Dragon Con 2017
This Dragon Con 2017 report was written by Brent Allen Thale on September 10, 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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Dragon Con is a giant, fan-focused pop culture celebration held in Atlanta, Georgia every year on Labor Day weekend. The WingedMammal.com photography team of me (Brent Allen Thale), Melissa Case, and 11-year-old Tobias snagged our badges and a great room at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis last year to record the festivities for your viewing pleasure!
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The weather report for this year's con was really variable, right before we left they were showing 80 and 90-percent rain chances with scattered thunderstorms every day. What we actually saw was one brief morning rainshower followed by party cloudy and then bright blue skies the rest of the con, so listening to the weather reports can be a bit misleading. With the remnants of Hurricane Harvey approaching Atlanta, there was a potential for some big storms, but nothing much happened. I actually prefer a few thunderstorms because one of our trademark shots is with forboding, gloomy cloud backdrops, but we only got a few of those this year.
We were able to get a room in the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel this year, which is the hotel at the center of the action. We couldn't get an actual Dragoncon-dedicated room at the con price because those sold out instantly, but fortunately Marriott offered a few rooms at higher prices that I was able to book normally. We were in room 3123, which had a quite nice view of the city to the east and a bit of the parade route. Protip: I would recommend staying on a higher floor because 31 is the first stop on one of the express elevators, making it hard to use the "go down by going up" trick, since it always has people on it. If you can get the 41st floor, there should be hardly anyone on it because there are no more floors above to pick people up from.
We typically see many of the highest-profile cosplayers at Dragon Con, and this year was no exception, but some cosplayers who we usually do see were not there. It seems there is a lot of competition for "big name" cosplayers, and other shows, like PAX and Fan Expo Canada, are putting a lot of effort into attracting them. Anyway, we saw Yaya Han, perhaps the single most famous cosplayer, who has appeared on various television cosplay shows and always amazes with her own craftsmanship and positive attitude. Yaya hasn't been to Dragon Con in three years, so we were quite surprised to bump into her and get a photo. We also saw Danielle Beaulieu as a sexy Blood Elf, Miss Sinister as a Zabrak Sith, and we were a bit shocked to see Dragon Con good guy Ben Moon switch over to the other team as an evil Ravager from Guardians of the Galaxy! We caught Bernadette Bentley a couple times in different costumes, I think she might be the only cosplayer we have seen every year in all the Dragon Cons we have been to. We saw reports of Lisa Lou Who and Kay Bear, also high-profile cosplayers, attending the show but we could never find them in the crowds, oh well. And we missed high-profile male cosplayer "Lonstermash", although his buddy Jim "The Tank" Dorsey was there in Sin City garb filming a documentary! Thanks to all of the awesome cosplayers who are nearly always super-nice to us and willing to pose for one more photo!
We continued our restaurant tradition, with a Southern Thursday early dinner at Mary Mac's Tea Room, and we got a reservation for Trader Vic's hidden below the Hilton. Unfortunately the Hilton has remodeled, removing not only one of two critical sets of escalators forcing everyone to bottleneck on the one remaining set, but they also removed the secret entrance to Trader Vic's in the Hilton! Boo! Also, the Fires of Brazil churrascuria closed, and we also liked to hit that place as well for a gut full of meat after a long con day. Things stay the same until they change!
Lame claim to fame department: As I was walking through the Hilton, a handler parted the crowd and several celebrities walked right past me including Brent Spiner of "Data" fame from "Star Trek: The Next Generation!"
I think the most popular costume for men this year was "Rick", the drunk scientist from "Rick and Morty". I saw them constantly. Strangely enough, "Rocky Horror Picture Show" also had a very strong showing, not sure why it was popular this year. For women, probably variations of "Wonder Woman" were the most popular due to the recent movie.
Battle of the Shoes update: I guess I need to up my game, because my usual golden-speckled rainbow hightop shoes did not get a single compliment this year! Melissa also struck out with her metallic silver and gold entries. So that leaves Tobias as the winner of this year's Battle of the Shoes, I believe he got two points for his new shiny red low-tops, and that was two points more than I got. This was Tobias' first Dragon Con as well, so it could be beginner's luck.
We usually have good luck with flight schedules, but this year's return trip ended that streak. We were delayed almost an hour taking off from Atlanta apparently because the San Francisco airport was backed up, then when we landed in SFO they made us sit on the runway another hour while our gate was prepared. Really weak logistics on the part of SFO, what can you do?
Lots of people come up to us at cons and ask us about our camera gear, so I like to mention it on the blog. This year we used two cameras, the Nikon D7100 and D7200, and four Cheetah/Godox flashes to create a "studio on the go". Two of the flashes are mounted on either side of the lens on the camera I am holding using a Promedia "Boomerang" flash bracket doubled up to encircle the lens with an even fill light, kind of like a ring flash does. Melissa holds our key light , a Godox AD360-2 flash in an Elinchrom 28-inch Octabox. Tobias holds our third light, the new Godox AD-200 Lithium flash, inside a Saberstrip which created a long, vertical light ideal for rim/hair lighting. Both of those lights are mounted on paint poles for maximum portability and extension. I forgot to bring many gels, so our trademark colored light backgrounds are a bit sparse this year, I'll work on that. The Nikon D850 just came out, so I'll be evaluating that as a possible switch for main camera, although I would hate to give up my Sigma 18-35 1.8 and 50-100 1.8 DX lenses, which are super-sharp and give me an awesome look.
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