Final Fantasy IX, released in 2000, has been enjoying a resurgence lately in the cosplay scene. It has been traditionally eclipsed by other Final Fantasies such as VII, X, and XIII in costume popularity, so as a FFIX fan, I was really happy to see some amazing cosplayers do justice to the character designs. I had the chance to meet up with two such cosplayers: KeyofDestiny and Firewolf, for a private shoot at a local park.
For this shoot, I wanted to use mostly natural light, so I scheduled for us to start around 4:30, as the sun would be starting to set and give the scene a soft look that was appropriate for the magical setting of the game. Luckily for us, the previous day had been rainy and the clouds had stuck around with occasional bursts of sunshine. This semi-gloom was especially perfect for Firewolf’s character, Freya Crescent, who hails from a country known as “Land of Eternal Rain.” To supplement the natural light inside a dense grove of trees, I brought along my Canon 430EX II Speedlite and portable Lastolite EZYbox 24×24 softbox, held by Firewolf’s fiancée. The entire set was shot with a 50mm 1.8 on a Canon 1D Mark II.
The main concept I wanted to accomplish with this shoot was to create a unified-looking set of images that would recreate the feel of the characters on a journey across the world map, which is probably what most fans remember about the older generation of Final Fantasy games. The vibrant greenery and dirt paths provided a great backdrop.
As always with on-location photography, there were a few unexpected challenges that cropped up during the day. One of them was the wetness of the grass and muddy spots. I had hoped to be able to do a few jumping and running shots (random battles, anyone?), but it was so slippery that after a few failed attempts, we abandoned that plan. It was just too wet to provide the cosplayers with a firm landing spot. I was still able to get a few action shots of Zidane inside the wooded area next to the dirt path.
The rest of the shoot focused mainly on showing the cosplayers as two adventurers off across the world together, bringing back the nostalgia of the game, and working as efficiently as possible within the time constraints of the fading daylight. Back home, I realized I had to do very little post-processing on this set, as the gray-green of the forest and the grass created a wonderful evocative backdrop against the vibrant primary colors of the costumes. A little sharpening, dodging and burning was enough to make these photos pop.
I hope you enjoyed the photos, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at my Facebook page!