How to Shoot Halloween Jack-o’-Lantern Photos

Jack-o’-lanterns are one of the most recognized objects that best represents the concept of Halloween. Once a year, pumpkins are not only eaten but are also hollowed out, carved and turned into spooky décor. Carving jack-o’-lanterns can be great fun for the family to do together and the finished product is often proudly photographed in various ways. The following are some proven techniques to shoot jack-o’-lanterns in the most attractive way:

Avoid using a built-in flash – using your camera’s built-in flash is a no-no because it will make the pumpkin appear flat with large areas of burned out highlights. If you want to show what the jack-o’-lantern looks like as a whole, not just the lit up face, you can use available light instead such as sunlight or a porch light. Off-camera flash can also be used and bouncing the light off a screen or a wall can make the intensity softer and more diffused.

Use a tripod – since the shutter is left open for a few seconds, there is great risk of camera shake and the shot might end up blurry if you don’t use a tripod. If you don’t have one with you, you can place the camera on a flat steady surface such as a stack of books or a short table.

Use a long exposure – jack-o’-lanterns look like glowing heads in the dark and to capture the look, the camera shutter speed has to be quite slow. Since the light source is just a few candles and located inside the hollow of the pumpkin, the shutter might have to stay open for more than half a second to capture the carved features and shape. Standard digital point and shoots nowadays have a shutter priority mode which you can use.

Be aware of the background – if you are doing long exposure shots, the background is usually pure black so that all the attention is focused on the lighted pumpkin face. Check the background and see if there are any incidental light such as those coming from the window or nearby appliances that might appear in the shot. If ever you do notice some unwanted light in the background after the shot has been taken, you can remove them in post processing using the healing or dodge tool.

Have sufficient candles – to get adequate light for picture taking, place two or three candles in the pumpkin, not just one. Be sure to place them in spots that are hidden from the carved spaces of the pumpkin face so that there won’t be overexposed areas in the image. These candles will provide backlighting by illuminating the pumpkin head from the inside. With this lighting technique, shapes and edge details are accentuated while the rest of the object is in silhouette.

Play with the scene – you can focus on the carved face by taking close up shots but you can also place the jack-o’-lantern in context with its surroundings. Step back a bit and include the nearby scene such as the steps where the pumpkin is resting or the bucket of candies beside it. You can get great shots by taking pictures at dusk, when the sky still has a hint of light to help illuminate the scene.

Now that you have great looking jack-o’-lantern photos, you might wonder what you can do with them. Aside from being keepsakes to remind you of when you carved some awesomely scary pumpkin faces, you can use these pictures as the cover image of your Halloween cards, or even make money out of them by selling them in photo stock sites. Stock photo buyers are on the lookout for fantastic Halloween pumpkin images and yours may just be what they are looking for.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 at 5:40 pm and is filed under Articles, Miscellaneous, Photo Inspiration, Photography Genre, Stock Photography. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Miscellaneous, Photo Inspiration, Photography Genre, Stock Photography
Tags: , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Miscellaneous, Photo Inspiration, Photography Genre, Stock Photography

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *