October 18, 2017

Halloween Photo opportunities

Hello to all my blogger friends. I hope you're enjoying the change of season and getting out with your camera to capture all that Fall has to offer. I feel very fortunate because I live in New England and in my area we definitely have four seasons, each with its own special flavors and colors which makes for some fantastic photo opportunities. Around here, the humid days of summer have given away to crisp cool days with clear air and bright blue skies. These are the perfect combinations for taking beautiful photographs. Not only that, but the sun is lower in the sky providing wonderful long shadows in early morning and late afternoon. So conditions are perfect for photographers - amateur or professional - to get out there and take some great pictures. 
One of the things I really enjoy about the Fall are the Halloween displays and decorations. To me this means everything from all the cute kids in costumes to spooky haunted houses and the eerie glowing jack-o’-lanterns. 

I can remember when I was a kid there were a lot more homes decorated for Halloween than there are these days and personally, I really miss them. Luckily for me, there is one home not too far from me, that is decorated to the hilt every year. This person really gets into Halloween and goes all out decorating his yard and I have come to make it a habit to swing by every year because his home is a must see event. 

When I first found this place, I stumbled upon it totally by accident.  It all began one afternoon in late September a few years back that I had some free time and was out riding my motorcycle. In my travels I happened to be just riding around checking out the foliage, and I saw the homeowner out in his yard setting it up. I saw how much work the guy put into his display and I decided to stop to check it out and speak with the man.


You could tell by his enthusiasm that this was his favorite holiday and that he was really getting into it. He told me that it takes him over a week just to set up his display and that he uses one of his vacation weeks every year just to get it ready. He also told me that he has his display lit up for the entire month of October and he welcomes all visitors to come by and check it out.

This was my cue and I told him I was a local photographer and gave him one of my business cards. I told him that I really loved Halloween displays myself also. I asked him if he would mind if I took a few shots with my point and shoot while I was there and he told me to feel free. All the time I was taking photos, he was giving me the history of his display. We still had a few more hours of daylight so I could only image what it would look like all lit up. 
I told him that I would really love to come back early some evening with another camera and some equipment and take some serious photos. He told me to feel free and come back anytime. Like always, I offered to send him some images and told him that he could go online check them out. 

A few days later I had a chance to go check out his display. The weather was perfect and his yard had everything from witches flying across the yard and zombies and monsters everywhere. It looked so cool all lit up, he really spared nothing. He even had a make-shift movie theater where kids could come by on weekends to see classic horror films like the Wolfman and Dracula. Nice huh?

Well, to make a short story even longer, I’ve been back quite a few times over the years and I still enjoy it. Night-time photography is a tough subject for many people but with a little practice and some careful planning, you can get some really great shots of Halloween displays yourself. For myself, shooting Halloween displays like his, I approach these just like I would any other low light photography situation. For these photos here, I went with just one lens, a Canon 24-105mm ƒ4.0 set wide open, ISO set somewhere between 800 - 1600, with the flash set to rear curtain sync. In situations like this you want to be as steady as possible so I brought along my trusty monopod to steady my camera. I had also brought two external speedlights (with wireless triggers) and a light stand. I had one flash in the hotshoe and the other on the stand, running both with a wireless commander. For the shots here I had to try to avoid getting spectators in my shots. Sometimes that just takes a little patience. When lit correctly, my goal is to avoid shadows and specular highlights whenever I can, but that’s what you always want anyway right? 

Over the years I’ve told a lot of friends and fellow photographer friends about this display and personally I hope he puts it up for many years.  I hope you enjoyed this post and find some interesting things to photograph this Fall in your area also. 
Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography