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Unread 12-13-2005, 09:05 AM   #1
PrinceMark
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Red face Helpfull Tips and The Basics for a New Photographer

Hullo everybody!

In the new year I will be moving from just being a cosplayer into becoming a cosplay photographer as well. With sites like Risingsun.net and people like Eurobeat king out there for the US, I am looking to give the UK cosplayers a photographer that takes time and will try and "capture" costumes and scenes rather then just snapping pictures at a con.

Im looking for starting tips and the basics on things like lighting, equipment to use, ways to frame costumes or do portraits, or ANY tips or hints you think a new photographer would need to know.

I understand if I am being to vague, but this is something I have never done in a creative sense, I do not have any clue about photgraphy and after seeing some of the beutiful photos and work on here I thought I might get some tips?

Thanks in advance *bows*

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Unread 12-13-2005, 09:53 AM   #2
jtnishi
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If you're just starting out, don't worry about technical things like lighting, equipment, etc. They distract from the art. Those things can always be worked on later, after you've worked on "the eye", so to speak.

Best things I can recommend for you to do are to look at the work of others and find out what you like, especially in the aspects of posing in pictures and their composition (where the subject is in the photograph, how the subject is framed, etc.). Start from there. Then, be willing to experiment. Finally, practice practice practice. At some point, you may want to try to look at photographs more critically, so that you can learn what mistakes to avoid.

Seriously, though, don't sweat the technical stuff. If/when you get to the point when you want to take your photographs to the next level, then start thinking about it. But work on the basics first. In the end, remember that it's probably most important that you're happy with your work first.

Hope that helps, and I wish you the best of luck.
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Unread 12-13-2005, 10:09 AM   #3
PrinceMark
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Ahh thank you very much this is very usefull!
I expected that I would be taking alot of photographs first (Luckily I live in a very artistic city, practice shouldnt be to hard )

Would you have any advice on camera's, as I would be doing the basics I dont want to spend to much, however I dont want a rubbish normal film camera either. Are there ways I can get a well priced digital camera but still get Ok quality? Or is that something I will learn if I keep using a camera and working out how to get the best results?
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Unread 12-13-2005, 10:17 AM   #4
staereo
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I agree with jtnishi.

Speaking outside of a cosplay specific sense, I didn't design my artistic style. I did as jt said. I just took pictures, and while I built technical knowledge of photography, my pictures slowly developed into their own style.

I had orginally desired to fall into the style of Jill Greenberg, and other flashy 'better than life' photographers. As I took more photos and explored my own talent, and my own feel for the lens, I noticed that my style, my forte was nothing like that.

I capture in a different way, however, it is MINE. You can see my style in every picture I take, and I enjoy that I have a niche of my own. Being distinctive in your own right can be every bit as rewarding as capturing like those you admire.

I think we can all look at a cosplay photograph and we can tell when it was taken by admin, or taken by eurobeat king, etc. I LOVE their style, but its THEIRS, and you may find if you play around long enough that you have your own.

Its my personal opinion that to be at the top of the game you would choose to excel at your niche, to perfect that, because the potential in the style that YOU create will be much higher than the style in what someone else creates.

With me, I'm almost type casted to the point that I have a hard time breaking free of my own mold. I go out and try other mediums of photography in order to get out of myself and feel something new. Not that I don't want to be immersed in myself, because thats what make my pictures mine.

So that being the case, I say just get out there and try as many things as you possibly can. See who you like for photographers and what styles intrigue you. The more you take the more you get in touch with the photographer side of yourself, and this will be expressed in the form of a style completely unique to yourself.

Dont worry about mistakes. Worse case scenario, you learn from a picture and dont have to show it to anyone.

Im going to guess that a photographer in the business for years still finds areas of improvement from the photographs that they take.

Bruce
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Unread 12-13-2005, 10:31 AM   #5
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I believe over at risingsun they were taken for a long time with a prosumer non slr digicam. They looked great.

Others prefer the expandability and versatility of a dslr.

You really need to examine your own knowledge in photography and find a camera that melds well with that level of knowledge. Without knowing where you are, it would be hard for anyone to tell you what camera to get.

admin has a nice professional level Canon 1ds.
I use a more affordable APS-c sensor Canon 20d.

