Cosplayer Photography Lancashire
Cosplayers. Definitely a unique type of client, and not because of the costumes. They tend to have quite a special outlook on life in general. They give up an awful lot of their time for charity causes, and quite frankly, they all seem to be a little bonkers! And it’s this last trait that I love the most.
Meet the 5th Legion. A troop of cosplayers I originally met when they were recruited for a commercial shoot I had for the Lavender hotel group. We then organised this particular shoot at the studio.
My intention was to recreate similar lighting to that found on the starcruiser corridors, as seen in the films. Although I wanted it to be potentially moodier and darker perhaps. After some thought, I decided I would go with an overhead lightsource, as used in the filmsets. This presented a couple of challenges. The first of course is how to get it there, and my solution was to make use of a large boom arm. The Elinchrom ELB500 is absolutely ideal for boom work, as the head weighs pretty much nothing, and the only additional weight is the EL adaptor (allowing standard Elinchrom mods on the tiny ELB500/quadra heads), and the softbox itself. In this instance, I went with a Phottix Raja 150cm Hexa combined with a honeycomb. The size of the hexabox meant there would be a good spread of light for a group, whilst well controlled by the honeycomb. This ensured groups were well covered, without the light hitting the background etc. It also meant that with an individual subject, they could stand almost at the edge of the pool of light, with the width of the light source giving a very nicely diffused spread along their full height. Or something like that!
Due to the height of the boom arm, and its length, I added an extension lead to the head, giving more than enough length for the pack to sit on the floor. The output was set to 3.0 (Equivalent to 50Ws). The reason for the low output was down to a few things. The light source itself was barely out of the frame, and most of the costumes were very glossy white, so the light was very easily picked up. And finally, I was using an ISO of 400 on the GFX.
The above image was taken at 1/60th sec, but to be fair, I think I caught the shutter command dial, as I prefer to use the front and back command dials for shutter speed and aperture adjustment, akin to most DSLRs. And on this occasion, I think I caught it as I carried it in the studio.
The shots before and after are at 1/125th of a sec.
Fujifilm GFX 50s 1/60th sec ISO400 GF110mm f2 @ f5.6
Post processing is actually minimal. Raw conversion in Lightroom with attention paid to shadows to ensure the remain dark. Very, very slight increase to vibrance. That’s basically it.
Exactly the same set up, although this time, the shutterspeed is at 1/125th, which was the setting for most of the session. Oh, and on this occasion, I appeared to have shifted the ISO by a fraction for some reason. Probably the same fat fingers syndrome as before. Meh! (Confessions of a old photographer!!!)
The trooper is stood towards the frame left side of the pool of light, as indicated by the shadow falling towards frame left. This was to ensure his forward leg was lit full length, with the added benefit of enough light just bringing up the detail on his rear leg. It also accentuated detail on his shoulder pouches.
Fujifilm GFX 50s 1/125th sec ISO320 GF110mm f2 @ f5.6
Same post processing routine as the first image.
This is a more complex setup, making use of three light sources. The obvious one, is the one behind the officer, so we’ll start with that one. An ELB500 firing through a standard reflector with a 30° grid fitted. It was at a height of around four and a half feet. The output was set at 3.0 (equivalent to 50Ws) and about four or five feet from the black backdrop. The light basically overlit the backdrop, causing it to go to a light grey. Of course, there was a bit of jiggery pokery to make sure our officer was exactly central in the spot created by the background light.
The second ELB500 was positioned frame left, and further back than our officer. It was firing through a 30x140cm honeycombed stripbox. This created the accent light across his cheek, providing the texture of his skin and stubble quite nicely. The Output was set to 2.0 (Equivalent to 25Ws), as it was barely out of frame, and my intention was to ensure the accent light was fairly subtle, in keeping with the previous images.
The key light was the same Phottix 150cm honeycombed hexabox, which had been moved from the boom arm, to a standard light stand. It was still quite high at seven and a half feet, and angled downward as much as possible. It was placed frame right, and almost in line with our officer and the accent light, making the lighting set up almost an example cross lighting. The output was again at 2.0 (Equivalent to 25Ws). However, as it was a little further away from our subject (Which was mostly so it wouldn’t foul the frame, due to the fact I was having to shoot from a fair way back with the 110mm on the GFX), it therefore contributes less light to the subject, and allows the accent light to overcome it easily. The ISO was reduced to 200.
Fujifilm GFX 50s 1/125th sec ISO200 GF110mm f2 @ f5.6
Post processing was again kept to a minimum. Raw conversion to jpeg in Lightroom, with a very slight increase to vibrancy.
The above are a few more examples using the same lighting rig, settings, and post processing, although I needed to use the heal tool in Photoshop for a couple of scuffs on one of the helmets that looked out of place.
Fujifilm GFX 50s 1/125th sec ISO200 GF110mm f2 @ f5.6
Whilst a fairly dramatic image, the lighting is a simple three light setup.
Frame right, I placed that same honeycombed Phottix 150cm hexa at shoulder height, and vertical. This pretty much meant the light was directly at them, and forward of me, to proved the general fill. It was firing at an output of 4.0 (Equivalent to 100Ws).
I also placed an ELB500 firing through a Phottix honeycombed 30x140cm stripbox frame right, and beyond our subjects. This provided the accent seen along the edge of the officers faces, and also the folds in their jackets, particularly along their arms and shoulder. The output was set to 4.5 (Equivalent to 150Ws)
The final accent light was an ELB500 placed frame left, and barely out of frame, but well beyond the subjects. This provided the finest of accents along the troopers helmets. The accent line is so fine, it could almost be described as a rim light. The output was set to 5.0 (Equivalent to 200Ws)
Fujifilm GFX 50s 1/125th sec ISO160 GF110mm f2 @ f5.6
Again, minimal tweaking in Lightroom, before converting to jpeg.
My Elinchrom and Phottix equipment was purchased from The Flash Centre.