Our top 'trick or treats' for getting spooky pictures this Halloween!

screaming person in silhouette

1. Turn off the Flash:

To ensure you capture all the scary vibes, try not to use flash where possible as this would override all the spooky ambient light. Think pumpkins, lit up houses or even just distant street lights. 

Most phones and beginner cameras have a quick option to turn off the flash. Look for this symbol  or if you are using a DSLR make sure you are shooting in a manual or program mode to stop the flash from automatically popping up.

With lower light levels you may find you are getting motion blur in your picture, although this can look particularly effective in some shots, if you want to eliminate this check out tip number 2...

child dressed as a skeleton lit by red ambient light photograph of a person with glowing crosses for eyes and a mouth


2. Use a Tripod:

Using a tripod will eliminate any motion blur and help to get sharp crisp images, even with available light. If you don't have a tripod/monopod (or one to hand) try resting the camera on your surroundings. A brick wall, a table or even a wheelie bin (If it's clean) make fantastic temporary stabilisation.

Two pumpkins glowing in the dark


3. Experiment with Double (or multiple) Exposures:

Think moving faces, people in fancy dress mixed with textured or spooky backgrounds, you have a lot of freedom to get creative with this one. Multiple exposures can be created both in camera (film & digital) or post production. 

Many film cameras will have a multiple exposure mode which you can select by pulling a lever or pressing a button. If you are not sure if you camera has a double exposure mode, give us a call and we can guide you through it. 

The majority of modern digital cameras have a double exposure shooting mode (often hidden in the menu) however, if you want a bit more flexibility, shooting a variety of images then blending them together post production in editing software allows you to change the look as you go and make any edits / adjustments giving you a high level of control, although this is not quite as fun!

Multiple exposure of a scary face


4. Create Ghostly Light Paintings:

Light paintings are created by using a light source to move around the frame whilst the camera is taking a long exposure. As cameras capture light this results in the lit up areas becoming highlighted and the person/object moving becoming hazy/ghost like. 

Experiment with torches (the one on your phone is fine) sparklers and lanterns.  If you wish to move through the frame without that section showing simple turn of the light until your are in the required position. We suggest using a tripod, starting with a shutter speed of at least 30 seconds and an aperture of f8 / f10. 

Bonus Tip!  If you are struggling to focus simply shine a torch onto the area that you are trying to focus on to allow the AF to work correctly.

pumpkin with sparklers out the top  A outline of a person in a doorway painted in light


5. Look to Fill the Frame:

Find interesting foreground and backgrounds to fill the frame and give depth to your images. Look for cobwebs, steamy windows, foliage and reflections. Adjust your focus point and depth of field to help draw the eye around the image.

Ghost fancy dress in a field holding a lantern  Out of focus pumpkin with a candle in front.


6. Shoot in Silhouette:

Shooting in silhouette adds drama and focus to the subject, the effect works particularly well when the subject is in profile. 

Ensure you meter for the background not the subject. A quick way is to point the camera at the brightest part of the frame and if using digital, move your focus point to the subject. Half depress the shutter release then recompose the image before releasing the shutter fully.  If you are using film, adjust your exposure at the brightest point then recompose to focus on the subject before releasing.

silhouette of a cat backlight by an orange full moon


Most of all get creative and have fun! 

We would love to see some of your Halloween images, please tag us @skearsphotographic!