Blue Valley Vineyard Shoot (Part 1)

Mike and I were excited to be able to attend the January D.C. Cosplay Photo Shoots meetup at Blue Valley Vineyard. It is a pretty winery in northern Virginia with a number of different places inside and outside to shoot.

It was a blustery, cold winter day, so Mike opted to stay inside and shoot with a speedlight. I went as a cosplayer. I will share his photos of other cosplayers in this post, and follow up with pictures of me in the next post. There were a lot of photographers relative to cosplayers that day, so Mike only ended up working with four people, including me.

Here is a group shot by Tony Kazmierski.
DC Cosplay Photo Shoots

The first person Mike worked with was Sierra in her Flapper Jasmine costume. She had some lovely details on her cosplay that worked well with grey and blue tones.
DC Cosplay Photo Shoots

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My Costumes at MAGFest 2020

I decided to go with a theme for my MAGFest costumes this year: Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain. They are two characters from the Batman universe who were best friends in the pre-New 52 continuity. Right now I have two cosplays of Stephanie Brown’s costumes and one of Cassandra Cain’s. I am hoping to make a couple more at some point (namely, Stephanie’s version of Batgirl and Cassandra’s Black Bat).

On Thursday I debuted my new Spoiler costume, which I had finished in December. I think it is a really cool look, with the purple and black. However, with the full face mask it is a bit hard to wear at a con. The visibility is not great, and the mask gets warm. Nevertheless, I was still happy with the result, and I like the photos we got.

We started with some “standard” photos in front of a stone wall inside. This wall is very popular with photographers at MAGFest and Katsucon, but on a Thursday it was not that busy.
MAGFest

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MAGFest 2020

Our first con of 2020 was MAGFest, which kicked off the year on January 2nd. We went for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (saving Sunday for rest and recovery). We did not have a large group that we were attending with, but we ran into plenty of friends throughout the weekend. The days were full of photo shoots, playing board games, socializing, and shopping.

Thursday was a relatively quiet day. I wore my new Spoiler costume (more on that in my next post), we did one shoot with a friend (I will share photos from our formal shoots in a future post), and we played a couple games with our friend Dimitry.

A selfie with Sara right after we finished our shoot on Thursday. It was warm enough to do photos outside!
MAGFest 2020

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Woodlawn Mansion Shoot 2019 (Part 1)

Last December, D.C. Cosplay Photo Shoots hosted a meetup at Woodlawn Mansion, which is an historic house museum in northern Virginia. The land was originally part of Mount Vernon, and was given by George Washington to Lawrence Lewis, Washington’s nephew, and to Eleanor Parke Custis, who was married to Lewis. The couple built a Federal-era house on the property. The plantation was later sold to Quakers who made a point of running the farm with free labor in the years before the Civil War.

Given the time period of the house, I knew I had to wear an early 19th century costume. Plus, since the shoot took place only a couple weeks before Christmas, I decided to aim for red and green colors in my ensemble. The result was a fun, “Christmas Regency” look.

My bonnet is by 1800s Millinery Shop, my reticule and chemisette are by Very Victorian, and my shoes are by American Duchess. I made my earrings (available in my Etsy shop here), my dress, and my spencer.

Here are some photos that Mike took of me, and I edited.
DC Cosplay Shoot

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PAX Unplugged 2019

Last December, Mike and I went to the third annual PAX Unplugged convention in Philadelphia. It is a fun con focused entirely on tabletop games, such as board games or Dungeons & Dragons, as opposed to video or computer games. It is not a cosplay-focused con, although this past year there were more folks wearing costumes based on various RPG series, such as The Adventure Zone or Critical Role. But the overall number of cosplayers is pretty small.

I went with very simple costumes for Friday and Saturday (and opted for street clothes on Sunday). On Friday, I wore a casual Mulan-inspired outfit. Mike and I did just a few quick photos in the upstairs lobby of our hotel, rather than lug photography equipment into the convention center.
PAX Unplugged

PAX Unplugged

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Pumpkin Tea 2019

Last November, Stephanie held her annual Pumpkin Tea, this time with a bustle/natural form era theme. It was a nice change of pace from our usual regency, and, as always, we had a ton of fun.

