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by William

Colossalcon a Colossal Con!

June 10, 2013 in Photograph, Shoot, Social by William

Colossalcon was held just a sort ride from Cleveland at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky. The location is beautiful. There is an indoor water park, an outdoor water park, and a safari with real animals, not to mention zip lines that go around the parks. My room even had a hottub!

On a bright sunny day I started to shoot Jazzmin’s Latex Starfire outfit by Vengeance Designs. I hate noon sun, after a few lame tries on my part, I asked Jazzmin to climb into the landscaping at the Kalahari and we found a small pocket where I could put up lights and shoot…look at the colors!

Of course at such a conference you can just sit around and find some interesting pictures.

A Ball with Two Belles:

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A Ball with Two Belles

 

Behind the scenes of another shoot that was in range of my 200mm lens 🙂

 

Behind the shooters

 

Several more Grace and Kate, and a wandering Lolita:

 

 

by William

USS United States–A Ship NOT Abandoned

May 21, 2013 in General, Photograph, Social by William

 

I had the privilege of being able to shoot on the USS United States, a cruise ship docked in Philadelphia, that has been out of commission for many years.  The majesty of the ship is clear as soon as you arrive.  The size of the ship as you approach it evokes the same sublime feelings one gets on top of a mountain range.

Inside the ship, even though it’s been empty for many years, still has a feeling of warmth and comfort.  Perhaps it’s my strange sense of comfort, combined with the sun shining through windows and being able to find different life on the ship.

The ship, built for speed, holds the current world record for a transatlantic crossing, so I tried a technique of zooming your lens as taking a long exposure to give a sense of motion to the static picture.  What do you thing?  Does it show motion?

by William

Circus and Contortion

April 21, 2013 in Photograph, Shoot, Social by William

Here’s something you only hope to hear but never expect it to actually happen.  “Hey, do you want to come to my contortion class at the circus school and take pictures?” said Jazzmin Jolly.    Two parts of the question are awesome, contortion and circus!  Truth be told, Jazzmin had mentioned her contortion class before, and I probably gave very obvious, unconscious hints about wanting to take pictures, but I digress.

The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts is an actual school that you can go to learn everything circus including acrobatics, climbing on top of another person with ease, and how to contort.  After several weeks of tracking down the director of the school, and working with the instructor to get permission (and signed model releases), we were off!  Jazzmin and I had spent a Sunday morning shooting products for various cosplay companies, and then we headed off to circus school.

I brought lights, stands, modifiers, flags, reflectors, and the kitchen sink.  First rule of circus club: don’t bring much except for a camera unless you’re looking for exercise.  I didn’t think through the fact that it’s a real school, with students circusing, and there would be little room for me let alone equipment.  Second rule of circus club: you don’t get to photograph people you didn’t get to sign a release.  The school was a large open room with every corner efficiently used and many more people than just the class I had sign release.  Many of the other classes were clear when I arrived, “no pictures other than the contortion class.”  Third rule of circus club: bring lens with wide apertures, f/1.2, f/1.8 etc.  Otherwise you can’t take a picture without getting others in the shot that you will have to edit out.

So while I had imagined a grand photography event where there were fantastic shots with lighting to blast out the sun and focus on a flying contorted individuals, the project took on a more humanistic theme.  Contortion is painful and requires dedication for many years to even get to the beginning stage.  I know.  I tried to touch my toes after seeing the class and stretch my back so much that I needed to sit on the couch and finish watching Arrested Development on NetFlix.  But don’t worry, I photoshopped a picture of me touching my toes with the liquify filter!

The pictures tell the rest of the story of individuals, dedication, limits, struggle, pain, and reward for me I hope…

 

 

by William

KotoriCon Fun and Acceptance

January 13, 2013 in Photograph, Photographer, Shoot, Social by William

Wandering around Kortoicon on Saturday the fun is impressive.  The energy high and excitement everywhere as people saw others they knew or cosplays they liked.

I was particularly fascinated watching a three-hour spontaneous dance and song in a small courtyard between buildings.   A diverse group formed a ring of participants that faced each other  repeating what sounded more like a meditation than any current pop song while one person ran around the inside of the circle stopping in front of someone where the two would do a small dance rotating to all four sides (I’m pretty sure even the most uncoordinated of us could do this dance).  The selected dance partner would then run around the circle and select someone else repeating the cycle over and over. Not only was no one excluded from participating, but on occasion someone would break out of the circle and run to draw in those standing or walking nearby to the screams and cheers of the others.

