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Cosplay, Is it Taboo?

In a society that shuns differences there lives a culture, a group of people, not afraid to express themselves in a way others may find taboo.  Masking who they are and becoming someone different; their society allows people of all race, shape, size, and backgrounds to join together and just plain have fun!

Cosplay is a culture that has actually been around for much longer than people realize.  Originally practiced and performed in an underground manner, this form of expression has come to light in the past couple decades to be what it is today, a performing art.

Cosplayer dressed as a Scout Trooper

Cosplay has actually been very popular among followers in the United States for decades.  During american Sci-Fi conventions people would dress up as different characters for different reasons.  In fact, this is actually how the term cosplay came about; when a Japanese reporter, Nov Takahashi , attending a 1984 sci-fi convention in LA he was inspired by all the people in costumes and thought of the term “Cosplay”.  However, altho the term cosplay came around in the 80’s, the act that it is today can actually be traced back much further.  A gentlemen by the name Forrest J. Ackerman encouraged fan-costuming when he wore a futuristic costume to the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in New York in 1939.  Since all this tho, cosplay has exploded around the world and can be found in practice in many different countries.

Today I had the opportunity to sit in and listen to a professional Cosplayer well known around the world as she gave a talk on: Better Understanding the Sociology Behind Cosplay.  Yaya Han stood in front of a room of 100+ people in her wonder women outfit and enlightened her audience on several reasons for why people cosplay including many of her own.

Yaya Han as Amber from Sucker Punch

*Why do we cosplay? Well… for everyone it is something different but it would seem that there is a general list of reasons why people enjoy cosplay so much.  Escaping from ones daily life, love of a character, artistic expression, and more were among the top reasons shared to help answer this question.  Yaya even shared with the audience that before she got into cosplay she was a very shy girl.  Now she is standing up in front of crowds and conversing with complete strangers about something she loves and is passionate about.

*Publics perceptions of cosplay subculture: A fetish, deviant lifestyle, waste of resources… these perceptions are how those outside this culture tend to look in on it.  The funny thing I see about this tho is that this seems to be the norm for everyone that doesn’t understand something different than what they are use to.  These perceptions are far from the truth on what cosplay is suppose to mean and be about.

*Different types of cosplayers: From casual to social, super fans to competitions, there are several different types of cosplay one can venture into.  Casual and social cosplayers are those you see at conventions, they enjoy dawning thee outfit they crafted and walk around sharing their work and the culture that is.  The super fans take things to a new level with sticking to one character and better their costume every time getting it closer and closer to what they see as perfection.  Competition cosplayers go even higher and and pour their hear and soul into an outfit so to compete in competitions showing off their imagination and craftsmanship.  Regardless tho of the level one is involved in with cosplay they all have a place in the social realm.

Professional Cosplayer

*Benefits of cosplay:  There are several benefits of participating in cosplay, making new friends, learning new trade skills, expressing ones creativity, improving social skills, and even a chance to travel to new places.  Because cosplay is an entire culture there are other people that share the same passion that you can meet and get to know.  People who are interested in the same character or even heroes and villains can be-friend one another and share ideas.  With the digital age upon us most kids and even young adults are found playing video games or watching movies.  Cosplay actually teaches some people a trade skill that otherwise wouldn’t have been learned. Sewing, armor smithing, and plastic working is just a few of the things people learn when making their own costumes.  Learning about different fabrics and materials and what they can do or how you can manipulate them to work for you can help expand someone imagination.  This expansion of someones imagination helps them express themselves through the art with their costumes.

So, what I hope you get from this is that although to you it might seem strange that someone is dressed up as a fictional character there is truly a lot more there then just what you see.  Cosplayers are artists just like painters, musicians, sculptors, etc… they just happen to use fabric and their bodies instead of a brush and paper.  Art is an expression of ones self and I would say after learning what I leaned, cosplay has a place here and will be around for many years.  So, the next time you see someone dressed up comment them on their outfit and let them know that the hard work they put in paid off.  Cosplay is no Taboo but is a culture of individuals expressing themselves in an artistic way.

*The following topics were from slides written by Yaya Han for her discussion on Understanding the Sociology Behind Cosplay.  If you have specific questions or would like more information on cosplay Yaya Han is happy to answer anything you may want to know.  You can find her on Facebook, twitter, and deviant art or email her at yay

I want to personally thank Yaya Han for allowing me the rights to post up the topics covered in her talk so that I can share what I have learned in hopes of bringing light and understanding to a culture of people that are not different than anyone else.

