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News Avoiding horror-ble Halloween shots

31 October 2016 Daniel Curtis

All Hallow’s Evening – candlelit pumpkins, décor covered in spiders & cobwebs, plenty of spooky-themed outfits and ample photography opportunities.

But with most of these activities involving low-level lighting it can be difficult to achieve the desired results. Such difficulties can be overcome by following some basic rules of photography – here’s how.



Perfect pumpkins

Despite this time of year marking the end of summer and the approach of the winter months, the autumnal season remains alive with a vibrant colour palette making for some great photography opportunities. Halloween is no exception as it makes way for orange pumpkins, wacky make-up, and many a candlelit scenes.

Carved pumpkins and lanterns especially are at their most remarkable during the evening and nighttime hours, with the glow from candles bringing their orange hues to life. There are a number of things that can be done to create the perfect pumpkin shot.

Make sure to position the camera so that the candle is not directly in sight of the sensor; add more candles to strengthen the glow of a lantern; and perhaps use coloured cellophane to cover the flash on the camera to intensify the red and yellow shades of light.



Beware of risks to exposure

Another key to getting the best out of Halloween photography is not to over or underexpose the image. Bear in mind the three pillars of photography and you can easily tackle these issues:

1. ISO – bumping up the ISO means that your camera is more equipped to handle the sensitive nature of ambient lighting that comes with dark interiors, house decorations, candles and the like. This can run the risk of making your pictures appear too grainy so paying attention to the aperture is also important.
2. Aperture – widen your camera’s aperture using a low f-stop setting so as to create dramatic shortened depths of field. This works especially well when the foreground and background can remain out of focus.
3. Shutter speed – slowing this down allows more light to travel to the sensor behind your lens, making up for the lack of light provided by your surroundings. The image must remain completely still so as not to create a blurring – unless this is a spooky effect you wish to create.

It can be tricky to get a handle on these different settings and what combinations work best but if you work with these three features your images should turn out a treat with some practice. (Halloween puns definitely intended…)



Devilish details

Like any photograph, the magic is often contained in the details. Halloween can be the perfect opportunity to practice your close-ups as there is so much detail to be captured. The various textures to be found in a recently carved pumpkin, the range of colours in a party punch bowl, and the layers of gruesome face make-up can create some great effects.

Allow your subjects to fill the frame in order to capture these finer details, sticking to tight angles and compositions to create some dramatic effects. So do not be afraid to get up close and personal. But be wary of anything with teeth!



Rule of Thirds – or maybe not?

This is a useful principle to bear in mind when trying to capture the perfect composition of image. Use the space around you so that your subjects have room to look into, while placing your point of interest in smart positions so as to get the best from your spooky surroundings.

Splitting your frame into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, can help you identify the four most important parts of your image to position your focal points. Theoretically, placing these focal points along the lines or intersections of your frame should encourage a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing photo when viewed.

But rules are meant to broken – especially at Halloween! Placing your subject directly in the centre of your frame can produce confronting, powerful imagery which can be especially advantageous when capturing a vampire staring straight down the barrel of your lens, or a darkened corridor of a haunted house.


So whether you’re dealing with vampires, witches, ghosts, skeletons or other monsters, stick to these simple photographic principles and you could make it a Halloween you will not be able forget.

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