Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why Cosplay? 'Cos!

Recently I had my second cosplay photoshoot with a girl called Ellie Jayden.  For those of you who haven't heard about cosplay here's a brief introduction: Cosplay 101
In short it's people dressing up as superheroes (or villains) from comics.  Like The Joker from Batman or Harley Quinn who, up to now, has been confined to comic books but is now a film character as well.

Our first shoot was over two years ago where Ellie wanted to submit photographs of her alter ego to an online competition.  Ellie traveled to Dublin and I photographed her in Dublin Camera Club.  The intention was to put her in a background similar to that of the comics so I also photographed the IFSC at night and used those.

So .....
A shot of Ellie from the studio is cut out and then added to the background.  A little bit of cloning and tweaking and the final image:

 And a few variations ...

And just to prove she's legitimate ....

 And what did she think of my efforts?

So this time we were spurred on by the new movie Suicide Squad and the new look Harley Quinn.
The trailer looks really good and very, very dark.  It's got so much hype that there now some (great) parodies to be seen as well.  If you need a little background information it's also available.
Since I don't belong to Dublin Camera Club (or any club) anymore, I hired a studio for the shoot.  We had had quite a few discussions online about what we were going to do and what we needed to prepare for it.  My contribution on the props department was two (almost) identical hand guns that would make an impression even if they're probably not strictly accurate.  We also talked about making a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot so Ellie brought a camcorder and I brought a GoPro that I set up to make a timelapse video later.  Since Ellie has uploaded to her YouTube channel ahead of me I might as well link to her video rather than upload it here.

Ellie had, by far, the greatest contribution.  Apart for the costume, she also had to 'create' the wig, make an arrest card (prisoner's name and number) and do her own makeup.  She also did a great job on a baseball bat that she lugged all the way to Dublin and then we never used it!

We had decided that there would be two sections to the shoot.  First would be a light and comical Harley and then the darker side.
For the lighter side I used a white background and two Bowens units - a 750 with a very large softbox and a 500 ( I think) with a beauty dish with a white diffuser over the front.  I placed the 750 pretty much in front and above Ellie which gives, more or less, butterfly lighting and then placed the 500 to the left, about the same height, to give a little shadow to her face. With all that soft light and the ceiling being white, I had enough spill to light up the background as much as I wanted without blasting out her hair from behind.
Since she was/is a comic character I decided to shoot several similar poses together letting Ellie freeform and giving her minor direction.  I think it worked very well.
There were more shots but I'm just going to show two.

And then we went to the dark side ....
I have to say that Ellie was very quick with her new makeup look.  She had practised it the week before and sent me some photos to review.
The major change I made to the shoot setup was to change the background from white to black.  We had talked about creating composite shots like before but after a few shots of her in her new persona I left that thought behind and concentrated on getting poses and lighting right.  I may still have a shot at doing some composite pics but for the moment I'm happy with what I've produced.  And it appears others are happy too.

Here are some of the shots

And this one I used for my Facebook profile pic below with a little crop.

.All in all it was a fun shoot just like it should be with the bonus of having a few pics.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Annual Exhibition Time Again

As some of you know, I am a member of the Dublin Camera Club.  Tradition has it that they have an Annual Exhibition to show off the members' skills.  It also doubles as a competition and quite a serious one from a logistical point of view.  Each member is entitled to enter 8 (different) images in colour and mono prints and digital images.  Multiply that by the hardcore of regulars who enter competitions and it adds up to a weighty (literally) number.

The fact that it comes after the Winter League competition that runs from October to February with the finals taking place in March, means that the entries that have done well for them will be an automatic pool to select from for the Annual Exhibition.  The logistics are a nightmare! The sheer weight of prints probably mean the organisers have to go into training for the event.  Then there is the judging.  Usually three people from outside the club are the ones who judge the entries.  In the past it has been a day long event.  Personally, I think I would go into a meltdown after staring at images and scoring them for that length of time!

This year the studio will be closed on 4 separate occasions to accommodate the competition and exhibition.  One will be for sorting (5 hours).  Another for photo recording (5 hours).  The judging will take place on a Saturday (8 hours) and a final session to select prints for the exhibition (5 hours).  So, you can see it is not trivial.

There are always more prints than there are spaces to hang them in the exhibition.  Because of this, the club promises that each entrant will have at least one print selected for the exhibition regardless.  All of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners along with 'highly commended' prints will also be selected.  After that, a group of selected members will select the balance of prints for the exhibition taking regard that there is a balance between the advanced, intermediate and novices sections.  Not an easy job.

This year, for personal reasons, I am entering only digital images.  They are a selection from shots taken recently.  Enjoy?



Seeing Red

Time and Tide



Christ Church


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Send in the clowns

Yes, it's been a while.  Again!
I'm not going to bore you with the minutiae of life that causes a pause in my activities.  Now I get up in the morning, check the obituaries and if I'm not in the listings I keep going.

I've been trying a few new things lately.  I've been trying my hand at sescapes after a great workshop with Draoicht na Mara (The magic of the sea) - run by Brian Hopper and Eimhear Collins - but more of that another day.  I've been playing around with speedlite trickery.  But more of that another day too!

I've not been photographed too many times in my 67 years.  I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it.  I did make an exception a while ago for a friend who is a photographer (and an artist) and it was an interesting experience for a photographer (me) to watch a photogapher (her) watch me watching her ..... you know what I mean.
So, I made friends with another photographer a while ago called Inge Borga who has her own photography Facebook page - Inge Borga Photoart.  We met through the Smena Photographic Society.  Recently she asked me if I would be a subject for a photoshoot.  I am more inclined now to say yes and give something a shot than play safe so I said "yes".  I wasn't quite sure what I was letting myself in for especially as the words "white makeup" were used.  I don't know about most guys but the word "makeup" on its own would normally be enough to scare me off.  But Inge is a nice person so I thought I would trust her.

So, today I had a new experience.  Makeup.  I didn't really want to know too much in case I started to have second thought so I was facing away from the mirror.  I have to say the process is very pleasant and relaxing. Not something I would have expected.  When the process was finished I looked in the mirror and was surprised at my surprise!  I was completely different and almost started to assume a new character.  I was behind a mask.

Inge, although she is a very competent and creative photographer, had little experience using studio flash units.  So after a brief introduction and a question and answer session we had a setup that she wanted consisitng of two units with snoots.  All shot against a black background.  Very simple.  Concentrating all the attention on my face and expressions.

Inge gave good direction and before long I had stopped analysing what was going on and just got into the spirit of the shoot.  Time goes quickly when you're having fun and we spent close to 5 hours in the studio all told.  If the squeals of delight that came from Inge are anything to go ny there should be a few satisfactory shots.  Since it was her shoot I don't have any photos to show (yet) but I do have 2 'snaps' that were taken.  One from my phone and one from hers.  I'll let you judge if fun was had.

I might give this a go again sometime in the near future ....