Let’s Capture Some Halloween Magic…

A Super Quick Guide By Kent DuFault

As the sun drops below the horizon, and all the little ghosts and goblins descend upon your neighborhood, it’s time to get your camera ready!

Photo by Tommy and Georgie

But- you don’t want to just line up your costumed subjects, and snap a pic. You want to infuse some creativity into your goblin photos!

Here’s how…

Photo by Serena

1.) As the sun sets, and the natural light diminishes, experiment by using slow shutter speeds in combination with electronic flash, and/or panning the camera. Be sure to set your camera to either manual or shutter priority mode. This technique will give your images a spooky ethereal feeling that includes sharp areas and blurred areas.

Photo by liz west

2.) Try to keep your backgrounds clean and free of distractions. This will allow viewers to focus in on the costumes and the expressions of your subject(s). When possible, include simple storytelling elements such as this wall clock.

The Vampire Natascha
Photo by Juliana Coutinho

3.) Create some spooky directional lighting by bouncing your electronic flash off of a nearby object. This is particularly effective if the background is dark. It creates a spotlight effect. If there is available light set your shutter speed to a faster setting to darken the background. The lighting is even scarier, if you bounce the light from below the subject’s face. If the object that you bounce the light from, has a strong color, it can add some fun colorcast to your image. With this technique, try to eliminate available light.

Groundlings Spooky Groombridge 051
Photo by THOR

If you decide to use existing gelled light- turn your flash off- and provide some support to the camera. The flash will wipe out the gelled light.

4.) Another simple color trick is too change your color balance. Each color balance setting will offer a unique twist of color to the scene! This trick also works well if there is a tiny amount of available light and then you mix it with flash. You could even try putting a gel on the flash to further exaggerate color.

Photo by OliBac

Bruce Wayne has nothing on this kid.
Photo by B.

5.) If you have some fun plugins, apps, actions, or presets; you can make your little super hero look like he was photographed back in the 1960’s. Look for the titles: retro, vintage, or grunge.

Photo by Ute

6.) Many Halloween revelers decorate their homes. Keep your eyes open for spooky details that might add the perfect ‘magic’ to your shot. This simple brick wall turned what might have been an ordinary image into something that makes your skin crawl…

Spooky Skull
Photo by Big D2112

7.) Experiment with alternate light sources. Try a lantern, a flashlight, a candle, a glow stick, or the headlamps of a vehicle…

mod wolf
Photo by Ginny

8.) Try some unusual framing. Humans are used to seeing things in a straightforward manner. Unusual framing creates tension, because it throws our sense of ‘normality’ out of whack. That is why horror movies often use a distorted perspective.

Who dressed YOU?
Photo by Juhan Sonin

9.) You might have some little ones that you don’t want to frighten- but you’d like something a little more artistic than setting them on the couch.

OK, we have costumes. Now what?
Photo by liz west

How about a little post-production magic? You could blend in a texture, or add spooky elements that the kids never even knew existed!

Halloween - The Aftermath
Photo by peasap

10.) Finally, the story doesn’t have to be scary. It’s the story that counts. Right? Keep your camera ready all the way until the end. It’s photographs like the one above that create lifelong memories.

Have a spooktacular night!