San Diego Comic-Con 2015
This San Diego Comic-Con 2015 report was written by Brent Allen Thale on July 13, 2015. Please do not use these pictures for any commercial purpose or post them on any web site without written consent from Brent Allen Thale, the copyright holder.
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San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest pop culture show in the universe, returned to the San Diego Convention Center July 8-12, 2015! This was the earliest in July I remember Comic-Con ever being held, doesn't really matter since the weather is always great in San Diego and this year was no exception. I believe next year Comic-Con returns to its customary weekend later in July 2016.
For first time visitors to this blog, I should explain that we are attempting to tell the story of San Diego Comic-Con 2015 from a cosplay perspective. We (Brent Allen Thale and Melissa Case) walk around the Comic-Con area for four days and randomly run into people in costume and ask them for photos, and we feature the ones we like best here. Some people go to Comic-Con for autographs, celebrities, movie previews, networking, panels... we go for one thing: cosplay photos. Is that crazy? Yeah, well they said Galileo was crazy, Tesla was crazy, Van Gogh was crazy... well, maybe he was crazy but you get the point.
Important note for cosplayers: If you want to share one of my photos on social media, please be sure to credit me, my name is "Brent Allen Thale" (B.A.T., get it?) and please link to the page on my site where you found the photo you want to share. If you want to feature any of my photos on a blog or news site, please ask me first. These are copyrighted photos, I'm nearly always cool with sharing with credit on social media, but if you're a business, like Playboy.com for example, using my photos without credit is getting old.
We are currently San Francisco Bay Area-based, when I checked flights to San Diego they were crazy overpriced so once again we drove our Tesla Model S electric car from San Francisco to San Diego for Comic-Con. The advantage is we can use the Tesla supercharger network for free, there is no fuel cost. To avoid LA traffic, we cut over to I-15 southeast of Bakersfield and came in from the east. I think we did save time on traffic, but considering the extra distance, stoplights, and lower speed limits on the path to I-15, I'm not sure we actually saved any time compared to I-5 through LA. Took us 11 hours down and 12 hours up due to an extra charging stop coming back. Note to self: Try to hit the Rancho Cucamonga supercharger as often as possible, lots of restaurants and shopping nearby and great BBQ at Lillian's Flying Pig!
The show seemed ever so slightly less crowded this year, not sure if this was due to Marvel's low visibility at the show or if Comic-Con intentionally held back a few tickets. In past years the floor was a neverending mosh pit of humanity, this year we were actually able to move around a bit at times on the show floor and even take a photo or two.
This was an odd year for movie content at Comic-Con, with Marvel having a lower presence than usual due to movie release timing and other recent Disney cons, and DC only sort of picked up the slack with their new properties. As far as banners, I saw Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and Ant-Man a lot, and Penny Dreadful had a big banner inside the Sails Pavilion. I can't talk much about any of that stuff because it takes too darn long to stand in line to attend any of those panels. If we stood in line, we wouldn't get awesome cosplay shots, so we don't do lines. Speaking of lines though, the famous Hall H lines were still there in full force, with people sleeping overnight in hopes of getting into Hall H to see something, I just can't imagine doing that unless they gave everyone a free iPad or something. Two seconds of eye contact with Ben Affleck just isn't sufficient motivation for me to sleep on a sidewalk and give up a nice hotel room.
Speaking of hotels, San Diego Comic-Con has a lottery system which has not served us very well lately. A few years ago we got the Hotel Solamar, one of the few true walking distance hotels to the convention center, and it was awesome. Lately though, we have been getting put in Mission Valley during the lottery, and then upgraded at the last minute to the edge of downtown and that's where we were this year, at the Doubletree by Hilton on Front Street. It's on the shuttle route, but the shuttle makes slow progress due to extremely heavy traffic, and it's possible to lose two hours every day just because of shuttle overhead. Plus carrying tons of camera gear on the shuttle is a pain. Wish there was some solution to this problem other than murder or bribery to get into something like the Hilton Bayfront, at this point I'm probably not above bribery...
