So it all started with a post on my Facebook page. I wanted to get up to the mountains feel the cold air and take some pictures. I decided to open this up to any of my cosplayer friends to see if they wanted to join me. Within a couple of hours of posting I had a sizable contingent of people going up with us. So instead of just my family we had 2 additional cars loaded up with cosplayers and one more photographer.
Profoto B2 Location Kit (Samy’s Camera)
So the gear was packed up and loaded into the truck. What we didn’t know waited for us was high winds and freezing temperatures. That might not be completely true I was aware of the temperatures but the weather report didn’t include windchill which had the temperature feeling like mid 20’s with every gust. Everyone was a trooper several of the cosplayers were wearing very thin costumes, standing, waiting, posing, and even at one point laying down in the snow. It’s important to remember your subject is not you. Each subject has different needs and can withstand things differently from you. So you need to constantly engage your subject and ask them how they are doing. Be considerate of their situation and don’t shoot more then necessary. Be ready to shoot when your subject is ready. Cosplay photography is all about collaboration which means you are working as a team.
Cosplayer Instagram: @saylum Photographer in frame Instagram: @davidthestrange
When we first arrived into this snowy park we used available light as we got our bearing and hiked around. This means we had to do more with our depth of field knowledge to get impactful images. To get my desired look I needed fast lenses so I was using a Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 and Nikkor 20 mm f/1.8. These fast lenses gave me the ability to make my subjects pop from the background by taking the background out of focus.
After our initial location we attempted to go further up the mountain for something different. Unfortunately we starting running out of time. As the sun quickly headed for the horizon the temperatures began dropping farther. Meaning our subjects were going to be colder and the road conditions were going to get worse. We decided to head back to the park we originally started at and look for more shooting locations from within. This is another point where I need to remind you be conscious of the changing conditions around you. You have to predict what is going to change. This might mean changing light or conditions that can impact yours and your subjects safety. We got settled in back at the park and we had cosplayers alternating with warming in the cars and then out to shoot with us.
Normally when working with any feminine subject you want to use a softer wrap around light. To accomplish this you typically want to take advantage of a softbox but that might not be possible in all situations. Pulling the softbox out in 30 Mph wind was not a workable solution so instead I decided to try and soften the light using a 25% grid and used a Mogo Pod to boom my light above or around my subject.
With now an available light source that could overpower the sun we were able to create some much more dramatic images using the sun in the background. This meant getting low below the subject and either putting the sun behind their head to get a halo or have it peaking out to get a small amount of lens flare. We also used the sun for a rim light meaning we effectively had a two light shoot with only one powered. If you don’t have a strobe you can also use a reflector although again this might not be possible the fast gusts that kept coming through and pounding us would have grabbed a reflector right out of our hands.
All in all the shoot time was not too long there was only so much of the cold we could handle and still keep our facial features from showing it. I brought my entire family and got lots of photos of our family playing in the snow. I also got shots of my extended cosplay family which always makes me happy. I look forward to my next adventure in photography. As always keep shooting and be creative.
Cast of Characters:
Photographers: Rulison Photography IG: @jrulison, David Su Photography IG: @davidthestrange
Cosplayers: Lara Croft (IG: @saylum), QuickSilver (IG: @donquijote_cosplay), Valykrie (IG: @canoncosplay), Faun (IG: @shannahsbananas), Ginny Weasley (@lostweasleychild)
Don’t have a cosplayer to use for a subject? Ask a friend or family mater to be your muse. I started out taking pictures of my father who was non to thrilled but allowed his crazy son to follow his passion and take some great photos.