Avengers in Wonderland: Hawkshire Cat

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!

Hawkshire Cat

 

Pre-Production.

*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 Rogue Siren’s was simple. Like with Cap Rabbit, I couldn’t find any good starting points for a reference image for the cheshire cat. Eventually I stumbled upon a piece of digital art of Ches floating in the woods. BOOM. Done. That would be the premise of the shot. I knew she had to “float” but how would she be positioned to where we see the costume and capture the right emotion. So I sat on my stool in front of a mirror and tried a few different poses until I landed on the one in the image. Again, I wanted to utilize the prop as much as possible. I was dead set on her being in a forest but worried because Phoenix doesn’t really have trees like that. Thankfully while walking around the preserve Wade found a perfect spot.

Reference image

Reference image

 

The Shoot

For Hawkshire, the sun didn’t matter where we were shooting since it was sorta enclosed by trees. The spot was SMALL. There was no way I was getting a light stand where I needed it to be as I needed the light to actually be backed into the trees more. I asked Wade to hold the key light for me and Matt was kind enough to hold back a ton of the tree branches so Wade could stand where I needed him. Bless those boys, they got all kinds of cut up from this. I’m sorry!!! I placed the stool in the middle and had her pose. Just as we were finishing up. I realized the background needed light. I set up a bare bulb strobe to illuminate the space and then Lauren hated me for having to shoot all over again. Sorry Lauren! But the image is worth it!!! Normally with levitation shoots I’ll set up a tripod like I explained in the previous Thalice post. But I actually didn’t need to for this. The stool was black and under her was dark so it hid the stool for the most part. Just had to take the legs out in post. Very simple. For this shoot we used 2 Profoto D1 air 1000’s. One with a silver beauty dish, one just bare bulb. Both powered by Vagabond Mini’s. Shot on a Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4.0. ISO 100. 1/200. 4.0.

Lighting diagram for Hawkshire Cat

Lighting diagram for Hawkshire Cat

Post Production

This is my favorite of all the images! Going into this image, I knew I wanted it to have a “spotlight” effect, where the middle is bright and the edges are really dark. I didn’t intend to add the purple light burst but it worked out really well. Originally I was going to make her look like she was disappearing like Ches does in the movies, but when I added the effects, I didn't like it. So i stuck to just adding in foggy feelings mixed with a little purple smoke. Taking the stool out was just using the spot healing tool with some mild clone stamping here and there. After that, it was just about creating lighting changes and adding different color grading. The most time consuming part of this image was cutting her out. I needed to do that in order to add the fog and smoke “behind” her and then blend it in front of her as well. You’ll sorta see how that works in the video. If you want to know more about it, shoot me a message! Here’s the videooooo:

 

Hawkshire’s image turned out to be my favorite for many reasons. Her outfit appears to be very simple, but by all means it was a brutal process making it, from what the ladies have told me. So this image was important to me because I wanted to showcase how badass it really is. In her photo you can see all the elements, the spats, the bracer, the bustle, how her pants taper in the back and the fun fabric on the inside of those. I also really wanted to showcase the bow. The design process was long for this one. I loved the location Wade found, it really made the biggest difference. And I really love how the editing came out. Looking at it now, there’s a whole bunch of things I would like to change, and who knows, maybe I will in another edit.

 

If you have questions about anything, feel free to ask!

Avengers in Wonderland: Thalice

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!

Thalice

Pre-Production.

*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.

 

The Shoot

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.

Lighting diagram for Thalice

Lighting diagram for Thalice

 

 

Post Production

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!

Avengers in Wonderland: Captain Rabbit

HALLO! I've been slacking on posting due to Con crunch! But now I can share all the images I've been working so hard on!!

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!

Sketches of AiW costumes by Maise Design Seamstress

Sketches of AiW costumes by Maise Design Seamstress

 

My portion of the panel was to briefly explain the process of capturing the images. I didn’t go into in-depth detail during the panel as we only had an hour. BUT that is what my blog is for!!! So with that being said, I will walk you through my process from start to finish.

 

Captain Rabbit


 

Pre-Production.

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 Itty Bitty Geek’s image was little to none actually. Which drove me off the wall. Usually I’ll spend a good amount of time referencing lighting examples I like, poses, location ideas, colors, etc… but this shoot was different. With cosplay in particular I always google the character to get a feel for the history and emotion of them. I’ll reference other cosplays and how they have posed, where they shot, the emotion evoked. But try googling white rabbit cosplays, ya dont get much. So that option was out of the window. Captain America cosplays were easy to find but I didn’t really find anything other than the iconic salute pose that I like for the mash up of these two. SO. pre-pro was pretty little. I knew I wanted the light to be a mix of ambient and strobe as well as have a contrasty but soft feel from the strobe.

 

The Shoot

Wade and I had scouted the location about an hour before everyone got there. Nothing really screamed White Rabbit or Captain America. For those not familiar with Phoenix, we don’t really have a lot of green. So making something look like Wonderland isn’t an easy task. Once we met up with the girls and started walking around, I showed Itty the couple of places I was thinking and let her decide. We chose a spot where tree fall covered most of the lake behind her but also allowed a really nice open shade area. Which was key to mixing ambient light with a flash. As far as lighting goes, I set up a Profoto D1 air 1000 with a silver beauty dish powered by a mini vagabond. I went back and forth on using a grid on the beauty dish, I don’t remember if the edited image has a grid, I believe it did. I also had an assistant hold a reflector to camera left behind the model. I always shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III. My lens for this was a Canon 24-105 4.0.

ISO 100. 1/200 at f/4.0.

Lighting diagram

Lighting diagram

 

That’s pretty much it as far as the shoot goes. It was simple. Just like Cap.

 

Post Production

I had no idea what I wanted to do with this to be honest haha. During pre-pro, (pre-pro ties into all aspects of the shoot) I knew I wanted the finished edit to have a bit of a “matte” feel. I also knew I wanted random bursts of color that slightly mimicked random light flares on old film. I’m including a screen recording of the layers being turned on and off in photoshop so you can see how it all comes together. I do use photoshop actions for color grading. “But Deegan you’ve ranted about other photographers using filters, you’re a hypocrite” If you’re saying that, cool, that means you pay attention to what I say. Why do I use actions? Because it’s SO much faster. I know how to split tone, frequency separate, make gradient bursts, add a vignette, etc… I know how do all the things built into the actions I use, I just choose to work smarter not harder. Now, here’s the video:


 

There it is. That’s pretty much it. Itty’s edit was by far the simplest of the AiW. Next up: Thalice! I’ll post that later. Make ya wait. :)

 

If you have questions about anything, feel free to ask!