This is a shoot that Rose and I had been planning for a little while, thinking of ideas and concepts while waiting for a window when we’d both be available. Self-evidently the idea was schoolgirl + guns, a “gap moe” combination. Nothing original of course, but plenty of scope to try some fun ideas.
Caption: Don’t you think she has a bit of that Mona Lisa air of enigma about her?
Caption: Three-quarter length shot, dat bokeh~
There’s no shortage of inspiration for this sort of thing, mostly thanks to the fantastic Gunslinger Girl by Aida Yuu. I scribbled down a big list of ideas and distilled it down to something that could produce some solid shots that wouldn’t demand heavy setup or on-location work. This is because I couldn’t be sure that I’d have anyone on hand to assist, and the gear I could drag along would be limited. (Leaving for Canada early the next morning? You’re cutting it close, son.)
Caption: This is one of my favourites, as a straight beauty shot. For this one shot I did a little extra processing on the skin, adding an Orton layer of very low opacity gaussian blur. In the process I also learnt more about layer masks and got comfortable wrangling them. :D
Gear for the shoot was one Einstein 640 with the 22” silver beauty dish. It’s easy to setup, sturdy, and heavily resistant to wind. Portability is “reasonable”, though it will only fit in a suitcase. Weaponry was an MP5K and Beretta M9 (militarised version of the 92FS).
Caption: Tim hates these aviator glasses. That’s because they look terrible on him, while they look fabulous on Rose. :)
Caption: This is what the aviators were really for. I was aiming to give a nod to the iconic Terminator movie image but didn’t have enough baby oil to shine up the skin, nor a suitably hard light source that’d balance the ambient. I’m fairly happy with how it came out for a ghetto-job though.
As an honest self-assessment, I’m happy with the shots that I did get, though I didn’t get a huge number of ones that took full advantage of the weaponry. They’re harder to setup so that they look right, and it’s hard to ignore the straight bishoujo ones.
Caption: Don’t you think the thigh holster looks good on Rose? ^^
Lighting also didn’t turn out quite as expected - cosplayer preparation took a while, exactly as expected, but by the time we started shooting there was effectively zero ambient light in the dingy alleyway behind the QVB. The Einstein was dialed all the way down to 2.5 watt seconds of output and still a bit too hot at times, even with the internal deflector and diffusion sock fitted to the dish. The only solution was to move the dish further away, losing some of the quality of light in the process.
Caption: “Infiltration”. I think we set this up at the back door to a Chinese restaurant, it was suitably seedy and dank. I wish we could’ve worked out how to nail a good looking pose, but it was getting really bloody cold by this time.
Caption: Hallelujah! I should’ve gone in close with the wide lens much earlier, but the damned thing is limited to f/4 when wide open, and I was struggling to grab all the ambient light that I could muster. I needn’t have worried, and I really like this shot, I think it shows the best side of everything.
I do a lot of thinking and planning prior to shooting, this is a little brain dump:
- Sailor-type seifuku
- Twintails hairstyle (massive boost to cuteness stat)
- Add a cardigan for more cuteness points
- Add kneesocks ftw
- Nicely painted nails
- Kawaii phone straps used to accessorise the guns
- Closeups on all of the above as suitable
- Homages to:
- Gunslinger Girl
- Watch Dogs
- Firing (crouching, kneeling, vaulting, raised to shoulder)
- Reloading (the M9 has a removable magazine)
I also had in mind a very short story in a series of pictures. With a very noir feel: tail a quarry down the alleyway, sneak up on them, attack, receive counterattack, beatdown.
Caption: Phew is it hot in here, or is it just me? Beretta M9 ♥. I’m going to have to teach Rose about trigger discipline though. Quite pleased with this shot, though I feel the composition could use some work. I discussed it with some fellow photographers and while I like all the little elements, we agreed it’s a little busy. I see the face, the shape the light makes of the face, the hair, the twintails running down the front, my jacket’s zipper in the foreground, the gun, the hands, the nails, the cardigan, the lips, the eyes, and… the viewer doesn’t have a single, strong focal point to be drawn to, so it needs some work.
It turns out that Rose isn’t very athletic, so a lot of the most dynamic ideas weren’t possible to execute. I’d still like to do some of these in future, but it might take a lot more concerted preparation.