Cosplay photoshoot: League of Legends (LoL) Ahri

Cosplay photoshoot: League of Legends (LoL) Ahri

This is the first shoot I have done for a character from the League of Legends game. When Christina asked me to photograph her as Ahri the Nine-Tailed Fox champion from League of Legends, I knew straight away the general sort of look I wanted for the shoot. Further research from the game and other resources indicated that this character is cunning, flirty and ruthless (though the background indicates an evolving idea of her morality) – this attitude would be constantly on our minds throughout the shoot in terms of expressions and poses.


The commonest artwork for Ahri shows her with her Orb of Deception, a blue glowing ball which can be said to be her signature move (though she has other moves, some more powerful), so I had to find a way to integrate that into my photos. While I could of course add it in during post, most people who follow my work will know by now that I prefer to not add elements in post – at its most basic, it’s an acknowledgement of my rather lacklustre skills in compositing new digital elements from scratch. Of course, removing elements is a different story, since I’m quite used to that in retouching.

Thus I decided to actually have an Orb of Deception in the photos, making this shoot another one which required quite a bit of rigging and equipment tweaking. The first order of business: how do I get a big glowing blue orb? The glowing part is obvious – shine a flash (gelled or otherwise) through it. The actual orb? Well, the most obvious solution was the correct one: a balloon.

Round balloons are nowadays a rarity, but it’s still possible to find them: weather balloons, for example, tend to be large (massive, in fact) and rather more spherical than your average party balloons. But then I remembered that while browsing vintage themed (“hipster”) weddings during a wedding fair and also in magazines that over-sized spherical balloons are one of the items quite commonly used. Finding them on ebay was simple, so I bought two blue ones and a white one, the thinking being that if the blues didn’t work (because these balloons are pretty opaque), then I could also gel a flash blue and shine it through the white one.

To rig up the Orb of Deception, I inflated the balloon to the proper size (I was initially using carbon dioxide canisters that are used commonly to speed-fill bike tyres, but they don’t provide nearly enough gas – I ended up blowing them up myself), knotted it securely, then attached it to a fishing wire, before suspending it from a boom on a light stand.

I then set up my flash unit on a separate light stand, behind the balloon, then used masking tape to attach the balloon to the flash. Of course, with normal speed lights, there is a propensity for the surface of the flash head to become very hot after repeated flashing, so I took care to cap the flash with a diffusing cap in order to keep the surface of the balloon away from the heat.

Nonetheless, we did pop both blue balloons while moving things around, but by then we had gotten all the shots we needed with the Orb of Deception.

That’s about it. Other than removing the rigging elements holding the flash and balloon up, I did no post work on the Orb of Deception: the flame-like patterns are actually part of the balloon when it is inflated (stretch marks?).

The good thing about actually doing the orb in camera is that there is a realistic glow on the cosplayer’s hand, and in one instance, a lens flare, since, well the glowing orb is actually there.

The location is a bamboo forest I found. We were originally looking for a darker forest in the same area, but after getting a bit lost, we emerged near the bamboo one, so decided to use that instead. It turned out pretty good!

I must thank Christina for asking me to shoot this excellent cosplay, and for her patience while I ran around tweaking things to make sure I had a good balance of light, as well as her help in dealing with sloping ground (slopes aren’t very friendly to light stands and riggings, especially when a boom is in the equation). This was probably one of the more physically tiring shoots I have done, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

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