Focusing your photographic attention on intimate subjects can be so fun and creative. That's really true when it comes to capturing carved pumpkins at Halloween. Where do you find these icons of Halloween? Look for seasonal displays in your neighborhood, watch for pumpkin patches, and check out harvest festivals. Of course, you can make an enjoyable arts-and-crafts project out of it by carving your own faces to put on pumpkins.
© Jim Miotke
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Working with Light
A giant white canopy (i.e., an overcast sky) casts beautifully soft and even light - ideal for shooting pumpkins, Jack-o'-lanterns, scarecrows, and other Halloween scenes. Just be sure to leave the bright white sky out of the composition, since it could overwhelm the rest of the picture. In other words, zero in nice and tight on your subject.
In addition, early-morning or late-day sunlight can put a warm-toned spotlight on your warm-toned subject. Harsh, sunny midday? Even up the lighting extremes ... by either filling in the shadows with fill-in flash or a reflector. Or, if possible, move your subject into the shade.
Of course, with a lighted pumpkin at nighttime, you will be working with artificial light. Be careful with your metering ... make sure that the brightest parts (candle or bulb) or the darkest parts don't dominate your reading. You might want to vary your exposures (shoot with different settings) in order to ensure that you get things right.
Working with Composition
A big scene that features a colorful carved pumpkin is always a possibility ... i.e., to show your subject in its surrounding environment. But beware of any distracting objects or bright "hot spots" that might draw attention from your main subject. Of course, the smaller view can often reveal more about a subject than the broader perspective, so don't hesitate to move in - or zoom in - tight on your subject. For example, try filling up the viewfinder with your carved pumpkin.
Resources for Capturing Faces to Put on Pumpkins
- Scarecrow Face Patterns and Other Halloween Pictures
- Funny Pictures: How to Capture Humor in Photos
About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Kerry Drager
The content manager and course advisor for BetterPhoto.com, Kerry Drager is also the co-author (with Jim Miotke) of two books: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography (2011) and The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light (2012). In addition, he teaches this online photography course at BetterPhoto: Creative Light & Composition.
Be sure to check out Kerry's Pro BetterPholio website - www.kerrydrager.com - and his instructor bio page.
Also, he is the author of Scenic Photography 101, the photographer of the photo-essay books The Golden Dream: California from Gold Rush to Statehood and California Desert , a contributor to the books BetterPhoto Basics and Daybreak 2000, and a co-photographer of Portrait of California. In addition, Kerry was profiled in the April 1994 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine and in Vik Orenstein's 2010 book The Photographer's Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business, and his website was showcased in the January 2003 issue of Shutterbug magazine. Plus, his work has appeared in magazines, Hallmark cards and Sierra Club calendars, and in advertising campaigns for American Express and Sinar Bron Imaging.
Also see his Visual Creativity photography blog, and follow Kerry on Facebook.
Kerry lives with his wife, Mary, in the country near Sacramento, California, with their six Newfoundland dogs, four cats, two horses, and a mixed terrier.