Let’s get this show started

Robin     Jun 11th, 2014     Fangirl Stuff, Photography     0 Replies

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of going to the Backstreet concert that was at the Woodlands Pavilion. As always, I had a blast but this show was a little more special than the ones previous. First off, I was lucky enough to get a pit ticket – which is the area closest to the stage. I’ve always wanted that (for any show that’s at the Pavilion) and I jumped at the chance to be in it for this show. (It wasn’t the cheapest ticket – $150 – but I’ve seen those go for $500+ on resale sites…so worth it!)

Anyway…Avril Lavigne opened for the Boys and was pretty good. I followed her back in the early 2000s when she first started but haven’t kept up with her.She was a great show and wonderful to photograph – mainly because the sun was still up and the lighting wasn’t so wonky…

avril6 avril5 avril4
avril3 avril2 avril1

Next was the main event…THE BOYS!!! Being in the pit area for the show has its advantages. Not only are you the closest to the stage…but you also get to interact more with the guys. I felt like a flippin’ teenager when I got to grab their hands – MULTIPLE TIMES!!! – and reach out and grab them. I was so close I could hear Nick and Brian’s sneakers squeak when they moved and I probably had sweat dripped on me at one point or another.

As a result of being in the pit area (or one of the ‘pit people’, as they called us), I had a lot of rear views for the night and my photos suffered. I opted a lot for my iPhone to take video and photos when they were technically behind me (and on the curved catwalk around the pit). However, I must say it was definitely worth the money, the aching feet and legs and the constant moving around to follow the boys. I’ve dreamed of that night since I was about 11 and it did not disappoint. :)

To be honest, I don’t think the younger version of me who sat in the nosebleeds way back during the Millennium and Black and Blue tours would have appreciated it as much as the current me. I certainly wouldn’t have remembered it or cherished the moment as much as I do now. There’s a perk to doing things when you’re older and wiser

After the show, the boys had an after party where they ‘partied’ with the fans and took photos and autographed things for the fans (while they could). I splurged and got the ‘diamond’ VIP after party package which included a photo with 4 of the guys (Brian doesn’t do these things, for whatever reason). I wanted to do the soundcheck party before the show but I work and I didn’t want to take off time (which ended up only potentially being 60-90 minutes *smacks forehead*) so the after party was the consolation prize.

I had photos from last year’s show printed out (at the last minute) since I heard so many people on the fan club forum saying how the boys will sign things if you bring stuff. Since I was VIP for the after party, I was allowed to be at the front of the pack and the stage when the boys finished the photos and started partying. Thanks to that, I accomplished part of what I had set out to do for the night. I got Howie’s autograph with little struggle early in the night. I would have gotten AJ’s if I had been more tenacious and went back in the crowd when he ‘mingled’ with fans. However I was so hell-bent on getting Kevin’s autograph (and non-existent selfie) that I stayed where I was until it happened. AND IT DID….or at least the autograph part.

There was a struggle with the silver Sharpie I brought – pretty sure it was half dried out – and he struggled with it for a minute, scribbled on the back to make sure it worked and then signed. I felt so freaking embarrassed. I kept yelling ‘Thank you!!!!!!!’ at him and he, from what I remember, gave me a pity smile like ‘This poor girl…’. But again, it was totally worth it. I even thanked him for the autograph and big hug I gave him before the photo via twitter and he replied. Kinda…but still. He tweeted me and that made the whole experience even better. 😀

I posted some photos from the show on my flickr account. I’m moving to that platform for posting photos because of the ease of upload and, let’s face it, flickr is more common and easy to use than what I have now. I guess you can say the photos there are easier to share and more readily available to view than they would be in a coppermine gallery. I’m keeping my gallery up for the ‘archive’ of past conventions and concerts – but I’m moving to flickr from now on.



Convention photography: A fangirl odyssey

Robin     Apr 3rd, 2014     Photography, Ramblings     0 Replies

I’ve learned a lot about photos and photography over the past several years thanks to going to cons. When I bought my ticket to my first con – a gold ticket to Chicago 2011 – I was so excited about taking photos and getting to share my experience with fellow fans. But it turns out, they were crappy photos. I went to the con with my first DSLR – a Canon Rebel Xsi – and my zoom lens and that’s all I thought I needed. I didn’t bother really learning or researching how to get a good photo. If I remember correctly, I went full auto and just shot photos. That wasn’t the way to go. They turned out  gross and orange-hued and I couldn’t do much with them since I only shot in jpeg and didn’t know what RAW was.

