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!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2017 Modesto Con 7.8.17

Author: Luke Cheng

The second ever Modesto Con took place this past weekend and I was on hand to check out all the festivities. I remember enjoying Modesto Con last year and this year I was reminded why. It's a well-organized event that is great fun for all ages. A lot of thought went into this convention so that all who attended had plenty to enjoy. Though Modesto is a bit of a distance from Sacramento, I'd wholeheartedly recommend coming to Modesto Con. It's that good!

It was a pretty warm day on Saturday, but the plaza out front was filled with people hanging out, entering the con, and taking photos. A lot of cosplayers came to Modesto Con, some with some very unique parts to their cosplay. Check out this amazing Dragon Ball Z cosplay. His cloud was motorized and he was zipping in, out, and around the con!

A number of special cosplay guests were inside the con at their tables. It was great seeing Jedi Moon Cosplay hanging out with an assortment of cool things on display. She was in her signature Sailor Moon-Jedi mashup that she is well-known for. We got to catch up a little at her table. 

The main concourse of the convention center had this great brick wall that made for a very nice backdrop. With the right lighting settings, I was able to get it to look like a night scene in an alley. I did a few shots with Cammie and Trent on this wall. I always find it amazing how you can use lighting to transform the look and feel of different environments. Nobody could probably tell this was inside a well lit room full of convention goers!

It was a great surprise to see Necikait at a dealers booth in the main dealers hall. You've seen plenty of my pics with her on the site already, but here's one as she's helping out a friend's crown store. The dealer hall had a good amount of items to see and buy. A separate large room held the artists alley, so the two combined made for a very large area to walk around and browse. Thankfully, both rooms had the AC cranked so everyone inside felt comfortable away from the scorching summer heat.

If you went downstairs, you'd find Modesto Con's games area. This area held both video games and board game/table top games. This Borg cube piece really stood out to me. People who were interested in Star Trek could sit and learn how to play this strategy game. As the day went on the game room held more and more people competing with each other. 

Video games were very popular to play in the game room. Many folks brought their own controllers to play against other con attendees. Most of the games at the con were modern games on the Playstation 4. Quite a few screens were dedicated to Tekken and Street Fighter matches. If you love fighting games, this was the place to be. You could literally spend the entire con here taking on different people.

Now this is something I don't see at many events... free water! Sure, there may be drinking fountains at some large meeting centers, but Modesto Con had these water stations scattered around the convention area for people to get hydrated. The stations had plastic cups so that they could take the water and go. I thought this was extremely considerate, a class A move by the organizers! Round of applause for this for sure!

I have to say that this year's Modesto Con was a blast to attend. I really enjoyed the entire atmosphere here. Though Modesto Con was pretty well attended, I think even more people should come and check it out in the future. This year the con was a two-day event, but I was only able to participate in the first day. Maybe next year I'll be able to do both! We'll see! For a full gallery of pics from Modesto Con, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Cosplay Photoshoot - Ghost Peach as Rogue (Ms. Marvel) 6.27.17

Author: Luke Cheng

I'm glad I finally got together with Ghost Peach (@ghostfrills on Instagram) for a shoot last week! I had actually met her last year during Wizard World, but we only just got together to collaborate. She donned a sweet retro Rogue wearing Ms. Marvel's costume cosplay for our session. I am a huge fan of 80's and 90's X-Men so this was right up my alley.

The location of our shoot was once again on the UC Davis campus at the 'Death Star'. There's not a lot of urban going on in Davis, but this location has some architecturally interesting locations so I chose to come here. It was early evening during the golden hour so we had some great light to take photos in. All the photos were done in natural light on my Sony a9. I still don't have a flash unit for the Sony system yet, but I'm itching for one!

You may recognize the location in this photo as I love to come here. There is just so much going on in the background in terms of perspective. This is definitely one of my go-to's when I'm out here shooting. 

Ghost Peach's cosplay was handmade. It's always awesome when the cosplayer puts in the time and effort to really create their cosplay. For this shot, I wanted to get some unique perspective as well. I was lying on my back looking upwards as I snapped this one.

This is just the first in many collaborations I think Ghost Peach and I will be having. We've already scheduled our next shoot, so I'm excited to show those photos to you when they are done. I highly recommend subbing to her Instagram (@ghostfrills) to see what kind of cosplay she has in store in the future! CLICK HERE for a full gallery of this photoshoot.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Cosplay Photoshoot - Cobra 1st Legion at Oakland Air Museum 6.24.17

Author: Luke Cheng

The Cobra 1st Legion planned a very special photoshoot at the Oakland Air Museum on July 24th, 2017. The shoot would be centered around the Dreadnoks, a gang affiliated with GI Joe's enemy Cobra. I fondly remember the Dreadnoks in the old GI Joe cartoon and comics in the 80s and 90s. They didn't have the tech that Cobra had at their power, but they did have a lot of fun and colorful personalities. I knew that with the Dreadnoks as a theme this shoot would be a ton of fun.

We arrived at the Oakland Air Museum and began with some individual portraits inside the main hanger area. Each person that came out got a few individual portraits in front of one of the planes in there. I always prefer to do something with a little personality so I had each person pose in a way that expressed the character that they were cosplaying. Besides the Dreadnoks we had members of GI Joe, Cobra, and other fandoms in attendance.

