Events

Salute to Supernatural Vancouver 2016

By the time August rolls around it usually means three things; my birthday (ugh), lay-by now for Christmas (what?) and Salute to Supernatural Vancouver.

This was my fifth (what??) year going over to beautiful Vancouver, BC to attend Creation Entertainment’s convention at the mecca of Supernatural. While I haven’t done the normal touristy things that people do in Vancouver, the small downtown and harbour side places I’ve hung out are so, so beautiful and make it seem like it would be the coolest place to live. I could spend forever meandering along Robson St, or walking through the lush greenery of Stanley Park, or sitting on a park bench in Coal Harbour.

I was lucky this time, because my friend Chris actually took me out to see some of Stanley Park, so I did get to photograph something other than the inside of a hotel convention hall this time.

But for this weekend it was all about the con, and Supernatural.

The cons have become a well oiled machine by now, although this weekend was going to be different. Richard Speight Jr, who usually hosts the con weekend, was busy filming and couldn’t make the convention. Instead, we were going to be treated to Briana Buckmaster and Kim Rhodes as co-hosts, who promised Richard nothing except to totally throw his rule book out the window.

 

Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster, MC Queens, VanCon 2016

Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster, MC Queens, VanCon 2016

 

Filling in for Richard Speight Jr is a big task for anyone, but Kim and Briana more than rose to the challenge. They are so much fun and their attitudes to life and fandom are heady and infectious. They see fandom for all the good it does and can do. Their different personalities compliment each other in the way that those people with startling chemistry often do. It’s become one of the best parts of these cons for me; watching how these different friendship dynamics work and trying to capture that through photography.

 

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Richard had once joked that VanCon was Porncouver, and that was the only bit of advice Kim and Briana took and ran with. The whole weekend seemed like a chance for each of the cast to try to one-up each other in making it the best Porncouver it could possibly be. But most of all it was about having FUN. Kim and Briana had the same energy at the last panel on Sunday than they had very first thing on Friday.

 

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Kim Rhodes, Misha Collins, and Briana Buckmaster, Saturday, VanCon 2016

 

Kim Rhodes and Rob Benedict, Sunday, VanCon 2016

Kim Rhodes and Rob Benedict, Sunday, VanCon 2016

 

Even Jensen and Jared were a bit taken aback at Porncouver, Sunday, VanCon 2016

Even Jensen and Jared were a bit taken aback at Porncouver, Sunday, VanCon 2016

 

But they quickly got used to it. Sunday, VanCon 2016

But they quickly got used to it. Sunday, VanCon 2016

 

It was hard not having Richard there; without any of the core convention cast there it feels like there’s a hole there that can’t be replaced. He’s become the real heart of the whole thing, the glue that holds everyone together. But if he is the heart, then Kim and Briana definitely feel like representations of us. It was as if we were given the keys to car and we were all driving it headlong through the weekend.

Karaoke was the usual crazy affair, with some added weirdness with the (very) wrong lyrics being put up for a Justin Timberlake song. Matt Cohen was the King of the Con, with Rob Benedict as his Queen (?). Louden Swain came out to do a song, which is always fun (I love those guys).

 

Stephen Norton capturing the Karaoke audience, Friday, VanCon 2016

Stephen Norton capturing the Karaoke audience, Friday, VanCon 2016

 

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Matt Cohen, Karaoke, Friday VanCon 2016

 

The Louden Swain Saturday Night Special was a highlight, just like it always is. It has truly become one of my favourite things on earth, and the day I don’t get to see one anymore I think will crush me.

 

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

You can tell the cast put their all into it. I don’t think I’ve ever known a more talented, dedicated group of people, and the love and enjoyment they obviously get from doing this concert and watching it grow and evolve is so evident during every single moment. I am so, so honoured I’ve been able to photograph it as much as I have, and watch it change and become what it is now.

 

Kim Rhodes, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Kim Rhodes, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

Jensen Ackles, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Jensen Ackles, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

Osric Chau, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Osric Chau, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

Briana Buckmaster, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Briana Buckmaster, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

I could never accurately sum up how much I admire and love the band Louden Swain either. One day I may try, but until then I don’t think I have the words or the photographs to do it justice.

