Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cosplay Photography Secrets Revealed By Jay Tablante At Geekology 101

Last Saturday, a unique cosplay + photography event called Geekology 101, with special guest and well-known photographer Jay Tablante, was held at Grid MMS located at *Scape.

Red Dot Diva decided to drop by the event after lunch and as she approached *Scape, she felt a growing sense of trepidation. No, she wasn't nervous about meeting Jay Tablante, or being surrounded by cosplayers at all.

*Scape is just one of those places that makes Red Dot Diva feel obscenely old.

The energetically youth-centric venue was a good centralized spot to hold a mini cosplay event though. Held at Level 4, there was a small exhibition of more than 20 pieces of Jay Tablante's beautiful cosplay photography. A few local cosplayers of mainly anime characters were in attendance.

Jay was already half an hour into his creative workshop at a small meeting room. When Red Dot Diva tried to slip into the back of the room as unobtrusively as possible, she noticed that there was about 20 cosplay photography enthusiasts - all listening intently to Jay's lively delivery.

Wearing a black geeky superheroes tee and jeans, Jay had an easy smile and was very at ease with a roomful of people. He peppered his workshop session with many amusing anecdotes, and lots of interesting artistic and creative tips.

When going through some of his cosplay photos, Jay animatedly revealed how he managed to achieve the "special effects" using very simple and cheap methods. Red Dot Diva thought that these were the more mind-blowing information offered that day.

For example, the "smoke" effects on many of the pics (like the Black Canary ones) was actually some guy blowing baby powder on cue onto the set. And for the latest completed photo on Black Cat, the crew bought a small cheap Spiderman toy as a really geekworthy yet notable background effect. "Gunshot effects" (in the X-23 shoot) consisted of a packet of black ink covered with baby powder and hurled against a wall.

Jay also mentioned that he likes to borrow stuff from people as props. In the Zatanna shoot, he used his granny's old-fashioned rug, cane and rocking chair. And he also shared how he managed to find someone who actually owned a pair of sais which he promptly borrowed for his Elektra shoot!

The toughest shoot he attempted was the one called "The Tea After Party" - a skewed adult version of the iconic Mad Hatter's tea party from Lewis Caroll's "Alice in Wonderland". Five models were hired for the shoot to play the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, White Queen and Alice herself. To achieve the best highlights and lowlights on the complicated setup, a total of 15 lights were used. In addition, probably due to the copious amounts of boozy beer available on set, the shoot took an arduous 5 hours to complete!

With such detailed and precise set-ups, someone asked Jay how long it took for him to complete a photography session. Jay openly shared that, on average, it took two weeks to plan, one week to shoot and one week for post-production.

Alodia makes a quick appearance!
Jay took some more questions from the room and all too soon, the workshop wrapped up on time at 3 pm.

Everyone streamed out back into the reception area. Not longer after, Red Dot Diva noticed that there was a palpable wave of excitement in the room as she heard someone murmur, "she is on her way up now". She, being the uber-popular cosplayer from the Philippines, Alodia Gosiengfiao.

All dressed up in cosplay gear and looking porcelain-pretty with very delicate features, Alodia was actually at *Scape for a Sony event downstairs. But she had decided to take 5 precious minutes during her break to say hello to the fans and offer support to Jay at Geekology 101.

As expected, she was followed and crowded in by ardent photographers with each step she took. Being short and rather unaggressive, Red Dot Diva had such difficulty getting a good shot of her. Consider this shot on top a fluke because the ever-attuned Alodia noticed the Diva milling tentatively around the edge of the crowd!

And then.... *poof*! She was gone as quickly as she arrived!

Jay spent some time mingling with the fans and attendees, and signing his photo prints. By then, it had already begun to rain heavily outside, making it much cozier to stay indoors. Most of the attendees stayed on for the live photography demonstration by Jay which kicked off a couple of hours later. There were a few hiccups concerning the lighting setup as Jay spent time trying to find out what went wrong with a light trigger.

When that was solved, the demo began with Jay going right into lighting setups with his first cosplay model "victim". Red Dot Diva noted that Jay spent a huge amount of time and effort explaining as well as showing the fine art of lighting for the set and model. By using either reflectors or items to create shadows, he stressed on the importance of proper lighting balance, and that one has to take note of the materials used in the cosplayers' costumes and props.

With the help of a TV screen, Jay also showed the various lighting effects on the different sets of demo photos. It was amazing to see how much more details popped out on a photo when the right formula of light and shadows were applied.

Altogether, Jay invited four cosplayers with different stylings and costumes for the live demo. And from the looks of it, many of the cosplay photographers took away a bagful of useful and practical tips home with them.

Even though Red Dot Diva is not a cosplayer nor a hardcore photographer, she thought that the topic was totally fascinating. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves that wet Saturday afternoon. And to top it off, Jay Tabalante breathed passion for his work, and was an utter joy to meet and talk to.

Here's to a better attended and more exciting Geekology 201 next year! What say you, peeps?


Always on the pursuit of an interesting victim whenever she has the chance, Red Dot Diva has indeed, managed to kidnap a few minutes of Jay Tablante's time for an interview. So, stay tuned for Diva's nosy Q&A with Jay Tablante, right here on this blog!

For photo references mentioned above, head to Jay Tablante's photography at his website, and or his Facebook page!

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