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ShinobiXikyu
10-18-2010, 06:26 PM
Back in early September I managed to find a decent location to shoot my massively obscure character (Aoi from Jihai) in....and there's several questions I'd like answered/critiques given. I've got a good swath of photos, so I'll just link up the whole gallery.

First off, I haven't done anything to the photos except resize them (and the wind effect was natural on location. It was a near-gale blowing that day to the point we had to anchor down the tripod X_X). My boyfriend (username Furilas) shot them with his Fujifilm S1000FD, using a tripod and on various settings (but almost all without flash, since it was already quite sunny)

http://www.cosplay.com/gallery/192518/

So, I guess I'll just post all the questions I have.
1.) Decent general photographs? Should I have used a better location, less/more light, rule of thirds, more or less closeups, etc.?

2.) I have a few issues with my poses. For one, I found interactive poses (at least in my opinion, I don't think they're very interactive) very difficult for the character, as he's not portrayed doing many actiony shots, and doesn't smile much (and even if he did, I'm WAY too self-conscious about my teeth to do so...). It was also very bright and my glasses are transitions that tint outdoors, so I was squinting a lot more than I'd like.
So, some input on that would be nice.I also was hoping I could get some posing/angling ideas for making my torso look decently elongated without looking ridiculous, as his is that impossible-dimensions anime length.

3.) Would photoshop help or hinder? I thought most of them worked out pretty well, but I'm not sure if some would look better with a desaturated background (in the series, the character is able to survive barren, empty magnetic seas, so making it look as lifeless as possible would add to it nicely. I shot it in an abandoned industrial waste to make it look as lifeless as possible.).
And, if I should do some retouching on myself. Bright light tends to bring out everything you tried to hide with makeup...

DangerKelp
10-18-2010, 11:53 PM
I think the Photos are fine, they are nice and technically sound. I especially like the panoramic with you walking into the background, I think its one of the strongest in terms of composition, its got asymmetry, its got balance its got triangles, I love it (I also like the one standing at the corner of the building for similar reasons). There's always a reason to break the rules but I am partial to the rule of thirds, Or at least having your subject off-center. its a matter of opinion really, its about what looks best to you. You picked a cool location and that always helps.

If you want to lengthen your torso, you could try wearing the belt lower, I see its already slung around your hips but you might try even lower, and taking the picture from a lower angle, taking it from the floor will elongate your legs, and your whole body (notice how fashion models are often photographed from low angles). Even if not taken from the ground, slightly lowering the angle so the camera is level with the center of your body will prevent any distortion that might make you appear shorter. other than camera angles, stand up straight and tall, Don't cross your arms over you middle, that shortens it significantly. and if you ARE crossing your arms, stick to more 3/4 poses, rather than straight on. You should experiment, play around with your poses in the mirror and see what works best for you, and your boyfriend likes to take pictures right? so use up some memory on his card and really work it out. Oh and for the squinting, I found that closing your eyes and relaxing your face for a moment, and then opening them at the photographer's signal will allow him to snap your face at the moment when your eyes are open, before they go "OH GAWD LIGHT NOOOOO" . The same thing as posing goes for facial expressions, play with them, try to get some variety. I don't know the character, so I'm not sure what expressions are appropriate, you would know best, so play with those. Experiment.

I will always advocate Post-Processing. at this time in photography, it really is essential to a professional look. Your photos don't need much, They're nice already but they could do with a little Pop. Maybe a little color balance, some contrast (if you're so inclined, I love contrast, but some don't, its all up to you) And Probably some vignetting. Vignetting makes almost every picture look better in my opinion. Maybe some Sharpening (and contrast ;D ) to the wasteland would enhance it a bit. As for desaturating the background, that sounds like a pretty cool idea to me. You should play around in photoshop, see what you come up with, its fun. I personally don't think you yourself need much in the way of retouching, you seem to have very nice skin. So any retouching that you think would add to the effect of the character is at your discretion.

In the end what matters is that it looks good to you, and getting what you wanted form the shoot. Get together with your photographer and the two of you (I'm assuming you are the Creative Director of the photoshoot) talk about your options and what you are hoping to achieve both In-Camera and in Post, to create a finished product you're proud of. :)

cool costume, by the way :)

roflwaffles
10-19-2010, 12:30 AM
1) Don't be afraid to use flash. It's not just used brighten up a subject, its also used to fill in shadows, control the brightness of a scene. Check out http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ to find some more info about using flash. Watch where your composing and cropping your photos. There are places where part of the boot is cut off, or there is a thin sliver of black leggings at the bottom of the photo that makes it look distracting. One of your panoramas shots feel like your character is getting lost in the background. If your trying to put emphasis the wide expanse, try shooting at a wider angle and position your character closer to the front.