I took this opportunity to wear my red silk natural form gown, which somehow is holding up fine after nearly ten years. I had to replace a closure, but otherwise it is still going strong.

Thank you to Britney for taking this photo of me!
Pumpkin Tea

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Baltimore Comic-Con 2019

Last October we went to what is probably my favorite con of the year: Baltimore Comic-Con. I love conventions where I get to partake in tons of comics-related content. Baltimore Comic-Con is great for meeting comics creators, seeing cosplays of comic book characters, and doing lots of comics shopping. (Our prize purchase this year was a Batman/Catwoman print signed by Jim Lee!)

On Friday I debuted my Cassandra Cain cosplay. It is based on a fan character design by TBranch Studios. (You can see the specific art piece I referenced here.) The suit pattern is from SpiderBite Designs. I was so excited to finally get to cosplay as Cassandra.

Baltimore Comic-Con

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Wagner House Weekend (Part 2)

In my last post, I shared photos that Mike and I took in shoots we had scheduled during our friend Vanessa’s event at Lakewold Gardens. On Saturday night, Vanessa organized a lovely dinner to close out the weekend. She arranged for a delicious buffet, live music, and plenty of time for conversation and card playing.

Mike and I did not do formal shoots during the dinner, because we did not want to spend the evening working. But we agreed to take a group photo before dinner and some quick shots afterwards. We did the latter photos in the front hall, which was pretty small and dark. We were able to compensate by setting up one speedlight and aiming it at the low, white ceiling. That worked as a nice bounce.

We looked like a fabulous rainbow!
Wagner House

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Wagner House Weekend (Part 1)

This past September, our friend Vanessa organized an 18th century costumed weekend at Wagner House, which is located at Lakewold Gardens, near Tacoma, Washington. She invited Mike and I to do photo shoots at the event, and we happily obliged, since it sounded like a beautiful venue and we love photographing historical costumers.

I have to admit that there were times when I thought I may have committed us to too large a challenge. Traveling across the country to do shoots in a venue we had never been to was very nerve wracking. Mike and I hold ourselves to a high standard (sometimes too high a standard, as evidenced by my at times OCD editing style), and we did not want to disappoint anyone who wanted to work with us. We also did not want to turn folks away, which meant we booked eleven shoots over the two days, three on Friday and eight on Saturday. That was definitely too much, even after two people canceled last minute. We probably should have limited ourselves to three on the first day and five on the second day.

When we arrived on Friday, I was super nervous, so much so that I was shaking a little. My first round of test shots had so much camera shake, that I was worried I would not be able to do the shoots. However, once we started our first shoot, I calmed down a lot and was able to get through it. Photography is funny, in that there are tons of different ways to take a good photo, but that also means there are tons of different ways to mess up a photo. The fear of making a mistake often gets me, particularly early in a shoot. I am still working on my confidence.

In the end, after I calmed down, I was pretty pleased with the work we did. We did indeed make a few mistakes, but nothing so large as to impact our ability to deliver strong photos to everyone who worked with us. (For Mike’s part, he had too low a shutter speed on some of the flash photos we did outdoors, which created an unintentional drag-the-shutter effect. He also needed to switch out the flash batteries more often. For my part, I had too tight a depth of field on a few shots, particularly two-person shots, and there were some times that I needed to position the subjects differently.) A few of the resulting photos are some of the best Mike or I have taken to date.

We used two setups for each shoot. The first was an indoor makeshift studio, using a neutral grey wall that we found inside Wagner House. We either used an umbrella (if we wanted the background to show) or a softbox (if we did not want it to show). Mike took all of these photos that we did here.
Wagner House BTS

Nearly all of the rest of the photos we took outside. I worked with natural light only, while Mike mostly used a flash in a softbox (which I held for him using a handle grip).

On to the photos!

Our first shoot was with Cynthia on Friday. Mike took this one in our “studio” using an umbrella.
Wagner House

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