my photos of 2013...

Archived Thread
Our site is currently being changed over to the new version. Everything you see is currently in read-only mode. Additionally, the layout and UI will not be complete until all sections have been re-enabled, so please ignore any layout issues (or bland-ness) at this time.
#1 Ashurachan on 5 years ago

Japan Expo Sud (march)


Japan Expo (july)


X/1999 photoshoot (november) - first studio shoot in more than a year, I'm kinda rusty.

(didn't shoot much this year, a lot of backlog to process and I wasn't motivated. at. all.)

#2 fam-cosplayphotographer on 5 years ago

For critiques (if thats why you posted these)

1st shot, really blown out exposure, maybe backing it down just a tad would have got her blonde hairline back (but it could be thats what youre going for)
His face is good, hers doesnt look as flattering, I would have had her turn a little bit either direction (possibly turned to him) and then asked her for eye contact to give it more character.
Good color, looks sharp, still a good photo

2nd shot
Good pose, good angle, sharp...I would have made it a tad darker or messed in post to get more contrast from his hairline and blue sky, but the background people do detract so i see why you wouldnt...its always hard to see it at the time, but It'd been great to move him somewhere without people and then the shot would have been even better

3rd shot
Like the framing overall (but be careful on cutting off parts of hands). Sharpness doesnt look on but possibly too slow of a shutter speed, I would bump up the shadows or contrast to make it pop a bit more.

I like the exposure, I like the colors, clarity, cutting off big dresses is ok if there's a ton left, but on this one cutting off the tiny bit thats left is drawing my eye to keep looking at it...twice as much open space above her\him than below.

I like the editing, the light the blacks, the colors...very good...I probably would have liked a tighter shot of them too for more personal expressions but I still like that shot a lot.

Good stuff....the critique is more of the nitpick photo stuff that even the greatest photo folks could get critiqued for. Keep up the good work and in a week or so Ill have some stuff you guys can hammer me on.

#3 WonJohnSoup on 5 years ago

1) I like the contrast and color tone on the faces. I would pull down the exposure on the top of the hair for the girl and perhaps put a white vignette all around since it looks like you were going for a "coming out of the skies" look.

2) I like harsh backlight/narrow lighting. It's a little hot for my tastes on the weapon. And there's the obvious problem of the background. I would have taken the time to ask the model to rotate and try to find a better background if there was one. It looks like you did some post to try to split the model from the background but I don't know if there's much you can do other than a total color desaturation or heavy lens blur.

3) Very flat contrast and dull colors. I would warm it all up, saturate it a little and do a selective exposure bump on the model.

4) Looks like there wasn't much you can do about the bad lighting. I also don't like the sharpness of the background since the model is so close to it. I would have asked them to step away from the wall. I would've maybe added a dutch angle to this one and maybe add a black vignette to make the model pop out more from the background.

5) The black costume blends directly into the background along with the rope. It's all a little too sharp and in focus for me. The lighting itself didn't seem directed. There's a strange black shadow line running across the male's face before hitting the female's face. If that's what you were going for, I would bump up the contrast a lot to bring the male's face almost into black to dramatize it.

I like the first two =)

#4 Sufida on 5 years ago

Obviously some inspiration here from my last thread so I am obligated to comment.

What kind of equipment do you use? Everything seems to have this certain "sharp" look to it. Something that can be beneficial, but also a problem with certain compositions.

1) Mixed thoughts here. I like the close intimacy of the two characters.. might even would of like it more if they were facing each other as opposed to the right one looking at the camera (Here is a similar photo I took [url][/url] ). The person on the left makes the photo seem a little goofy, but that could be good if that is what you are going for and it fits the series.

The exposure is a problem though. The "blown out" look can work sometimes, but it becomes a problem when you lose detail. If the one on the right had a different hair color it probably would not be as much of a problem.

I do like the black bar in the middle which manages to give the photo a little depth and even some meaning to it.

2) This has the makings to be pretty good, but some problems get in the way for me. I personally hate when there is people in the background. It kills the illusion and atmosphere. If you stop somebody for a photo, try to angle or direct people to where you would have a nice isolated look. Ideally what I consider great cosplay photography is when the photo you took at a convention doesn't look like it was taken at one.

