Conventions Photography

Katsucon 19 (2013) photography

Check out my convention report for more general talk about the convention!

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I attend Katsucon with a friend. This convention is located in National Harbor Maryland, which is at least a 13 hour drive from Northern Illinois. The main draw of this convention has been cosplay making it a good convention to visit. My decision to go was really abrupt, but it worked out pretty well.

National Harbor

Katsucon is a convention that is appealing to a person who likes photography. The event location is amazing with both great indoor and outdoor locations. The hotel has a large open area with a glass roof, so sunlight is amply available and the outdoor harbor location is also great for photos (as long as the weather hold up). Cosplay is especially big here, which means you have a large number of potential photo ops and should stay busy throughout the entire convention if that’s what you like doing.

Nice weather on Friday

I spent the majority of my convention taking photos. I did buy a badge, but it didn’t get much use besides gaining access to all of the convention areas. Most of my photography consisted of impromptu hallway cosplay, but I did a few little photo sessions throughout the weekend.

Equipment wise, I stayed pretty light. This convention is a long ways away, and my hotel was off-site, so I wanted to be as mobile as possible.

Nikon D600
Nikon 28mm f1.8
Nikon 85mm f1.8
Nikon SB-800 flash (with a cloth diffuser and two color correction gels)

Wide angle gathering shot.

The gear worked pretty well, but I did have a few quirks. The balanced exposure mode of the flash/camera doesn’t work quite as I would hope in extremely dark situations. The camera tends to avoid high enough ISOs in that situation to get enough background exposure for my liking. The camera’s high contrast LCD exasperates the issue in the field because I can’t use it as a guide. To get around that while still keeping simplicity in mind, I was able to control ISO by hand and that appeared to help (very similar to what I use to do with my Pentax gear). If you are not unfamiliar with the balanced exposure setting on the flash, it works by combining camera settings and flash power, for the most part automatically, to equalize foreground and background exposure. In my case, I use the camera in aperture priority with that BL flash setting so that I’m free to only do basic power control as needed. You can control flash power on the flash and camera exposure compensation on the camera pretty easily. I usually had -2/3 to -1 flash power and -0.3 to -0.7 exposure compensation on the camera. In the night time, manually jumping up to ISO 800 helped get the background brighter.

It’s hard to go wrong with and 85mm on full-frame.

After the switch to Nikon, I really had not had much time with the 85mm lens. This convention, I quickly gained a preference for that lens over the 28mm. Portrait style has always been appealing to me, and 85 is a great focal length for that. For a lot of the time I was using the 85mm over the 28mm, but I did switch off as needed. On Saturday it was so busy that I did spend a lot of time with the wide angle lens just based on necessity. Don’t get me wrong, I like using wide angle, but it isn’t the easiest focal length to use on people. I think in time, I will have a better grasp of using it to its fullest capability.

Some of the action photos turned out.

My main failing for the convention was in action photos. Normally, I’m pretty good at it, but I didn’t have things configured quite right to get the best images. I had a few photo ops where some action was present. One I did alright at and the other I didn’t capture what I had wanted.

Wide angle for a group photo with limited space.

Result wise, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. You can’t go wrong with great prime lenses and a full-frame camera. I hovered around f2.8 a lot for this convention. It provided enough depth of field and nice sharpness for the majority of what I wanted. I did switch things up aperture wise for group shots and a few other situations.

Check out my convention report for more general talk about the convention!