Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cosplay Photoshoot - November Cosplay as Spider-Girl and Silk 8.27.16

Author: Luke Cheng

Today I got a chance to shoot with November Cosplay (Carla) in both her May Paker and Silk cosplays... talk about double the spider-themed fun! Carla came over to my place where I had set up a gray backdrop. I don't usually shoot with backdrops when it comes to cosplay photography, but whenever I've done it, the results have always been very pleasing. I think the grey backing in these photos worked very well with Carla's bright red and blue Spidey suit. She really pops nicely off of the background.

I had a large Spider-Man Tsum Tsum nearby and Carla went for it during a few of the poses we did. These pictures were super cute of Carla and my pill-shaped Spider-Man. I'm glad this Spidey was nearby as props definitely add greatly to cosplay shoots. In fact, these photos make me want to feature more of the Tsum Tsums and plush items I have lying about the house. Besides the large Spider-Man Tsum Tsum, I have the large Hulk, Chewbacca, and Jabba Tsum Tsums. A life-sized BB-8 push might also make for a fun inclusion in pics. Let me know if you're interested in doing a shoot with any of those!

My gray backdrop isn't very large. In fact, it's really meant to just shoot one-person portraits. Carla was amazing, though, as she was able to get a number of dynamic poses using this backdrop. The most impressive pose during the day was this one shown above. It looks like Carla is propping her legs up and resting them on a gray wall... but there's actually nothing there but paper. She was holding the pose the entire time while I was fiddling with the camera trying to get the right angles for this shot. That's what I call a great model! I love the effort she put in towards getting great shots.

Speaking of putting in effort, this shot was a scary one to take! Well, at least for me. You can't tell from the photo, but Carla is sitting on a ledge that couldn't be more than a foot and a half wide. That's not a big deal except that on the other side of the ledge is a 50 ft drop! Carla has tremendous balance and confidence whereas I was afraid for her the entire time! This was one of my favorite shots though as the background is really unique! You get the feel of a modern urban environment even though we were anywhere but a big city.

We actually shot around the UC Davis campus for Carla's Silk cosplay. UC Davis has a variety of great architecture to use. As long as you shoot the right angles and in the right places, you can pull off somewhat of a city environment. It was important for me to get this feel for this particular cosplay as much of the Spider-Man fiction is in New York.

It was an absolute blast shooting with Carla today. As a photographer, I enjoyed getting to use a more studio environment as well as going outdoors and getting pictures outside. If you haven't followed Carla on Instagam yet, check her out at @novembercosplay. She's definitely worth following. If you'd like to see all the photos from my shoot with Carla, CLICK HERE to go to the gallery on my main site.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cosplay Photoshoot - Tina & Cassie as Poplio and Rowlett 8.24.16

Author: Luke Cheng

I was contacted by Cassie to see if I would be interested in doing a new Pokemon themed shoot... and well... of course I was!!! She wanted to do a themed shoot of Poplio and Rowlett - two Pokemon that will be in an upcoming Pokemon game release. Cassie would dress in the style of Rowlett while her friend Tina would be Poplio. I've shot with Cassie and Tina before, and it's always a fun time. They are a pleasure to shoot with and have creative styles when it comes to their cosplay. We chose to meet near the UC Davis Arboretum and do our shoot there since it's such a beautiful nature location with a variety of different plant species and environments. 

Sometimes things don't work out exactly the way you think they will. One of the reasons we went to the Arboretum was the beautiful lake there. Well, as you can see here, the lake was completely covered with some sort of green growth. In fact, it didn't even look like a lake... it looked like a grassy field! I wouldn't be surprised if an unsuspecting person mistook it for solid ground and took a plunge into the water. Since Tina was cosplaying Poplio, a water Pokemon, so she looks very sad for her water in this pic. Cassie's Rowlett is grass based, so for her this green mess is just fine.