 

Billy Moran, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Billy Moran, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

Mike Borja, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Mike Borja, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

Stephen Norton, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Stephen Norton, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

 

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VanCon 2016

The Tank Man and Ieshia

You know those essays that you had to write on different books in high school? Or if you studied literature or poetry at Uni? Or music theory? Or art theory? Sometimes it can be tiring to break down art and into its smallest parts and analyse the different layers. There’s a danger that it can leave the book / play / artwork / poem / song lyric / photograph as something dry that no longer feels the same as before.

I wanted to look at why I felt certain reactions towards certain photos, but I didn’t want the above to happen. So I’m going to steer clear of going too technical, instead looking at the very first fleeting emotional response I had when looking at the photo.

Many photographs have been born out of the current racial tension in America, showing the widespread violence and fear, but for some reason this photo below is the one that people are talking about, and are using words like “iconic” to describe.

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The photograph, by Reuters photojournalist Jonathan Bachman, shows a young woman facing down police officers in riot gear who are trying to quell protestors in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The woman, later arrested and identified as nurse Ieshia Evans, stands resolutely in the face of opposition.

The photo has become so popular, and so symbolic of the current climate in the US, that people are comparing it to Jeff Widener’s photograph Tank Man, of a man standing before a convoy of tanks during the protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, 1989. Which is remarkable, because even if the name is unfamiliar, a lot of people can at least recall the image of Tank Man, it is so pervasive in our cultural recollection.

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Why did the photo of Ieshia and the riot police evoke such a strong reaction for people? In a time where we are bombarded by images 24 hours a day, for a photograph to quickly gain as much attention as it has is a huge feat and speaks to the fact that photographs are still a powerful means of shaping and framing our humanity and experience. Blogs have been written about the photograph, dissecting every aspect of it.

For me, my first reaction to the photo was that I was immediately drawn to the young woman. People will speak of the contrast between the heavily suited and armed police officers and the almost bare woman, but if we’re to look at her she is an incredible anchor point in the photo. She is resolute, immobile. Her back is ramrod straight, her fists are clenched. And yet she’s wearing a flowing summer dress, that is blowing gently and moving about her as she’s completely still. She’s not holding a weapon. Her face is serene almost, resolved.

In the face of that power, that contradiction, it almost looks like the police confronting her have been rocked back on their heels. They almost look as though they are put off-balance by some invisible forcefield around her. They are heavily covered head to toe in black. They are the ones who are shielded, protected, and yet they are almost cowering.

The photo is bare and doesn’t look edited. You can practically feel how hot and oppressive the air is, the light, very small breeze blowing her dress but not offering relief to the scene. Those were the things that stood out for me. It’s those tensions between elements in the scene that tell us so much about the tensions of what the photograph is about.

Is it iconic? Yes, I think so. Will it be talked about an recognised like Widener’s Tank Man? I’m not sure. Like I said, we don’t consume photographs in the same way that we used to. However we won’t know until it’s decades down the track and we are looking back on the current political climate in the US. But I think people will use Bachman’s photo of Ieshia and the soldiers as one representation and visual aid to help discuss our human experience.

Louden Swain at the Viper Room // LA, June 2016

I’ve really wanted to see Rob Benedict’s band Louden Swain play a concert ever since I first heard them at the conventions, especially after the Saturday Night Special became the big event it is now. The photographs that I took at the concert they played at VegasCon 2014 are still some of my strongest (and I wonder if I will ever top them) so to see them play outside a convention and get an opportunity to photograph it was something I wanted to do for a long time.

I was actually at VegasCon earlier this year and heard that they were going to be playing a gig in June at the Viper Room, and coincidentally it was going to be the weekend before PhoenixCon. Being impractical, I thought …. Well this could be my chance. I’d come over for the concert and stay for PhoenixCon.

I’m so, so glad that I did. It was incredible, challenging and inspiring and solidified how much I actually do like shooting concerts. There’s something about the energy crackling under the surface and the give and take between the band and the audience. Louden Swain are such an incredibly talented band and have such a connection with their fans that it’s this amazing thing to witness that you really want to do justice to when you’re capturing it. Because I’m so fond of them, I really wanted to do a good job.