Going outside we took advantage of the areas around the planes to get some action shots done. Here's a pic of Low Light kicking Zartan, the Dreadnok leader, in the stomach. Shooting these action sequences was probably my favorite as capturing action shots is what I like the most. It's fun to get different angles of the action that is going on. I have a heavy influence from comic books, so often I like to take pictures that could have come out straight from a comic book panel.

Poor Big Ben! It looks like Firefy is really giving him a hard time in this photo. You'll notice that most of the photos have a heavily stylized look. I purposely wanted to edit the photos in a way that brought out some of the grittiness of the Dreadnoks. I felt that this particular palette of colors gave an older feel to the pics. Since this era of GI Joe cosplay was centered in the 80's, I wanted to go for an 80's feel. All the colors are there, but they are muted. 

I didn't do this for too many of the photos, but for some I did dip into Photoshop to add some gunfire and graphics. In the GI Joe cartoon, the Joes and Cobras didn't really actually fire bullets, rather they fired red and blue laser beams at each other. I guess that was to keep the cartoon less violent, but I wasn't about to do that for these shots. I was able to find some nice gunfire graphics to use for this and other photos.

This was a really successful event and all who attended had a really fun time. The Oakland Air Museum was very accommodating to us! It was all smiles as the Cobra 1st Legion took photos, check out the planes, and made some videos! 

What a great day out in Oakland! Thanks to all who came out and a special thanks goes out to the organizers of the event. I felt everything went smoothly. Here's a pic of everyone who came out (except for the Mandolorian Outer Rim guys). Check out all my photos from this awesome event by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Wizard World Day Three 6.18.17

Author: Luke Cheng

I made it to the third day of Wizard World Sacramento! Today's scheduling was the shortest of the three days, and it happened to be father's day too, so I really wondered what the turnout would be like. Would the con be a ghost town? Hopefully not! Like I said in my previous post, the attendance this year for Wizard World has been underwhelming, and it was again for this third and final day. But that being said, there's no reason not to enjoy the con experience. If anything, less people would mean more room to roam around! Though overall there were fewer people out at the con, I still got to see good friends like Jess and spend time with them. Winning!

I didn't have a photo of it until now, but the old school Adam West style Batmobile was on display. You can clearly see and admire it, but getting inside in the seats would require a small fee. I personally didn't think the fee was unreasonable, so if I were a huge fan of the old Batman series, I'd definitely spend a little money to get inside of it. The car was in great shape - mint condition from my viewing angle of it!

I've done this before! Many folks got the chance to get a caricature drawn on themselves or with loved ones/friends. I'm always amazed at how good these artists are at making a simple cartoon drawing really look like you. It looks like this family is getting a caricature portrait done for themselves. What a great little thing to remember father's day with. I'd definitely find a place to hang up the finished drawing.

Looking for love? This Wizard World vendor had you covered! Throughout the weekend, people could sign up for a session of speed dating. This sounds like a pretty fun idea that I hope a lot of people took advantage of! I mean, what better way to meet people who are interested in possibly the same thing as you? I think this idea is fabulous, and the girls going around promoting it had some pretty sweet cosplay going on!

Kids got to show off the cosplay on the main stage today. It was really cool to see a lot of people at the main stage cheering the kids on. There were a lot of really nice cosplay to see. This Michael Jackson cosplayer not only had the look, but he had the moves as well. They cranked up the music for him and he impressed us with his dance moves. Well done kid!

I did not leave empty handed at the con. On Saturday I got the chance to pick up a premium format Baroness statue that I had been eyeing for a while, and today I picked out some Uncanny X-Men titles to enjoy. I have a pretty decent collection of Uncanny X-Men, and I try to get any issues that I do not have yet. These books were just a dollar each. What a great price! I probably should have gotten some more, but I only have five bucks on me the entire time.

I couldn't leave Wizard World without getting a few more shots of Maid of Might. Today she was in a Spider-Man themed suite that looked fabulous on her. We went off to a quiet part of the large hall and did a short photo session similar to the one on Friday. I liked these photos better than the ones we did that day! I hope Maid of Might gets to come back to Sacramento soon, a photoshoot on location outside of a con would be so awesome!

This year's Wizard World was a mixed bag for many. I know a lot of people who didn't attend because of the cost factor. The people at Wizard World need to make money in order for their business to run and for it all to work, but as of now, that's what I think contributes greatly to having low attendance. I'm no economist, so I don't have any solutions, but I do hope changes to the pricing structures can be made so that more people feel that they can afford this con. Wizard World has gotten smaller each year since I first went a couple years back. I really want that trend to reverse... but I'm not pinning any hopes on that!

Thanks for coming again this year Wizard World. I'd love to be back again next year! For now, if you'd like to check out my day three gallery, CLICK HERE.

