|Group Shot from Met Gala Meet Up|
As I said earlier, I did 20 one-on-one sessions this year. I’m not going to talk about all of them, because that would make this post way too long. So, I’m only going to talk about a select few images that I feel stand out, at least to me. I want to start with Amanda_Healed who did Cruella, from the live action Disney movie of the same name. While we didn’t have the streets of 1970’s London; sections of the hotel property worked really well for the shoot. I really like how the shots in front of the pier gate turned out, because I feel like they align with the gates of parks in London. I did a mix of closeup and full-length shots. While it was a beautiful sunny and windy day, I did use a speed light with these shots to add just that little pop of light. I did standard edits and did remove a few distracting elements such as poles and people to make the image as clean as possible. That is one issue with shooting at conventions, it can be difficult to get a clean shot devoid of distractions and people sometimes.
Next, I would like to talk about the wedding of Bowser and Peach, as done by Sakura Shounen and Strawberry Tarot. This was a very fun couple to work with. Since the cosplay’s were the wedding versions of Bowser and Peach from Super Mario Brothers, I approached the session like a traditional wedding shoot but without all the stress of a traditional wedding. Because, I was approaching this like a traditional wedding I used a lot of the recommended wedding photo spots, including the famed gazebo. Amazingly the gazebo was empty when I was shooting. For those that don’t know the gazebo within the hotel is a go to spot for photos and is usually super busy during the convention with everyone trying to get their gazebo shot. My personal favorite from the session, even though the cosplayers had to wear masks, is the shot below taken inside the gazebo. It is just nice little image. To get this image my husband was standing to my right hand holding a speed light to balance the bright light coming in through the atrium windows. In post I did brighten the image up slightly by pumping up the whites a tad and going very light with the vignette. I also got rid of a few distracting elements such as printing on the masks and removed the clear bra straps from the image. (Note thin clear straps are easier to deal with then skin toned, they just blend easier.) Overall, the image looks like a nice traditional wedding image.
Next is the Batman as done by Will Charming Cosplay. You never know how well a parking garage stairwell and shiny elevator will work for a photoshoot until you end up using one. The hotel property really does not have a lot of dark and sinister looking location outdoors, so you must get creative when the sky is sunny and a brilliant blue, but the cosplay calls for dark and mysterious. Thus enter the parking garage stairwell and elevator. To get the image below, we placed a speed light with a red gel on the floor to the cosplayers right pointed up towards the cosplayer. A second speed light, without a gel was held by my husband about five steps down to the left of the cosplayer to ensure light on the face. I was on the landing one level below where the cosplayer was standing and shooting up. In post I cranked up the contrast and the clarity to bring out the details and make the image gritty. I also had to correct the eyes, because in the raw image the flash only illuminated one eye, but through the magic of photo shop I was able to clone the eyes to ensure both were seen. Normally I would clone out the light behind the cosplayer, but in this case, it adds to the photo to give it bit of that gritty city feel. I then finished the image off with a strong vignette.
This last image I want to talk about is of DrSteggy_Cosplay as Link in his Gerudo Vai outfit from Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild. In normal years of Katsucon I might not have attempted a shot like this, just because of the crowds, but since the crowds were reasonable, I figured I would give it a shot, and I’m glad I did. To get this shot, my husband was on the floor above us pointing the flash down the gap between the second-floor railing and the escalator wall, which our courageous Link is about to scale. I had him zoom the speed light to 80mm or higher to ensure the light would reach the cosplayer and the floor. And the gap between the railing and the escalator wall also helped to focus the light. These to items combined work to create this one light image. In post I cleaned the image up a little bit by removing the electrical outlets and some trash on the floor. I also balanced the image and pulled the shadows down just a touch. To finalize the image, I added a heavy vignette to keep with the narrow climb out of the dungeon feel.
Overall, this Katsucon was good, and I was glad it wasn’t overly crowded like previous years. However, I do not think that will be the case for Katsucon 2023. This year was like a soft return, much like a soft opening of a restaurant or store, next year I think will be a big blowout extravaganza. I loved working with all the cosplayers, and thank several of them for braving the wind. I especially thank my husband for braving the wind and helping me during all these sessions, I don’t think I could have done it without him this year. I’m looking forward to next year, and hoping we have nice weather.
You can see all the images from Katsucon here (Note I am showing the one-on-one sessions after each cosplayer downloads their images from the session, so new sessions will be appearing over the next month or so.)