For cameras this year I used my main camera, the Nikon D7100 DX-format model. It's not the most expensive camera around and it's not even full frame, but I really like it for its moderate size, light weight, and tons of pixels. Plus since it only uses the center portion of full-frame lenses, it doesn't suffer from soft corners or vignetting for the most part. We used three lenses, mainly the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens which is awesome and my favorite lens ever. It is so sharp at f/4 that my eyes bleed just looking at the photos it takes! BTW we shoot most costumes at f/4 because I like the costumes and the cosplayers' faces to be in focus, I really hate that only-the-eyes-in-focus look that is so popular these days. For outdoor shots I often stop down to f/8-f/11 so the sky doesn't blow out and looks dramatic. We used three Nikon speedlights, our key light in a 24-inch Chimera octabox, our fill light in an orbis ring flash adapter on my camera, and our rim/background light on a small light stand and fitted with the Magmods modifier system.
We also used the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 lens which is nice for headshots and closeups, although we only used it a few times at Comic-Con. It's so hard to get enough distance from subjects without people walking through the shot or hitting a wall, that it's hard to use telephoto effectively at Comic-Con. Rounding out our lens selection was the Sigma 8-16mm DX superwide. Only used it in a few shots, but it's a fun lens and I definitely want to try an ultrawide again. Look at the big hand in the Avengers Angels Tony Stark shot, that's the kind of cool distortion it can do.
New this year on the camera front was a Sony A7s camera and 70-200 f/4 lens. Sony is really hot right now with all new technologies and full-frame mirrorless, so I thought I would try it out. It was interesting but autofocus is still not on par with Nikon and we lost a lot of shots because of misfocus on the Sony. So, I might consider Sony again in the future, especially if they improve their autofocus and their support for off-camera flash.
The most popular female cosplay was perennial favorite Harley Quinn from "Batman". So many Harleys of all varieties, they love to mash up Harleys with all sorts of other properties. For men it's a tougher call, I did see a lot of Spider Man, Batman, and SuperMan, but I believe Deadpool edged them all out, likely due to publicity from the upcoming movie. For little girls, definitely Wonder Woman. For boys, maybe Spider Man.
We were lucky enough to get into Ashley Eckstein's Her Universe Geek Couture Fashion Show held at the Hyatt for the second year. They had a lot of nice comic and movie inspired clothing and they featured a contest where a group of designers had a model wear their original work designed for this show. Cosplay star Chloe Dykstra won the viewer favorite prize with a Sailor Moon costume that converted on the runway from one style to another, quite neat, and that was my personal favorite.
I've been trying a new feature on The BAT Cave for a few years that not many people know about, I fully support "retina" graphics up to a 3x multiplier, this means that the full-size images are best viewed on retina screens, like iPads, some Android devices, and retina MacBooks. If you are on one of those devices, you will automatically receive a higher resolution version of the same image that should be sharper and supports higher levels of zooming, very useful for checking costume detail. If you have the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, it supports 3x images, which means you get a 2700x1800 image instead of the 900x600 that most desktops get, it's awesome!
San Diego Comic-Con attracts many of the highest-profile cosplayers, we were able to catch quite a few including Jessica Nigri, Riddle, Bernadette Bentley, Kimi, Chloe Dykstra, Annisse Damefatale, Lonstermash, D. Piddy... and I'm sure a few in costume that we didn't recognize. We missed Ambassador of Cosplay Yaya Han who we usually run into at some point during the show, it's just so hard to find any specific person in those crowds.
I would like to heartily thank Comic-Con security for doing an awesome job at the show. They did cost us a shot or two by hurrying us along, but I understand they have a job to do and they were never mean spirited or rude, they were just working to keep people moving and the halls clear.
And once again a heartfelt thanks to my intrepid photo assistant Melissa Case who ropes in cosplayers and helps with posing and lighting. Another great con, and for the fifth year in a row I am happy to triple your salary once again! It must be awesome to be making such huge money and getting to go to Comic-Con each year as well.
Thanks to all the wonderful cosplayers who always have time to shoot with us! We didn't get a single "no" and nobody asked us for money! Had a great time at San Diego Comic-Con 2015! Be sure to "Like" this page and share it if you really liked it!
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