Sydney Manga and Anime Show 2013, Part 2

What an incredibly long line to get into the convention this year!

I spent most of the morning observing Kris work his magic in his corner of the convention. It was a delight to watch him direct people who've otherwise never done a photoshoot before, and capture something rather magical. This is experience you cant get from reading a text book. Technical competency behind the camera is only one component of running a succcessful photography business. Direction, lighting, set design, wardrobes, keeping people moving throughout the day. Kris makes the whole set up look easy. It certainly isn't!

Getting things right in camera is very important in my opinion. It says a lot to me about a photographer when they're able to capture the scene properly. If you've not seen Kris's work go visit whatabigcamera here.

In the afternoon i attended the cosplay photography panel hosted by Issac Leung and Raymond Fung. It was a good insight into some of their workflows, techniques and equipment. Whilst it isn't my intention to shoot cosplay, it certainly does come with its unique set of challenges and skills which keeps you motivated to one-up your buddies at each convention.

An enormous main stage packed with people watching the cosplay competition. Antonius Cherdy's suit of armor and sword dance winning the competition... just awesome.

This year I decided to ditch the 'con photos' and try to capture something unique to my collection. I know i am competent with 'happy snaps' but i wanted something challenging. Despite being an absolute mess the whole day, I did end up creating something epic of my own. Thanks to all the patient people waiting for me too! :)

Taskforce 232: Dennis


I love tactical gear cosplay. An incredible amount of attention is paid towards the fine details which are easily missed. Grenades, flashbangs, ammo mags, pouches, tactical vest, gloves, unit insignia, webbing, weapon props, and of course everything has to fit snugly throughout the day.

Set up: Single light source, camera left through umbrella. The idea was to blast the ambient light away so that only the subject and the wall was illuminated. I positioned Dennis to face camera left at roughly 45 degrees and positioned the weapon prop to point towards the right frame. Adjustments were made to enhance the light fallout in the bottom half of the image and to increase clarity of everything below the shoulders.

Taskforce 232: Patty


Set up: There were some challenges with this set up. I wasn't sure how the gas mask was going to render if i positioned the light in the rembrandt style like the others. I was worried about the reflectivity of the mask and also what it would look like through the eye sockets. So i decided to move the light behind the subject. Patty was rather tall and I'm your typical short Chinese at 5"3. It was easier to make the model lean forward and down towards the camera, than it was for me to stand at his level. I had to move about 4 meters back from my original shooting position to fit his shadow into the frame.

Taskforce 232 can be found here

Star Wars, Mandolorian Bounty Hunter: Cameron


I know Cameron has worn this to a number of conventions but i've never been able to do it justice.

Set up: Single light source, camera left through umbrella. I positioned this light source perpendicular to the wall and have it about 15 cm from Cameron's helmet. I positioned Cameron to lean against the wall and turn his face towards me. I really like the light fall out as seen on the wall in the background. I wish i had a second light source to give his helmet a more 3D effect. There were some major adjustments made to increase the clarity of the wookie rug draped across this evil bounty hunter. Added some yellow highlights to the background to make him pop out from the background.

Star Wars, Mandolorian Bounty Hunter: Cameron


Set up: This is a second pose more typical of a profile shot. You should be able to figure out where the light source is from the shadow being casted on the wall. I had Cameron lower his weapon down and increased the clarity/exposure in the foreground. The Wookie rug could have used a bit more lighting.

Jellal Fernandes, Fairy Tail: Phillip


Jellal Fernandes from Fairy Tail. I haven't been following the manga in some time and there are literally hundreds of mages in this manga. I only recognise three characters: Natsu, Erza and Gray. I had trouble finding a look for Phillip's character. As i haven't seen the character before it was difficult to find a pose that worked. It would have been useful if i knew more about this character which may have saved some time. Is he serious, witty, funny, quirky or just a plain bad-ass?

Set up: We tried several poses. Initially with a hood on and then without, I decided it looked better without the hood. I got Phillip to look down on me with an unapproving gaze, then moved the light almost right next to the Phillip's face. The result is a strong burst of light illuminating one side of his head and creating this dramatic look towards the camera. I then adjusted the background to suit the costume and increased the exposure + clarity on his chest plates.

Natsu Dragneel, Fairy Tail: Norm


This is the main male protagonist of Fairy Tail. See wikia. Natsu is normally partnered with a blue flying cat called Happy. Natsu also eats fire.

Set up: In this shot i asked Norm to give me a 'ready-to-fight position'. I turned his body to face the light source and asked him to look left towards the camera. Norm said this has been the pose he had been doing all day so we went with it. Adding to this pose i asked him to cup his left hand as if there is a ball of fire in it. This created an opportunity to add some particule effects to that hand later.

This ends Part 2. I'm still recovering from a throat infection. Part 3 will follow when I've processed more photos. There are some circulating on Facebook.

smash convention, sydney, 2013, photography, lighting, cosplay