Monday, October 24, 2011
Five Halloween Photo Tips—10/24/11
How to shoot creepy ghouls and goblins in low light on Halloween night
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
It seems like Halloween gets bigger and better every year. The stores sell more and more décor, kids trick or treat in multiple locations, and costumes just keep getting bigger and better. If you want to commemorate your Halloween activities this year, many of which take place after dusk, here are some tips to help make your photos a success.
1. If you want to get a shot of that glowing jack-o’-lantern, you’ll need to hold the camera steady. The easiest way to do that is with a tripod. A low camera angle could actually work since most pumpkins aren’t terribly tall, so you could probably get away with your camera on ground level or propped on a backpack or balled-up jacket. In either case, use mirror lockup and a cable release—or the camera’s self timer—to minimize camera shake and keep the pumpkin nice and sharp.
2. If you want to photograph your kids in costume next to that jack-o’-lantern—or just in general—you’ll need a flash. An external flash is ideal, but a pop-up flash will do. If that’s the case, or if you’re stuck with a point-and-shoot, set the camera to Night Portrait mode to combine a longer shutter speed with a flash fill to nicely balance dusk ambience with your costumed goblin. If you’ve got an external flash, or a camera that gives you manual flash control, do the same thing. Build an exposure that allows for the ambient background and add your flash fill to illuminate the subject. And if you want to get really great light from your flash, put it on a TTL synch cord and hold it out at arm’s length.
3. One of the greatest ways to work in low light is also one of the newest. It’s to have a new camera that harnesses technological innovation in noise-reduction to allow for ultra-high ISO shooting with ultra-low noise. Cameras that let you shoot at ISO 2000 as if it were ISO 400 open whole new avenues for image making, and Halloween’s mix of low-light photo opportunities is the perfect place to put it to the test. Let’s say you want to photograph a haunted house. You can’t go firing a flash in there or you’ll blind everyone—not to mention the fact that you’ll lose all the ambience that makes the illusion work in the first place. So what do you do? You open the aperture, crank the ISO and get shots you were never able to before. Combined with an image stabilizing lens, a high-ISO-capable camera will allow you to work wonders when handholding your camera after dark on Halloween.
4. Boost sharpness to amplify detail and up the surreality quotient. You know those hyperreal images that are so popular in advertising these days? They are, in many ways, all about enhanced sharpness and edge detail. You can boost sharpness and clarity in many programs, from Aperture to Lightroom to Photoshop. Take it over the top and exaggerate those edges and textures and you’ll inherently make your goblins look creepier. If there was a holiday tailor made for this hyperreal post-processing effect, it’s Halloween.
5. Consider creepy white balances to add to the mood of your photos. If you want to make a scene glow as if illuminated by a jack-o’-lantern, that light’s has to be orange. Sure, you could gel the light, or you could just set the white balance incorrectly—on purpose—to create a deep orange color shift. Shoot with tungsten light (like most light bulbs around your house) but set your white balance to daylight and you’ll get a good orange glow. If you want a cool blue hue, do the opposite: Set your camera white balance to tungsten and shoot in daylight. There’s no rule that says the correct white balance is always the best white balance. When it comes to setting a mood, color contributes a lot. And using a deliberately incorrect white balance is a great way to put color to work for you.