We think the new game is going to have a tropical theme to it, so we were on the lookout for tropical looking plants. We stumbled upon this tree near the beginning of the shoot and thought it had a resemblance to the Pokemon Eggsecutor - which sort of looks like a palm tree you'd find on an island. I went ahead and found an image of Eggsecutor when I got back and decided to have some fun. I used Photoshop to put the three faces of Eggsecutor onto the top of the tree for this silly pic.

Pokemon is a game of intense battles... so we had to get some really rough and tough battles going on between these opposing Pokemon. Here we have Rowlett using a fierce razor leaf attack on Poplio. Poplio looks to be absolutely terrified of this move and is stunned with fear. Round one definitely went to Cassie and her intense attack

It looks like Cassie might go for the ultimate KO as she sneaks up on Tina. She really has her eyes set on the unsuspecting water Pokemon. Poplio doesn't seem to stand a chance against this aggressive Rowlett. We'll probably have to break out a revive and some potions to get her back on her feet after this apparent sneak attack.

Wow, the table seems to have turned all the way around with Tina busting out a strong water based attack. Cassie seems to be genuinely fearful of Tina's strong spray. It looks like Poplio had some tricks up her sleeve! Good for her! Take that Rowlett! For more intense photos of Cassie and Tina, go to my gallery up on Cosplay of Sacramento right now. Just CLICK HERE!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

2016 StocktonCon Day Two 8.21.16

Author: Luke Cheng

I love the fact that StocktonCon is a two day event! As you know, I really enjoyed my experience yesterday at StocktonCon and I was very much looking forward to today's time there. I arrived just a few minutes before the Geek Fashion Show began. The Geek Fashion Show is a MUST SEE event whenever it goes on at a con. The show features people of all types wearing stunning geek-related clothing. Seeing all the different styles and artistic clothing creations is inspiring. The models that present the clothing are also a ton of fun to watch on the stage. Much props goes out to everyone who makes the Geek Fashion Show go, I know it is a lot of work to get something like this ready!

You never know who you're going to see at a con. I spotted this beautiful Catwoman cosplayer right when I entered the main entrance and knew I had to get a few snaps of her. Well, it turns out she and I actually did a private cosplay shoot a few months back. At the time she was just getting into doing more shoots. It looks like her cosplay has grown leaps and bounds since our first meeting. We laughed as we realized that we had actually worked together already and got reacquainted. If you'd like to see her most recent cosplays, check out @feisty_vee on Instagram.

If you're a Watchmen fan, you've gotta love this Rorschach cosplay. I am a huge fan of the Watchmen and Rorschach is my favorite character in that story. In fact, if I were to cosplay anything, he would be one of the characters I would seriously consider cosplaying. The Watchmen reached the height of their popularity a few years back when the movie adaptation of the comic series came out, but has since gone back into hiding. I applaud any cosplayer who does a Watchmen cosplay and I'll definitely come over to you and ask to take a photo!

Take a look at this messy little cosplay of Daenerys Targaryen and a stallion heart. The heart shown is very realistic and the 'blood' is gooey and wet. I wanted to give her my card, but she couldn't take it! Fortunately I was able to give it to her helper to carry. Cosplays like this one take a lot of dedication in order to pull off as you really can't do much while holding on to a prop like that. I'm glad she had someone with her to help her out as she made her way through the con.

It's always good to step outside of the con and do some individual shoots. I love getting shots at the con, but mixing up the environment and background is really nice. Outside Stockton Arena is a little waterfront that provided some shade from the harsh sun - and that's where a few of us went to shoot some photos. We shot quite a few different photos, but here's a fun one I did with Instagramers @legend_of_lantern and @shikabane_hime88. It's a Marvel and DC mashup that has Phoenix finding Green Lantern's ring as he looks worried.

I went up to the artists alley after the outdoor shoot and ran into this trio of fun. Their Rice Krispies cosplay was totally on point and unique. Everybody was wanting to either get some video or photos of them. I grabbed a number of shots of them for myself as this cosplay was too good not to take a few more snaps of... ahaaaaaa... get it? 'Snaps'! 