Monday, June 19, 2017

2017 Wizard World Day Two 6.17.17

Author: Luke Cheng

I thought yesterday was a bit of a slow start for the first day of Wizard World. Today it was definitely a lot livelier with a much greater number of people in attendance. I was definitely excited to see what people would bring in terms of cosplay today. A couple of my favorites were these two lovely ladies (@andieinreallife and @facesbyrachie on Instagram). Their cosplay was on point and they were taking pictures with everyone. 

Here's a cosplay that stood out in many ways! First of all, it's big! And unless you've been hiding under a rock recently, you'll know that this is a fidget spinner - one of the most popular toys currently. Not only does this cosplay look cool, it actually could spin around and around. This guy definitely gets bonus points for making this thing work. Toy fidget spinners could be found all over the main hall as dealers were stocking them in all shapes and forms. 

Similarly to yesterday, the main stage near the entrance was where a lot of the entertainment was going on. I walked into Wizard World to a full band rocking out for the con goers. A lot was happening throughout the day here. One of the most memorable moments was a special tribute to Adam West. Wizard World took a moment of silence to remember him as he had just passed away the week prior. It was pretty cool to experience the entire hall go quiet for that short time. On the stage various Batman cosplays were represented as well as the Bat symbol shown on all the stage's screens.

The panel stage towards the back of the hall didn't have any time off today. The schedule was packed with interesting things to learn about. The photo above is of a cosplay panel talking about how to create cosplay on a budget. It was great to see local cosplayers on this panel giving advice to those in attendance. They had quite the crowd listening - hopefully they learned a lot and will put what they heard into practice in the near future.

I took a break from the indoor action and braved the sweltering heat to hang out with my friends Cassie and Skye on a little shoot Skye was doing as Spider-man. While Skye was off shooting, Cassie and I did a few pics. It was a nice time to test out my new camera's high speed shooting so I had Cassie do some hair flips. Good times!

I didn't want to hijack Skye's photoshoot, but I did get to take a few shots at different angles while he was shooting with Les. Towards the end of the shoot we did a few fun photos with the both of them together. Here's an edit I did of Skye shaking Les' hand while sticking to the wall. I love how Skye always has fun creative ideas for photos.

Though today's turnout for the con was better than yesterday's, I felt that the attendance was lacking. And the overall energy of this con was low. Wizard World has a lot of fun things going on and some stellar special guests, but it is also a con that charges a lot in order to get the full benefits. Those on a budget are probably priced out of the con, sadly, which of course would decrease the number who could attend. The combination of triple digit temperatures and Father's Day/Graduation weekend probably didn't help either. Thankfully, I still had fun - especially with the cool dudes from GeekHQ. Day three coming up to finish out Wizard World tomorrow! Check out my gallery of day two photos by CLICKING HERE.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

2017 Wizard World Day One 6.16.17

Author: Luke Cheng

Wizard World has made its way back to Sac on this very hot weekend. With temperatures climbing into the triple digits, it's got me wondering if people will leave their air conditioned homes and come to the convention center. This first day of Wizard World was a little slow, but that's expected for a Friday as cons usually don't reach full attendance until Saturday. I actually enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere as it gave me a chance to get a lay of the land and acclimate myself to the ins and outs of the show.

Since my focus is always on the cosplay, one of the first places I went to was the guest cosplayers area. This is the place where some very talented cosplayers are featured. I remember meeting Brit Bliss last year, and she looks even better now! She had a variety of prints to look at and purchase. It was awesome seeing her at the show again.

Maid of Might was another of the special cosplay guests. She's actually a very well known and respected local cosplayer, but recently moved down to Southern California. It was awesome seeing her again as her cosplays are some of my absolute favorites. We actually got to do a little impromptu photoshoot behind her booth. You can check out the photos from that in the link at the end of this posting!

These cute maids were walking around the con encouraging people to go the maid cafe. The maid cafe is a little part of the convention where you can go to chill, play games, or relax. I passed by the maid cafe quite a few times as I was making my way around the hall, and each time it looked like there was a lot of fun going on in there. These girls were also passing out candy to people. I usually don't take candy from strangers, but I would make an exception here!

Fandom gatherings usually take place on a staircase or large area outside the main show area. For the first time (I believe) in Wizard World history, the gatherings were to take place on the main stage at the con entrance. DC cosplayers got the chance to take center stage and show off their awesome cosplay first. This is a DC gathering... but if you look closely, there may be a Marvel character getting some of the limelight as well.

The main hall of Wizard World was broken up into different sections where different things went on. Different areas featured various panels to sit in on. There were regular panel rooms as well, but I thought these public panels on the show floor were an interesting idea. Here we have Brit Bliss holding a panel on cosplay. Checking the show's program is critical in figuring out where to be for the various panels being held at Wizard World this year. You gotta make sure you're in the right spot!

One thing I really appreciate about Wizard World is its focus on entertainment. There's always something going on somewhere. Music, dance, and other forms of entertainment could be seen just about everywhere you looked. If I got tired of walking around, it was awesome to just chill out and listen to some music coming from the stage. 

It was a really nice beginning to the con. I saw some great cosplays around the main hall and enjoyed the sights and sounds all around. Tomorrow should be a much more packed day. Getting some rest is going to be key in being able to have energy for the entire day. If you'd like to see all my photos from this first day of Wizard World, CLICK HERE.