This Colossalcon 2017 report was written by Brent Allen Thale on June 11, 2017. 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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We returned to the sprawling metropolis of Sandusky, Ohio for a second visit to Colossalcon, a swimsuit-themed anime and cosplay show held June 1 to June 4, 2017! Last year was our first trip to Colossalcon, and it was so awesome, we had to return again, since this show offers a different spin on cosplay that isn't really captured by any other cosplay convention.
Colossalcon is hosted by the impressive Kalahari Resort, which is an African-themed waterpark hotel. Tobias took advantage of this, taking several breaks to go on water slide excursions, he says the water slides are "big and fast". There is also an indoor wave pool and even a swim-up bar with alcohol! Interesting place. They also have African art all around the facility plus photos from the Kalahari taken by family members of the hotel's owners. I believe the Kalahari is opening up for next year's reservations on July 8th, so act fast, but don't take my room!
This Colossalcon featured a laughably botched weather report, just prior to the show, the weather forecast kept getting worse and worse, with rain and some storms at 70% chances each day. However, when we got there, it was a clear blue sky and it remained clear all the way until Sunday when it spit a little rain and clouded up a bit. Some people were even joking before the show it would be cancelled due to dangerous weather, since the Kalahari closes the outdoor water park whenever storms are in the area. As photographers, we really prefer cloudy skies since the light is softer and easier to control, plus big white puffy clouds make for great photo backdrops. Precious few clouds this year, all the cloudy skies you see here are from a couple hours on Sunday, the last day.
We (the photography team of Brent Allen Thale, Melissa Case, and Tobias) attend Colossalcon solely for the cosplay, although there are many other things to do, like attend conferences and get autographs. This year I would say Pokémon cosplay was easily the most popular, League of Legends has declined a bit and has been surpassed by Blizzard's Overwatch game I think, but nothing compared to the sheer numbers of Pokémon characters. Legend of Zelda-related cosplays were also quite common, and "Borderlands" always seems to have a big group as well.
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Colossalcon is a smaller con held in Ohio, and it's not really close to any major airports, but even so the cosplay stars come out to shine at the Kalahari! So many big-name cosplayers were there, like Jessica Nigri, Byndo Gehk, Kaybear, Bindi Smalls... and many others. But our specialty is shooting everyone, not just established stars, and at Colossalcon there are many new cosplayers doing awesome work!
We are San Francisco-based, so going to Colossalcon is a bit of an effort for us. I couldn't find any decent nonstop flights to Cleveland from San Francisco, so we took Southwest one-hopping through Chicago Midway, which worked OK. I would only do that for a summer con, since the risk of missing a connecting flight is just too high in the winter. Fortunately we were able to book the Kalahari Resort itself, which hosts Colossalcon, which is a huge convenience once you get settled in. Otherwise you have to worry about parking at the con and allowing extra time for traffic when arriving and leaving.
Sandusky is a pretty small town in a rural area, so the pickin's are pretty slim as far as shopping and restaurants are concerned. There is a nice Wal-Mart which has all the basic supplies you could need. Restaurants are largely fast food or casual chains like Applebees. One local place I do like is Sortino's Little Italy, kind of an old-school Italian place with a Godfather schtick. Our waitress on our second visit was a very bubbly girl who turned out to be an aspiring singer named Varie with her own Youtube channel!
People always ask us about our camera gear, since we come loaded with lighting equipment. I used a Nikon D7200 camera with a Promedia double bracket holding two Godox A360-2 flashes in 24-inch octaboxes. Melissa held our key light, a Godox/Cheetah A360-2 in a 28-inch Elinchrom octabox, and Tobias held a third Godox AD360-2 as a rim light. These lights are heavy and ostentatious, but they have a lot of power which is great for Colossalcon's bright exterior shots. Colossalcon has a great photo gear policy, though. They are very tolerant of light stands and carts and heavy lighting gear to get the best shots possible, which is awesome. For lenses I used the Sigma 18-35 1.8 DX and Sigma 50-100 1.8 DX, both awesome lenses that are sharp and big-aperture.
We finally got a chance to visit the famous Colossalcon field, it's a weed-covered stretch of empty land beside the hotel where cosplayers and photographers congregate to take photos. It's fun because it's different than the other pool shots, but there are a lot of bugs out there, oh well. We got some nice shots of various wonderful cosplayers hanging out waiting for scheduled shoots.
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Battle of the Shoes: Each con Melissa and I wear colorful shoes to see who can get the most compliments. Last year Melissa wore those trendy LED-lined shoes that flash lights, and won easily against my much more classy kicks. Melissa's batteries burned out this year and she just wore normal shoes, giving my classic golden high-tops an easy 4-0 win without any effort from me!
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