I was so disappointed that I did research, learned the various settings on my camera and experimented. I asked people (family and friends) who knew about digital photography, listened to their suggestions, and practiced.

Fast forward to DallasCon and ChiCon 2012. I’m shooting in RAW and using Manual mode, playing with the exposure and aperture. I was also closer (seat B25 & C6 compared to F6) and didn’t need to zoom in as much. The photos came out alright and I was able to adjust the settings in Photoshop after dumping them onto my computer. But with Photoshop (or at least what I knew then…), you could only edit one photo at a time. I had over 1,500 photos to edit. It was tedious.

I still wasn’t entirely pleased with my photos or how I edited them. I posted them as individual photo posts as well as a ‘master post’ with links to my gallery. I got some positive comments on the photos so I knew I was going in the right direction. Still needed practice with shooting as well as editing.

By the time DallasCon and ChiCon 2013 rolled around, my best photography friend enlightened me to the world of Lightroom for editing photos. I couldn’t be more thankful for that since it’s more user-friendly and quicker to use than Photoshop. Bulk editing (copying and pasting settings to a whole set, if the settings work for the whole set…) was a huge time saver. I needed (and still need) to scroll through the sets and spot touch various photos but the overall process cut my time down by hours. I also learned more about my camera and editing and practiced more over the year between cons which, in my opinion, improved my outcome (even if ever so slightly).

Over the next few months, I upgraded my camera. I researched and came to the conclusion that a Canon Rebel T5i was the next step for me. It’s a more quality, up-to-date, and quicker camera than my trusty Xsi. I got a lot of flack from relatives about this and was even asked, ‘Why do you need a new camera? You’re not making money off the one you’re using now. I don’t get it.’ That upset me quite a bit but it shouldn’t matter to anyone why I do anything. I guess my hobbies don’t get taken seriously if I’m not profiting from them. I love taking photos and I wanted a better camera. End of story. I’m quite pleased with it, to be honest.

I recently attended VegasCon and put my new camera to use. I’m more satisfied with the results than before – it’s an ongoing process, baby steps – but I’m still not there yet. I still had to play around with the lighting that Creation uses for their stage during the panels and events. Some panels were more problematic than others, as with any other con I’ve attended or will attend. The J2 lunch panel was my worst and least favorite panel to photo, given the lighting is always horrible and the photos turn out bad no matter how I do. it. But thankfully, there are no more ‘breakfast’/’lunch’ panels anymore, just extra panels in the main panel room. Score!

I took the bold step of tweeting out my gallery link to the popular fan sites and received quite a few hits, mentions, retweets, and recognition than I have before. I’m glad about this but I still think my photos need work. Something’s missing and I don’t know what it is. Maybe the post-photo editing in Lightroom wasn’t enough or I the settings I used weren’t up to snuff. Again, it’s a work in progress. You never stop learning.

One of the major things I’m working on now for future cons (next up: DallasCon in September then the planned 4-con marathon of 2015) is trying to minimize the blur factor – aka getting sharper photos – and reduce the amount of the backs of heads that I have in the lower portions of my photos. I don’t really know a good way around that since it’s dependent on where I’m sitting and who’s in front of me.

One thing I refuse to do is use flash. I attempted to use it during the breakfast panel at ChiCon in 2012 but I won’t use it again. I find it distracting and rude to fans and the guests on stage. Additionally, it’s unneeded for those sitting in the first 10 or so rows. I’ve had quite a few otherwise good shots get ruined by the flash of others. Flash tends to overexpose/blow out the photo and leave the subject of the photo look pale, lifeless. To others, this is preferable since it delivers a crisp shot of the actor and you’re able to see everything, right down to the sweat and pores on their face. It seems to be popular among the more well-known fandom con photographers and the fans love it. I don’t so I’ll agree to disagree.

So for people who ask me what camera I have or what settings I use: I have a Canon Rebel T5i and I tend to use Manual mode, floating between 1/20 and 1/80 for the exposure (depending on the lighting situation and how much I zoom), and an f-stop between 4.2 and 5.6. These settings don’t always work. I try to sort things out within the first few minutes of the panels. I shoot in RAW+JPG (takes up a lot of space but worth it) use Lightroom to edit my photos before I post and upload them. Again, the camera is a large part of the deal. But if you don’t take time to learn it and experiment with it and go into the con thinking you’re going to just get good photos, you may be in for a wake up call.

