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Angie and Brooke and Benson // DragonBallZ Cosplay

On the weekend, I was lucky enough to get to do a cosplay shoot with Angie, Brooke and their good friend Benson at the Australian Movie & Comic Expo in Melbourne. They were cosplaying Bulma, Chi-Chi, and the Ox-King respectively, all characters from DragonBallZ. This was challenging, because I don’t know anything about these characters! But it actually turned into something of a blessing, because while they could take control of the posing and the way they wanted the shoot to look, I took care of the technical side.

The day before in Melbourne had been bright and sunny, but overnight it had gotten overcast. This was actually better photography-wise, because it meant a softer, diffused light with less harsh shadowing. Except it was windy. Exceptionally windy. If it was possible to physically harm the wind, I think by the end of us shooting outside Brooke would have tried. I tried to reason that the wind would make it look more realistic with the movement of material and hair, but I don’t know if she believed me.

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Too windy for Brooke!

We did the bulk of the shoot outside after finding a grassed area surrounded by tall shrubs. It had the advantage of both looking good in the photos and hiding the surrounding cars, trucks, buildings of the Melbourne Showgrounds.

Brooke, Angie and Benson started bouncing ideas around and started posing. The settings were relatively straightforward and I actually shot everything about 1/2 – 1 stop under so I could work with boosting in post. I also tried using the “shady” white balance setting this time around, whereas I usually keep the white balance on auto and fix it later.

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There were certain poses that were “must haves” for them; ones inspired by things on the show they’d seen. But other than that it was just them bouncing ideas around. When we couldn’t take the wind anymore, we all went inside to see what we could get inside the pavilion under lights.

Naturally, the change in environment meant changing the exposure settings. I put the white balance back on auto, slowed the shutter speed slightly, widened the aperture slightly and boosted the ISO. The main thing I wanted was a wider aperture to get a shallow depth of field because I didn’t want too much of the background to be in focus (eg. all the people milling around), but not too shallow to make focus difficult.

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I actually really liked the effect if I crouched low and shot up, as it caught the lighting and lines running along the ceiling and I thought it was a cool effect.

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Editing was another challenge for me, because I knew that since these were anime characters it would lend itself to a more vibrant, saturated colour edit but I still wanted to avoid blowing out the highlights. Shooting slightly underexposed helped with that. In Lightroom I boosted the saturation slightly, then after importing into Photoshop I played with the curves and levels to boost the light. I made sure to keep the light on their face, and tried to slightly burn the backgrounds. I also used the lasso tool to select certain specific colour aspects of the photo; Angie’s hair and Brooke’s dress. Then I would use a selective colour mask and boost the cyan / magenta levels respectively. This helped make those two areas stand out brightly without sacrificing the rest of the photos (eg. especially skin tone).

I was so proud of how these turned out but the thing that really stood out to me was how much fun it was – and how they looked like they were having fun. I truly believe that if you’re subjects are relaxed and having fun and you are, it will come out in the photos and I think this is a good example of that.

I’m so lucky to have such talented people who want me to photograph them.

Kings of Con

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Those who have been following my blog have known that I have a special fondness for Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr.

They are two of the funniest, warmest, most genuine guys you could ever hope to meet. They have been nothing but kind to me when I’ve been lucky enough to meet them, and always encouraging of my photography.

Well, this time I want to help them by giving a signal boost to a project they are currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo. They are actually very close to getting to their goal, but would still like help spreading the word!

So what is their project? It’s a comedy called “Kings of Con” 

“….after years of appearing at airport hotels across the country and abroad, they’ve created “Kings of Con”,  a single camera comedy inspired by their real experiences that goes beyond the autograph lines and photo ops to what really makes the cons truly crazy and unpredictable – the actors paid to be there.”

So please, if you can, donate at their indiegogo page at the link below. If anyone can truly show you what it’s like to be at a convention, it’s these two!

Donate here!

Inspiration | Convention Photography

The first time I saw a convention photo was watching a documentary called Trekkies about Star Trek fans and the culture of fandom.

They were these old, grainy photos of Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly in safari suits surrounded by thousands of people, and I thought they were the most amazing photos I’d ever seen. Because I could feel what it would have been like to be there just by looking at them. Time might not have been kind to the hair, or the outfits – but the atmosphere lost absolutely none of its potency.

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

I went looking for them again recently, because I had wanted to do a post about why I find convention photography so inspirational. The photograph of Jim Doohan from the main page is the only one I found that I had seen before. These images are all attributed to Angelique Trouvere, and all came from an article on The Daily Beast titled “Where Trekkies Were Born” .

While they are not the exact photos I remember from the documentary, they are similar in the mood they represent. Convention photography isn’t…well conventional. It’s spur of the moment, fly by the seat of your pants. It’s exciting and energetic. It’s frustrating and exhausting. I’m probably making convention photography sound a lot more “important” than other photographers would see it (like wedding photographers, or portrait photographers) but for me it is important. I don’t even call myself a photographer yet. But if I was one, this would be my chosen field because I love it that much.

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

Photo Credit: Angelique Trouvere

There is something about trying to capture the “stillness” in the beats between all the movement that I find so addicting. Even just a simple, throwaway expression. I am constantly looking for it. The times when I haven’t taken a camera to a panel, I have sat there the whole time imagining how I would frame things in my head if I did have my camera (yes, I am that bad).

In the beginning, I had to get everything. I would completely fill compact flash cards and SD cards with shot after shot. I still worry that I don’t have enough when I get home and look at what I have. Especially for something that I have travelled so far for, or something that has a massive build-up, like the Jensen Ackles/ Misha Collins panel at Jus In Bello 2013. People were waiting for that panel for a year, and photos of it still attract thousands of reblogs and notes on Tumblr. Good photos from something like that are a goldmine. So I worried when I got home that I didn’t have enough. But I have gradually taught myself that it isn’t so much how many photos I get, it’s what I get.

Jensen Ackles, Jus In Bello 2013, by me

Jensen Ackles, Jus In Bello 2013, by me

Matt, Rob and Richard, AHBL4 2013, by me

Matt, Rob and Richard, AHBL4 2013, by me

It really is the mood that everyone is interested in. There will always be a place for the gorgeous pictures that people can edit and colour and make graphics of. I don’t think I’ll ever be good enough to provide those.

But I want someone to look at my photos from a convention and say “I wasn’t able to go, so that’s what it was like to be there? It looks like so much fun”. Because that’s how I felt when I first saw those Star Trek con pictures ages ago.

That’s what I most want.