LARP, or Live Action Role Play, is a game enjoyed by people all over the world. If you’ve not heard of it before, think of Dungeons and Dragons, but MORE SO. You make a character, create a backstory and an outfit (often multiple outfits), and meet up to follow a plot set out by the creators of your specific event.
I’ve been attending Empire LARP by Profound Decisions for a couple of years now, and have always been impressed by the amazing photographers who attend and record the players and events. I thought I’d give it a go, especially now I’ve picked up the small and easy-to-use Fujifilm X-T20.
I thought I’d take my two new lenses, the 50mm Kamlan f1.1 and the 12mm Samyang f2. With focus peaking, I thought the manual focus wouldn’t be a problem with the X-T20’s focus peaking, and they produce nicer images than the cheaper Fuji-made 15-45mm lens. Photography is allowed at Empire as long as the photographers stay unobtrusive – most people use telephoto lenses to shoot from far away, or try to stay out of the way as much as possible while recording the events. Photos can’t be posed, they have to be candid, and flash isn’t allowed.
I had some free time on Saturday evening, after monstering (if you participate in a battle as part of your Nation on one day, you have to “monster” for the other side to fight on the other day), so went for a walk around Anvil (the name given to the “town” at each event).
In the evening light, it was easy enough to find focus, even for moving subjects. A friend was holding a ritual at the Regio (an area surrounded my magical stones that boosts everyone’s magical powers) to talk to an Eternal called Sung. The ritual was performed as a play, telling the story of a brother and sister who fight a snowy beast and discover their third missing sibling. It was a perfect opportunity to switch to the super-wide Samyang lens and get as close as possible without intruding too much.
After the ritual was done, I wandered back to my own nation, Wintermark, as the light was failing and there was another event I wanted to attend (an envoy from an enemy Nation). I discovered as it got darker and darker that the focus peaking doesn’t seem to work too well in low light, and many of my handheld shots were useless. A tripod would solve this, but it seems like more of a faff than I’d want to commit to, at an event where I already have lots to do and see. Nevertheless, I got a few good shots of the Tree of Names, where we hang the names of heroes who have done great deeds, and the fire pit that burns in the moot square.
I’m fairly pleased with the shots I got at this event, and I’m glad I gave it a go. However there’s so much to see and do at Anvil that I don’t have as much time to spend wandering around taking photos as I’d like (especially in the heat). The low light performance of the two lenses I took was less than stellar as well – there’s almost a smeary quality to some of the 50mm shots taken in twilight that I’m not hugely keen on. I did also take a 50-230mm Fuji lens that I’ve not used much, so maybe next time that would be a good walkabout lens to try.
The next Empire event is in April 2024 (it’s going to be cold!), so hopefully next time I’ll be able to capture some wintery scenes. I’d also like to try some player portraits (my own hall are excited to be test subjects for this) over the winter break, as portraiture is an area I’ve not done much of either.
In conclusion, it was fun, and I have a few new ideas to try for next time! All my photos from this event are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/jYiHq4cuprZNEvux7