The dance or game is a great example of the underlying attitudes of tolerance, and more importantly acceptance and inclusion of diversity prevalent within the cosplay anime alternative culture.   The dance was simple to not exclude the less coordinated (where was this when I was younger?).  There was no segmentation that would isolate ethnic backgrounds, life-style choices, or anything else I could see. Even those watching had persistent smiles. The participants even tolerated me walking into the middle of the circle so I could take pictures from an inside vantage point.  The dance itself celebrates each other and not any type of self-destructive activity.

The conference itself drew 1000 people, over 300 more than last year, and the max the conference organizers want so they keep their own identity.

by William

Intimate Portraits

December 15, 2012 in Photograph, Photographer, Shoot, Social, Studio by William

I took a class with a famous photographer on intimate portraits.  It’s an interesting concept, one where you work to figure out a blend of what you want out of a photograph and what the subject wants.   It’s a mix of acting and reality to create something neither photographer or model initially had in mind.  It’s harder than I originally thought.  Even with models I’ve shot a lot, and am very comfortable with, it’s often hard to break the traditional photographer/model roles.  They want to do a good job so they listen and attempt to do what you want, while you are asking personal questions attempting to learn more about them to draw out ideas.   If you’re socially awkward like me, it’s often difficult to have those real conversations, ensuring you don’t cross any inappropriate lines, but explore a new concept that is a collaboration.    Not concepts that typically get put into the mix, such as getting a model to pose for nudes or other shots that by their nature or content would be considered intimate, but intimate as in a personal collaboration, such as shooting with the model’s family or in their home or work or (and this openness can be scary for models) in their normal street clothes without any makeup or not posing for a picture, but posing for a concept, etc.

I have a new long-term project to shoot with someone who is going through a life-changing event and transformation.  My hopes are this will help drive a collaboration in dimensions I haven’t yet.

 

by William

Gothic Lolita Wigs

October 17, 2012 in Photograph, Photographer, Shoot, Studio by William

As a result of some pictures from AWA, I had the pleasure of being asked to do a product shoot with the internationally famous Gracie Valentine and Jazzmin Jolly for Gothic Lolita Wigs (https://www.facebook.com/GothicLolitaWigs).  Having not done any product shoots for wigs, I quickly scoured the web for what I thought were great pictures of wigs.  Based on the quick research a shot that was a mix of an action and the wig was best.  Here’s some examples of the first shoot (and yes I did shoot this twice).

Everyone was happy with the pictures.  Expect Facebook users.  They did not “like” these as much as other pictures used on their site.  I did notice after comparing some pictures there was a slight green tint to my photos that I did not see originally.  I traced the green back to an accidental switch in the colorspace to PhotoPro instead of sRGB.  It’s important to remember that the PhotoPro colorspace represents many more colors than sRGB.  Many of those colors have a greenish hue, causing a green tint to the pictures.  Switching the colorspace on the export to sRGB, which I find best for monitors (i.e., computers browsing websites) fixed the color. It’s a simple option, one of many on Lightroom’s export, and I just missed it.  Just look at what a difference selecting the right colorspace makes:

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In addition, there was also enough focus on the wigs themselves, and, nit picking myself, the lighting was not uniform on the background, so there was a color shifts as the light fell off.  I was the only one who noticed most of these, but I do think it contributed to the non-stellar number of likes.  I wanted to get greater than 300 likes on each photo as they published them.

So I asked to shoot it again.  Gladly Grace and Jazzmin agreed!  They are both extremely nice people, fun to shoot, and  hard-working (a rare combination).  Suggested by the owner, we shot the wigs with glamor lighting (specifically clam glamor lighting).  We decided to remove any background focus by using grey seamless paper, and to not do 3/4 or full body shots, but just head shots with bare shoulders so there was nothing but wig and model.  Kate came along with Grace and helped with the makeup.  Here’s a few of the results:

 

The pictures got more than 300 likes…and close to 700 for the stunning red hair on Grace.  The makeup, neutral background, glamor lighting, and Grace’s wings are a winning combination.

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However, there was one picture I found on the site that breaks the above motif. The photo is by and of photographer model Alexa Poletti and is definitely worth mentioning.  Alexa integrated colors and pose into a great shot of form and contrast using her tattoo pulling out the reds and yellows matching both her skirt and top, contrasting the wig with a deep purple background, showcasing the wig itself a bright blend of colors draped down her body juxtaposed to her tattoos, matching her skirt and lips a bright red, blending it all into a great picture that has close to 1400 likes.

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