I got to LA on 6am the morning of the concert, because I like to make things difficult for myself. So by the time the concert started I was already exhausted but wired, and a little awestruck at shooting in the Viper Room. I was so glad my friend Kat was with me, because she helped me calm down and feel less nervous about the whole thing.

 

June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016

Because I wasn’t really sure what it would be like shooting at a concert venue as opposed to a normal con venue, I felt like maybe my 70-300mm lens would be too unwieldy to use, and because its widest aperture was only f4, I felt as though it wouldn’t be appropriate anyway. The only other lens I have is an 85mm f1.8 prime lens, which is mainly a portrait lens. But because 85mm is longer than the average human eye distance (which is around 50mm apparently?) there was still some “zoom” and the aperture would be more flexible in the darkened concert space. This way, theoretically, I could keep my ISO lower, stopping grain, preserving detail, etc.

Which I didn’t end up doing. But I told myself I could, and made myself believe I was making a professional decision.

 

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict

Brian Buckley

Brian Buckley

Billy Moran

Billy Moran

The truth is, I ended up having to adjust my settings constantly throughout the gig. Depending on which area of the stage I was focusing on and where the guys were standing in relation to which spotlight, key lights, coloured lights etc I had to adjust everything. I tried to keep my shutter speed fairly constant at 1/125, because it would reduce camera shake but also freeze some motion while still showing some movement. But because I refused to budge on that, it meant that I had to make compromises on the other two aspects of the exposure triangle, so my ISO ended up being really, really super high. Which isn’t really a big deal, because shooting a lot of convention photography I do end up using a high ISO and have to clean it up in editing. But I had been trying to get out of the habit, because I felt like it would become a crutch and I would lose detail because of it.

 

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict – at 1/125, some parts of this photograph are frozen, but the blur shows motion and movement that makes the overall affect more dynamic, which in turn tells a better story

I feel like I’ve developed this certain that style that is quite “close up” and personal, so shooting with a lens that was limited to one focal range was a huge challenge. It’s like having one tool taken away from you; you have to find new ways to sell a narrative. So I was going into an unfamiliar shooting condition without the tools I would usually use, which made me extra nervous. When I first came back and started looking through my photos I was really worried that maybe they all looked too similar, because the ability to shoot at different focal ranges just wasn’t there.

 

Mike Borja

Mike Borja

Stephen Norton

Stephen Norton

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict

The concert itself was incredible; they played quite a long set and we got to hear a couple of new songs. The audience was loud and passionately singing (and kazooing) along and the band fed off it. It got so cramped and so hot in there that towards the end I had to go and stand towards the back of the room where it wasn’t quite so crowded. But it was such an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.

On the one hand, photography-wise it was a great challenge and it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to only use the one prime lens. But on the other, I think if I was to shoot a concert like that again, I would definitely try to rent a 24-70mm f2.8 which would give you more options – wide angle, zoom, aperture etc.

But that’s why we do these things – we try and see what works and what doesn’t and then the next time we try something else. It’s how we slowly build our knowledge and the biggest secret is to never let the failures, or the things that don’t go right, to knock you down. I was so, grateful for this opportunity, and I feel so blessed that I found this amazing network of people that are so inspiring and so willing to help and encourage and support. I think that’s one of my driving factors in wanting to improve myself – not just for me, but for these people that I respect and admire so much.

I was also overwhelmed by how supportive and encouraging people in the crowd were. I knew many people there from the Supernatural fandom, and people were just so nice to me and I’m just a very, very lucky person.

 

Mirror

Mirror

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict

Shooting At A Con // Some Tips

There isn’t really a magic formula to taking photos at conventions. It’s like all things in life – it takes a mixture of practice, patience and grit and more luck than people like to admit. What works for me won’t necessarily work for other people, but there are several questions that I get asked a lot that I thought I might try to answer here. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and things like actual photography theory and detailed editing would take too long to go into. But I can touch on some general things to help make it all seem a little less daunting.  I’ll also pepper the blog with links to articles explaining terms that I think might need more explaining, and add some useful links at the end.

That was one of the biggest things when I started out – it all seemed too big and too complicated and I just read and read and practiced and I was lucky that I had people willing to give me advice.

