Thursday, June 12, 2014

East Coast Comic Expo 2014 - Completely Awesome

What can I say about ECCE 2014, well, it was better then last year by far, and that's saying something considering last year was one of the most enjoyable convention experiences I ever had. Part of what made it so amazing was the new space, last year it was in the now closed Beaver Curling Club, this year it was the Kay Arena (both in Moncton, NB). The space was massive and allowed for more vendors, more events and more people. One of the highlights for me was actually having a spot to set up for photos and sell work. This let me be more creative with the lighting, granted more exposer and let me make some sales. The actual convention seemed to go extremely well, everyone seemed happy, I heard no complaints and vendors and guests were all reporting complete satisfaction. This is a good sign that the community is alive and well and engaged in this subject. Also the staff has one of the smartest plans going, sticking to a tight scheduled, one day event means no one gets bored and there's always something to do and see, plus the layout of this convention has not been topped. So what's my final word, if you can only do one convention and comics are your thing, do ECCE, you'll love it.

So now about the photos, were to start, well, like I said I had a big space and lots of control in my lighting. I think as far as lighting and backdrop goes I'm set for a good while. I finally have the gear to produce my vision to the standards I want, not to say I didn't before, I was just limited to certain step ups. Now I can mould the lighting to fit the scene much easier. Because of my vinyl backdrop (which I first used at EnBiCon) I no longer need to worry about heavily editing the background which shaves hours and hours off my post production. I also have a boom stand now which allows me to produce more dramatic lighting from higher angles, like so.

And I now have another working Metz 45 flash which allows for better exposer on larger groups with ease, like so.

The only thing I'm after now is a wider angle lens. I used an old manual Nikkor 28-70mm for this event, which worked fine for the most part, but slowed me down in focus and caused a few focus issues from time to time too (completely my fault, manual focus is something I typical have issues with on fast shooting situations, like people). Luckily this didn't kill an images outright, but it might be time to invest in a wide zoom like the Sigma 18-35mm or just a 35mm or 30mm prime. Nikon makes a lovely 35mm prime for a DX sensor, and it's not killer in the price. All in time of course.

I also did a lot of edit work and compositing in Photoshop this year (much like last). I seem to be getting better at matching lighting and poses to origin artwork, this allowed for me to create some images based off said artwork that people wanted. I set up a group chat for people to send me images from comics of the characters they were cosplaying and studied the lighting and poses before hand. To be sure I got it right, I printed off copies of the art to bring with me. Some of these works we just did using the natural black and greys in the final image from the background.

And then some I went all out, making mock comic covers, inserting into original art etc.

One in particular I'm very happy with, it required a lot of work to put together, and it could be used as a promo for the convention if they wanted as well. Here's a mild example of the process I went through and the final image in two versions.

One more thing that blew my mind photo wise this year, was the special shot I got to do with Iron Man (Saint John Iron-Bat), Captain America (Shield Slinger) and "Marvel Civil War" artist Steve McNiven. These images defiantly sparked out the comic geek in me and hopefully can serve as a good promo for the convention.

All around it was an awesome event and I look forward to going back next year! Stayed tuned for the image catalog in the next post.

-Larry M. Holder

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