Now I guess I should also mention that I am in no way a professional photographer (if you couldn’t tell from my photos) but I am an enthusiast. I enjoy taking photos, learning, and sharing my shots with the fandom and world. I’ve received questions from time to time about what camera I use and what I do and use to take photos. I’m just providing my $0.02 on the issue. :)

Viva Las Vegas!

Robin     Mar 26th, 2014     Fangirl Stuff, Ramblings, Travels     0 Replies

Along with some personal drama over the past few weeks, I need to write a blurb about my trip to Las Vegas and a little event called VegasCon.

I don’t know how many people will actually see this or know this blog exists. However I imagine if you’re reading this, chances are you got here from viewing my gallery and my con photos. You’ve seen the photos (or maybe not…) so do you want to read about it?

The con overall was a pretty great 4 day break from reality. I got to see actors and actresses I’ve never seen or met before and that’s really what it’s about – meeting people, famous or not. Of course, the con regulars like Richard, Rob, and Matt are always good to see again.

I wanted to be pretty laid back at this con because I wanted to relax, sit back, and enjoy the events without feeling like I was rushing off for a photo op or an autograph. The only ops I got were on Saturday (with Jared and the duo with him and Jensen) and Sunday with Misha. I only got a handful of autographs because of the chaos of the autograph lines (which I’ll talk about later…). Even with having a ‘chill’ con planned, it still wore me out. I think it was mainly the ~10 minute walk to the convention center from our hotel room (and vice versa) and the schedule going so late into the evening. I didn’t up hitting the bed most nights until midnight, only to wake up at 7.

My photo ops, though always nerve-wracking and panic-inducing, turned out pretty well this time. I usually screw up my duo photos by not smiling right or asking for the ‘squeeze’ and having Jared literally squeeze me to tight it nearly popped my back. I wanted something different and my dear friend Amy suggested the arm-on-shoulder thing. The end product:

It’s pretty much my favorite and the guys are such good sports about anything and (most) everything that’s thrown at them during the photo ops sessions. The autograph sessions went well too. I usually clam up and chicken out on anything conversationally with Jared whenever I see him. However this time I bought a little something special during our day out on the strip. I found an M&M Boba Fett (Star Wars) fan at the M&M world and thought it would be perfect for Jared. It was. His eyes light up and he says how amazing it is and ‘I’m gonna have to steal this from you!’ I tell him it’s his and he gives me a high five and was still totally amazed by it. (I’m in a haze by now, naturally) I say my thank you and he winks and blows me a kiss (and I blow one back at him, as one does…) and I walk off…apparently nearly into a wall. All of this was after the girl in front of me had a huge banner version of one of the season 9 promos – the one with the v-neck sweater – and Jared mentioned he should wear that to a con soon. I chimed in, ‘Yes! Please!’. He heard me, laughed, and said, ‘HEY NOW. YOU CALM DOWN!’ I was embarrassed but it eased me into the gift-giving. The whole interaction pretty much made my weekend and sucked me back into a happy place after some not-so-great moments of the hours before.

I have to say one of the highlights of the convention was having so many female cast members attend. This was the most I’ve seen seen at a convention tied with last year’s Chicago con having 4 – thanks to the late addition of Alaina Huffman, and the others having 2, 1 or 0 females among a sea of actors.

nicki aycox rachel miner
kim rhodes felicia day
It really tells me something when there are so many fabulous ladies who’ve been on the show and we don’t get to hear from them, hear their stories, interact with them and meet them at these events. I wish Creation would realize how important having these actresses (and any actress who’s been on the show – Amy Gumenick, Alona Tal, Amanda Tapping, Cindy Sampson, even Genevieve Padalecki – I’ve been campaigning for all these wonderful women to appear at more or even just one convention) attend these events and let their stories be heard. If anything, they should know from Felicia and Kim’s panel (not to downplay Nicki and Rachel) how empowering they are for the females in the fandom. These are strong, intelligent, amazing women who are voice for those who can’t be heard. We desperately need more of them at the cons.

I only have a few complaints about how it went – one of those being the autograph lines and having to wait so long for your chance. I understand that’s what happens when you have so many people wanting to meet someone. However, allowing people to spend up to 5 minutes with a guest at the table is inappropriate. Granted, it was Thursday and the guests were Nicki Aycox and Rachel Miner. I’m a fan of both these ladies but allowing fans ahead in the line to spend so much time with them and have a full-on conversation with them really puts everyone else at a disadvantage – especially when one of the Creation staff notices the lines not moving and decides it’s time to step in. I love the fan interaction with the cast members but this would never happen on J2 day, just by the shear (and much larger than Nicki and Rachel’s lines) numbers of people wanting those guys’ autographs. The handlers would be rushing people along, cutting them off from something they were telling the guys, and herding people through like cattle.

