Monday, March 28, 2011

Anime Conji 2011

As the right side bar of this blog says, I live in the San Diego, California area. And over the weekend, a up-and-coming anime convention called Anime Conji was held at the Town and Country hotel and resort in the Mission Valley area. I have taken roughly over 700 pictures over the weekend, which is a much higher volume of pictures that I was expecting to take entering the weekend - and it's going to take some amount of time to get them all up. For now though, you got this blog post to check out some early preview photos as well as my thoughts and opinions on the convention and those who attended. If you just want to see the gallery, the photobucket link is here.

Before I get started with the rest of this blog post - if you are one of the cosplayers in this blog post or in the my photobucket gallery - you are more then welcome to ask me to remove pictures from this post or the gallery, as well as ask for the original-sized photos (they're pretty big in resolution and file size, you have been warned!) if you want to do your own photoshop touch-ups. I'll get to talking about Photoshop later in this post - and why I posted even my own horrible mistake shots in the gallery.

Quick Edit - DO NOT EMAIL ME. I will most likely not see any emails you send to me since I get more spam then a military kitchen. Please PM me through or direct message on twitter.

Anime Conji History Lesson

Anime Conji was first founded last year as a Anime convention alternative to the much extremely bigger, more well-known and more expensive San Diego International Comic-Con. Obviously, this convention is a new fledging convention only in it's second year, but it's growing exponentially. (They doubled their attendance this year compared to their first year.) While the convention still was pretty much using meeting rooms and hotel rooms instead of a actual convention hall, as more people attend the convention (especially those who get hotel rooms) the more floor room the convention will eventually have. /end of history lesson.

Day 1 - It's Friday, Friday!

When I first arrived at the venue, I thought that Anime Conji was going to be held at the resort's Convention Hall. Apparently I was wrong. Very first two hours of this convention was spent in a line to get my pre-registered badge - and part of that was standing in the rain before they moved the line to a more dry spot. I'm sure this will be something that convention staff will address in the coming years.

I spend the first few hours of the convention hanging around the Le Chanticleer room where at first there weren't any cosplayers heading over to the room at all. Some eventually leaked over to the room from the line to the Mochi Maid Cafe, where I had some great shoots using the Victorian-type furniture in the room, and there were a ton of mirrors throughout the hotel.

I got some good photos of Rosegoddess (the Tifa shown above), some random shots including a cool photo shot with a message of encouragement to our friends in Japan (shown to the left of this paragraph), as well as a awesome photoshoot with a Utena pair. (Below)

The Utena shoot was fun to have, and it helps to have much more experienced photographers who know how to setup photo shoots directing the action for the most part. I'll be honest in my own assessment that I really really suck at doing photo shoots. Yes - this is despite having years of experience taking photos in the halls of Comic-Con and dealing with having as many as over 100+ cosplayers in a single group shot (and god those photos sucked.) By the way, most of the "photo shoots" I did have were more of spontaneous type things that typify my photos then having arranged time and place photo shoots the Pros use with their $1000+ photography equipment setups.

I roamed the con area more after the shoot and scoped out the dealer's hall/artist alley before coming back to chill in the Le Chanticleer room. If it wasn't obvious yet, I really had a lot of fun using the things in this room - and so did many of the other photographer pros who showed up. It wasn't the only place to get great shots, but it was probably the best place to get them.

When I got to the room, some Vocaloids showed up and the shoot with them really was a blast. Looking back on these photos now, I wish I really took more volume shots and adjusted my settings. I've found many flaws in my photography during this shoot which include:

  • Not adjusting flash settings to get better shots.
  • Relying too much on my camera's LCD screen to shoot instead of using my own eyes to aim my shots.
  • Not taking enough shots - AKA not volume shooting.

Regarding volume shooting real fast - this is something I really need to work on. I should have had triple the amount of photos I took overall this weekend and then upload the best shots I took of each cosplayer instead of what I'm going to be doing, which is uploading all my pictures - bad shots and all. Yes, it's being lazy a bit too, but it's also because I want those who are in these photos to be the ones themselves to decide whether the shot is good enough - it's their judgement call, not mine. 

While talking to other photographers over the weekend, a number of them were extolling Photoshop - take your volume shots, choose the best and run them through photoshop to remove the minor imperfections of the shot (and maybe the cosplayer). I'm in the camp of  not having the skill to do that, as well as being more having more natural shots and using camera tricks if it's called for.

Anyway, back from my little tangent, the Vocaloid cosplayers themselves were really having a ball with the shoot - and the room. The silly shots were as fun as the serious shots, and I'm glad that even if these photos were absolute crap, the cosplayers themselves had fun - and that's memories that can't be taken away by anyone. Not me, not 4chan's /cgl/, not, or whoever else says otherwise.

After the Vocaloid shoot, I took far more care on my shots then I did earlier in the day.

The shoot with this pair of Valkyria Chronicle cosplayers was fairly short for me, only because I'm very sure there are far better shots of these two from the other photographers who were there. I just wanted to post this picture honestly because this lady is really really pretty.

I slowed down far more in taking pictures as night was coming up. Not having enough light is always a issue for photos, but even more so for someone who has to rely on a DSLR's pop-up flash.

As you'll see in the later photos, it was REALLY fun getting some of the Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) cosplayers in the Le Chanticleer room, since the anime itself is themed from a Victorian-style setting.

The Tron cosplayer was awesome, and I need to work more on getting good shots with cosplayers that use the type of lighting that you see in not just Tron cosplays, but for other cosplays such as the ghosts in StarCraft. In any case, this picture is actually not bad if I bother myself to run photoshop to amp the brightness and drop the contrast without pixelating the picture.

Day 2 - Saturday Night Fever

Saturday, as at most weekend conventions, is the big day for the convention. That day is no exception, and it was fun meeting up with patachu (or chupata) again, who I regularly run into during Comic-Con. He wasn't technically dressed up as anyone, but his music playing skill is absolutely awesome. Hearing the Madoka opening theme on a piano live at a random anime con is absolute win.

This photoshoot with this group of Kuroshitsuji cosplayers was really fun - having characters who match the setting of the photo is really awesome to have. And while having the windows being brighted out - I rather have that since if I changed the camera settings to allow the camera to see through the windows would have only revealed the nearby Fashion Valley Mall.

The Kuroshitsuji gathering happened to be on that day too, and there was surprisingly a high amount of cosplayers from that series this weekend - which was great considering some of the great areas around the Town and Country Hotel and Resort were great with the cosplayers from this series.

Anyway, I realized looking at the time right now that I have spent too much time talking about Anime Conji and I should get around to posting all of my pictures. So now I'll just picspam a bit some of my favorite shots throughout the weekend.

Overall the weekend was really fun, despite how horrible of a photographer I am. I wish I can attend more events just so I can work on my photography skills more - particularly in photoshoot-type settings instead of the usual gathering-type settings. To all the cosplayers - you ALL are awesome. If I had left you out from this blog post but find your picture in the photobucket gallery - know that it wasn't because you had inferior costumes or anything, but because I just don't have more room to add more pictures to this post.

I hope to see you people at the San Diego International Comic-Con later this year!


  1. Anonymous4:09 PM

    Haha, I'm the Ciel in the first photo and one of the following Kuroshitsuji photos. My name is Roxy Phantomhive on Facebook and my Deviantart is

    Thank you for taking photos of us~

  2. Im the Ciel in blue being lifted ^^