EQUIPMENT

I didn’t start out using the camera or lenses I have today. When I first started taking photos at conventions, I was using a Sony “bridge” camera. It’s called a bridge camera because it’s not quite a point and shoot, not quite a DSLR. It had a fixed zoom lens and could actually zoom quite far.  It was a great camera to learn on, and I used it at a few conventions. But as I started wanting to improve myself, it wasn’t giving me enough detail in low light.

 

Misha, AHBL 3 2012. This was shot using my Sony "bridge" camera

Misha Collins, AHBL 3 2012. This was shot using my Sony “bridge” camera

I then moved to a Canon 600D (which I’m not sure they even have anymore?) This was the camera I did quite a lot of learning on. It was close to what I’m shooting with now, just not as robust. Again, it was a great camera but it wasn’t giving me the scope I needed for the low light situations I was shooting in. At every step though, I made sure it was the fact that I felt I was outgrowing a camera rather than just upgrading because I thought it was what was expected, or thought the camera would somehow make me a better photographer. It was about what I thought me and the camera could do together.

That’s when I got my current camera body, a Canon EOS 5D MK III.

 

 

Jared Padalecki, SFCon 2015. Shot using my 5D MK III

Jared Padalecki, SFCon 2015. Shot using my 5D MK III. The benefit of not only a robust camera body but hours and hours and hours and hours of practice in photography and post-processing.

I have 3 lenses – a 50mm f/1.8, an 85mm f/1.8 and a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L Series. The 70-300mm is the workhorse and the one I use most often at conventions. It is by no means what they call a “fast lens”, meaning that it doesn’t have a particularly wide aperture setting  (http://digital-photography-school.com/what-is-a-fast-lens/) So it takes a bit of work to use it in low light settings like a panel room, but I’ve used it for three years now and I’ve made it work!

If I ever wanted to experiment with other types of lenses, I would hire them. Hiring is a great alternative to outlaying money for a new lens. A quick google search brought up this example in the US, and to give you some idea, a Canon 70-200mm  f/2.8 would cost you over $2,000 US, and yet you can hire one from borrowlenses.com for 10 days for $112 US. Perfect for having before a con weekend to play around with.

Photography is an expensive hobby and despite how appealing it seems to want the best equipment, especially because you think it will make your photos better, it is unnecessary to outlay so much money on something that in all likelihood will sit in a bag in your room for the majority of the time. Unless you are seriously considering making a career or a serious hobby of photography, there are much more cost effective ways to shoot conventions and renting is a big one.

There is a lot of talk in the photography world about how mirrorless cameras are going to take the place of DSLR’s, but I have never used a mirrorless camera so can’t really comment on it. It is another route to go though, if you’re interested in looking at different equipment.

AT THE CON

My camera takes both SD Cards and Compact Flash cards, and I use CF cards 99% of the time now. When I first started out, I was extremely reluctant to go over any of my cards, especially if they had photos that I was proud of, or of cons that I wanted to remember. The hard truth is, like everything else about photography, Compact Flash cards especially are expensive. So I had to give up being precious about my cards and I had to reuse them at each con.

When you start out with a card, if you’re going over an old card or even if it’s just out of the packet, don’t forget to use your camera menu and format your card. This completely cleans your card and gives you a fresh slate to work on. You’re much less likely to end up with a corrupted card, which is a nightmare. Take a few cards with you, since it’s always better to have more than you need than less. I actually carry a small pencil case in my camera bag, and once I have used one card I will put it in there and I know it’s used and not to go over it the rest of the weekend. Professional!

 

On the left, an SD Card and on the right a Compact Flash Card

On the left, an SD Card and on the right a Compact Flash Card

SHOOT IN RAW. If you are at all interested in doing a lot of processing and making big editing changes to your photos after the con, shoot in RAW rather than JPEG. Raw files contain every single scrap of information; JPEG compresses a lot of that information. JPEG is fine if you are simply wanting to capture photos and share them online without too much fuss. It’s quick and you don’t need specialized software to open them and work on them. But if you’re wanting to perhaps fix up some photos – recover any exposure mistakes, make any big changes – you’ll need access to as much digital information as possible and that means using a RAW file. RAW files are subsequently much larger and take up more room on your cards. You also need dedicated software like Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom to open the files and work on them. But if you are serious about working with your photos, your best bet is to always shoot in RAW.

