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Unread 12-14-2006, 02:30 PM   #1
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Asian Cosplay-style photography

I finally decided to go ahead and ask this question that has been baffling my mind for quite a while.

I've long since admired how some Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese etc. cosplayers (from cure, 273c, random pics online) take their photos. Here is an example. I feel that there is some form of difference with how they do it over there. I don't think it's to do with their cameras... since I got myself a Canon 30D and I still can't seem to simulate the brightness of their pics. I also tried playing with brightness and contrast as well as curves in photoshop. Is it the sunny setting? Is it the flash being brighter than usual? I have a feeling it has all to do with the lighting, but I don't know exactly what. I don't think it's to do with how they look either, since some cosplay.com official photoshoots by Kyle give me a similar sort of feeling.

Advanced apologies if this sounded rather silly or off, but I would really like to know.

Last edited by Rosieal : 12-14-2006 at 02:35 PM.
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Unread 12-14-2006, 03:06 PM   #2
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Looks to me as shot underexposed at a low ISO, then in PP lightened, likely by way of RAW EC boosting... probably 2 stops worth after underexposed a half stop or 2/3 stop or so. Then contrast (at least selective contrast) fired way up, then saturated (in certain colors).

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Last edited by staereo : 12-14-2006 at 03:16 PM.
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Unread 12-14-2006, 03:26 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot! I am a beginner, but I am still learning, and tips like this would really help. ^^

So I set my camera to low ISO? Any suggestions on the setting? Or it can be taken anywhere?
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Unread 12-14-2006, 04:32 PM   #4
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Yah what staereo said.

It's funny, if you've ever seen glamour shots, say the kind you can get at the mall. My asian friends who do it, usually get the photos back really over exposed. So much so that sometimes you lose almost all of the details in the face. It's a weird stylistic thing.

I've not tried to get that style straight out of the camera, but it should be easy enough to do in Photoshop.

The closest I've gotten to that look (though purely by accident), is by shooting in bright bright sunlight. But it's still not quite right because of the harsh shadows everywhere.

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Unread 12-14-2006, 04:50 PM   #5
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I honestly think that the style takes away from cosplayer more than adds too it. You loose the details on the costume, and the subject ends up looking entirely plastic and fake. Pores aren't a sin, people.

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Unread 12-14-2006, 05:28 PM   #6
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My opinion on this is that I'm sure I understand the type of photos the OP is referring to, but I don't think Stay's (the example cosplayer) photos are the best example. She uses a good variety of well composed shots that don't really qualify as the "asian cosplay photo style". I think what makes the "asian cosplay photos" what they are are simply:
1) USUALLY extreme closeup, and USUALLY subject is cropped on more than just the bottom side of the photo.
2) High contrast with the major accent on highlights creating major overexposure (which is ignored as a flaw by the PPer)
3) Photoshopping of eyes (In my opinion)

I seriously don't even think they purposely underexpose anything. I think they do this to any photo, DSLR or P&S. I think the most important factor in mimicking their style is to just mess with the curves in a high contrast fashion, focusing more on the highlights. Starting with a linear setting on the curves, put a point very close to the bottom end, but further to the right to create a low curve on the whole line. Then Put a holder at the top of the line so the middle of the line goes over the center of the grid. Sliding the top end point over to the left closer to the other highlight point you created will further overexpose it. So, a diagnal "S" shape in a way is kinda what you get, with more exposure on the top. My lingo on this whole curves description is probably off as I don't know how to correctly discuss it.

If you care about the actual details of the photo quality and original JPEG or RAW workflow, then staereo's post will help you. However, I doubt most of the photos you are referring to (if the same as the ones I'm referring to) have ANY of that in mind. I think most of them use P&S's anyways on who knows what setting. As already said in this thread, it takes away from costumes themselves. I figure the 'asian cosplay photos' could be done with half or less of the costume actually on, as it's mostly focused on the face.