(I understand that youre in pounds in the uk, but these are us prices)
I sunk 2000 into my kit camera, admin probably sunk 3-4 times that into his.

Theres now a middle of the road 5d with a full size image sensor, but the features more alike to the 20d. Priced in between the two.

You'll find other dslr cameras for just over 600.

Prosumers non dslrs are all over the spectrum.

The easiest way I find to choose which camera to use is to start with checking out what you can afford. Realize that the camera body is merely the first step and lenses in the future for slrs can cost many times the body. External flashes and filters may also quickly come into play as you begin your adventure in photography. So dont feel like the purchase is over when you buy the body (and first lens). It has just begun.

I suggest looking online at websites such as http://www.dpreview.com/ and checking out reviews of the cameras you're looking at. Check out the picture samples and see what produces an image you like more. Some sensors are sharper than others, some more saturated, some brighter colors, some achingly accurate. A lot of it depends on your taste for a final image. Take that info, then read reviews from other people, visit photography forums.

Then go to the camera store with your final choices and see what feels best in your hand, around your neck. What fits your face, and feels right held up against your nose. Make sure all the features are available that you will want.

Price is a big deal. Don't feel like you need to put all the money you spend into a body. I dont think less of anyone using a point and shoot. I've seen some mind boggling point and shoot photos.

Furthermore, I know pro photographers that use a digital rebel, canon's entry level dslr. They make it seem like its as good as any other.

If youre not going to use the features of a given camera by the time youre ready to buy another one, then why bother buying the features now.

^^
Have fun with it!
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Unread 12-13-2005, 04:57 PM   #6
jtnishi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrinceMark
Ahh thank you very much this is very usefull!
I expected that I would be taking alot of photographs first (Luckily I live in a very artistic city, practice shouldnt be to hard )

Would you have any advice on camera's, as I would be doing the basics I dont want to spend to much, however I dont want a rubbish normal film camera either. Are there ways I can get a well priced digital camera but still get Ok quality? Or is that something I will learn if I keep using a camera and working out how to get the best results?
Quote:
Originally Posted by staereo
The easiest way I find to choose which camera to use is to start with checking out what you can afford. Realize that the camera body is merely the first step and lenses in the future for slrs can cost many times the body. External flashes and filters may also quickly come into play as you begin your adventure in photography. So dont feel like the purchase is over when you buy the body (and first lens). It has just begun.

I suggest looking online at websites such as http://www.dpreview.com/ and checking out reviews of the cameras you're looking at. Check out the picture samples and see what produces an image you like more. Some sensors are sharper than others, some more saturated, some brighter colors, some achingly accurate. A lot of it depends on your taste for a final image. Take that info, then read reviews from other people, visit photography forums.

Then go to the camera store with your final choices and see what feels best in your hand, around your neck. What fits your face, and feels right held up against your nose. Make sure all the features are available that you will want.
I'm pretty much going to agree with Bruce's advice to start. If you want to go down the digital path, take into consideration first your budget, then read some reviews and actually try some cameras in store if you can.

However, I'm going to recommend that unless you're willing to accept a steep learning curve, or already know what you're doing, that your first digital camera not be a D-SLR. A compact camera will still take relatively good pictures, and doesn't have as much an upfront investment. Yes, you'll have to be ready at some point in the future to perhaps change cameras, but it's a lot easier learning the fundamentals if you aren't stuck trying to learn how to operate a camera, and everyone eventually has to make some upgrades.

It should also be noted that unless you intend to make large prints, that you don't need the latest and greatest camera with the most megapixels. If you drop back a couple of years, you might be able to find a relatively older model new or used for a price that's still relatively good, and still takes relatively good pictures. You'll want to find a camera that you have relatively little trouble handling and operating, at least to start. Later, after you start understanding more about technical principles, you can go look for a more advanced camera.

Also, don't dismiss film cameras completely. There's a reason the technology has been around so long. And the nice part is that because everyone seems to be moving to digital, that it's relatively easy to find used high quality film equipment at dirt cheap prices (at least out in the states, anyway).
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Unread 12-14-2005, 02:26 AM   #7
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Tossing my nickel in...

There are two things my photo instructor said to burn into my brain when we were taking classes.

