A lot of people didn’t get to attend the Concept to Creation panel at Phoenix ComiCon which I co-hosted with Maise Design Seamstress and Lunar Lyn. And that’s okay! PCC was really crazy this year, and I know I have some fellow out of state followers who obviously couldn’t attend. I won’t be going into all the details of the costume making process or the wig styling, but if you would like to know about those things, head over to Gabby’s and Karlyn’s pages for details and questions! Any questions about props, head to Dolfworks for more info!
*This sentence will be in every post for this series* I will forever and ever and ever say that pre-pro is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of any photoshoot. I’ll make another blog about that at another date because I could go on and on and on. The pre-pro for Sirenita’s image was pretty simple. At first, my idea was to have her “levitate” with her hammer in the air or just by her side and have a bunch of random “wonderland” objects hover around her. I wanted the whole image to be natural light. It was simple. The night before the shoot I text Wade and said “don’t let me forget to also do a “calling Mjolnir” shot too. I am so guilty of forgetting about using cosplayers props to their fullest in shoots so I was like TIME TO REDEEM MUHSELF.
I knew Gabby had a small stool so we used that to have her stand on. Gabby brought tea cups, fake painted roses, a couple pocket watches and so on for props. We tied string around all the props and had everyone hold them. Set the camera up on a tripod, shot Thalice and the props, then had everyone move, and shot the background. *After you focus on your subject, if you use auto focus that is, turn your lens to manual mode and DONT touch the focus rings. After you shoot your subject, leave it there and shoot the background so the DOF stays the same.* Got the shots. Packed up, walked to the location to shoot Hawkshire. After Hawkshire, we liked the location around her set so we shot the Mjolnir idea. So for this one, I did zero pre-pro because my dumbass forgot because it was so spur of the moment. It was dusk when we started shooting and my batteries were running low for my lights so it had to be quick. We used 2 Profoto D1 Air 1000’s, one with a beauty dish and one with a shoot through umbrella. The plan was to shoot it when it was getting dark so we could highlight the fact that her hammer lights up. We tied the end of the hammer to a string and Karlyn held the head of the hammer. Gabby was lifting Thalice’s cape. And Wade was being a human boom pole holding the beauty dish. I don’t remember my camera setting right off the bat, but I’m pretty sure it was ISO 100, f/4.0, and shutter being around 1/200. Shot on a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-105mm f/4.0.
THANK GOD we decided to do the hammer shot. Once I started to edit the levitation shot, I quickly realized it wasn’t going to work. The way the props were, they were too small and not exciting at all. It looked ridiculous to be honest haha! So moving on to the actual shot. I had to stitch together 3 images, the original one that lit Thalice nicely, a shot of the hammer that didnt over expose the light and the sides, and another shot of extra cape to fill out that section more. I had just watched a video from Phlearn on motion blurring 2 days before editing this and MAN that effect made all the difference in the world. I added the blurring to her hammer, outfit, and some of the wig. After all of those, I just sat and looked at the image and it felt really weak. The desert sunset in the back just didn’t seem that exciting. Then I remembered speaking with Tony about compositing images and how for one of his backgrounds, he built it from photoshop brushes. So I was like YES I’ll make a background of creepy trees! Well that failed too lol. I thought the trees just didnt look very realistic and just blah. Soooo to the Google machine!! I found a background I liked, dropped it into the image and masked out the appropriate areas. Tweaked the background by stretching, blurring, changing the color, adding other elements, and so on. After being mostly happy with everything, I started going crazy with the color grading, adding extra light bits, creating more shadows etc. You’ll see all of that in the video below.
Thalice’s was definitely the most time consuming I think. I had no idea what I wanted to do with hers in post. The background replacement was unexpected but worked out flawlessly. Easily, the easiest replacement I’ve had to do which is hilarious in my opinion considering I didn’t intend to do that. I think this is my favorite image I have composited to date just due to how easy it went. Most edits like this have a few f bombs or flying objects involved. :)
If you have questions about anything, feel free to ask!