Also in the artists alley was Cobra Commander. GI Joe is another one of my childhood favorites, so whenever I see GI Joe cosplay I literally run over to it for a photo. I didn't know who was cosplaying the Commander as he was wearing a fully enclosed mask, but later found out it was the same cosplayer who did a Storm Shadow shoot with me during the summer. Both his Storm Shadow and Cobra Commander cosplays are simply awesome.

I wanted to finish off my coverage of StocktonCon 2016 with this sweet group photo. I usually don't get in front of the camera at a con, but thanks to my buddy Alex grabbing my 1Dx, I was able to be in this shot with some fantastic folks.

StocktonCon was amazing this year and I was sad to have it be over after the second day. I told myself last year that I would fully attend the con in 2016 and I did! Hopefully next year will be the same. I have a gallery of 100 photos from day two on my site. Click on the link HERE to see them all.

Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 StocktonCon Day One 8.20.16

Author: Luke Cheng

StocktonCon took place at the Stockton Arena this past weekend. Stockton is a city located about an hours drive from where I live in the Sacramento area, so getting there wasn't too difficult. Last year was my first experience at this event, and I must say that I really enjoyed it - so I was really looking forward to what would take place this time around.When I arrived the arena was bustling with people, and you could really feel the energetic vibe permeating from both outside and inside the building. People of all ages filled the concourse, and many of them were cosplaying. Entire families got into dressing up! Just check out the amazing family of four in the photo above - that is some amazing stuff going on right there!

A good friend to many, Sean Long, had his own booth in the artists gallery located on the second level concourse. He brought his Suicide Squad inspired Joker cosplay for the first day. I love how StocktonCon celebrates local cosplayers as this part of the arena had cosplayers along the entire hallway. Visitors could take photos with the cosplayers as well as purchase special prints that were being sold. 

Just outside the arena is a hotel... and I've gotta say that some shenanigans happened near the pool on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. A group of cosplayers got together for a Marvel swimsuit style photoshoot. Coming to the party was Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Jessica Jones, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Loki, and a pair of Black Widows. It was quite a group... and quite a site! It all started innocent enough, but as the shoot went on things go just a little bit crazier. All-in-all it was just a lot of fun and I was able to get some of what went down in some photos.

I love seeing creative and fun cosplays at every con, and StocktonCon had them in droves. I really liked the concept behind the sad Stormtrooper above who lost his dad on the Death Star. It's funny, cute, and a little bit unsettling... which combines for an awesome and unique cosplay. And this is an aspect of cosplay that I really enjoy - the ability to be creative. There are lots of ways to be creative in cosplay. Cosplayers can do something simple and fun, sexy and alluring, or dress in a movie-accurate costume. No matter what a cosplay is going for, it can be done so that it's great.

Speaking of great... how great is this Red Skull and Captain America cosplay??? These guys really went all out to make their cosplay something realistic. Both of these cosplayers represented their character extremely well. The detail in each outfit is outstanding and the materials used give a sense of realism. I definitely think both of these cosplays could have been considered best in show. Unfortunately, I didn't stay through the costume contest as I had to head back to Sacramento early, but these guys had to be right up there if they participated in the contest.

I was so happy to see Instagramer @shikabane_hime88 in her Night Crawler cosplay. I haven't seen her as Night Crawler since the Cosies happened earlier this year. It's an awesome looking cosplay and is one of my first memories of her. The perfectly done blue make-up and the classic suit combine for a perfect representation of the classic X-Men character. She's even got the hands correct! It's no wonder that she is one of the best cosplayers in the Northern California region.

I got the chance to do a couple mini-shoots during the con. The first was on a public pier with Instagramers @deathstardorian and @joe.cosplay. Dorian was Godspeed while Joe donned the classic Flash outfit. It was pretty hot out there, but these guys were running up and down the ramp of the pier in order for me to get these shots. Thankfully, neither of them fell into the smelly green water that was right next to us... thought that would have made for quite the story to tell.

