In some ways the final shoot of the 2020 Wellington Cosplay Photofest was the one I was looking for the most. The R-Bar is located in Cuba Street and is a pirate themed bar. Until last year I didn’t even know it existed when it was used for the social of the 2019 PhotoFest.
I spoke to the manager on the night and have wanted to get back and shoot there again ever since. So this year, when the opportunity presented itself to book slots over the weekend I jumped at it.
After the fourth cosplayer I was supposed to shoot pulled out I was assigned Tamara, and by that stage the location was booked. Tamara is a professional costume designer and one of her outfits fitted the location perfectly.
Lighting in the bar is fairly low and I wanted to insure that the ambient came through in the images. The achieve this I told Tamara that I would be shooting with long exposures so she needed to hold her poses. She did this perfectly. The strobes were set to fire at the end of the exposure.
This mixed lighting meant that you could meter for it and all shots were based on trial and error and seeing what looked good in the back of the camera.
I really enjoyed the time there and could see it used in future shoots.
The third shoot in the 2020 Wellington Cosplay Photofest was with Gabriela who was wearing a Beauregard costume. In our initial discussions she has asked for a nature environment so we chose to shoot in Trelissick Park in Ngaio. The park has a stream running through it as well as bush. In addition it has some old ruins of ammunition stores that have a very castle like setting.
When we got to the park we discovered another group at the ruins so we started with the stream. The day had stared overcast but by the time of the shoot it was brilliant blue skies and strong sun. Personally those are my least favourite conditions.
Along the path I found an interesting spot with gnarled roots so Gabriela climbed up and positioned herself there. I had brought the Godox AD600 light with me along with the 26inch softbox. Gabriela had asked if she could bring a friend and he ended up holding the light that I had mounted on an extended monopod.
By the time we had finished in this area the other groups had completed their shoot at the ruins so we ended the shoot with some images there.
The second shoot in the 2020 Wellington Cosplay Photofest was with Pohutukaryl Cosplay who was dressed as Chloe Frazer from Uncharted, a character from an action game. The moment that she mentioned street fighter to me I knew that we would be going back to the gun emplacement on Palmer Head.
I have shot at this location a number of times and it is a very popular spot so you never know how many people you will run into there. When we arrived there was a group of girls taking selfies on the roof, and when we went inside we disturbed a couple in an intimate act.
We shot all over the complex to create different angles and looks. For the inside images lighting was provided with my Godox speed light in a small softbox as this was very portable.
We were probably at the site for about a hour before we decided to pack up and head home. We were literally only 50 meters from the bunker to meet up with four very heavily armed police officers. Someone had reported seeing someone with a gun and they were taking no chances. Given that no one saw us with the toy pistol my assumption was that they had mistaken my light stand. That was what the cop thought as well and we were all on our way.
For the second year now I joined the Wellington Cosplay Photofest held over two days. Unlike 2019 the number of shoots was reduced to a more manageable four spread over the two days.
Shooting cosplay is very interesting and challenging at the same time. Th cosplayers are pretty good at getting into their characters, however it is important that you shoot them consistently with what the character does.
Fortunately my first shoot with “Sas it up Costuming” was in a genre that I was very familiar with. She was coming dressed as a Guiddich player from the Harry Potter movies.
We set up the shoot for Saturday morning and she asked that we try to use a park or something that could resemble Hogwarts. I suggested that we could shoot in the park by Victoria University and also around the Hunter Building as it has a gothic style.
I arrived at the park early to discover that it was being used for sports so we ended up shooting around the university. I
I wanted to produce a shot where it looked like she was flying on the broom and I found the perfect location. There was a rail wide enough for her to balance on it. I started with an empty scene then shot her on the rail.
We then shot close ups of the broom handle and end. As the broom she has brought was not a full length we created that illusion in the images.
In photoshop it was a matter of removing the rail and replacing the other images in it. It ended up being more challenging than I thought and this was mainly caused by not getting the angle consistent. Still everyone seems happy with the end result.
After my shoot with Chris I had a little time before my final shot of the day, which was being held back in the Botanical Gardens. While I was scoping out locations I came across Sarah dressed as Princess Aurora, who was also waiting for her next shot.
Although not planned Sarah was willing to kills some time so we headed into the Begonia House and then onto the Japanese Garden.
I ended up shooting a time-lapse of Sarah spinning but it will not allow me to load it up here.
The second shoot on Day Two of the Wellington Cosplay Photofest was with Chris who was dressed in a full stormtrooper uniform from the Star Wars movies.
I had discussed with Chris doing two very different types of shoot with him. Initially we started with a serious style shot in the grounds of Parliament. As stormtroopers all look the same it meant that I could take multiple shots of Chris and then blend them together in Photoshop.
Chris drew quite a bit of attention to himself and with practically every shot we had people asking to take photos of him.
For the second part of the shoot I had had an idea of recreating a famous photo from the Vietnam War protests of the woman putting a flower in a soldier gun. I had arranged with a local pub for Chris to be photographed at the bar, and when we walked in he attracted a lot of attention from the patrons, especially a little girl dining with her family. I asked her if she would put a flower in the gun which she if somewhat hesitantly.
I had wanted to photograph the stormtrooper doing regular things, and by sheer chance as we passed the cathedral next to Parliament the choir was just coming out. Three of the choir members agreed to pose with Chris as well as taking selfies.
We ended up at a local supermarket for a shot I wanted with an ATM. It was hard work for Chris to walk in the suit but we were both really pleased with the shots I was able to get.
The second shoot on Day One of the Wellington Cosplay Photofest was with Briana who was dressed as Arrietty from “The secret world of Arrietty Ghibli” which she explained was an Japanese Anime series.
For the shoot we arranged to meet at the Botanical Gardens as I wanted to incorporate a Japanese look into some of the images. We started shooting in the Begonia House by the large lily pond. Fortunately the area was not too busy and I didn’t have too much trouble with other people.
I liked the reflections that I could see in the water so for a series of images I positioned the camera closer to the water to get the mirror image.
Part of Arrietty’s costume is a throwing hook and rope so we tried to get an image showing Briana using it. Getting the timing right on this this proved a lot harder than thought especially as the version that Briana had created did not have the full weight that a proper version would have. Therefore it did not pull the rope as well.
Still it was a great shoot and a good end to Day one.
At the end of 2018 I saw a Facebook post that invited photographers to take part in a weekend event being organised by members of the Wellington Cosplay community. Those selected would be paired with cosplayers and over the two days we would have four or five shoots.
I figured it would be a lot of fun, and so I applied and was accepted. The format was very similar to what I had been used to with the GTC collaborations except that once we were paired up we could arrange the time and place of the shoot.
When one of my original selections pulled out I was offered the opportunity to shoot with Hayley who was a special guest of the weekend and travelling from Sydney just to take part. She is a very experienced cosplayer and model which I knew but both make my job easier, but at the same time more difficult.
Now I have shot lots of models and costumes but cosplay was going to be different as I was dealing with a character that needed to occupy a world. Halley was outfitted as Battle Suit Cammy who is a street fighter. When I learned that it was obvious that the bunker at Palmers Head would be perfect.
The shoot with Hayley went very smoothly and it was a great start to what ended up being six shoots over the two days.