Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Halloween Photography Tips

It’s Halloween Time! Dust off the costumes and get the trick-or-treats ready. There’s loads of prospective opportunities for eerie and dramatic images.
However, did you also know that Halloween photos are some of the most challenging to get right? There’s low light, loads of movement, tricky lighting situations, contrasting brightness and darkness and maybe hyper kids. Here’s a few tips to get the best images of this night of spooks, spirits, gremlins and monsters.
Ask yourself before you click: What is the main subject, how can I simplify it, and how can I capture the spirit (of the character or scene that is)?  This means:

Get in close: You may have heard us say this before – ‘cut the crap’. Eliminate distracting backgrounds.
Try using a wide aperture: blurs backgrounds and isolates your subject.

Use dramatic Lighting: Shoot in low or dim light. Use your flash sparingly if at all and if you do use it, diffuse it and make sure there are no reflective surfaces behind your subject.
Flash is a harsh light and can kill any eerie effect you may be attempting to portray. Try using other light sources like candles, coloured LED lights and torches.
Try lighting your subject from below and using back lighting.
Have fun with glow sticks, torches, coloured LED lights, even turning your camera upside down so the flash fires from below if you don’t have an external flash.
Change the colour of your light: tinted lighting adds to the spooky feel. Particularly good colours to create eerie feeling as are red, orange, green and blue. Try using cellophane (you may need to over expose), coloured LED lights, glow sticks
Play with multiple exposures: fun, fun and fun!
Get on down: If photographing children get down to their level. Tip: try lying on the ground and having the child lean over you for a very dramatic image angle.
Play with White Balance:
For Jack O' Lanterns: A tricky lighting scenario! You want to be able to capture the candles glow inside the pumpkin and the see the outside form and texture as well. Flash will kill it so turn it off!
Place more than one candle inside the pumpkin to avoid it being too faint or even a flash light. Be careful your pumpkin does not start smoking! If you do want to use more candles you may need to cut a hole near the top at the back to act like a chimney. Try taking some images in the very last of the days light.
If you are making your own jack-o-lantern then consider that the more light they can emit out will make them appear more eerie so it’s best to maximise the size of the holes to let out as much candle light as you can (start searching for a big pumpkin!).
Angle of View: Try moving from eye level shots and create dramatically creepy images by changing your angle of view. Try shooting off centre, at extreme angles; close to the ground, above your subject – just make sure you angle is obvious. Tip: With most costumes the shoes are the part people mostly don’t match so often it’s best not to have them in the image at all – sometimes though they are great subjects. Just remember to check them out before you click.
Create a story: Take your viewer on a journey – this works great for kids making their costume, getting dressed and then heading out on their adventure (and for us big kids too). Don’t forget the candid shots too.
Use movement: Ah ghostly images with movement now that’s a shot! Use a slow shutter speed and low ISO. Yes you’ll need to experiment a bit but that’s half the fun. Try having you subject still for 2/3rds of your exposure time and then moving in the last 1/3rd of the exposure.
Noise or no noise? Now we are talking ISO noise here. Generally you will not want noise in your images so keep that ISO low.
Don’t forget: Extra batteries, lockable cable release, tripod and plenty of memory cards!
Have fun!

Did you know? Halloween has its origins from an ancient Celtic festival known as the Samhain and more or less means ‘summer’s end’. Today, it’s a night festival of spooks and spirits, fantasy, bright and or bizarre costumes celebrated by all ages across the globe.

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