It’s been a while! (Cosplay Photos)

Hey, it’s been a while! I’ve still been taking photos as usual, but this website hasn’t seen updates in a long time. A lot of my updates go on my Photography Banzai Facebook page due to convenience. Personal websites, in my experience, don’t get much traffic with articles like this. Most of this site’s traffic are my old Pentax equipment reviews.

Here are a few photos I took at a local cosplay photography meetup. The meetup is usually centered around photos with horses that we have available, but we still mostly just take photos of the cosplayers by themselves. It’s really just a big group of friends hanging out and enjoying a mutual hobby (while we also eat, drink, and have a bonfire). Stuff like this is what it’s all about!

Now on to the equipment talk. The equipment I pull out when I’m serious is still Nikon DSLRs.

Cameras and Lenses (use both at once most of the time):
Nikon D600 with a 50mm f1.8g lens:
This was attached to my backpack’s strap lugs directly across my chest.
An easy to use setup with that great normal focal length. It’s extremely dependable and easy to get nice portrait or full-body photos.

Nikon D750 with a Sigma 100-300mm f4 lens:
This was attached to a shoulder strap by the len’s tripod mount.
I had bought this lens to see if it would give me a certain look I was going for. For the most part it did. Both the camera and lens were pretty unfamiliar to me. I’ve had the lens for a decent amount of time, but didn’t have any big uses for it until this event. The camera body was a last minute thing due to a local shop that had a good deal on it used. Auto-focus was at time hit-or-miss, which I’m not too surprised about given the age of the lens (It doesn’t even focus in live-view). Excluding how many photos I had to discard due to auto-focus, the sharpness and qualities are pretty great. Zoom it out to 300 at f4 and you will get some unique isolation of subjects. I just wish there were current 100-300mm f4 lenses being sold, because I’d probably consider one in the future. I know Sigma has a 100-300 f2.8, but it isn’t cheap and it’s probably too big to easily handhold (not cheap compared to what I paid for this used lens). Overall, I’ll probably keep it around, but still wish the auto-focus was more consistent. Part of it could be my technique that I will be working on. The lens is pretty front-heavy.

Light modifiers:
All I had with me were reflectors (5-n-1 with diffusion). The photo above with the vibrant blue sky was using the largest one for diffusion of the sun and the smaller one for fill light. It worked out nicely thanks to the help of two friends than held them while I took the photos. Huge reflectors are a challenge to use, but do things that are hard to accomplish with anything else. My 5ft tall reflector worked out nicely, but I’m thinking I should have gone even larger.

A few improvements I’d make:
I’d like to pick up a quality double camera strap. It would make it easier to manage the two cameras I think. The issue is that good ones are not cheap! I’d also consider a larger 5-n-1 diffuser/reflector. Blocking out daylight sun is a great use for them when I perfect spot is not in the shade. I also need to work on properly using that Sigma 100-300mm lens. As I had mentioned, it isn’t ideal due to how old it is, but I think some of my issues were due to how front heavy it is (that’s one think I can improve on).

The nice thing about this photo meetup is that I can take my time and try to grow as a photographer. Conventions are usually not ideal for that.

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Sorry!

It looks like my site was down for a day or two. My host was retiring a server and had to transfer me to one of their newer ones. It looks like they must have done some things by hand which resulted in my PhotographyBanzai.com site CMS not being able to connect to the database. It was an easy fix, but I didn’t pay attention to which day they were doing the transfer (and didn’t verify it worked afterward).

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Editing Tip: Using a game controller to review and cull photos.

In this video I go over using a PS4 DualShock controller when reviewing and culling photos. It’s an ergonomic and quick way to go over large numbers of photos in your initial review process. In my case I use Adobe Bridge CS5, which has limited support for keyboard shortcuts.

You can use whatever controller you want as long as you have the ability to mimic keyboard inputs. The DS4Windows program I use has full macro support, which is great.

Here is how I have mine set up:
– D-pad
= The arrow keys on the keyboard so you can navigate through the photo list.

– top triggers
== no rating, 5 star rating
== CTRL+0 and CTRL+5

– top buttons
== left is -1 rating, right is +1 rating
== CTRL+, and CTRL+.

– triangle button
== show only 5 star rating in the photo list
== CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+5

– x button
== clear the photo list filter
== CTRL+ALT+A

– square button
== -1 thumbnail size
== CTRL+SHIFT+-

– circle button
== +1 thumbnail size
== CTRL+SHIFT+(+)

– the trackpad works as the PC mouse

Here are a few extras I added after making the video:
– left analog joystick up
== jumps to top of photo list
== home key

– left analog joystick down
== jumps to bottom of photo list
== end key

The PS4 controller drivers:
http://ds4windows.com/

Adobe Bridge shortcut list:
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/creativesuite/cs/using/WS0DF94317-81FF-4202-8505-2E9E58036F5Ca.html

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2015 Botanic Gardens Cosplay

I attended an event hosted by my convention/photographer/cosplayer friends “Cosplayer With A Camera” and Hikikomori Sama at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. They have had the event there for a number of years, but this might be the last. The garden has some pretty restrictive policies on photography, which makes things difficult for us. This year they tightened the policies even more and we had some aggressive staff on carts show up toward the end of the night. The garden itself is really large and beautiful, which is of course great for the pictures we take.

Here are a few highlight photos from the event:

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p1288553273-2 p1288541795-2

All I brought for the event was the Nikon D600 and 50mm f1.8g lens. It’s a nice combination that allows you do a decent amount without the extra bulk and hassles. Along with that, the overcast skies helped a lot with getting nice photos. Shade and uniform outdoor light are great for simple natural photos that don’t need much editing afterward.

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