Always remember to have your charger and charge your batteries at night. I have a camera grip on my camera, which is an extra attachment that means that I have two rechargeable batteries working rather than one. This lessens the chances that I will run out of juice during the day of a con. It’s not necessary, but it’s something that has helped me (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/847530-REG/Canon_5261B001_BG_E11_Battery_Grip_for.html) It’s also useful because it means that when I’m shooting portrait and turn the camera vertically, I have a vertically positioned shutter button and control dials. Which, again, isn’t necessary but it helps ergonomically for photographing for long periods of time.

I do have a flash gun, but I never use flash at conventions. By their nature, the reach of a flash will only work if you are in the first couple of rows at best, and if you’re that close chances are you’ll have light spill from the stage lights and won’t need it. You’re better off trying to work with your camera settings organically, rather than introducing an artificial light source that in all likelihood won’t help much anyway. If you’re not using it outside the con, it’s an expense you don’t need at one.

EXPOSURE SETTINGS

This is a topic that could take another whole blog on its own. I can put some links to some basic exposure tutorials, but it’s impossible to give a strict guideline about how to expose because every con venue is different. There’s even often differences from one panel to the next in how they are lit, and so how you need to best adjust your settings is a matter of experimenting.

If you’re working with a DSLR, you will have Automatic, Program, Manual, Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority settings. The camera picks all the settings for you if you use automatic, the camera picks settings but allows you to make adjustments if you want if you use program, and manual it is all up to you. Shutter Priority means you will set how fast or slow you want the shutter speed and the camera will adjust the other settings to compensate, and the Aperture Priority is the same only you set how wide or narrow your aperture will be. People will often talk about going “full manual” as if it’s the pro thing to do, and while it will give you maximum control over your exposure choices, it is perfectly acceptable to use the other settings, especially in an environment as complex as a convention panel where you have absolutely no control over the light sources. I will often use Shutter Priority, because I want to keep my shutter speed up to avoid camera shake, which can happen if you have your shutter set at a slow speed which you can tend to do in a situation where there isn’t much light.

Probably the single biggest lesson I’ve learned is not to be afraid of grain.

Exposure is an equilateral triangle. All three settings – shutter speed, aperture and  ISO work to expose an image correctly, but they are entirely dependent on each other. If you change one, you have to change the other two to compensate. In low light settings, one of the things that often have to be pushed to the limit is your ISO. The ISO determines the sensor’s sensitivity to light.  The higher the ISO, the more grain or noise is introduced. Have you ever taken a photo at a con and it’s come out very grainy like an old photo? That’s digital noise and often comes from having a high ISO setting.

The thing about grain is that it can be cleaned up in editing. Poor exposure is a lot harder to fix. So if you need to pump up your ISO, do it. Just be aware that it can also affect how sharp your images can look, so go high but not overboard.

 

EDITING

I use a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop when I’m editing. There are other options, but these are the ones I’ve always used. Unless you have the physical software from a few years ago, Adobe now works on a cloud based subscription, and you can purchase a Photographer’s Bundle that is Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for $9.99 US a month.

I use Lightroom mainly to as a way to catalogue my photos, open the RAW files and to do very basic early touching up. I’ll open the RAW file and adjust white balance if needed, and sharpen and reduce noise in Lightroom, then export the photo into Photoshop to do the bulk of the work. Don’t be afraid of either Lightroom or Photoshop – they are daunting, but there are plenty of online tutorials to show you how to make your way around them. I’ve used Photoshop for over ten years, even before I started photography again I was using it for graphics work, and there is still a lot I don’t understand. But like most of photography, it’s about experimenting and finding what works. The beauty of it is if you do shoot in RAW, your files will not be destructed by anything you do – that original file will always still be there and recoverable for you to work from and start again. One of the joys of this is to go back on old photos and edit them with all the updated knowledge you have gained along the way.

 

Events like Karaoke at the SPN Creation conventions are a great opportunity to experiment with camera angles and pushing your editing to extremes

Events like Karaoke at the SPN Creation conventions are a great opportunity to experiment with camera angles and pushing your editing to extremes. Matt Cohen, Karaoke, PasCon 2015

REMEMBER

The biggest tip I have for shooting at a convention is not really to do with photography technique at all. It’s to do with looking after yourself.

