Springtime In The Gardens
So with spring in the air in Texas it was a good time to get outside and do some shooting. We knew we had to do something at the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Antonio. We bounced around a few ideas and decided to go with the China Dress set from the Love Live game. Allybelle, Mermaid Child and Taco's Treasures brought in the dresses while I worked on other props like the umbrellas and other things.
Shooting at the Tea Gardens was an interesting thing. A lot of the pathways throughout most of the garden are not very big. Trying to figure out framing and lighting was certainly an exercise in very quick problem solving. On top of that the sun would dart in and out for moments at a time. Originally I was going to use a 12" by 59" strip box from Interfit to try to pull the characters out a bit more from the backgrounds. I figured out fairly fast that wasn't going to be workable given the conditions. So I fell back to using a Wescott 45" shoot through umbrella to try to make things a bit more even with the random lighting. I paired this with a Godox AD200 strobe.
One piece of gear that did work amazingly well: the Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens. I had been wanting a lens that was better suited for portraits for a while. Even though I could pull off some of the same things with the 16-56mm f/2.8 that I have at times I noticed it would miss focus more often than I really wanted. After talking through the issue with a few people I decided to pick up the 35mm f/2. From others it did seem like it was better about nailing focus especially in low light conditions. With the crop factor of the sensor in the Fuji X-T2 using the 35mm would get me closer to the 50mm look you typically see used for portraits on full frame cameras. So I decided to pull the trigger and buy one. And after this set I'm very glad I did.
One thing I could improve on: getting better at 'reading' my lighting especially in those times where I can't shoot tethered (since that was just absolutely not an option here). So I had to rely on viewing images through the EVF to determine if I was getting things at least even enough to compensate for the random sunlight. Couldn't really go for dramatic lighting given all the environmental factors but everyone was happy with the way the pics came out.
If you're anywhere near San Antonio I highly recommend checking out the Tea Gardens. And if you want to shoot there the photo permit rates are super reasonable (and they take PayPal!) Plus the food and bubble tea at the Jingu House Cafe is good. Check them out here.