Here is an example I found on flickr this is shot at 12mm
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3495/4024853533_890b24b464.jpg


2) Does your character use any props? A prop can give you more options as to what you character is doing. Usually when I'm doing a shoot I will take photos while setting up and I'm getting a cosplayer in a more casual and more relaxed environment. Sometimes I get a lot of good shots in this situation, they aren't in a super serious cosplay mode. When we do move into the actual serious shoot period they are less tense with translate into a more natural and less of a forced pose on camera. I don't know how authentic your trying to pose as a character, but this might be an option.

3) Photoshop or other post processing could help, but need to remember to not go too far in editing, this could cause it to look too artificial, unless that is what you are trying to accomplish. I would definitely try to correct the exposure consistency between shots. A desaturation of all colors and boosting the contrast would defiantly give it a more gritty look.

In general I think you've got a good base to work with in the photos you have. Some extra post processing will take your photoshoot to the next level.

brucer007
10-20-2010, 06:42 PM
Your cosplay photos could have more impact if you apply good choices to various aspects of what makes photos "better". Congratulations for putting forth the question of how to make your photos better!

Lighting: Sometimes you made some decent choices for lighting, like turning away from the sun so your face is in complete shade. This will usually look better than when your face is in mixed direct sunlight and shade. A silver reflector or soft flash fill at a 45 degree angle from the camera would enhance the portrait lighting even more, if properly applied.

Composition: Your images seem somewhat random in how they are composed. Putting more thought in how a different angle would effect the end result could lead you to better results. Most of the your photos were taken from about eye-level or higher. As Dangerkelp said in Post #2, a lower angle will elongate your legs, but you also would need to use a wide-angle lens and be within about 10 feet or less to get this distortion.

Many of your photos were composed with you in the center. This can be great for symmetrical compositions, when the environment also has symmetry, but, other than that, have the cosplayer off to one side, especially when leaving more room in the direction you are looking or turned, will usually look more interesting.

If you are going to show most of your legs, show your feet as well.

Watch out for strange background elements from sticking out of your head.

Posing: Try more candid-looking poses. It will seem less like you are posing. Try positioning your body at profile angles and turned angles. You may find it more interesting and more slimming. Try walking as the photo is taken, or do you best to do a fake walk while standing still. Use your environment and/or props to influence purpose for a pose, to help tell a story.

Post Processing: Most of your images are on the blue spectrum. Some adding warmth will improve your skin-tones. Some images could use some over-all brightening, shadow detail, and some highlights could be darkened.

Retouching some darkness under your eyes using the Clone tool at about 30% would enhance a better portrait effect.

ShinobiXikyu
10-23-2010, 02:46 PM
wow, thanks for the responses. Thanks for the posing tips, particularly with cropping the images; and to answer specific comments/questions, no, the character's not really seen with any props (if he had any, I'd have certainly used them), and I'll certainly try for standing straighter (the belt already barely hangs on my hips, so it can't be slipped down any further, I'm afraid). I've got posture so bad I could probably use a chiropractor. X_X
As for lighting, I'll keep it in mind if we reshoot the place again. Particularly since the weather's rarely the same when you go back to the location, we'll probably need to use it better.
Yeah, we didn't have too much of a pose "agenda" when we set up. Pretty much a "hmmm, let's do this. And then let's try that". It was windy as hell so it was also hard to hear between each other.
With luck, we'll be able to shoot it again when it's back to a decent season. AND with a little improvement in the lighting and poses (and obviously I'll keep it in mind for future shoots), thanks to you all. ^_^
Also, thanks for the post-processing tips. My plan was largely to get rid of some of the blemishes/dark spots on my face, and maybe play with a few by desaturating the colour.

brucer007
10-25-2010, 07:11 PM
I would not reccomend lengthening your body by lower your belt if you are showing your whole body. That will shorten your legs.

Try low camera angles with wide lenses. This will lengthen your legs and make you seem taller. Just try to avoid looking down at the lens, or you will seem like a giant! Again, point your shoulders more towards the lens so your body looks more slim.