I am a big believer in how you are feeling affects your output. If I am having a bad day, or I’m not feeling very well, I really believe that my photos won’t be as good. A convention is a very unnatural environment. It’s frenetic and emotional and it’s very easy to get swept away in the adrenaline. But there are a few ways you can keep an even keel and it will help you avoid such a startling crash at the end of the weekend.

Drink water. All the time. Even if it’s a con like VegasCon where there is a steady supply of alcohol, drink water too. Water will help you concentrate, help you sleep and help you function.

Eat. Even if you can manage one sit down meal with friends at some point in the day, where you are actually sitting and focusing on eating it’s better than nothing. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, just one proper meal. Throughout the day, try to snack on things like nuts or fruit.Trail mix is great. You will mostly be running on adrenaline and chances are you’ll be too nervous to eat much, but try to eat something.

Sleep. Even if it’s a couple of hours a night. You’ll want to stay up all night deconstructing every photo op with your friends, and that’s part of the fun of a con. But try to snatch a few hours just so that you are somewhat refreshed for the next day.

Shower and take any medications you need. Showering will make you feel more human, and take any medications you would take at home. If you’re on blood pressure meds, or anti-anxiety meds or anything like that, be responsible and take them during the con when you should. I am on anti-depressants, and I am of absolutely no use to anyone if I don’t take them. It’s my responsibility to make sure that I do.

If you have any questions or concerns or something has gone wrong, speak to someone. A volunteer, a staff member, a friend. Don’t think that any question is stupid, or trivial. Chances are, you are not the first person to ask it and you won’t be the last.

Thank the cast, thank the staff and thank the volunteers. They all need to hear it, especially the volunteers. It’s a hard job and they have to do and put up with a lot all weekend. (If you’re at a Creation convention, thank Chris, the photographer in the photo op room!)

Have fun! It’s one of the most fun things you will ever do but it’s so easy to get caught up in feeling anxious and overwhelmed that you miss out on the fact that it is fun. Especially if you’re wanting to photograph the con, you can get distracted by wanting to do such a good job that you forget to really listen and enjoy a panel. It’s okay to say you want to sit a panel out and just be there and experience it rather than photograph it. There’s no shame in that. A few years ago, I had a bad migraine on the Saturday night at SPN VegasCon, and the next day I couldn’t focus properly to photograph Misha Collins’ Sunday panel. He brought his son West out on stage and while I was extremely disappointed I didn’t get to photograph that, I knew that in all likelihood my photos wouldn’t have been very good anyway because I was so sick. So I just got to be there and enjoy the panel itself, and there are still lots of other photos of the panel out there.

This may all seem like strange advice for a blog about con photography, but taking care of yourself on a weekend like this is a big deal, and your photos, and your experience overall, will be much better for it!

 

USEFUL LINKS

Exposure Guidehttp://www.exposureguide.com/exposure.htm

Cambridge In Color: Learn Photography Concepts –  http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/learn-photography-concepts.htm

Digital Camera World Lightroom Tutorialshttp://www.digitalcameraworld.com/tag/adobe-lightroom-tutorial/

Digital Camera World Photoshop Tutorialshttp://www.digitalcameraworld.com/category/tutorials/photoshop-tutorials/

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC Photographer’s Bundlehttp://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/photography.html?promoid=KSDQE

Borrow lenses US – borrowlenses.com

Fstoppershttps://fstoppers.com/

How To Become A Rockstar Photographerhttp://howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/ – a great blog that is geared towards concert photography but the principles between that and con photography are often the same

Digital Photography School on twitter – @digitalps

Fstoppers on twitter – @fstoppers

 

 

 

Osric Chau and Timothy Omundson, AHBL 6 Melbourne 2015

Osric Chau and Timothy Omundson, AHBL 6 Melbourne 2015

PasCon15-6566wm

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, PasCon 2015

Bruce Campbell, OzCC Melbourne 2015

Bruce Campbell, OzCC Melbourne 2015

Misha Collins, DenverCon 2015

Misha Collins, DenverCon 2015

Jensen Ackles, DenverCon 2015

Jensen Ackles, DenverCon 2015

Osric Chau with fans, Karaoke VanCon 2015

Osric Chau with fans, Karaoke VanCon 2015

Briana Buckmaster, PasCon 2015

Briana Buckmaster, PasCon 2015

Gil McKinney, Louden Swain Saturday NIght Special, DenverCon 2015

Gil McKinney, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, DenverCon 2015

