This article was written by the New York Institute of Photography, America’s oldest and largest photography school. NYI provides professional-level training via home study for photographers who want to give their images a professional look, and perhaps earn extra income with their camera.
HALLOWEEN PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS:
October is a great month to take pictures. The humid hazy days of summer have given way to crisp cool days with clear air and bright blue skies. The perfect combination for sparkling photographs! The sun is lower in the sky, providing wonderful long shadows in early morning and late afternoon. So conditions are perfect for photographers — amateur or professional — to get out there and take great pictures.
Let's cut to the Main Event — Halloween — and discuss how you can make all types of dramatic and eerie Halloween photographs. This is a great opportunity to use your camera. Enjoy!
You can end up with a photo like the one on the left of the carved pumpkin where you carved it – say, on the doorstep. Problem: The setting is apparent. And the setting can distract from the subject. Better to place it somewhere that is less distracting — for example, in the garden where the leaves can form a background for the jack-o-lantern — as in the picture on the right.
So you wait until dark to shoot. Now, we have some new problems. If you don't override the "automatic flash" on your camera, your flash will fire and you'll end up with a picture like the one on the left, above. In this strobelight, you don't see much of the inner glow of the candles, but you see every "complexion" defect on the pumpkin's skin and a shiny highlight that screams "Flash!"
How do you get these different effects? By varying the lighting. (By the way, one thing is constant. To get enough candlelight inside the pumpkin, we use three candles. Our experience is that one or two are not enough!) The picture on the top left is taken with just the three candles inside the pumpkin and the fire behind. The picture in the top right is lit the same, but we've also added strobe. Personally, we think the flash is a little too bright. So we shot the picture on the right using strobe again, only this time we put one finger in front of the flash to cut down the amount of light that hits the subject. Which of these pictures do you like best? It's a matter of choice.
If you're shooting a child or a group of children, bend down low to kid's-eye level. Don't shoot from adult level down on these little ghouls — you'll trivialize them. Or if you're limber enough, bend down to below kid's-eye level or even lie down for the shot. Nothing makes a monster more imposing than looking up at the scary countenance.
Now, how should we light these posed creatures? When possible, try "ghoul lighting." We mentioned "ghoul lighting" before. What is it? Remember how, as kids, we would shine a flashlight up at our face from below the chin. This is "ghoul lighting." It's different from our everyday lighting which is almost always from overhead, whether it comes from the sun or from room lights. Ghoul lighting creates shadows on the face that are eerie, other-worldly, exotic — in a word, "ghoulish." If you're taking a closeup of a face, here's what we suggest: Don't use your flash. Rather, have the vampire hold a flashlight about six inches under his chin and point the light up onto his face. Then just bare a few fangs, and Eek!
It's best if you have two people in the house. One to answer the door. The other to take the picture from behind so that the photo includes both the person answering the door and that porchful of ghastly visitors. Tell the ghouls they'll have to grimace and groan before treats are dispersed — then snap the shutter while they're howling.