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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

Cosplay Photography Techniques (4): How to Shoot with Coloured Light

Colourful laser beams are often used at stage performances by J-Pop idols. However, such laser-light effects can also be created at a photo studio with just a little ingenuity. Let us take a look at how this can be done. (Reported by: Suna, Model: Yu)

Using colour flashes for cosplay photography


Using lighting effect to create laser beams

In Part 3, we explored the different ways you can present a model using different lighting setups. Here, let us first learn the lighting technique for creating an ambience that resembles the stage of a J-Pop idol by adding colour to the light and creating lens flare intentionally. Since animated idol characters are very popular in the cosplay scene, mastering this technique will help you produce shots that look like stage photos.

Cosplayer with green laser effects

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II/ EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM/ FL: 46mm/ f/5.6/ 1/125 sec/ ISO 200/ RAW

Image processing: Camera Raw/ Lighting equipment: 1 monolight (through a shoot-through umbrella), 3 clip-on flash units (with colour filters)


How to produce coloured light?

The use of coloured lighting is essential for producing a gorgeous stage performance feel. In the example below, we created coloured light by attaching a colour filter to the flash unit. The colour to be used can be chosen according to the impression that the character subject evokes.

While the occurrence of lens flare is commonly regarded as undesirable in photography, it can be created deliberately to help bring out the ambience. The latest lenses excel in terms of performance and are thus unlikely to produce flare. However, flare can be induced intentionally by rubbing substances such as petroleum jelly onto the glass surface of the lens filter.

Flash mounted on light stand

Attach a colour filter to the light-emitting face of the flash unit firmly such as by using adhesive tape. More variations can be created by getting ready a few filters with different colours.


Rubbing petroleum jelly on filter

Petroleum jelly (oil) is rubbed onto the lens filter to create flare and should be thinly spread over the entire surface of the filter. If petroleum jelly is not available, you can also use sebum as a substitute.


Reproducing the stage using a black-coloured background

I used a black-coloured background for the shoot to create a stage-like effect. To replicate the stage lighting, I installed a monolight mounted with a shoot-through umbrella and used it as the main light for illuminating the model. Increasing the light intensity of the clip-on flash units produces a stronger flare. Try adjusting the intensity a few times to get the best effect.

Studio light setup diagram

A: Shoot-through umbrella
B: Clip-on flash units (with colour filters) positioned behind the model
C: Monolight

To change how the resulting image looks, adjust the colour and position of the clip-on flash units that are used to replicate the stage lighting.


Cosplay studio setting

Using a shoot-through umbrella to cast light evenly on every part of the model also helps to bring out the silhouette of the subject. By setting up a V-flat, the light from the shoot-through umbrella will be unable to reach the sides of the coloured external flashes situated behind the model, leading to the entire image being bathed evenly with the coloured light.


For more on cosplay photography, please check out the following:
Cosplay Photography Techniques (1): Lighting Gear
Cosplay Photography Techniques (2): Fundamentals of Lighting
Capturing Cosplayers at AFA Singapore 2016
Photographers Get into Action at AFA Thailand 2016


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Suna (@sandmu963)

Suna (@sandmu963)

Working as a photographer mostly on weekdays, Suna always incorporates new photography techniques and provides very well-organised and easy-to-understand explanations on social media such as Twitter.

Yu (@yu_know_what)

Yu (@yu_know_what)

Cosplayer who is currently involved in cosplay projects such as Fate, Danganronpa and Hatsune Miku. She has won a very good reputation for her scenario-specific photos.

Genkosha Co.

Genkosha Co.

A publisher that specializes in books and magazines about video, photography and illustrations.