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With Halloween just around the corner I thought it was time to share ideas and tips for taking outstanding Halloween Pictures. Especially for those of us that are not professional photographers, yet have a love of taking pictures (as I do).

Did you know that Halloween is America’s second largest picture taking day of the year, just behind Christmas?   Like Christmas, Halloween is a once-a-year event, so you should make sure to take all the pictures you can to capture what will be wonderful memories of this great holiday. Plus, pictures allow you to share your Halloween memories with family and friends. What a great way to watch your kids grow over the years! It’s just nice to be able to look at Halloweens past.

Everyone loves to bring out the photos to show off, show to friends and family and just take out to browse through and relive fond memories. Halloween pictures and video excite the memory of Halloween’ past. The spooky costumes, creepy decorations and trick or treaters at the front door.

A Halloween photo shoot can be scary, sweet, devilish or sexy. Some tips for taking great mysterious photos include taking your pictures at dusk for an eerie feel, instead of after dark where the light might make it very hard to avoid red eye and other photo blunders, and using a flashlight in a jack-o-lantern in lieu of candles.

Capture the magic memories of childhood forever by taking pictures every year of your children’s costumes. Do a theme shoot, even if they have different costumes, by including a similar prop for each one. Some ideas include having each of the kids hold a pumpkin that each individually carved, a homemade decorated trick-or-treat bag or a photo of last year’s costume to show how much they’ve grown. If your children are dressed similarly, such as a sister witch with a brother wizard and the youngest in a black cat ensemble, include props such as cauldrons or smoke machines to make the picture more authentic. Another idea for a Halloween photo shoot every year with kids is to tell the story of how they get ready. For this, at least do a before snapshot, another halfway through the makeup and finally the finished product. Keep taking pictures throughout the night to create a scrapbook journal of the memories.

Get your family involved by doing a group picture. Do different themes every year, such as favorite super heroes, or dress everyone in the same colors. Other family costume ideas include dressing up as a family of the same animal, cavemen, a famous family or even royalty. Dad can be the king, mom can be the queen, the kids can be princesses and princes or knights and dragons. Pose accordingly with swords drawn or on makeshift thrones. If you have a balcony at home, take pictures of the princess looking down at her knight. Get grandparents involved as wizards and fairy godmothers.

Ideas for a Halloween photo shoot that will include everyone in your family and friendship circle once again include choosing a theme every year. In September, have a vote to decide which one to use; that will give everyone time to find or make their own costumes. Go out on the town as a group and take pictures in front of your favorite haunts, whether it is a restaurant, park or pub. For example, have all the women dress like guys and all the guys dress like girls. Take pictures of them dancing together and at least one final snapshot of the group at the end of the night.

Have some spooky fun with your Halloween photo shoot by creating some haunting pictures. Try out different light-bulbs to turn the room an eerie green or a blood red. Have people stand so that just their shadows are in the picture, reflected off walls or furniture. To create a picture that looks like you captured an authentic spirit, try setting the exposure to 8 seconds and then have the subject remain in the shot for 5 seconds and then duck out. This makes it look like the person is fading away like a ghost.   Play around with the subject moving at different speeds during your Halloween photo shoot to get the visual effect of a moving ghost.

The glowing pumpkins, the trick-or-treating, the ghoulish costumes—all are best shot after dark when the lighting can get pretty tricky. Today’s cameras, and even some smartphones, are up to the challenge, if you do take the time to do more than point and shoot. It’s a time of color, emotion and lots of interesting subjects (including scarecrows, mazes, various decorations). I always look for different angles in taking most of my photography, so that they don’t look what we normally see.

It’s easy to be distracted by the flashy parts of a time like Halloween but it’s often when you step back, take a look around and notice the smaller details that you find the ‘money shots’. Times like Halloween are filled with all kinds of smaller details and photo worthy moments including decorations, carving the pumpkin, people getting dressed in costumes, sleeping kids at the end of parties, bags full of treats at the end of the night, the ‘fangs’ in Aunt Marie’s mouth, before and after shots of parties, close ups of food etc.

Halloween parties are a great time to get your camera out for some candid photos of your friends and family having a great time dressed up in all manner of costumes. And even taking different types of group pictures.

The type of images that come to mind when I think of Halloween are fairly dark and spooky ones – candles in pumpkins etc. After all, the real action of Halloween seems to happen after dark. As a result you’ll want to think carefully about the light sources for your shots.

Use a tripod: One reason why so many low-light shots don’t come out well is because it’s really hard to hold a camera or phone still long enough to take a crisp shot. Using a tripod takes that factor out of the equation. Also, try using the camera’s self-timer mode to avoid the movement that inevitably occurs when you press the shutter button.   A fast lens will let more light through so you can take your pictures faster, reducing the potential for blur.

To really capture the mood of these situations you’ll want to avoid the stark and bright light of flash photography (or will want to at least pull it back a few stops and diffuse it) and so you’ll need to switch off your flash and do one (or all) of three things to some extent: (1) increase your ISO – the larger your number the more sensitive your image sensor is to light and the darker conditions you can shoot in without having to slow down shutter speed. On the downside you’ll get more grainy/noisy shots; (2) slow down shutter speed – choosing a longer shutter speed lets more light into your camera. On the downside you’ll see any movement in your shots blur (which might add to the spookiness of the image but could also ruin it). Consider using a tripod if you lengthen your shutter speed; and (3) use a larger Aperture – this widens the hole in your lens and lets more available light in. It will also lessen the depth of field in your shots. If you have a DSLR with a few different lenses is to use the ‘fastest’ lens you own as it will let you choose larger apertures.

Another strategy that I’ve heard of some doing at this time of year is diffusing the flash on your camera with colored cellophane to try to lessen its impact upon your shot and also to give the light it produces a glow that might add to your shots – Red might be a good color to try. You’ll probably want to test this before the big night as getting the right density of diffuser will be critical.

Photographing Jack-o-Lanterns is particularly tricky as to get the full effect of the glowing inside the pumpkin is a bit of a tightrope walk between overexposing and underexposing due to the light and dark patches in the shot you take. Instead of just one candle inside it is probably worth using two or three to give a little extra light. Also take a number of shots at different exposures and you should get one or two that give you the impact you’re after.

Kathy Kiefer                                                                                            Click on photos to view slideshow ⬇︎


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