ghost emoji 5 Tricks for Taking Spooktacular Halloween Portraits ghost emoji

5 Tricks for Taking Spooktacular Halloween Portraits

Halloween is festive, frightening, and one of the best holidays for photographers. Pumpkin carving, spooky dance parties, costume contests — every event is packed with memorable photo ops. The shadows and blurs that often make nighttime photography a challenge can be used to great effect in Halloween photography. If you’re looking for ideas for taking spooky portraits of ghouls and goblins creeping through the night, put on your Ansel Adams or Diane Arbus mask and follow these five tricks to take hair-raising Halloween night photos.

1. Turn off the automatic flash to set a Halloween mood

Halloween festivities

Halloween festivities often start after sunset, making it tricky to capture all of the creatures of the night. Using your on-camera flash in a dimly lit room can turn anyone into a monster with red eyes and washed-out skin tones. Disable the automatic flash to avoid unintentional zombie portraits. If you need to use the on-camera flash or if you’re photographing in Night Portrait mode, night mode go into your camera’s Shooting Menu and set to the Red-Eye Reduction mode.

When photographing in low light conditions, it helps to have a fast portrait lens like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM or the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. The large aperture will let a greater amount of light into your camera’s sensor, and a 50mm focal length is ideal for portraits, allowing you to take fantastic nighttime photos indoors or out on the streets — or even in a dark and foreboding pumpkin patch.

2. Use ambient light sources for maximum spookiness

Use ambient light sources for maximum spookiness

Overcoming darkness is normally a challenge in photography, but during Halloween’s witching hour you’ll find lots of moody ambient lighting to work with. Take advantage of glow sticks, black light, jack-o-lanterns, and flashlights to create eerie effects and scary silhouettes. Let the orange and red string lights on a neighbor’s porch illuminate the skeleton dangling in a nearby tree by using Aperture-priority (Av) mode on your camera.

3. Catch trick-or-treaters in action

Catch trick-or-treaters in action

Don’t put your camera away after you’ve taken the traditional pre-trick-or-treat portraits of your kids in their costumes. Their trick-or-treat adventure is full of other photographable moments — little monsters and princesses getting candy for the very first time, excitedly comparing treats with their frightful friends, and sorting through the big haul back at home.

Set your camera to Continuous Shooting in Drive modeDrive Mode to fully capture the range of your kids’ reactions to the magic and wonder of Halloween night.

4. Create otherworldly scenes with long exposures

Create otherworldly scenes with long exposures

In Shutter-priority (Tv) mode, you can extend your exposure time to capture better nighttime portraits of illuminated jack-o-lanterns and spooky decorations. Slower shutter speeds can also be used to create ghoulish scenes or add some colorful flair to your Halloween photoshoot. For transparent ghostly appearances, set your shutter speed for 10 seconds and have a scary ghoul or monster move slowly in front of the camera. Set your shutter speed to 30 seconds or longer to capture festive light paintings by having someone draw shapes and letters in the air using glow sticks or flashlights. During long shutter speeds, any camera movement can add unintentional blurring. Keep your camera steady by mounting it on a tripod or setting it on a flat surface.

5. Capture frightened reactions

Capture frightened reactions

Halloween isn’t just for dressing up and eating candy, it’s a chance to scare the living daylights out of friends and neighbors. Haunted houses are filled with spine-chilling horrors and blood-curdling scenes, like sinister monsters leaping out from dark corners. They’re perfect for big, photo-worthy reactions. These frightening sights can be fleeting, so put your camera into Sports mode shoot in sports mode, which automatically sets the focus to continuous AI Servo, to freeze-frame wide-eyed expressions and ear-piercing screams.

To capture haunted house reactions from sequential visitors, set up your camera in a spot that’s not easily visible. The Canon Camera Connect app — compatible with WiFi®-enabled models like the EOS Rebel T7 — features Remote Live View Shooting so you can compose and take photos from your smartphone or tablet, as long as you’re within wireless range of your camera. The T7’s large sensor and advanced image processor helps to ensure that you’ll get amazing results in a variety of conditions.

Halloween may only be one night of the year, but the thrilling memories you capture will last a lifetime.