Questions-and-Answers-9

Questions and Answers – Round 1

We have asked publicly for people to submit in any questions to us that they may have about anything Cosplay Photography related at all. These questions may be anything from shooting, to modeling, to gear, to lighting, locations, and more. This post serves as only the first post, and we continue to encourage all that have a question to submit them into us. We will have answers from multiple members of staff to each question, as to show a more broad range of answers.

So, let us begin with ROUND ONE… FIGHT!!!

Q: Where is a good place to buy strobes/lights, camera parts (batteries, SD cards), lenses?

Tim:
I buy most of my stuff from BHphotovideo.com, but sometimes I’m impatient and I just run to the local camera store (in my case, Samy’s around southern California) for things like filters.

Al:
Amazon, B&H, Adorama, eBay

Vince:
For my primary camera body purchases, I try to stick to mainstream retailers. This usually ends up being through Amazon. The big thing to note here though is that for these sorts of items, Amazon has 3rd party retailers fulfill the order, with Amazon only acting as the retail front end. More often then not, it is either BHphotovideo.com or Adorama fulfilling the actual order. Amazon simple serves as an easier storefront to search for various products.

For accessories and “strange” items, I prefer eBay. There are some retailers from other countries that sell items on there that are otherwise extremely hard to find or not even sold here in the states. There are some new softbox designs that I picked up from here that I absolutely love!


Q: What is a good starter version of photoshop?

Tim:
There’s nothing wrong with Photoshop Elements and for 99% of people out there, CS5 is way more than they’ll ever need. But people use CS5/5.5/6 anyways and that’s fine. If you qualify for a student rate on Photoshop, might as well go for it.

Al:
The latest always have the most advanced bells and whistles, but if you cannot afford that, personally I think CS5 is a good starting point if you can get it for a good price.

Vince:
If you’re dealing with RAW images, there is no real good answer here. RAW images will need a version of Adobe Camera RAW that is compatible with your camera version, which generally only works with newer releases of Photoshop. If you’re dealing with JPG images, then you can easily go find an old copy of Photoshop 7 through any of the older CS versions (with Photoshop version 8 being CS1).

Another option is to check out other competing products, such as PaintShop Pro (commercial) or GIMP (free)


Q: How do I remove ghastly blemishes?!

Tim:
I really like the patch tool in PS. A combination of patch tool and clone tool will fix most blemishes.

Al:
Clone tool, healing brush, dodge & burn

Vince:
I prefer the heal brush to work quickly with skin detail. Another option if you want to shove a little bit of money at it, the “Portraiture” Photoshop plugin does a great job of fixing up skin details too.


Q: What is a good color scheme for photos?

Tim:
This is entirely dependent on the photo of course. In general, I would say keep your color schemes as simple as possible, sticking to primary colors. Try not to have more than 3 main colors in your image.

Al:
All color theory schemes are good, so those are a good base to start toning your photos

Vince:
Each color scheme represents a different mood. Here is a good starting place: Color Psychology


Q: Why is lighting such a big deal?

Tim:
Photography is literally capturing light. Lighting sets the mood of the shot; It controls what is visible and what is not. It’s your whole image. Think of your image in terms of what light falls where and you’ll see photography in a whole new…light.

Al:
Without light, there is no photograph. Even with ambient light, one still needs to know where and how the light hits to create the feel and effect he or she wants in a photograph.

Vince:
Cameras, in the end, do only one thing: They are devices for recording light. Without light, there is no photograph. Controlling of the light in a photograph means to control the absolute primary content of the resulting image, the light itself. Changing the light, much like coloring from the previous question, helps set the mood of a given scene.


Q: Why do you hate Instagram so much? Doesn’t this make me a pro?!

Tim:
I don’t hate it at all, but why spend 100s to 1000s of dollars getting the nice camera equipment if you’re just going to throw a filter on it and muddy up your image. Why move to digital when the look you want is film? That said, Instagram is cool because it lets people focus on composition, which is always a good thing.

Al:
I don’t really hate Instagram as it simply applies color effects to photos, it is comparable to saying “why do you hate Photoshop”?
Price aside, you can buy a Ferrari, but does it make you a professional driver?