3) This is actually pretty good, but I don't like how his lower arm is cropped. It throws off the composition balance and makes it appear there is too much headroom.

4) I think I see what you are going for and I like that. However the biggest problem to me personally is the color of the wall. It also looks filthy. The lighting also doesn't do much since you are losing that degree of separation between background and subject.

What I would recommend in post if possible..

Dodge the person a little bit

Desaturate the yellow on the wall to a nice cool grey to help give it the castle wall look.

Maybe darken the wall. I usually achieve this by making a selection around the wall and painting black over it at a low opacity like 10%.

If I had to take this shot I would of been tempted to do it at a medium length since I hate how the floor looks.

5) Good pose and sense of intimacy. However one thing I think would make it look A LOT better is to rotate it counter clockwise and then crop some of the dead space.

For whatever reason everything works a lot better in my opinion. Even the lighting has new meaning to it.


I definitely wouldn't say any of these are bad nor would I toss them out if they were my

The ideas and potential are great. Although there is room for improvement. What I would suggest is to remember that the background is just as important and sometimes even more important than the subject itself. If you can't avoid a situation like in the 4th photo, try to find small subtle ways to make the background look better in editing and to help the subject stand out.

#5 Ashurachan on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=Sufida;4815917]Obviously some inspiration here from my last thread so I am obligated to comment.

What kind of equipment do you use? Everything seems to have this certain "sharp" look to it. Something that can be beneficial, but also a problem with certain compositions[/QUOTE]

All con photos are taken with my 35/2.0. I can't wait to go full frame, so I can use my 50/1.4 instead (really prefer the look of everything I take with the 50, and yay for more background blur).
It's quite sharp a lens but some of the sharpness is from pp.

The studio shoot was with my 24-105/4.0. In a small room and 400W studio flashes, too powerful for the size of the room, but there was NO way I could shoot that in the living room with my kids watching, haha (if only I had been able to do it on another day...). I struggled with the light, more than ever. And I struggled with space. There's not a single full body shot in the set because even at 24 mm, I couldn't get a full body shot.

To expand a bit on the photos, the circumstances, and the like (all your objections are valid, not trying to justify anything) :
1) was part of a minishoot I did at that con (full set here : [url][/url] ). As you can see on the first photos, the natural light was extremely harsh, so I quickly decided on backlighting everything. Keeping faces in shadow made the cosplayers look better, but the edges of the blonde wig were pretty much blown out if I exposed skin properly - which I did because it's all about expressions here.
The panicked expression is very much intentional btw ^^

2) Same day same place, very harsh light again, backlighting again. Other angles just didn't work lightwise, or were even more cluttered. I slightly desaturated and overexposed the background to bring the cosplayer forth.
fun fact : the sword can be broken down in seven parts, just like in the movie. That was awesome ^^

3) Framing is more or less because of the background - it's the original Tardis, which is cool, but there was this rail running in front of it that I tried to cut off - which resulted in cutting part of the hand (see the full thing on the group shot : [url][/url])
Again, a choice : cutting off the hand in order to have a better background.

4) This wall had like, at least a dozen photogs in front of it - just counting the ones who were serious about it. The place was crowded with photogs shooting, cosplayers waiting for their turn, and random visitors trying to get a snapshot. It's one of the least ugly place in JE, and it's just next to the cosplayers' changing rooms.
The wall itself is not that nice, but it's one of the most even backgrounds you can get in the whole con.
re : cutting things / I have to check, but I think I had it whole in the original shot, but it wasn't straight. I really really likes that train, the paint job was fantastic.

5) To give a context, full set here : [url][/url]
Yeah, it was all about the fanservice. And damn it was hard to shoot (but FUN). The side light seemed like a good idea - until kimono sleeves came in the way.

#6 fam-cosplayphotographer on 5 years ago

I like your in-con portraits\candids a lot now that ive got to see your flickr page...good stuff.

And a lot of your white background photoshoots are awesome (good use of wide angles etc)

#7 Sufida on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=Ashurachan;4816336]All con photos are taken with my 35/2.0. I can't wait to go full frame, so I can use my 50/1.4 instead (really prefer the look of everything I take with the 50, and yay for more background blur).
It's quite sharp a lens but some of the sharpness is from pp.

Why would not having FF prevent you from using the 50?

