Meet Up in the Garden

On June 26th , my husband and I attended the D.C. Cosplay Photo Shoots’ meet up at Meadowlark Gardens. I brought my husband to this meet up, because Meadowlark does not allow free standing equipment, thus I brought my husband to act as an assistant to hold my flashes.  This was the third time I have shot at Meadowlark, so I already had a good understanding of the garden layout, interesting features, and about how long it would get to certain garden locations. While it is a large garden, there are some key spots people like to shoot at which are all easily reachable from the center of the garden.

For these sessions I used:

  • Canon 80D
  • 1 Speed lights
  • Trigger
  • Painter’s Pole with flash attachment
  • 18-200mm lens

This shoot was held entirely outside, on a bright sunny day with no clouds. I used ISO 100 and an aperture of F8 for all the images. My shutter speed ranged from 1/25s to 1/500s. My shutter speed seemed to be concentrated at either 1/60s or 1/250s. This is because I was moving in and out of shaded areas. My focal length ranged from 18mm to 150mm, with most shots being concentrated in the 35mm.  Now I made one major mistake during this shoot, that I didn’t notice till I got home, my image stabilization on my lens was off. This explains why when I was going through several of the photos, especially at the lower shutter speeds they looked soft.  The image stabilization has been off since I attempted star photos in the Grand Canyon. I never turned it back on, and didn’t notice till now since I was a such high shutter speeds while in the Grand Canyon. So, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “D’Oh!”

This first photo is of Firelily Cosplay in a 1900’s garden/walking dress. This edit is a little different then my standard edits, but I think this edit adds to the feel of the dress and time period. I did all my basic edits first, adjusting white balance, exposure, clarity, and sharpening.  White balance was very important to this image as she is wearing a white dress, but the trees and grass reflect green light, which gives the overall image a green cast if not corrected. In this case I pulled up the magenta tone to balance the green tone. I also pulled the yellows down to ensure the grass and trees were a purer green then a yellow-green. Once that was set, I changed the overall image color profile from “Adobe Color” to Lightroom’s “Vintage02” color profile.  I then flattened both the blacks and whites in the image on the tone curve.  This basically changes the pure white and pure black points on the image histogram giving the image the faded or haze look. What I really like about this image though is how the model is separated from the background and the 3-D feel of the image. It reminds me a little of the old stereoscope image.

ISO 100, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/80, Focal Length 35mm

This next image is of Lady Cels in the Hannah Alexander version of Ponyo. I’m a sucker for Hanna Alexander cosplays, because I just love the elegance and detail in her designs.  As bonus, Lady Cels is great to work with and really pays attention to detail and craftmanship so her cosplays are always a pleasure to shoot. For this image we shot the small pagoda within the Korean Bell Garden, which works very well for the character.  For this image I used the Adobe Portrait color space as my base. I then adjusted the white balance to remove the green tone from all the foliage while ensuring I did not introduce a magenta color cast. I did the basic exposure, clarity, contrast, and detail adjustments. Then went in and added a small spot of light to the mode’s face to pop it out a little more in the photo. I also went in and cleaned up some red marks on the model’s knees which were the result of her kneeling on some mulch for a previous image. I then added a medium vignette to finish the image.  I like this image because it fits the character, and shows off the simple A-shape of the dress.

ISO 100, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/50, Focal Length 18mm

This next image is of the Scarlet Impaler as Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden. Basically, everyone before me shot this cosplay in the Korean Bell Garden, due to the architecture. I wanted to do something different so we went down one of the forest paths and did sneaking through the woods images. This image is all about the placement of the flash. To get this image I first found where the light was coming through the trees and hitting the ground. I then had my assistant hold the flash down on the ground pointed up to light the model from below. This makes it look as though the model is coming upon some type of treasure, or bright place similar to a video game.  In post I balanced the image, again paying attention to the green tones. I also adjusted the exposure slightly, to darken the image overall. I finished the image by using a square crop and adding a heavy vignette.

ISO 100, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/60, Focal Length 18mm

This last image is me experimenting with a program called Boris Optics, which makes adding special effects to photos easier.  This image is of Fruitghosts as Venti from Genshin Impact. I felt this cosplay would be a perfect cosplay to add the sun burst effect too, because the character seems very angelic to me.  First, I processed the image like normal doing all the appropriate adjustments. I then pulled the image into Photoshop and made a duplicate layer of the image. I then created a layer mask of the subject.  From there I pulled the layer into Boris Optics, and applied their sunburst effect, and adjusted it as appropriate. What is nice about Boris Optics is it understands what is in the image and applies blending to the effect to make it look more natural. This is why you usually don’t see me do a lot of composites or special effects directly in Photoshop because I can’t seem to get the blending right. After I got the effect right in Boris Optics, I brought the image back into Photoshop and applied the layer mask. Since I was using a layer mask, I went in and painted with neutral gray in some areas to allow the light burst to light the edges of the wings and legs.  From there I finalized and flattened the image.  Is this image perfect, no; but it allowed me to experiment slightly and test a new post processing technique. Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out.

ISO 100, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/60, Focal Length 18mm

Overall, this was another great meet up. I just wish it wasn’t so hot, we were supposed to go 11:00AM till 2:00PM but I only made it till about 1:15PM before saying that was enough and calling it quits for the day.  You can see all my final images from the meet up here: Meadowlark Gardens.


Popular Posts