Vince:
Oh, I personally love Instagram! That is, until I upgraded to Android 4.0 ICS and found it is not compatible with it (as of this posting). The forced square 1×1 aspect ratio has forced me to compose images in a whole way.


Q: There are so many brands of cameras which is right for ME. (not the best camera war)

Tim:
The right one for you is the one that has the features you need at the price you can afford. I used to know more Canon shooters so I could always check out their gear. I grew up on Canon cameras, so when I went big, that’s what I got. Nowadays, I know a mix of Canon/Nikon shooters so that’s irrelevant.

Al:
A right one for you is one that you feel comfortable holding, operating, and has a wealthy selection of additional tools that would allow you to do what you want.

Vince:
While in my early days of photography, I would always hear the answer: “What ever fits best in your hands” – This answer never really meant much to me until recently. Part of photography is not the final resulting image, but the path taken to get there. How quickly without even looking at your camera can you change the shutter, aperture, and ISO settings? If you’re a strobist, can you control the flash levels on the camera? Can you do that individually for multiple strobes? How elegantly can that be done? Button/dial placement make a huge impact when shooting, and really are different from person to person and scene to scene.


Q: Any tutorials to follow in PS? (my guess is this is asking for reference links to Photoshop tutorials)

Tim:
Too many to list. Try to look for a specific thing you’re trying to achieve and look for that. Honestly though, you should be looking for photography tutorials and behind the scenes stuff to improve your photography. Unless you want to be a digital artist with Photoshop, but we’re about photography.

Al:
Lynda.com is a good place to start

Vince:
40 Photoshop Tutorials for Amazing Lighting Effects


Q: How do you find inspiration?

Tim:
Cosplay photography comes with it’s own inspiration, I think. You’re given a character and a story, and you try to recreate that with your own spin on it. So when I think of cosplay photography, I’m looking for scenery and environments to stick people in. I classify things I see as “futuristic” or “urban” or “nature” or whatever and keep a mental log of those places I want to use.

Al:
Life itself is inspiration.

Vince:
Other photographers, primarily. I watch tons of photographers online, and try to learn from their experiences. Watching “behind the scenes” videos always helps out to get an idea of how things are setup in the studio or out in the field.


Q: Tell me about epic angles

Tim:
I think this is more about understanding focal length than “epic angles”. Choosing the right focal length for your image is such a key part of creating it since your focal length determines your background, and is a major factor in subject isolation.

Al:
I am short so I tend to shoot from low, and that has been working out pretty well, though I do occasionally climb ladders

Vince:
Take the widest lens you have. Find a subject that has multiple parallel lines in it (horizon + beach works for example, two parallel lines). Turn about 30-45 degrees away from your subject now. This will cause a > shape with the lines. Now rotate your camera so one of those lines is even with the edge of the camera. You now have epic angles! Do this with a model in front, and you have magic.

Notice in this example, the ledge that Kara sits on is almost straight with the camera edge. The rest of the ledges have those “extreme angle” looks!


Q: How do find fitting locations for cosplay images?

Tim:
See answer for inspiration. Always look around for a type of setting and keep a log of them. Keep in mind you don’t need a vast expanse of setting, just a small patch of whatever you’re looking for.

Al:
Ask friends, Google map search, cross reference with flickr, and physically scout locations

Vince:
Google Maps Street View. No joke, this gives you a GREAT eye-level view of the streets around convention centers. This is especially handy when traveling to a brand new location.

Or cheat, and Photoshop the background! (yes, I do this more often than people think)


Q: Bridge vs. LR vs MSPaint

Tim:
Lightroom because it’s got such a great workflow and digital asset management system all built into it. Then MSpaint for effects.

Al:
LR

Vince:
These three tools all do different things. Bridge feels like a toy. Lightroom is an amazing organization tool as well as RAW processor. MSPaint is for people stuck at home… erm, I mean… Love Homestuck!

If you found this article interesting, be sure to join our Facebook group, Cosplay Photography Discussion Group. It is a place for cosplay photographers of all levels to learn from each other. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook as well!

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"I Code, Therefor I Am" - Some guy who loved to code too much (probably me) I am a computer software engineer turned Cosplay Photographer hobbyist. * Started attending conventions in 2003 * Started serious Cosplay Photography in 2007 * Attended more conventions and related events than I can count now * STROBES !!! STROBES !!! STROBES

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