It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Halloween is right around the corner so get ready with your eggs, toilet paper and arsenal of photo techniques that could send even the scariest ghouls running. There’s no doubt that with big crowds, low light and complex compositions you’ll need some tricks and treats up your sleeve to capture the bloodiest of Halloween highlights.
Focus on what’s creepy: Keep your composition focused on the main subject. Halloween offers a lot of cluttered and busy sceneries and environments. By simplifying the composition of your photo you’ll be able to create a scary good image. Deep contrast amplifies the overall image with those creepy shadows you’re aiming for. If you’re shooting a carved pumpkin make sure to not have a busy background, try to keep the surrounding area dark with one ambiance.
Dim it down and light it up- Your biggest friend when shooting eerie photos is lighting. Experiment with light sources generating from underneath your subjects or within (if it permits). Achieve this by holding a flashlight about 6 inches under your subject. This technique is called “ghoul lighting” and it’s sure to cast shadows under eyes, and emphasize face crevices making anyone look like a dark entity. Avoid flash by all means, evenly distributing light to all parts of a photo is the furthest thing from “spooky”. Also a great tip when trying to obtain some night-time shots without flash is to capture the photos at dusk. When the sun fades and the moon rises, the opportunity for spine-chilling photos in a graveyard or an abandoned area are endless.
Shoot low- Let’s say you are trying to capture a ghoulish photo of the kids running around trick or treating and you want to play up the scare factor of your little four-foot monsters. For a real terrifying effect try shooting them from a lower level, you could even lay down for your camera to be at an extreme vantage point. This gives the look of a floating aura and transforms the subject into an enlarged frightening form.
Let it hang- Long-exposure and multiple-exposure settings, are both powerful tools used when shooting scary photos. When overlapping photos to give the effect of translucent objects, try using the shutter priority mode to set up a long exposure for 10-30 seconds. For the first half of the long exposure put an object or person in the shot, for the other half take it away. This ghostly trick overlays the photo and creates the effect of an apparition, imagery which may very well make you pee your pants.
Try new things- Last but not least, get creative and experimental with your shoot. We all have our own idea of what is scary, so don’t limit yourself to the norm of Halloween photography. If you’d like to use guts, blood, and lots of makeup then do it. If you think clowns are scary, then incorporate them. If smoke machines make the shot more ghoulish, pump those babies. If you think a selfie of yourself will get a scare or two then start snapping! All in all just make sure to figure out all the possibilities in making your shots as spooky can be.