July 2011

(Where to buy. $12.99 each, but order 5 or more, they’re $10.49 each.)

Tom’s behind the scenes notes:

The model here is StarryShay.  She has a really wonderful look for cosplay.  She has large eyes and delicate features, so she looks a lot like the typical pretty girl in an anime, but in real life.

I had planned in advance that I wanted to do a shot with the Portland sign in the background, but I didn’t know which model I would use for that.  When I saw StarryShay and her costume, I knew she would be perfect for it.

Of all the photos in this calendar, this one was the one I had the most difficulty with.  I’ve told people that and they’ve been confused — the usual reaction is “I don’t get it, what’s so hard about that?”  Well I’m glad the photo doesn’t look like it was hard for me to do, I’d rather have it look natural.  But there are many tricks going on here.

There is another sign here, not the Portland sign, that would be very distracting in the picture, and the only way I could hide it was to line things up so she is completely blocking it with her body, making it “disappear.”  But doing that led to another problem.  I wanted the relative sizes of the Portland sign and the model to be balanced, and the angle to be just right, and the only place I could stand to achieve that was in the middle of the street, where I had to worry about the possibility of being hit by a car.  And then I had to hold the camera up very high, where it was hard to see what I was doing, because she is not standing on the sidewalk, she is actually standing up on top of a low wall.

Another trick here was the lighting.  The background is natural light, but the model is being lit by off-camera flash.  One of the other models from this calendar was there holding the flash in the right position.  I can’t remember who it was, I think it was AgehaIX but it could have been Haley.  Without that assistance I couldn’t have made it work.

So the bottom line was that it took many, many tries to get this right.  It felt like about 50 attempts.  And partway through that, the batteries in the external flash ran out and I had to replace them.  This is the type of situation where the model could get bored or frustrated, and that might show on her face and ruin the shot.  But StarryShay was great, she kept doing cool poses every time, acting like each one was the very first one.

In the end, I got exactly the shot I had hoped for.  Sometimes you just have to hang in there and keep trying.

More photos from this set on Flickr.

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