The best suggestion to improve your Halloween photos is to leave your flash or other artificial lighting equipment at home. Of course, there are ways to use artificial lighting creatively at Halloween, but illuminating your photos with ambient light lends them the very atmosphere you want: dark, deep shadows; slightly grainy images; and even randomly angled photos, as if you are being chased by something unknown!!
Use the technique above at any Halloween party, instead of flooding the room with your distracting flash. Position subjects so an ambient light source falls on their faces at an angle, creating dark shadows on their faces. Find an angle that only reveals one eye, or rotate them or you and your camera slightly, so one side of their faces is illuminated and just the eye on the other side.
Crouch low and ask that vampire or werewolf to tower above you with a menacing look and a body that looks like it is about to spring on its victim.
Take some time to study the collection of characters and creatures at the party. Then, think of some creative combinations that you can pose together: Superman is saving the cheerleader from the clutches of a bloodthirsty creature, or a close-up of the vampire about to sink his teeth into the young neck of Cinderella.
Try a few silhouetted photos. Even with a weak ambient light source, you can pose a creature, so its features are unseen, but the silhouette is unmistakably something sinister and frightening.
For a more elaborate Halloween photo gallery, consider asking a few friends to accompany you to an appropriate location you’ve already chosen to capture even scarier images. Find a stretch of an isolated path in the park with deep woods on either side from where your costumed subjects can leap or slink from the trees to menace an unsuspecting group or individual walking on the path.
You’ll have more fun and generate more of the responses you want from your subjects when you wear a costume too. Just make sure you choose one that allows for freedom of movement and doesn’t block your full view.
Halloween is one of the favorite celebrations of children and adults, but more photographs of jack-o-lanterns, cute children on Trick-or-Treat night and Halloween parties should not be your goal; they’ve been shot to death! If you want to become a better photographer, then you must think a bit deeper, regardless of what event or celebration you’re recording. Not only does Halloween afford you many more creative opportunities than other celebrations, but also people are more likely to lose their inhibitions and assume the persona of their characters.
Exchanging one’s everyday personality for that of a supernatural creature is one of the oldest human traditions, stretching back into prehistoric times. Although they may not be conscious of it, this is why so many people, especially adults, enjoy Halloween so much: they can forget who they are for a time and be someone…or something…else. For a photographer, this is gold. Many people hate to pose for portraits, but put a mask on their face and they are transformed.
Consider these tips and ideas before you start to shoot the same Halloween pictures that too many others capture.
Halloween is an opportunity to create at the edges of the rules, even break some. The experience is sure to help you understand compositional rules better when they are necessary and open your mind to more creative ways to shoot any photos.
To achieve the most from the use of ambient light, or low-light photography, you need a fast lens: f/1.2, f/1.4 or f/1.8, as the largest aperture opening. Fast lenses, whether they have fixed focal lengths or the multiple choices of a zoom lens, they are typically the most expensive; however, renting the appropriate lens for a weekend is an affordable option.
In most low-light conditions, shooting with a fast lens means you don’t have to choose a higher value in the ISO sensitivity range, so the exposure formula will allow you to set the shutter speed fast enough for handheld shooting. Typically, you want to avoid digital noise, or graininess, in photos illuminated with ambient light, but for Halloween, that noise or graininess can add a sense of eeriness and foreboding to your images. Here’s another excellent opportunity to create with the extremes of exposure. Do some experimenting and hike the ISO sensitivity on purpose to give a vampire’s face a rough look, suggesting he or she has suddenly darted from the shadows. Don’t be afraid to produce an image not in focus, as that can make the subject appear scarier than being sharply in focus.
During October 2012, the full moon occurs on October 29th, providing you with an opportunity to photograph your subjects on a high hill illuminated by the moon, howling at it or silhouetted against as they plan their devilry.
You can also take your subjects into the city. Find a safe alley or gritty street with overhead lighting or use the light of the moon. Pose creatures or characters as if they have left their secret lairs to stalk the people of the city.
Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Cheryl Bartley
People who read this PhotographyTalk.com article also liked:
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.