Halloween is just a few days away and with more people getting involved in the festivities, it's a perfect time to shoot some portraits and capture some of the small details that make Halloween.
Photo by David Burleson
Most Halloween themed activities don't start until after the sun's begin to set and that means there's not a lot of light left around to play with. If you're shooting still objects such as pumpkins, you can put your camera on a tripod and use slower shutter speeds but with kids that are running around high on sugar, longer shutter speeds will turn them into streaks of blur. Try using a slightly higher ISO or just shoot your portraits under a porch light or street lamp, to add a little bit of extra light to the scene. You can also head out at dusk when there's still light in the sky but the atmosphere you're trying to capture is just beginning to build.
If your flash is set to automatically fire, switch it off as you'll end up with a shiny looking jack-o-lantern that's lost all of its glow. Instead, use a longer shutter speed, making sure you have your tripod with you to stop shake spoiling your shot. If you find the glow from inside the lantern isn't bright enough, use a few more candles or switch the candles for a torch. You'll just have to position yourself so the torch can't be seen in shot. You can also try bracketing if you find metering to be a problem.
There will, of course, be plenty of people in costume and shooting candids while you're out with your kids trick or treating, should give you plenty of interesting shots. If you're taking photos while they're knocking on a door, position yourself so once the door's open, it won't block your view.
For shots with more impact, get down to the child's level before you take your shot and fill the frame. If you have more than one child to photograph, make sure they're stood close together when taking group shots as people have a habit of putting space between themselves and another person.
Take time to study their makeup and costume to see which parts are the most interesting and should be focused on. If they have a particularly interesting mask, shoot a head shot and if you're going for a full body shot, make sure you take a look at their feet before you do as people tend to head out in shoes that aren't Halloween themed and they can spoil the overall feel of the shot.
Don't forget your basic composition rules such as filling the frame, rule of thirds and giving your subject space to look into.
Look out for the spider's webs, decorations and pumpkins as shots of these, combined with shots of people in fancy dress will give you a great overall account of the day's events.
If you fancy heading to a graveyard to shoot some close-ups of detail or want to use them as a backdrop for portraits, have a look at our previous technique: Graveyard Photography
Have A Play In Photoshop
If you want to give a house a spooky feel, as David did with his image above, or add a ghost to a shot you've already taken, open up Photoshop and have a play around with the various tools and features to see what Halloween-themed image you can create.
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