Houston Dynamo Win! 1:0 over DC United

Today at 4pm CST (16:00 hrs) the whistle was blown and the game started.  Houston Dynamo played host to D.C. United for their first home game of the season.  The road to this point has been one of wins, ties, and losses all played on the road away from their beloved fans.  What was so special about today then…

Houston Dynamo Stadium

It was the season opener for the Dynamo’s new very own stadium.  A place the Dynamo can call home and make a firm true footprint in the Houston sports community.  Winning the MLS Cup in their first two season in Houston and making it to the MLS Cup finals last season shows that the Dynamo have the skill and ability to win.  Houston sport fans are some of the loudest, and toughest supporters of their teams.  They will truly let the teams know when they are happy and not.  Today however, was nothing but excitement.

The first half of the match was dominated by Union controlling the ball and pushing the defensive back four of the Dynamo hard.  It wasn’t till the 2nd half tho that the table turned and Dynamo’s own Brad Davis delivered a beautiful ball ending up in the back of the net.  This loan goal wound up being the winning goal of the match giving the Dynamo a 1:0 victory over D.C. Union.

Dynamo #11 Brad Davis celebrates after what became the game winning goal in the 2nd half.

The next home game will be this Tuesday, May 15th as the Dynamo host Portland Timbers. Come out and show your support and Dynamo spirit.

For the full collection of images from this exciting match please CLICK HERE

Magnolia Miles: BP MS150 training ride

This past Saturday (Irish Day) was the B-geO Magnolia Miles Bike Ride.  This ride is one of many around the greater Houston area that are to get riders ready for the upcoming BP MS150 bike ride that goes form Houston, TX to Austin, TX to raise money for MS (Multiple Sclerosis).  Below are a few images from the ride that I thought I would share. To see the full collection you can click here. Enjoy

Texas pride: Flower

So, wasn’t really sure what to put as the title for this post that might have been catchy and entertaining so we just have this.  Today after I got off work I ventured to a spot I found jogging with some blooming bluebonnets (Texas state flower) and took a few snaps.  The rains this year in southeast Texas have been good to us in terms of wild flowers.  I am hoping that this will be a much better year than last year.  Time will tell so until then I will capture what I can. Enjoy.

Pollination II

Texas Bluebonnet

Picking Flowers

The Moon at 600mm

Have you ever just laid down at night looking up at the sky wondering what it would be like to step foot on the moon?  When you first got your camera did you run outside at night and try to capture the moon or stars?  I know that I have and still to both quite often actually.  Astrophotography is probably one of the most challenging (in my opinion) and yet rewarding styles of photography there is.  Don’t get me wrong, wildlife, sports, macro, and all others have their challenges but where I live it’s hard to find a night sky that isn’t polluted with city lights. Luckily when it comes to the moon city lights don’t play as big of a hinderance as they do with starts.

So what do you have to know to take a picture of the moon.  If you run out with your camera set to auto, point it at the moon and focus on it then shoot your image will probably be a solid white circle. Why is this?  Well what you have to realize is that the moon, altho not giving off light directly, is being light up by the sun.  The human eye accounts for this and adjusts and this is why we can see features of the moon from out eyes, so we need to make these same adjustments in the camera. For me, I find that shooting at F/8 gives the best resolution. Also, cool clear night (especially ones after a rain) are great as the atmospheric pollution is lower.  ISO will depend on if you have a tripod or are trying to handhold the shot.  For the image below I had my ISO set at 1000 this allowed me to get a decently quick shutter speed to help with vibrations on the longer lens even supported on the tripod (wind was the reason for the vibrations).  My shutter speed was set to 1/400th of a second. Something to keep in mind is that if you are hand holding the camera ideally you want a shutter speed to be 3times the focal length.  So that means shooting a 600mm lens I would want a shutter speed of 1/1800th sec or faster to prevent shaky images.  Glass with an image stabilizer helps with this but it’s still good to have as high a shutter speed as you can within reason.  So what did my image come out like… well… like this…

Moon | 600mm f/8 ISO1000 1/400th

Now, go out and give it a try! go shoot the moon and see what kind of results you can get.  Don’t worry about the histogram in this since, it will tell you that your image is badly underexposed when in fact it might not be.  You can also add gels to the end of your glass or edit it in post to change the color of the moon.  Also observe the moon at different hours of the day, look at it when it’s out during daylight, or moon rise, or moon set. Look at it after a rain or during the summer when the atmosphere is full of smoke of other areas burning things.  Now go out and see the moon up close.

Down at the Bend

Brazos Bend State Park also known as the Bend to many local Houston wildlife enthusiasts  is a great place for those interested in bird watching within a reasonable distance from our concrete jungle.  It is also a great excuse to bust out your long glass and see what is hidden in the trees. Yesterday, I had took the opportunity to relax with my camera down at the bend and was rewarded with some great images.  Many local photography clubs frequent the bend during different times of the year depending on the bird activity. Yesterday was probably one of the lowest days of activity I saw around 40 acer lake, but nun the less it was still a good day. Below are just a few of the shots I was able to get including my very first Woodpecker. Enjoy.