It could have been that it was Day 1 and they hadn’t quite gotten the kinks worked out. I had a not-so-great day that day because of getting blocked and unable to get many good shots of the guests during their panels. This has happened at every con I’ve been to (six, in total) and I don’t see the delayed start time or extra long waits going away soon.

Overall it was a good con with some really good friends. I guess you can say we liked it enough we impulsively re-upped for 2015. So…viva Las Vegas, again. Also – how long until DallasCon??

Sometimes you just have to move on…

Robin     Mar 25th, 2014     Ramblings     0 Replies

If I’m reacting this way to a friendship ending, I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when I’m in a relationship with someone and break up with them.

This is kind of why I don’t really want to be in a relationship at all. I have trust issues and I hate being lied to. I have this fear that who ever I fall in love with will end up lying to me, cheating on me, or hurting me in some way. I don’t know if I can take that again.

I’ve been lied to and led on by this ‘friend’ for the past few years and I can’t believe I was so gullible to believe her. I don’t know if I could ever trust someone fully enough again to believe they won’t lie to me or try to con me just to get what they want. Also, I apparently ‘wasn’t there’ for said friend and therefore she had to find other people. Well, according to her she has no friends or anyone right now. You can’t blame anyone but yourself for that.

Maybe I ‘wasn’t there’ because I was busy with my own problems and my own life to deal with anyone else’s. That sounds selfish but it’s the truth. I guess it takes two to have a conversation but the conversations never went beyond small talk and the general ‘How are you doing?’ pleasantries. We made plans to go out or meet up from time to time but after I got my jobs, I didn’t have much time to meet or hang out. If that means I ignored someone or wasn’t there for them in order to be responsible and keep my job, so be it.

I grew up. I became an adult, a responsible person – something she hasn’t done yet. We’re 28 years old and it’s time to quit acting like we’re in high school and open our eyes. We’re in the real world now. You can play in the real world but you also have to grow the fuck up and act like an adult.

Again, I don’t know if I can ever be in this kind of relationship again. I can’t do this again. I can’t repeat the emotional damage, the tears, the shear frustration of being lied to and (in a way) cheated on and hurt.

No one told you it was gonna be this way

Robin     Mar 19th, 2014     Ramblings     0 Replies

Relationships are weird. You can think you know someone, be really close friends with them for years and then, without warning, not talk to them on a consistent basis for years. It gets to the point where you barely know them and really don’t recognize who you’re talking to or texting. Things happen, people move on, and relationships go to that distant and awkward state where you don’t exactly know what to say or where you stand in the relationship but you don’t really want to give up on it because you’ve given so much and it’s lasted 20 years…so why throw everything away?

Well when someone implies you’re a less than stellar friend or guilt trips you for not doing something, you know something’s changed. I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life over the past few years – going to school, trying to get a job, working – really crappy jobs that I was over-qualified for but still working, family changes, deaths of loved ones –  that I haven’t been the best person and I admit that. But when someone assumes I can help and just won’t, it offends me. I don’t make that much money at my current job and every dollar I make goes into savings to help me move on with my life, to get out of my parents’ house, and (eventually) out of this city. When I do have a few to spare, it’s for personal things or  family – presents, support, and other things. I want to keep my relationship with my parents and family and not totally disown them.

I’m not one to want to share my troubles with people and burden them. Not everyone knows everything about everything. When you don’t talk to someone for months, or even years, you don’t know if what they’re telling you is the whole truth or just some untruth to make you either feel good or bad or to make you give them what they want. If I were in a horrible situation, I wouldn’t blame someone else for it – especially if they had nothing to do with it. I would own up to it and accept the fact that I screwed up. I wouldn’t constantly ask for something when the person has already mentioned they feel uncomfortable doing that thing. I wouldn’t snap at someone when they ask how things are – especially if that’s what I wanted, people to ask how I am and care about me.

To me, caring doesn’t mean forking over money and bowing to someone’s every whim. Caring means being concerned about someone’s safety, life, and overall well-being – even if that means not enabling them by not helping out. Some people need a wake up call. Some people need to realize how much they’ve hurt their friends, family, and  loved ones.

Again, relationships are weird. Things can change in a blink of an eye or the bridge can slowly burn until there’s nothing left but ashes.

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