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.
The final round of the 2019 Hutt Camera club completion asked for images that reflected movement. I wanted to do this using lights and particularly the combination of a long exposure with a pop of flash at the end so that you get both movement and frozen action in the same image.
One of the elements that I had acquired after we ran the national convention was a hula hoop with LED lights inside it. I posted for a model who could handle the hula and Lauren answered the call.
We set up a shoot in the garage which was a lot of fun because this is essentially a trial and error process with no two images being the same. Given that it would be very difficult to focus I set F8 as an aperture as this gave me a decent depth of field. Lauren was given a spot to stand on and with the lights on I focused on her in manual mode.
I started out with no light and took some tests shots of the hula spinning until I was happy with the result which was achieved with a 2 second exposure. We had to match the speed of the hula with the exposure. If the hoop was spring too fast or the exposure too long then you ended up with more of a blur (as in the image above).
For the full body shots the lighting was provided by strobes in a large softbox. These were metered to f8 so as to be balanced.
After some initial shots we then tried to mix it up and try to get the effect of a light dress. This entitled telling Lauren when to stop spinning and opening the shutter at the same time. This meant that the movement was in one direction.
At the end of the evening I tried something completely different. I put the light in a seven inch reflector with a grid and focused it at Lauren’s face. I then got her to move the hula in a pattern around her face. The image that was chosen was literally the last one taken on the night.
In the assessing it received a “commended” which gained me enough points to win the Advanced Grade Digital Photographer for the third time.
Towards the end of last year I joined up with a number of other photographers, makeup artists and models for a day trip over to the Patuma Chasm in the southern Wairarapa.
This is an amazing open cave system in the middle of a farm.
For my shoots I was teamed up with Moana (who I had shot before). Over the course of a hour she went through several costume changes as we worked ourselves deeper into the chasm.
She never complained once even though the water was fairly cool.
Given that we were walking through water to get to each spot I was travelling very light. In addition to the camera I brought a single Lume Cube to provide light as I knew this was water resistant.
In the final image we had ventured a reasonable way into the cave and it was quite dark. I then spotted a point in the water that was being lit by sunlight coming through a small gap in the walls and trees. This produced a natural spotlight to use.
A bodyscape is an image that focuses on the shape of the body and its curves, rather than the whole. You use light to reveal and conceal, and they are generally shot with a single light on low power aimed to rim the subject.
This series of images was shot with Shelley after we had completed the timelapse series.
Over the years I have shot a number of bodyscapes and I really enjoy shooting them. The lighting is very much trial and error as there is no real formula to follow. Therefore it is both a technical and an artistic challenge at the same time.
In addition to the naked flesh I have found that using beads adds to the interest. At the end of the shoot Shelley applied oil to her body and we sprayed her with water. This again makes for some great images.
In most cases the face is not shown in a bodyscape therefore they are anonymous. Therefore this final image is not strictly fit the others however the pose does emphasis the shape.
This is another post that concerns a shoot that happened last year. I have been really slack in getting them loaded.
One of the photographers I have followed for a while is Peter Coulson from Australia. He posted a stop motion video shot with a nude model that I thought was quite neat. You can see the video on this link.
As my camera can shoot time-lapse and generate videos from them, I thought that I would give it a try. So I approached Shelley to see if she was interested and she jumped at the opportunity.
In my prop cupboard I have a very unusual helmet that I wanted to incorporate, and I manage to borrow some awesome heels. My original plan was to borrow a military style rifle to use in the shoot, but a week before it was planned a lowlife scum invaded a Christchurch mosque during Friday prayers and murdered 51 innocent people. The rifle was no longer appropriate so we supplemented a baseball bat.
The shoot was relatively straight forward. The camera was set on a tripod and for the first shoot was set to fire 1,200 times at three second intervals. The lighting was provided by my two elinchrom strobes who for the most part handled it well. One did start to misfire towards the end of the shoot and you can see this is the video.
Then we decided to change outfits and use a hula hoop and a mask. For this shoot we only shot 400 frames which resulted in a very short video.
While I was pleased with the results there are a couple of things that I would change.
Firstly video is shot in a very wide format (16:9) so you need plenty of space to shoot it. We shot in my garage that has a low ceiling and my backdrop couldn’t go the whole way across. This meant that in post I had to extend it. If I did this again I would shoot against a plain background so the extension is not that obvious.
Secondly despite the fact that it does take a while to shoot you do need to record a lot of frames to produce a video that is not too short. The 400 frames in the second shoot only generated 5 seconds of video.
Finally I would probably shoot using constant light rather than strobes. While they did handle the job you can see the times that one strobe failed in the video.
Leo was the second staged shoot in my Zodiac sequence. I had a couple of concerts in mind with Luke was be my main model. In the first part of the shoot I used a mask I had bought online and with a strobe in a small reflector used it to cast a shadow on the wall. I then had Luke remove the mask and a second shot was taken. The two images were merged in Photoshop.
For the second shoot, I had also recruited two additional models Martina and David who were to play the parts of the unlucky staff being bailed out because of poor performance.
David forgot about the shoot which left me one person short. Fortunately the G9 has a phone app and so I was able to position myself in the shot and still fire the camera.
Lighting for this shot was a main fill light in a seven foot umbrella and a smaller gridded light focused on Luke.
I am currently working through a zodiac series with the ultimate aim of it being made into a set for submission for honours with the Photographic Society of New Zealand. It has been on the drawing board for a long time. To make the series more particular I am trying to recruit models that are actually the star signs that I am shooting. I was therefore really pleased when I discovered that twins Evie and Emily happened to be Geminis.
They are both fashion designers who have designed a lingerie range so it was an easy pick to ask them to wear black and white outfits.
The costuming allowed me to play with the notion of a split personality (good vs evil), and we made use of the mirrors in the studio. Then it was an easy photoshop masking to bring the images together.
I also wanted to look at the notion of Yin-Yang and the costume colours fitted well with that. I had them lay on the floor and boomed the camera overhead, under a large umbrella.
I has originally planned for them to be on a fake grass and I was going to surround them with bushed to make it look like they were in the womb. Unfortunately the grass could not be found, and my efforts to cut them out and place them on a real grass background did not look convincing so I ended up scrubbing the idea and giving the image a lot of texture in post processing.
The final image has done very well. It received honours in a club competition, was selected in the North Shore Salon and appeared in the 2019 issue of New Zealand Camera.