The other shoot that I was able to do was with @bigtrent07. This photoshoot came a bit later on in the day when the sun was a bit more hidden by the arena. We were able to shoot right next to the building . I was worried that it'd be too bright for good shots, but we actually ended up with some fabulous photos. Just like with Godspeed and Flash, I had Trent running and waving his cape around in order to get the most dynamic photos with movement.

In terms of panels and guests, StocktonCon was loaded. There was a huge guest line-up with Michael Dorn being the biggest (in my opinion) of them all. Dorn played Worf on Star Trek the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. He's a legend among Trek fans. I had the chance to sit in on a little of his panel in the big ballroom and hear him speak. That was a great highlight for a lot of his fans in attendance!

The first day of StocktonCon went above expectations for me... and I was expecting a lot already! I had a tremendous amount of fun and am really glad I was able to experience all that this con had to offer on its first day. I will be back for day two and you can expect another posting about that experience soon! For now, check out a gallery of 100 photos from this day HERE.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cosplay Photoshoot - Risa Kei as Milotic 8.19.16

Author: Luke Cheng

On Friday I got the chance to shoot Risa Kei's Milotic cosplay. For those of you not in the know, Milotic is a water Pokemon. Don't fret if you don't know who Milotic is... actually I didn't either. Milotic is one of the newer Pokemon from Gen 3. You won't be seeing Milotic pop up on your phone when playing Pokemon Go - though I guess eventually Milotic could be introduced into the game at a later time. This shoot took place at the William B Pond Recreational Area on the border of Sacramento and Carmichael. It was a beautiful day and a great environment to shoot in.

William B Pond Recreational Area is a location that has a vast variety of natural environments to use as a backdrop. There's a nice grove of trees, a rocky area, and parts that let you go right up to the American River. Since Risa was cosplaying a water Pokemon, it only made sense to go close to the river and get shots next to the water. We found a cozy location that worked amazing for what we wanted to do. It featured a small cove as well as some rocks nearby that were pretty easy to get up on to. Risa had to first get in the water before she could access the rocks, but that was not a problem for her. It was a warm day and the cool water was a-ok!

I was really thankful that Risa reached out to me for a photoshoot - I love doing them! She had told me that she hadn't done many shoots and could be nervous during our time together. Well, I definitely couldn't see any nerves as we shot, but I've gotta say that I enjoy working with cosplayers of all levels and doing shoots with them. We always seem to have a great time and this shoot was no exception. Risa was awesome and easy to work with. I tried to give good suggestions on poses and on what to do. The most important thing was to just relax and have some fun - which we did!

We only shot for about 30 or so minutes, but we managed to get about 20 shots in the gallery posted HERE. Please take a minute to check out the photos we produced while at William B Pond Rec Area. Huge thanks to Risa for contacting me and coming out to do a shoot. Also, huge props to her boyfriend Angel who was a great assistant. Check out some video of our shoot down below!

Monday, August 15, 2016

2016 Central Valley Cosplay Gathering 8.13.16

Author: Luke Cheng

Yes! Back in my neck of the woods! This past weekend was the Central Valley Cosplay Gathering held at William Land Park in Sacramento. This cosplay gathering was my first foray into the world of cosplay so it will always hold a really special place in my heart. This is the gathering where I see the most familiar faces around and where I feel most comfortable. Local cosplayer and good friend Skye Radd usually runs this event, but he was out of town for the weekend so a couple of guys (Matthew and Alex) filled in the leadership roles for the gathering. They did a really great job making sure everything ran smoothly - big props to them! It was a big job to handle, and they were absolutely great at managing all the logistics that this entailed. 

Pokemon is the hottest thing right now so when Pikachu showed up to the party all the soccer kids went bonkers and mobbed the electric Pokemon. And there were A LOT of kids at the park today as numerous league games were being played around the area of the gathering. The poor guy had to pose for a lot of pictures as parents and kids alike wanted a picture with him - the price of being popular (and cute), I guess! Speaking of Pokemon, one of the fun things that occurred during the gathering was a Pokemon Go contest. Trainers were asked to do battle at the local gyms around the area for various prizes! 