Both, or one could apply to you.

Know what your film can do. If you are using film, know what each ASA will do for different situations. I usually go with asa 400 because its an all around film. But, I usually use asa 100 for places I know will be mostly outdoors. Because asa 100 can take better pictures with brighter conditions. It exposes slightly slower.

Next-

Know what your exposure and flash can do. It took me nearly ten years of working out what my flash was doing in dark areas, and should I turn up or down my iris. Now, electronic cameras work by measuring the lightwaves bouncing off from available light, to balance it. I have seen pictures of costumes I made, taken with electronic cameras, come out wrong.

If I could, I would like to get myself a camera that is both digital and uses film, so I have the best of both worlds.

Anyway, just make mental notes on what works with you, and practice, practice, practice.

Maybe you'd want to get some Barbie dolls and practice. I did, with my TRANSFORMERS an other action figures. (And I did get a couple of barbie dolls.)
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Unread 12-14-2005, 02:28 AM   #8
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I didn't see this last part until late.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtnishi
Also, don't dismiss film cameras completely. There's a reason the technology has been around so long. And the nice part is that because everyone seems to be moving to digital, that it's relatively easy to find used high quality film equipment at dirt cheap prices (at least out in the states, anyway).
Me, I want to get back in the darkroom sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much
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Unread 12-17-2005, 03:21 PM   #9
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point and shoots are helpful beginner tools!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtnishi

However, I'm going to recommend that unless you're willing to accept a steep learning curve, or already know what you're doing, that your first digital camera not be a D-SLR.

I totally agree with this. I'm just getting into the more technical side of photography (Not that you can tell from my gallery on this page...hahaha) and I very much believe that if my first camera had had fully adjustable controls instead of auto features I would have been totally confused and turned off to photography. All of the in's and outs of photography can be really intimidating to somebody who's just jumping in. F-Stops and Aperature and whatnot. I'm still confused half of the time!

Learning the trade takes practice practice practice! I think a digi-cam is useful to start out with because it allows you to take a zillion pictures and see the results without having to spend money on developing the film. A digi-cam that takes care of the more technical side of things while you work on developing the more artistic side of photography is really helpful. Once you are feeling confident with that the lack of controls on a regular point and shoot can get really frustrating. That's when it's time to upgrade. When you upgrade there are more books and webpages about photography than you can shake a stick at.
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Unread 12-17-2005, 10:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shizzo
I think a digi-cam is useful to start out with because it allows you to take a zillion pictures and see the results without having to spend money on developing the film. A digi-cam that takes care of the more technical side of things while you work on developing the more artistic side of photography is really helpful. Once you are feeling confident with that the lack of controls on a regular point and shoot can get really frustrating. That's when it's time to upgrade. When you upgrade there are more books and webpages about photography than you can shake a stick at.
While it's true that a digital camera definitely has some advantages in starting, I believe it has more to do with the immediacy of the feedback, rather than the cost. If you work the math out, given the higher initial costs of owning a digital camera, especially if you want physical prints, it becomes really hard to justify price wise a digital camera over a film camera unless the number of shots you take start getting into the high hundreds or low thousands per year. This is especially true if you're looking outside of compact style cameras, and into SLR cameras, where good 35mm film equipment can be had for pretty much nothing, while a digital SLR will set you back a grand.

But that said, even under the best case scenario, it's going to take you 30 minutes to an hour to see your shots on 35mm after you've shot them, while on digital, the wait's closer to 3-5 seconds tops, and typically there's more than enough time to adjust and reshoot.
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Unread 12-20-2005, 03:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtnishi
While it's true that a digital camera definitely has some advantages in starting, I believe it has more to do with the immediacy of the feedback, rather than the cost. If you work the math out, given the higher initial costs of owning a digital camera, especially if you want physical prints, it becomes really hard to justify price wise a digital camera over a film camera unless the number of shots you take start getting into the high hundreds or low thousands per year. This is especially true if you're looking outside of compact style cameras, and into SLR cameras, where good 35mm film equipment can be had for pretty much nothing, while a digital SLR will set you back a grand.

Immediate feedback really is a huge benefit of a digital camera.