Blue Heron | Brazos Bend State Park

White Egret | Brazos Bend State Park

In flight White Ibis | Brazos Bend State Park

For full gallery please visit my collection at my gallery website.

Macro time!

Well… for those of you like me who live in the south I think we can finally say that Winter has poked her head through the clouds and blessed us with beautiful northern air.  Here in Southeast Texas we are enjoying beautiful chilly nights with wonderful clear sky’s and chilly weather.  There is a plus to all this cold tho, and that is it’s the best time for Macro Photography!

Macro Photography is a style of photography that requires patients and a good eye for little crawly dudes.  Macro photography can be done with any lens that has a macro setting but a dedicated macro lens is usually better as if allows a closer focusing range and also most are over 100mm in focal range.  Personally I own the Canon EOS 100mm f/2.8L IS USM and find it to be razor sharp and the IS gives me at least 2-3 stops of image stabilization.  I would recommend anything in the 100mm+ range for a macro lens as it lets you stay far enough away from the subject but still let you get close in and fill the frame even on a full frame camera.  But what does this all have to do with being cold, being a good thing?

Well the reason it’s great to do macro photography when it’s cold is b/c bugs and other little crawly things don’t move very well in the cold.  What does this mean for photographers, well… it means that you have a little more time to compose your shot, and also you don’t have to worry as much about the bug fleeing from the image before you can snap the shot.

Pollination | EF 100mm f/2.8L @ ISO500, f/8, 1/200sec | by:Chris Beveridge Photography

So, strap on your jacks and gloves, grab your camera, find a lens that will work (any lens will work really), and get out there and find those little creepy crawlers and see how photogenic they are.

Dynamo Win game 2!!

Tonight, the Houston Dynamo have once again stopped Philidelphia Union from advancing to the Eastern Conference Championship with a 1:0 win at Robertson stadium.  Houston Dynamo Captain #25 Brian Ching scored the only goal of the night in the 48th min in stoppage time.  The goal was assisted by none other than Houston Dynamo Midfielder #11 Brad Davis.  Brad Davis is the MLS leader for assists to goals beating out LA Galaxies Midfielder #23 David Beckham.

Houston Dynamo starting 11 against Philadelphia Union

The Houston Dynamo go on now to play Sporting K.C. this Sunday, 6 November 2011 @ K.C. for the Eastern Conference Championship.  A win against K.C will send the Dynamo to LA to face the winners of the Western Conference Champions in the MLS cup final match.

Tonight the Dynamo one again showed the US that they belong with the leading teams and that they still have more to prove like their first 2 years in Houston.  Dream, Scream, Believe!! Be Orange.

Dynamo WIN game 1!!!

Yesterday, the Houston Dynamo played Philidelphia Union in game one of two for the first round of playoff games.  The Dynamo came out on top 2:1 with some great shots and even better saves by Dynamos’ #1 Tally Hall.  Union was able to sneak one luck deflection past the Dynamo keeper but it did not get the Dynamo spirits down.  The second half of the game was less than desirable for the Dynamo with Union getting the form and really pressing the Dynamo defense.  Corey Ashe came up with some amazing saves and clearings throughout the entirety of the second half.

The Dynamo hosted a view party at Baker St. Pub off W. Gray in Houston for the fans to come out and enjoy the game together.  There were raffles and other door prizes being handed out along with an appearance of Dynamo Diesel and the Dynamo Girls.  It was a great turn out with not an empty seat in the bar and a great showing of the game.

Houston Dynamo fans celebrating a Dynamo goal at the viewing party hosted at Baker St. Pub off W. Gray

Join us Thursday night at 7:30pm at Robertson Stadium for game two against Philadelphia Union.  The Dynamo must maintain a goal lead in order to move on to the next round of games.  For those interested the MLS cup will be played in LA on 20 November 2011.

Houston Dynamo in the Playoffs!!!

Last Sunday, 23 October 2011 the Houston Dynamo hosted the LA Galaxies here at Robertson Stadium.  Filled with the fire of wanting to solidify a playoff spot the Dynamo came out on top 3:1 with what was probably one of the best performances this season.  With goals from Adam Moffat, Bobby Boswell, and Carlo Costly they Dynamo held off the # 1 MLS team with only conceding one goal to the Galaxies.

Houston Dynamo Forward #29 Carlo Costly celebrates after his goal in the 74th minute of the game takeing the Dynamo up 3:0

With this grand victory the Dynamo will be playing Philadelphia Union this Sunday @ Union and next Thursday, 3 November 2011 here in Houston at Robertson Stadium.  Victory here will move the Dynamo one more step closer to the MLS cup a vision long sought after since their last MLS Championship win in 2007.