Also popular at the gathering was Suicide Squad. The movie released recently and has been a big hit with many fans. I really enjoyed the movie - so much so that I've already seen it twice in theaters. When I first got to the gathering, the number of Suicide Squad cosplays was the first thing I noticed. Many of the cast of characters from the movie were at the park and looking really good. Above is a photo of @kasamurai on Instagram's El Diablo cosplay. I don't usually do too much Photoshop additions to my photos, but his photos really needed to have some fire in them so I did my best to add some. I like how they came out!

Though pretty much everyone in the Suicide Squad movie was a baddie, the baddest of them all was the actual villain of the movie - the Enchantress. And @lexibeecosplay on Instagram had a killer cosplay of her. It was a ton of fun shooting photos of her cosplay at the gathering. I loved the poses and expressions she did as we shot. I always love shooting with Lexi as her cosplays are so on point with each character that she does. Stephanie, @jedi.moon on Instagram, also had an impressive Enchantress cosplay. I got caught up in too many shoots to get some of hers, but she does show up in my video of the gathering down below. Make sure to see her take on the Enchantress too!

One of the most unique things I got to do yesterday was getting some dancing shots of Instagrammer @miss_artist_ri as she cosplayed Pokemon trainer Erika. She had on a sweet flowing cosplay that looked awesome as she moved. The colors on the cosplay really popped and stood out. I know that Rhianna spent a long time working on it, so it was awesome to see everything come together so well. She also brought an entire basket of props to make the cosplay complete. Definitely take a look through my full gallery of photos to see all the photos I got of Rhianna's Erika cosplay.

Here's a couple of girls that I haven't shot for a while! It's @yeahpauline and @yocatty as Yuffie and Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. If you know me, then you'll know that anything Final Fantasy instantly gets my attention. I am a huge Final Fantasy freak and will gravitate towards anyone cosplaying characters from that beloved game franchise. Both of these girls were a joy to work with and shoot. Their cosplay was fun and colorful and worked wonderfully with the colors at the park. By the way, I'm excited to announce that I just finished all three parts of Final Fantasy XIII. Anyone got a Lighting or Serah cosplay? I'd love to get some photos of that!

This is a bittersweet photo for me! It's of one of my favorite cosplayers, Sarah aka @radioactivenightskies on Instagram. If you've followed my work, you'll probably have seen photos I've done with her. Well... this gathering was Sarah's last before heading off to school out of state. I'm really going to miss seeing her at Sacramento cosplay events like SacAnime and gatherings like these. She's a beautiful cosplayer and an amazing person to work with. I wish her the best as she begins her new school and I hope she visits us here in Sacramento often!

As the afternoon was winding down things got a little crazier. Here we have a pirate fairy with a female Kylo Ren fighting it out with their respective weapons. This is probably not a pairing you'd see very often or ever at all... but it's the perfect shot as we wound down the gathering for the day. 

It was a long afternoon... but a very productive one as I got the opportunity to a bunch of shoots during the gathering. I really want to thank Matthew and Alex for hosting the event and making it work out so well. Also a huge thanks to all the cosplayers who let me get shots of them. One more note of appreciation goes out to Tony Corpus of Corpus Photography for helping me get some video that I used to make the following recap video of the Central Valley Cosplay Gathering. Next week I'm planning to be at StocktonCon. Hope to see you all there! For now, check out the full gallery of pics from the 2016 CVCG HERE.

Monday, August 1, 2016

2016 Summer NorCal Gathering 7.30.16

Author: Luke Cheng

This past weekend I went down to the Bay Area to attend the 2016 Summer NorCal Gathering that took place at Coyote Point in San Mateo. It's can be hard for me to venture out of the Sacramento area to attend cons and gatherings because of my schedule, but I've been really wanting to! Saturday was totally open... which is rare... so I went ahead and made the drive out of town. And I was totally glad I did! The gathering was a lot of fun. I saw a lot of new faces that I hadn't met before and enjoyed doing some shoots in a location that I had not shot at previously. 