Personally, I think the number of photos I take does justify the cost of my camera. On average, during a costume photoshoot I take 150-200 photographs. I'm the type that runs all around spastically snapping away like a mad woman. Of course I don't get 150-200 images I would be proud of... and that's why I take so many pictures.

I don't know which type of more advanced camera I'd reccomend, as I've only used digital. I was just talking about a start-up camera. A $150 point and shoot is a reasonable investment from my point of view.
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Unread 12-21-2005, 09:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shizzo
Immediate feedback really is a huge benefit of a digital camera.

Personally, I think the number of photos I take does justify the cost of my camera. On average, during a costume photoshoot I take 150-200 photographs. I'm the type that runs all around spastically snapping away like a mad woman. Of course I don't get 150-200 images I would be proud of... and that's why I take so many pictures.

I don't know which type of more advanced camera I'd reccomend, as I've only used digital. I was just talking about a start-up camera. A $150 point and shoot is a reasonable investment from my point of view.
Ahh, Sturgeon's Law. Why the great ones always look so good. What would we do without you?

In your case, since you do 150-200 shots per photoshoot, and presumably do more than 5-10 photoshoot equivalents a year, then yeah, digital becomes a good option. I think I've put about 5000-6000 actuations on my own camera shutter in only about 8 months of ownership, something equivalent to about 150 rolls of 36 exp. film, so I know digital numbers definitely work in my favor too. Well, that and the fact that I love controlling the editing process before I make large prints.

US $150 definitely sounds like a good basepoint for a digital camera. I don't know what price range this'll translate to for you, PrinceMark, since if I'm not mistaken, UK digital camera price ranges are higher than the exchange rate would suggest.

In any case, though, $150-$250 out here should be able to buy a decent 3-4 megapixel compact camera, maybe even 5 megapixel, which is plenty for most people, and perfectly usable.
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Unread 12-21-2005, 11:23 AM   #13
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Also, I think the average person is rougher with their first camera in terms of handling due to the experimental ways of taking shots and how much they tend to not invest in carrying equipment like bags and covers and such. It's much better to have the scratches and damages done to a replaceable P&S than an SLR. Once they feel the need to upgrade to an SLR, they'll have a higher chance of really appreciating it and taking care of it. It'll maintain a much better resale value for the future for when you decide to upgrade again.

Also with the new speeds of memory cards, the older ones have dropped in price by crazy amounts. Since a P&S tends to not be that demanding in writing speed (unless you have one that bursts really well), it's only a difference of transfer speed so you can probably skip out on like an Sandisk Ultra II or Extreme III and just buy the standard Sandisks (or used ones if you can't find them) and have lots of storage without having to dump so often. P&S's rule for getting high quantities of cosplay photos.
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Unread 01-05-2006, 09:25 PM   #14
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Well, you obviously have a computer, so let me say this: Start with a digital camera.

It doesn't have to be fancy or really expensive. But digital cameras let you take both black and white AND color pictures, and give you the results instantly. Thats how my photography class started us off, and believe me, I was thankful for the experience when we got to the manual SLR cameras and into the darkroom later.

Digital camera are good for begginers because you can play around with a varity of settings and camera speeds, and never waste film. You can also try it out in various lighting situations, and learn first hand what makes a good photo.

Apart from that, the best thing to do would be take a photography class. It sounds boring when you think of it, but it's actually very exciting and most of the time you get to play around with things you might not be able or want to try on your own. But a digital camera is the next best thing, if you can't afford a class.
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Unread 01-06-2006, 12:20 PM   #15
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Before you begin to worry about what equipment you need, you'll want to learn about taking photographs.

For example, you can take photography courses or get some general tips.
Try this link:
http://www.geofflawrence.com/tutorials.htm

You'll need to understand the basics whether you use a film camera or digital camera. If you're going to take a lot of photos, go digital.

A good photographer only shows you his or her good shots. That photographer often has taken hundreds of shots and discarded the junk ones.

Good camera manufacturers are Canon and Nikon for DSLRs and high-end cameras. For cameras for the middle-range, Olympus and Fuji are respectable.

If you're going for a DSLR, read this thread about the approximate amount of money you might spend to get started.
http://forums.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=67074
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Last edited by Eriol : 01-06-2006 at 12:22 PM.
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