Cosplay in Studio
On January 21st, I did a “valentines” cosplay session with Eowinth cosplay and Kei as Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe respectively from “Scum Villain Self Saving System”. This was an interesting little studio session that covered some romance, a little spice, and definitely some silly.
For this session I used:
1 Backdrop stands
Savage Red Seamless Paper
72’ Umbrella with sock
Red and black fabric
The set up
I couldn’t have the set 100-percent complete for this session, like I normally would because the cosplayers were bringing the props, flowers, and fabric, so I set up as much as I could. I started by putting up the red seamless as a base. Remember when hanging the seamless you want the paper to come from over the top of the roll so it curls down instead of up when stretched out. This will save you several headaches. I then placed the posing block in the middle of the seamless, since I decided we would start with the seated poses that I was shown. I then placed the main light with a square softbox on the corner of the seamless to my left. I raised it up and pointed it down. Then I placed the fill light with the large umbrella on the corner of the seamless to my right. Once the cosplayers arrived we draped some fabric across a second backdrop bar being held in place with J-brackets. Then draped fabric over the posing block, as well as spreading some of the fabric out on the floor. We then added some flowers to complete the set.
For this session I used ISO 100 with an aperture of F8, and shutter speed of 1/250s. My focal length ranged from 18mm to 70mm with most of the images being taken at 28mm. By keeping the same camera setting throughout the sessions, it made doing the initial edits easier, as I knew I was going to have to do some photoshop work in post production to clean up the background.
This first photo shows a bit of a hidden romance, helped by the fan covering part of the cosplayer’s faces. To get this image I did a lot of post production work, which I could have avoided if I would have thought things through a bit more. My softbox lit the cosplayer on the right’s face perfectly, but because of how it was aimed left the cosplayer’s face on the left in a bit of shadow. So after I did all the basic adjustments for white balance, exposure, contrast, and tone curve, I had to go in and adjust the brightness of the face of the cosplayer on the left. If I would have just lit the scene with two large umbrellas this would not have been an issue, as I would have had nice even lighting. Lesson learned. I used a small circular gradient to adjust the lighting on faces. I then cropped the image and added a very faint vignette. Then in photoshop I cleaned up some wig issues and removed a few loose threads and visible pins.
This second image shows caring and simple love. In this second image I ran into several of the same problems that I did in the first image. Again I should have thought my lighting set up through a bit more. I followed the same process as in the previous image, though in this image I used some content aware fill to extend the hanging fabric within the frame as it was just a bit too short. I also took advantage of using a reasonably tight crop to reduce the amount of content aware fill I would need to employ. I tend to shoot a bit wider than needed then crop to meet the images needs or use case. (I tend to crop to 8.5x11 or 11x17 as those are the crops publications prefer.)
Overall, the cosplayer’s seemed to like the finished photos, while I think they could be improved upon as I know what my mistakes were. The major thing was, I felt a bit rushed since I had to build the set with clients on site, shoot, and clean up due to a session right afterwards, which required a complete set change. I’m not fond of building a set with clients on site even if the clients are my friends. It normally takes me about an hour to build the actual set, not including the lighting set up. Also, I like having the set completely built before having the client show up, as it allows me to do some test images and fully contemplate the lighting. I also know I should have gotten the boom arm out for the poses that involved lying on the ground so I could have gotten a more even light. This would have saved me a lot of time in post production. I might start doing what some of the top photographers I follow online do, if I think I might need the boom, and just have it already attached to the light stand.
If you're thinking, well how do you shoot conventions, since you can’t test lighting or know the setting ahead of time there? Yes I actually can, because I use a pre-shoot form so I know what cosplays I’ll be shooting and I walk the whole convention space the day before to find locations while getting an idea of what I can and can’t do. Now some things like monthly cosplay meet ups I go to limit my ability to do this, but they usually post a walk through of the location and I can google search it to find reference pictures.
Finally what really matters at the end of the day is if the client likes the photos, and I believe they did even though I think it deserves a re-do. Photographers can be their worst critics sometimes. Just can’t let the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve get to you.
Credits:Cosplayers: Eowinth Cosplay (Instagram @eowinthcosplay) and Kei (Instagram @Za_warudio)