Being in the Bay Area, I had to take advantage of the different scenery I could capture. The gathering was very close to the bay, and the rocks near the water made for some pretty great shots. This was something I definitely couldn't get back in the Central Valley so I made sure to do some photos there. My first shoot was of two Vocaloid coplayers dressed as Vocaloids dressed as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell... yep... exactly! I didn't even know there was such a thing! But their cosplay was perfect to shoot near the water so we went ahead and did that. I loved some of the images we were able to get - especially the ones that had a bit more of a wide angle that captured more of the scenic background.

But of course I had to shoot a bunch of shots that were closer in as well. For those familiar with my photography, you'll know that I generally like to shoot in closer and tighter like the photo above, but I've been trying to widen my range of styles. Shooting in close does give that dreaming blurred out background that I love so much though. Today I came armed with a nice lens that could easily blow out the backgrounds as well as my trusty one-light set-up. I was very happy with the results of the shoots today. For you photography nerds out there, I was using a Canon 5d mark iii with a 24-70 2.8 version ii lens. For lighting I had a speedlight mounted on a stand with a small and light Westcott softbox. I try to use as little as possible, but whenever you have a light with you it can be a bit cumbersome. But it's still worth it in order to get the best photos possible.

This gathering was not without SacTown representation. Actually, I saw many familiar faces from Sacramento. Sacramento has an awesome tight knit cosplay community that is really dedicated to the craft. I loved seeing all the Sacramento folks come out to this Bay Area gathering and kill it with their cosplay. The photo above is @radioactivenightskies on Instagram in her Ponyo cosplay blowing bubbles by the bay. We've shot more than a few times at SacAnime and at Central Valley gatherings and it was a pleasure to shoot with her again this past weekend.

Here's a shot of @lunalocked on Instagram in a sweet Summer Hilda cosplay. Pokemon Go has been taking over the world so this cosplay is definitely relevant for the times. She was looking great with her little Pokemon in tow. This shot was not taken with my Canon, actually it was shot with my Sony a6000 with a new 35mm 1.8 lens I just got. I like the pic and think it looks pretty good. I could say that the gear was nice, but I'm pretty sure it's Luna that makes this photo really pop! Hopefully I can get more shots of her in the future!

Now here's a fun group! It's the Sailor Moon crew in a fruit maids theme. You might recognize Carla and Cassie (left side of the group) as we shoot together quite often. These girls are always getting creative with their cosplay ideas and always have a really fun and unique take on the characters they cosplay as. I really enjoyed taking photos of this group as they were all really easy to work with and came with great posing ideas. 

This cosplay was really awesome to see - it's a cosplay of the kid from the movie Up! I think it was really well done, especially the balloons. They really make this cosplay stand out. It's always cool to see people of all ages in cosplay. I just had to get a photo of him. This was definitely one of my favorite cosplays at the gathering. 

Here's a shot of @mayhemcosplay on Instagram as Mirai. I've shot Mayhem as Mirai before, but this was an entirely different look. Back in Sacramento we did some photos with her rolling around on the green grass. Those shots were amazing and if you look hard enough you can find them a gallery on the main site. The grass was all dried up at Coyote Point so we definitely didn't want to replicate what we did in our previous shoot. I think we still got some spectacular stuff this time around though!

Though I arrived early to this gathering I had to leave as things were really picking up. It would have been awesome to stay a bit longer and get more shoots in. I really wanted to! But I did leave with a good feeling of the photos I was able to capture in my time out in the bay. I can't wait for the next gathering. Every time I shoot cosplay I just want to keep shooting more! If you'd like to see a complete gallery of the shots I got at the NorCal Gathering CLICK HERE.

Watch some video of the gathering too!