#8 Ashurachan on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=jonashley;4816354]I like your in-con portraits\candids a lot now that ive got to see your flickr page...good stuff.

And a lot of your white background photoshoots are awesome (good use of wide angles etc)[/QUOTE]

Hey thanks ! Spontaneous portraits are fun and easy to do, when I'm tired I put my 50 on and just shoot people around me. It's a no brainer really ^^;
One day I'll do these with a 85/1.2 with a full frame sensor and everybody will want to shoot with me (... I can dream OK ?).

White background looks nice once processed, but the processing just takes ages... I like full body shots, but I don't have the light modifiers to get an even bakground on them, so... Photoshop. A awful lot of it. It was an absolute nightmare with a fabric background (JE 2010), it's faster with paper (JE 2011 and later) - but still tedious as hell. And at home I can't use wide paper (not enough space) so there's even more processing to get white background where there was just my boring and somewhat cluttered living room :p

[QUOTE=Sufida;4816371]Why would not having FF prevent you from using the 50?[/QUOTE]

Space ! I like to do full body shots to get the full costumes, but there's not enough room at cons to do that :/

#9 nathancarter on 5 years ago

A lot of my thoughts have already been covered by the above critiques.

#1 is probably my favorite out of the five. At first the facial expressions threw me off, but if those are intentional, then good job. In any case, better than just "look at the camera and smile."

#2 is the weakest of the five, for reasons already covered: It's really hot/overexposed, and the background clutter kills it. It's fine for a con snapshot, though the blown areas on the weapon still detract. I'm generally a fan of ETTR, or "Expose-To-The-Right," meaning to expose just to the point where you're not quite losing highlights. Then pull back the exposure and highlights in the raw processor, and the shadows should be pretty noise-free and detailed.

If you shot in raw, you can probably selectively pull back the highlights on the weapon using an adjustment brush.

#3 is my second-favorite of the set. You probably could have gotten around the railing problem by having him reach one hand (or sonic screwdriver) toward the camera, instead of cutting it off there at his waist.
It's a little bright, cool, and desaturated for my tastes - especially given the lighting style in the show. Not a whole lot you can do in a con lighting situation. Might benefit from half a stop exposure reduction, a little more saturation, and a very mild vignette.

#4. is fine for a con snapshot to show off the costume. Again not a lot you can do in a con situation. I don't really like the framing with her facing out of the side of the frame, though I realize you were trying to keep the whole train in the shot.

Might have been better with her facing square to the camera - generally a no-no in portraits of women, but would have worked to show off the dress, especially if she was making a gesture appropriate to the character (arms raised overhead, or outstretched, or something). You would lose the train, but be able to make better use of the geometric background to frame her, so I think the overall shot would be better.

#5 is a little confusing to me. The pose probably would have worked better with changes to the framing and the lighting. I don't at all like the highlight/shadow transition across both their faces, where your side light cuts across his shoulder. If you're shooting two lights, use one light as a main light in the front, and a second light behind the subjects (beside the edge of the backdrop, or something) to give a rim light to pop them out of the background. The rim/edge light becomes especially important when you have dark hair and/or a dark costume against a dark background.

My method of shooting with black backdrops: Put your rim light way back behind the subjects - clamp it to the backdrop stand as high as you can get it - not directly to the side of the subject. Then get some space between the subject and the backdrop.

Here's a shoot I did in a relatively cramped space: It's in the dressing room for the 2012 Halloween show of my dance/stage group. We have a wide empty space with a low drop ceiling and a grungy carpet floor. One bare Speedlight clamped to the backdrop stand as the rim light; one Speedlight in a brolly-box umbrella. as the main light. Mark a piece of tape on the floor where you want your subjects to stand; otherwise they gravitate to stand an inch in front of the backdrop.

Self-portrait of the setup, using a remote:
[url=]Moxie_20121006_9212-2.jpg[/url] by [url=]nathancarter[/url], on Flickr

Results - click through the to set for all of them. Doesn't work for a big group or a true full-length shot, but works great for 3/4 and headshots of individuals or small groups. Background processing is minimal, though there is a little bit here and there.
[url=]Moxie_20121006_9228-2.jpg[/url] by [url=]nathancarter[/url], on Flickr

Separate shoot - here's one in a very tiny space using white backdrop. Two bare Speedlights pointed at the paper; one Speedlight in an umbrella for the main light. Sorry for the crummy behind-the-scenes, but this shows you the tiny space we were working in. I extended the paper to about 6" above the floor, knowing that a true full-length shot was not possible. You can kinda see one of the background lights on a stand on the right edge of the frame. The other one is just out of the left of the frame, sitting on the fireplace mantel if I recall correctly.

[url=]Moxie shoot BTS[/url] by [url=]nathancarter[/url], on Flickr

[url=]Moxie_Headshots_20130225_2082.jpg[/url] by [url=]nathancarter[/url], on Flickr

One of the keys to both of these setups is to get space between the subject and the background. Sometimes you have to get a little creative, or a lot creative. For the white background above, I was literally shooting from another room, through the doorway between rooms, so that my subjects were not backed up to the paper. (I was was NOT shooting from the place I'm shown in the behind-the-scenes shot, that one is a little white lie).

Two big advantages here: By shooting from far away with a longer focal length, you're using perspective to your advantage; you don't need a big backdrop to achieve usable results. And, you get separation between subject and background, both in DOF and in your lighting (spilling from the background lights onto the subject, or spilling from your rim/main lights onto black background). By making sure your lights go where you want them and not where you don't want them, your tedious background cleanup in post-processing is minimized.

When I'm doing this setup at home, I put the paper against the back door and shoot from my front hall - literally using the whole length of my house to shoot:

#10 Ashurachan on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=nathancarter;4816638]My method of shooting with black backdrops: Put your rim light way back behind the subjects - clamp it to the backdrop stand as high as you can get it - not directly to the side of the subject. Then get some space between the subject and the backdrop.[/QUOTE]

I'll try to get a clamp and use my strobe as rim light next time (studio flash is way too heavy for the backdrop). But space will always be a problem when I shoot at home (but things will get a bit better with full frame I guess)

I know the trick of lighting the white paper background (we did it in our JE studio), but it's still difficult to get it even for full body shots. Or people dressed in white...

#11 Sufida on 5 years ago

One day I'll do these with a 85/1.2 with a full frame sensor and everybody will want to shoot with me (... I can dream OK ?).


I feel you might of been a little mislead here and I can't blame you with the huge focus on technical aspects the past couple of years. A focus shift that has been pushed more by those behind the camera rather than the people in front of it.

Going full frame will not the end all-be all of all your problems and for some people it can cause more problems or bad expectations. I am not sure the specific camera you are using, but the lenses you named already seem like quite an arsenal you have. Some of the aspects that were brought up could easily be touched upon by use of direction, composition and editing techniques. Perhaps toying with some of your camera settings as well.

If you read the thread I started, for the longest time all I had was a t2i, 50mm 1.8 and a 17-85f4-5.6 (which is technically "worse" than your 35mm f/2). However that did not prevent me from taking hundreds of quality images which some of been printed, published and even awarded. There are also other people who have achieved amazing results with the same equipment and much less. Depending on the size of the convention I use to get booked up all day to the point I had to limit how many shoots per day I allowed.

It's just a matter of using what you have and making the best of it. I know stuff like taking full body shots on something like a 50mm or without people in the background can be tough, but I have done it before and it's just one of those things where you have to push yourself to make it work.

Where as the more technical things such as better gear.. that is where you need to think of all that as more of an assistant to your vision rather than the sole hand that paints it. Focus more on the fundamentals such as directing (perhaps the biggest part), angles, editing and lighting. Then when you do get opportunities to upgrade you will be able to utilize them more because you have already explored a fraction of the potential with your current capabilities.

#12 Ashurachan on 5 years ago

I was joking, OK ? ^^;

I _know_ changing my body won't magically solve my problems... I just can't stand my current limitations anymore. One of them is that I have to use the 35 when shooting at cons, and I don't really like that lens - I largely preferred the 50/1.8 when I had it (the main reason why I upgraded to the 1.4 was the focusing problems, not image quality or wider aperture). And my sensor really is an old thing, with my shooting style I could really use better low light performance.

I didn't shoot much last year, I lacked time, I lacked motivation, and that lack of training really shows in the end. I know shooting more would be key to get better, but between constraints (like my family) and lack of energy, I didn't have many opportunities. I feel I haven't improved in the last couple of years and it's extremely frustrating.