Ghost, actually I just looked at your gallery and saw that you may have already tried to achieve this look with some of those photos? In regards to the differences between those photos/style in your gallery and the ones that I and hopefully you are talking about, there are some major ones that I think I can point out.
1) They are taken in very well lit, sometimes over lit areas. Usually outside, but even if indoors it's like in day time with the windows wide open. Because of this, there is no harsh flash causing shadows behind and around the subject.
2) They more than likely process the curves like I said above.
3) They will more than likely not shoot straight on like you did. They will tilt the camera for a different composition and/or shoot at a different angle (high or low).

I would first try those fundamentals out (would be hard to do with a 30D without someone helping you out though). If you can get the basic structure of it down, then you can get nit picky about quality and well, that would apply to all shots you take, not just these.

Last edited by Godly : 12-14-2006 at 05:44 PM.
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Unread 12-14-2006, 06:39 PM   #7
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Thanks so much everyone for your suggestions!

Godly, thanks so much! I actually tried the brightness and contrast adjustment on the latest 3 photos I have of the Trinity Blood one (the rest are camera phone and unedited). I will certainly try what you suggested.. and I do understand about the cruves bit. I was playing with it but it ended with the contrast making the pic look too sharp, whereas the ones I usually see look more natural in terms of contrast... and yet still bright and colourful. x_X.

I am experimenting with different styles, but this one is something I just can't seem to achieve.
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Unread 12-15-2006, 11:21 AM   #8
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that photo was taken at national taiwan university. i recognize the unique floor and the gray leveling.

instead of using flash, spot meter the person and deliberately overexpose the background.

brightness/contrast adjustment will not achieve that feeling in photoshop.
try adjusting exposure in RAW or use the level tools in photoshop.

it seems like the person also played with the colors to make the skintones softer.
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Unread 12-15-2006, 10:30 PM   #9
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Looks like he used a little trick with the white balance. Instead of calibrating to a white card or electronic default, he used a beige or light grey card in bright light to offset the whites and punch up the colours. Greys are better because they won't colour shift.
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Last edited by tfcreate : 12-16-2006 at 12:11 AM.
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Unread 12-17-2006, 09:46 PM   #10
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A key aspect of that look would be to remove all details on the person's skin. So I'm guessing that one has to start with that by doing a selection of the subject's skin, making a new a layer out of it to apply some kind of blur. Then, they add a level layer adjustment and they adjust the middle value from 1.00 to something like 1.50. Finally, they make a new layer from the result of the previous steps and set it at "Overlay" at 50%. Maybe there's some curve adjustment at the end too.

I don't know how they do it or if there's a tutorial somewhare but this is my guess.

Last edited by TomodachiFriend : 12-17-2006 at 09:53 PM.
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Unread 12-19-2006, 03:37 AM   #11
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i thought it was over exposed then photoshopped. underexposed would show less detail in the shadows hmm. ill have to try it tomorrow. i got a beach shoot and i can waste a few shots to try and burn out the skin tones.
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Unread 12-19-2006, 03:07 PM   #12
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i'm pretty experienced with photoshop and reckon i can get this effect easy. thing is i need to get photoshop again and then i'll try and get the pic like you want 'em. if you could supply a base pic to work on though that'd be great. when i'm done i'll upload the .psd and do a short tutorial for ya.

as for getting the effect with the camera. i'm stumped.
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Unread 12-20-2006, 01:18 AM   #13
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Here's the result of the steps I wrote in my other post.


I'm not sure if that's it. I believe plenty of light shining from above would improve the effect. I picked another picture from the same photoshoot with such light conditions and all I needed to do was to increase contrast and saturation, and play with curves.
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Unread 12-20-2006, 10:14 AM   #14
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okay. this is what i got. dont know if it's what you're looking for so i havenet uploaded the .psd yet. thoughts?

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Unread 12-20-2006, 07:59 PM   #15
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I believe it's missing colors. The example Ghost was linking to had very saturated colors. The luminance part is close though.
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