SPN Cast, VegasCon 2015

SPN Cast, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, VegasCon 2015

Matt Smith, Whoniverse Melbourne 2015

Matt Smith, Whoniverse Melbourne 2015

Mark Sheppard and Osric Chau, Jus In Bello

Mark Sheppard and Osric Chau, Jus In Bello V, 2014

Salute to Supernatural Pasadena 2015

On the Monday following DenverCon, I made my way across to Pasadena for the convention there the following weekend. It was really different being able to say, “well I didn’t get such great shots at that panel, but I’ll have another chance in a week.” Usually you have your one shot and then it’s months before the next. I did try not to use it as an excuse to be lazy, or complacent in Denver though!

PasCon was a standout for me in so many ways. There were so many people I knew there, I got to see so many friends and familiar faces. My good friend Michelle, who I first met when I sat next to her at BurCon two years ago, was kind enough to drive us around for the few days before the con started. The weather was perfect. I love California.

 

santamonica2015

 

As far as my photography goes, the standout for me was both Karaoke and the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special. Anyone reading these blogs will know that I am extremely critical of my photography, but both of these times something in me clicked and I just felt it all really working. I don’t know how else to explain it. You know those images that show what happens when a key fits into a lock properly and all the tumblers move into place? It was kind of like that.

 

Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict, Karaoke PasCon 2015

Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict, Karaoke PasCon 2015

 

Briana Buckmaster, Karaoke PasCon 2015

Briana Buckmaster, Karaoke PasCon 2015

 

Matt Cohen, Karaoke, PasCon 2015

Matt Cohen, Karaoke, PasCon 2015

 

Again, it was the Saturday Night Special that I truly found the most challenging and the most rewarding to shoot. I thought it would be especially bittersweet because it was the last of the year, but instead it felt like a huge celebration, an acknowledgement that they have found this amazing event that they want to hold onto and share into next year. Of course I cried, but that was a given.

 

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special PasCon 2015

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special PasCon 2015

 

Briana Buckmaster, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special PasCon 2015

Briana Buckmaster, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special PasCon 2015

 

Chris Schmelke, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special PasCon 2015

Chris Schmelke, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special PasCon 2015

 

Osric Chau, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, PasCon 2015

Osric Chau, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, PasCon 2015

 

Richard Speight Jr, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, PasCon 2015

Richard Speight Jr, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, PasCon 2015

 

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, PasCon 2015

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, PasCon 2015

 

PasCon was also the first time I got to properly photograph Briana Buckmaster and Kathryn Newton, and I fell for them both. So lovely and funny!

 

Kathryn Newton, PasCon 2015

Kathryn Newton, PasCon 2015

 

Briana Buckmaster, PasCon 2015

Briana Buckmaster, PasCon 2015

 

2015 was a big year for the Supernatural conventions. It was the 10th anniversary, there were more dates in different cities, bigger venues and the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special truly became a big monster event of its own. But at its heart, these were still the same conventions that they have always been. Some things will change, get bigger, get smaller. But some things will always be the same.

It’s the waiting in the lobby when you check in to your hotel wondering who else is there for the same convention, until you spot someone with a Family Business shirt and you know you’re in the right place. It’s your room at the start of a weekend,  an explosion of schedules and highlighters and different coloured tickets and lanyards and cosplay and phone chargers and SD cards for cameras. There’s the same nervous excitement waiting around for the doors to open before Karaoke late on a Friday night, laughing about being Friday People even though your feet already hurt and you could probably fall asleep if you sat down long enough. There is still the feeling of the sound of your heartbeat almost drowning out the music in Chris’ photo op room while you watch other people pose for photo ops and you wait your turn. There’s the butterflies when you wake up each morning and try desperately to force in breakfast because you know it’s probably the only decent food you’ll have all day. There’s still that feeling when your last autograph is done on a Sunday, and you start to see people leaving and you wonder if you’ll ever get used to what that feels like.

2015 was a big year, but 2016 will be bigger. The same but different. I think I’m ready for it.