Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cosplay Photoshoot - Tharja from Fire Emblem by Sim 9.7.17

Author: Luke Cheng

Today I got to shoot with Sim in her Tharja cosplay! Tharja is a character from the popular long running Fire Emblem game series. This was my first time meeting and shooting with Sim, and it was a great experience! She's a super cool cosplayer and very fun to work with! If you're interested in finding out a bit more about Sim, she does have a Youtube channel. CLICK HERE to check out some of her videos.

We decided to meet at Discovery Park in Sacramento for this shoot. I've shot at Discovery Park only once before, but the conditions weren't ideal that day. Today it was much, much nicer. We met in the early evening during the golden hour. The sun provided some beautiful soft light for the photographs. I tried to take advantage of this gorgeous light as much as I could. As you photogs know, the golden hour doesn't last very long!

Because it was golden hour and I wanted to shoot quicker, I decided to go with only natural light. I've been wanting to bring out the speed lights for some flash photography, but it can be cumbersome. Flash photography definitely gives out a more contrasty image, but I find that the natural light also has a very pleasing softness to it. I guess it's just a matter of taste! All the photos taken today were using my Sony a9 with an 85mm 1.4 G master lens mounted to it. That particular camera is probably best for natural light as it has has lighting fast autofocus and uses an electronic shutter (something that's not ideal for flash photography).

Sim's Tharja cosplay was very detailed and well thought out. Each part of the cosplay had intricate parts that took care to create. In terms of posing, I appreciated that Sim had ideas already in mind. We were able to shoot the poses she wanted as well as poses that I came up with during the shoot. The whole process was very smooth and we were able to do the entire shoot within an hour.

It was a great pleasure working with Sim today. I loved the photos that we were able to create together and hopefully we'll be able to do another shoot sometime soon. CLICK HERE if you'd like to see the full gallery of photos from our time together.

Monday, September 4, 2017

2017 Summer SacAnime Day Three

Author: Luke Cheng

I'm back for the third and final day of summer SacAnime. Yesterday was an extremely busy day in which I tried to experience everything. Today I decided to slow things down, spend some time with people, and really concentrate on the cosplay aspect of the con. As typical, the final day of the con has a noticeably smaller attendance, but that was ok since it opened up a lot more space to move around in the hallways!

I think a lot of folks took advantage of the third day to really connect with people. I saw a lot of people chatting and having conversations. Saturday has such a packed schedule that it can be hard to not feel rushed. It was great to catch up with the friends I saw and snap a few photos of them. 

The cosplay scene at the con continued to be on point today. A lot of fandoms were represented all throughout the event. These two Street Fighter cosplayers were upstairs doing moves to some music that they brought. Ryu was flipping around in the air! I got them during a moment of rest to get this quick photo of them.

Check out this incredible Edward Scissorhands cosplay! Everything about this cosplay is spot on! I remember watching the movie when it was released - it really left an impact on me as I'm sure it did to many others. It's awesome to see an older movie like that get some sweet cosplay at SacAnime.

I had some free time today so I had the opportunity to do a couple of short photo sessions. My first with was the white and green ranger. I really wanted to capture some action because that's what the Power Rangers are all about. I think we got some good air in this particular shot!

My second mini session was with this punk Overwatch group. Overwatch was an extremely popular cosplay during SacAnime, but this was certainly one of the more unique Overwatch concepts. Each cosplay in the group is really well done and unique. I love all the looks they are sporting!

Ahh, Summer SacAnime comes to a close. It's always a little sad when this convention ends as it is always one of the most enjoyable ones. Thankfully we get to do it all again come January! Can't wait! For now, CLICK HERE for a complete gallery of pics from this day!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

2017 Summer SacAnime Day Two

Author: Luke Cheng

Day two of SacAnime was an incredible experience. There was so much to see and so much to do! I was excited and had a lot of energy, but I feel like I was only able to see a fraction of the content presented at the con. Today I made it a goal to get photos of outstanding cosplay, check out some group gatherings, listen to some panels, and attend the Geek Fashion show. It was a lot to attempt, but I gave it my all!

One of the first things I did when I arrived was to go see the Final Fantasy and Overwatch gatherings. They were both going on at the same time so it was easy for me to bounce back and forth between them. I am a huge fan of all things Final Fantasy, so I had to check out the cosplays there first. The gathering welcomed the entire series of Final Fantasy games, but the majority of the cosplayers were dressed in Final Fantasy XV cosplay, which makes sense as it is the latest release.

I wasn't the only photographer capturing all the gathering action. There were a ton of others out there with their cameras clicking away. I would say most of the photogs were at the Overwatch gathering. The Overwatch gathering was absolutely HUGE. The group took up a huge portion of the upstairs balcony. It was hard to find a spot amongst everyone to take pictures but I managed well enough. I'll say this... there will be no shortages of Overwatch images coming out of SacAnime!

Though I would call myself a bigger Final Fantasy fan, I really do love Overwatch and play it quite often on the PS4. Blizzard has a great game on their hands as it has really become a worldwide phenomenon. They have continued to update the game with new characters and skins so that gamers continue to keep interest. Cosplayers definitely have a huge choice when it comes to their Overwatch cosplay. Thanks Blizzard for all the variety!

When it got too hot I decided to go inside and check out some of the panel rooms. These rooms ranged in size from a smaller hall to a big auditorium like the one pictured above. SacAnime had an amazing list of celebrity guests this year. Con-goers packed the rooms to see and listen to their favorite stars.

The question and answer portion of panels is one of my favorite things to be a part of. I like it because I love seeing fans interact with their idols. There is genuine emotion that often comes out as well as some really great questions. The picture above show a fan asking John Ratzenberger a question. You'll recognize John as one of the main characters of the old Cheers sitcom. If not, then you'll probably know him as one of the voices in your favorite Pixar movie. 

Also taking place inside were the numerous game rooms. Long tables were set up so that people could come and play competitive card and board games. Board games have become increasingly popular. The complex nature of many of them are a lot of fun. The awesome thing about this at SacAnime is that many of the board games are provided. Just pick one that you want to try, get a group together and have a ton of fun!

Be it board games or card games, there are always people around in the rooms willing to get a game going. Of all the local cons, SacAnime has got one of the biggest rooms to play in. It was really impressive to see how many people were in there competing. If video games are more of your thing, another room was set up especially for video games. SacAnime really does have it all if you're looking to play!

The Geek Fashion show is an event that I love covering. I regretfully missed the Stockton Con show, so I was really happy to attend this one. The Geek Fashion show is an event that showcases clothing lines that appeal to people who enjoy con-related things like Star Wars, comics, steampunk, etc. The models who come up on stage showcasing the clothes are all part of the local cosplay community. The Geek Fashion show has become a showcase event that definitely shouldn't be missed if you can help it.

It was awesome to see many cosplayers I know up on the stage modelling some amazing designs. My friend November Cosplay actually had her own line of clothing to showcase today. She, and all the other designers, presented some really unique clothing I know many would be interested in trying out.

I waited until the end of the day to check out the autograph hall. I was avoiding it because there were many long lines earlier looking to snag a celebrity autograph. Many of the autographs at SacAnime are free - which is virtually unheard of in this day and age!

Whew, I had a really full day today at SacAnime. I felt that I really made the most of my day and can't wait to attend the third and final day of the con tomorrow. If you'd like to see my full gallery of photos from day two, CLICK HERE

Friday, September 1, 2017

2017 Summer SacAnime Day One

Author: Luke Cheng

It's Labor Day weekend, so you know what that means... SacAnime! This is a weekend I always look forward to as SacAnime is probably my favorite convention event in the Sacramento area. There is always excitement in the air when SacAnime hits and the attendance is always very good. This time around the con has grown to take over the entire Sacramento Convention Center. There was lots to see and do, and this was just day one!

The best part about cons is the people who come to them. Over the years it has been a pleasure getting to know who come to them regularly. Many of these people I can call friends now, which is awesome. I used to take a lot of selfies at cons - I am not one of those photographers who is shy in front of the camera, but this past year I've done it less. I really wanted to capture some memories with the awesome people I've gotten to know, so it was definitely time for the return of the selfie! Here's one of me with Nancy and Ivan in their DC inspired cosplay.

Besides the cosplayers, I've love being able to 'talk shop' with the numerous photogs who come out to conventions. There really isn't anything I like more than talking about camera gear. Justin is a photographer that I met years ago. It's always great seeing him out at these conventions. He takes fabulous photos and we always seem to get to talking about nerdy photography things whenever we run into each other. In this pic he's holding my Sony camera. He doesn't shoot Sony, but he knows it's AWESOME!

Perry, a photographer that everyone loves and respects in the Sacramento area, set up shop in one of the rooms at SacAnime this year. I usually see him running around getting photos of everything happening - it was nice to see him utilizing a sweet lighting set-up. He had a high quality backdrop and was taking photos of any cosplayers who wanted some great photographs. I'm sure he'll be here for both day 2 and day 3, so if you are a cosplayer wanting some killer photos, see Perry!

It was for real over 110 degrees in the Sacramento area today so most people stayed inside the convention center, but as the sun started to set quite a few made it outside to the balcony area to hang out. The balcony is usually packed as it is a picturesque place to shoot photos and have fun. Dave got the cosplayers dancing as the temperature dropped to reasonable levels. I'm always amazed at how many people he gets to get their feet moving. He's an inspirational dancing machine!

I used most of my time at SacAnime finding awesome cosplays to capture in photos. And it was easy today as the cosplayers come out on fire! There were so many amazing cosplayers walking around. SacAnime really does inspire people to get dressed up. Everywhere I looked I wanted to capture images. And this was just Friday! I can't imagine what will be coming up tomorrow! I can hardly wait!

I usually don't schedule photoshoots during cons anymore, but if people ask, I'm more than willing to do one! In my experience, scheduling photoshoots makes the day really hectic. The last time I did that I felt that I was running around all over the place trying to get to the photoshoot locations on time. It's much better just doing impromptu shoots! It was awesome shooting a couple of group cosplays today. I got to shoot with Cassie and her Kingdom Hearts group as well as Trent's Space Jammers. 

For a first day, this was really great! It has gotten me pumped up for tomorrow's big Saturday in downtown Sacramento. If you'd like to see all the photos I've taken today, CLICK HERE for the gallery. Hope to see a lot of folks out at SacAnime this weekend. I know it's going to be a blast!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

2017 Stockton Con 8.19.17

Author: Luke Cheng

Stockton Con has been a very successful yearly event held at the arena in Stockton. It's one of the best run local cons and is a pleasure to attend. The venue is one of the major factors that make this con great. The Stockton Arena is large, has ample seating, and different levels for the various aspects of the con. For first timers, you could spend hours discovering all that this con has to offer!

The concourse today was filled with people. It definitely got quite crowded at times, but this was the place I wanted to be for photos. The large windows let natural light shine through - perfect for photographs. Many people took advantage of this well-lit area to take pictures. Some dealer booths also lined the concourse while arena food vendors were open across from them providing food for hungry con-goers. It was a lively and festive environment abuzz with excitement!

Inside the arena taking up the entire lower level were more dealer booths as well as the artists alley. There was no lack of things to see and buy here. Comic sellers had thousands of issues for sale, memorabilia and toys were at every turn, and beautiful artwork could be purchased from those who had created it. Exploring this area thoroughly could take up most of your day - it's a good thing Stockton Con is a two day event!

Stockton Con is an extremely family friendly event, and people of all ages participate in the fun. I particularly love it when I see families cosplay together. Check out these family's amazingly detailed Predator cosplay. Everybody wanted to snap a picture with them. 

On one of the upper levels, attendees could play games like pinball or join in on video game tournaments. A little further down from this area were the celebrity meet and greet tables. Like I said earlier, Stockton Arena was filled with things to see and do. 

For the aspiring artists, there was even an area to practice the skill of drawing. Tables towards the back of the con had materials for people to make their own comics. Large guides were displayed to help people understand what goes into making a comic book. Aspects like coloring and inking could be briefly studied and then practiced. 

Of course as a cosplay photographer, my main interest was to see all the cosplay going on at Stockton Con, and I have to say that I was very impressed with the cosplay on display today. I saw a lot of unique cosplays from many different fandoms. One of my favorites of the day was this Boom Boom cosplay. Boom Boom is a Marvel character that was popular in the 90's (my era of collecting comic books). I was so surprised to see a Boom Boom cosplay today! This cosplay was definitely a throwback to good times for me!

There were a lot more cosplays that I was able to capture in a photograph. CLICK HERE to see my full gallery of pics from today's Stockton Con. I really enjoyed my time in Stockton today and can't wait for next year's event. If you haven't been, put it on your bucket list and make sure you come to this con next year. It's totally worth it!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

2017 Summer Central Valley Cosplay Gathering

Author: Luke Cheng

The summer Central Valley Cosplay Gathering (CVCG) took place this past Saturday at William Land Park in Sacramento. Of all the gatherings that happen, this has got to be my favorite. It's always fun to see familiar faces and just have a great time hanging out in a beautiful environment. It's summer time here in Sacramento, so that means super hot weather... but thankfully there were plenty of trees to shade everyone from the sunlight. I can equipped with my lighting set-up and cameras. The shot above is of Jedi Moon's Poison Ivy. She was my very first shoot of the day, and I loved the photos we were able to get.

I also got to shoot with Radioactive Night Skies. We've shot together many times, but less recently as she has moved out of town. This particular shot is a favorite of mine, but one that I didn't use my lighting set-up. I think this shot still came out great. Shooting natural light is always a lot easier, but I'm trying to discipline myself into doing more flash photography.

Sean's been bringing his dog Chewie out more often recently! That's been cool as Chewie has been getting into the cosplay game as well. I mean... you see a dog in cosplay... you just have to capture it in a photograph. We sat down and did a few photos together. They turned out SUPER!

For the second CVCG in a row I forgot to bring my ultra wide angle lens, so instead of standing in a traditional place to get the entire group, I got a little closer and chose to find a different angle. This particular shot is the 'funny' group shot where everyone is pointing to Matthew (one of the organizers of the CVCG). 

Lots of pictures were taken that day and a lot of connections were made. I really love the CVCG and hope it continues on for a long time. Events like these offer a more relaxed atmosphere for people to cosplay and hang out. For photographers like myself, they also provide an environment to try out different photography techniques.

I had a blast at the gathering. If you'd like to see my complete gallery of photos from the day, CLICK HERE. The summer is quickly winding down, but there are a few more events up on the horizon to look forward to such as Stockton Con and Summer SacAnime. Hope to see everyone out at those events!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cosplay Photoshoot - Bloody Ash & Misty Pokemon Shoot 7.14.17

Author: Luke Cheng

This past Friday I got together with jessakidding (IG) and madamgoregasm (IG) for a very special themed shoot. We would be capturing images of their Ash and Misty cosplay with... BLOOD!!! This shoot would definitely be darker in mood and tone, so I went with a very stylized look for my photos. I hope you enjoy this unique take on these characters!

Jess suggested shooting in midtown Sacramento so we met up there in the late afternoon/early evening. The weather was absolutely perfect for a photoshoot. I quickly spotted a wooden wall near us and thought that would compliment the look of our theme nicely. Our first shots were taken in front of it. Though we were in the middle of the city, the look takes you into the woods a little.

These girls were not afraid to get a bit violent! That blood had to get there somehow! Many of the shots we took were images of one attacking the other in various ways. This was definitely in the sinister realm of Pokemon! Jess brought this beat up old aluminum baseball bat for a prop. It's grungy look complimented the photos we did nicely. 

This particular shot was obtained by using the Sony a9 camera. I've been using it for a while now and have been loving it. For this photo, I set the camera for a very high frame rate and had Jess jump towards Ash with the bat. There were a lot of frames to choose from, but I liked this one the best. It's awesome when a camera can shoot lots and lots of frames so that the photographer has the choice to find their favorite image from the burst.

Besides the violent pics, I wanted to do some sillier ones as well. In the cartoon, Misty gets mad at Ash quite a bit. I wanted a photo of Misty being mad while Ash is like "What the ****!" I loved the expressions the girls were able to make for these types of photos. 

And to balance out some of the silly photos I also got a few that were more sensual... well... as sensual as blood covered could get. Here's a great pic of Misty trying to cozy up to Ash with no luck whatsoever. Again, both the expressions that these girls have are absolutely perfect!

To finish off the shoot I did a few individual shots of both girls. I chose to do one set in natural light and the other with my new flash. The photos I took in natural light were processed with the same type of look as the other photos in the shoot.

For the flash photography, I decided to forego my stylized editing for a brighter, more contrasty feel. The colors are bolder, and I like this look as well, but I felt the previous editing techniques were great for the overall theme.

All-in-all the shoot was a lot of fun. I loved working with both girls on this shoot and would do it again in a heartbeat! If you enjoyed the photos here on this blog post, I suggest checking out all the rest of the photos in my gallery. CLICK HERE to see the full set!