Dragon Con 2016
This Dragon Con 2016 report was written by Brent Allen Thale on September 5, 2016. 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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Dragon Con is an awesome Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Cosplay show held in Atlanta, Georgia over Labor Day weekend. It's one of our favorite shows because of its open atmosphere, vast amount of cosplay, ease of getting tickets, and a general attitude of can-do fun! This year's show ran from September 2 to September 5, 2016 in the usual Peachtree section of downtown Atlanta. This area doesn't usually attract quite as many people as Dragon Con (and some simultaneous events) brings in, so it's pretty crowded and as always, hot, hot, hot!
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We are the San Francisco based cosplay photography team of me, Brent Allen Thale, and Realtor/Photo Assistant Extraordinaire Melissa Case. Dragon Con is a bit difficult for us to get to with the time zone change and the long flight, but it's always awesome enough for us to make the effort! As we were heading to the airport early Thursday morning, two cars collided right in front of us on the highway, bouncing off the median and ending up on the right shoulder. I was barely able to avoid the accident and dodge the debris of one car's bumper and other pieces. After that bit of excitement, we made it to the airport on time for our flight, which turned out to be unusually rough with a couple course diversions to avoid nasty turbulence.
Speaking of rough air, Dragon Con is in the middle of hurricane season, so we often have one eye on the weather report to see if we need to dodge a storm, and this year was no exception. Hurricane Hermine turned northwest in the Gulf of Mexico just in time for Dragon Con, but fortunately moved south of Atlanta, so it just gave us a little spitting rain and some very dramatic clouds! Great for zombie shots, love how they turned out with an End of Days sky look.
Note to cosplayers: Can you share our shot of you on social media? Yes! Just be sure to credit me, my photo name is Brent Allen Thale, and if possible, link back to the page on my site where you found your photo because that helps with our Google rankings. If you're a commercial organization like Playboy dot com or you want to put the image on a T-shirt or something like that, please ask me first. Do we make money doing this? No, except for a little bit from people clicking on the ads on this site.
Shout out to some awesome cosplayers we see every year at Dragon Con: Ben Moon who never fails to impress with his dapper Jedi and Macho Man Jedi outfits. Lonstersmash who we have featured many times as Wolverine and Rocky here, did a new movie Tarzan, and a new origins Wolverine with conversion/torture gear attached! Bernadette Bentley is always great in her trademark Xena Warrior Princess. And we always enjoy meeting cosplayers we have not seen before as well.
We've also started some restaurant traditions for Dragon Con. On Thursday we hit southern classic Mary Mac's Tea Room for dinner, on Friday we were able to get a coveted table at Trader Vic's hidden in the bottom of the Hilton, and we tried a Mexican place we had never noticed before called Alma on Peachtree next to the Waldorf, was good. We stayed at the Ellis Hotel which is a little down the street from Dragon Con, but still walking distance. It's so hard to get a host hotel, we have had terrible luck with that, maybe next year we will win the lottery and get into the Marriott or the Hilton. Our room at the Ellis didn't have a fridge or a microwave, and the building seems to be some kind of Faraday Cage that almost completely blocks 4G reception, but it was clean and quiet and right next to a MARTA entrance.
We don't often do scheduled shoots and we don't attend many official events because our thing is kind of finding awesome random cosplayers. However, we always try to hit Miss Taloolah Love's Pinups By The Pool Party on Friday night, the Bunny Hutch on Thursday night, and of course the famous cosplay parade on Saturday morning. Other than that, we just wander about through the host hotels looking for interesting shots, and fortunately there are many.
Cosplay-wise, the percentage of people who wear costumes at Dragon Con is quite high, much higher than other large shows like San Diego Comic-Con. One thing we noticed this year, though, was there seemed to be fewer really intricate costumes like we've seen at some year's shows. Some of the highest-profile cosplayers who used to always be at Dragon Con weren't there or were there briefly and didn't really wear costumes. And last year, there was a huge League of Legends shoot with all sorts of crazy LoL characters, but this year the League shoot was so tiny we almost missed it, was just a small group of cosplayers on one of the Hilton stairs. Not sure what happened there. But there were plenty of costumes, and the Marvel and DC shoots were huge as always, and Borderlands and Star Wars also had very good turnouts.
I think the most popular women's costume continues to be Harley Quinn, especially with the new Harley from the Suicide Squad movie. For men, it's really hard to say, there was a lot of Batman, a lot of Jedi. We saw several Hunter S. Thompson's from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", which was funny.
Battle of the Shoes update: For the last few years, Melissa and I have been competing to see who gets the most compliments for flashy shoes that we wear at cons. My perfect track record of victory in this contest was broken at Colossalcon when Melissa sandbagged me with basic white tennies with LED lights embedded in the soles that flash and catch people's attention, so they don't notice my shoes. I compare the situation to being like me wearing a $20,000 suit while she walks around naked, if she wasn't naked, people would talk about how awesome my suit looked, but because she is there naked, that's all they talk about, it's a gimmick. When she switched to non-LED shoes, comments soared for my beautiful golden rainbow high-tops, which won the day, easily crushing Melissa's colorful wedges, so I consider that victory for me!
So many people ask us about our photo gear since it is large and distinctive. We are currently using four lights, all Cheetah/Godox AD 360-II flashes controlled from my camera with a wireless trigger. One flash is carried by Melissa in a 28-inch Elinchrom octabox, that is our key light that casts shadows. Two lights are inside Westcott Joel Grimes 24-inch collapsible beauty dishes attached to my camera with a Promedia Boomerang bracket, those are our fill lights. The fourth light is on a small stand (or Tobias carries it when he comes along) that we use for hair lights or to light up walls for effects. My camera is a Nikon D7200 digital SLR camera. The purpose of all this stuff is to cast a "loop" light pattern on the subject with a softly filled shadow and a hairlight for our default config. The rig I carry weighs about 17 pounds and is very large and unwieldy, people tend to notice it. Not only did it hurt my shoulder to carry around, it left large bruises on my thighs where it bounced against my legs when I walked! Ah, the things we do for cosplay photos.
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