Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shed some light on Halloween

Design Credit to Tianna Bertolo

Happy Halloween! Between scaring the ba-gee-bees out of children and eating obscene amounts of candy I'm sure many of you have tried to capture a part of the Halloween experience in photos. One of the most long-standing Halloween traditions is pumpkin carving ( it also happens to be one of the messiest). Problem is- pumpkins don't last very long after being carved. With that in mind- I set out to photograph my amazing pumpkin carving girlfriend's masterpieces this year.

Read more after the jump!

I wanted to capture the pumpkins as they appeared when lit. A little different than they look in daylight. So last night I went out and shot a few pumpkins. Given darkness of the scene I tried the usual exposure bumping techniques: opens up my aperture, bumped up my ISO, decreased my shutter shutter speed. I got okay results, but was not fond of using such a high ISO to make up for the extra light needed above a wide aperture and still achieve a sharp image.

So, I tried something different. I got out my Yongnuo 460II flash (I didn't want to stick the SB-28s in a pumpkin!) and my wireless trigger set. I placed the flash inside the pumpkin, with a sto-fen diffuser on, inside of an opaque white shopping bag (Black's if you are interested). This allowed my to really amp up the amount of light coming from inside the pumpkin and really work on my terms according to ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

These are the unedited results at f/9+, ISO100, 1/200sec:

Design Credit to Noel Dickover


Haunted House

Frankenstein' Monster
Design Credit to Marc Evan

Now, I was tired last night and there are some things I learned learned along the way but was too tired to re-shoot.

  • Works better to place the flash head away from the front of the pumpkin. This may seem counterintuitive, but this gives softer light (you don't the get the flash head shooting right out of carved parts and a blown out spot, but rather the light illuminated the pumpkin from the back) and it helps to avoid part of the uncarved pumpkin in the front from looking more illuminated than the rest (see bottom left of Frankenstein's Monster).
  • So use a plastic bag. The first shots I took I did not. My flash got really messy, really fast. If you don't have a white plastic bag, you can always used ziploc or something similar.
If you have a cool pumpkin that you would like to share as well, post it in the comments!

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