Friday, November 6, 2009

Camera Vs. Eyeball

The eyeball wins.

I get a lot of emails regarding my photographs. This year was the first year I got questions by people assuming I enhanced my photos through photoshop. One guy even asked if I used CG of any kind. That's very flattering, because aside from a level adjustment to get the image to look more like it did in person, and a size-reduction in the file, I don't do anything else to the bulk of my photos.

Here's an example:

Original photo right out of the camera.

The revised file - slightly smaller, and made brighter so it looked like it did when you were standing there.

Digital cameras are tricky. I own two and one loves orange and reds, but it makes images darker than they are in real life. The other makes everything look like a star has exploded nearby. They both HATE blues and greens. This makes it hard to document how it really was to be standing there on Halloween night. This year I used amber bulbs. It was a stunning effect - the tree branches, leaves, and cornstalks were all on fire the entire night. So bright and orange. Like you'd see it from the distance and wander there to get warm, then you'd smell corpses and hear the whispering of witches.

It's kinda neat when someone asks if something I've shot is computer generated or enhanced. Nope, it's just Halloween.


Darkrose Manor said...

Excellent work... simply beautifully Halloween. We haven't messed with our images too much yet, been trying to figure out the editing process for our first haunt video. Particularly how to capture a frame for use as an image.

Would love to know what you are using for your video editing. Premiere?

The Frog Queen said...

Wow, as if we didn't already think you were a genius :D

Thanks for sharing.


Rot said...


I use Vegas Movie Studio software.
Very user friendly.

bean said...

I keep thinking of standing there that night right after everything was put in place - hours and hours of work finally finished. My back hurt. My hands hurt. I had a moment when it was just me there...all alone in the middle of the haunt- it was so quiet...only the sounds of the leaves and cornstalks moving in the breeze. I turned and saw the Corn Witch sitting there, the jackos flickering, the blanket of leaves. It was surreal. It was magical. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.

Darkrose Manor said...

Thanks so much for the tip! :)

NoahFentz said...

Ms Bean

The moment Mr. Rot uploaded the pics to his blog it sent me to that magical place. The pics defintely convey the feelings, the smells and the sounds. That's what art does.

HouseBloodthorn said...

You guys did an absolutely amazing job this year. With such a relatively simple theme, it looked absolutely eerie if not downright terrifying. It was traditional and completely reflected everything about the season and the love of Halloween. My hat's WAY off to you both.

I certainly echo Bean's sentiment about my haunt this year as well. I spent hours after all the ToT's and crowds had come and gone just standing there drinking it all in. All of SnB's hard work and mine that came together so much better than I'd ever hoped. The perfect stillness. The fog rolling down the yard. The candles guttering in the lanterns, jars and jackos. It was sometimes hard to believe that all of that Halloween was actually in MY yard. It truly was magical. I count myself very fortunate and I, too, will remember it the rest of my life.

Well done and well spoken you two.

HouseBloodthorn said...

I second Noah's thoughts as well.

This year completely captured the pure essence of Halloween.


I really miss the days of my 35mm camera...I don't miss the processing costs but I miss the physical aspect of capturing images on was real. The age of digital photography has many advantages and it is almost always a "must" to use software for photo correction. I have two digital cameras...a high end and a cheap point and shoot..they each have their advantages but in both cases I always use software to improve the image before posting...cropping, color balance, background is in television production and I'm well versed in Adobe Suite but I really like Picasa 3 (free tool from Google) for organizing and editing my editing is a necessity in the digital age.

Rot said...

Well said.
35mm is beautiful.

I agree about photo correction.
My goal is to get it to look like it did on the night of the haunt.

It still kills me that my parents have a drawer filled with photos of my haunt where they used a flash camera. Washed-out bright white props.

It's always a frustrating part of haunting. Capturing it the way it looks. My favorite digital camera is now four years old. I fear it'll die before next year. The backup camera is only two years old and doesn't take as good a photo. Way too bright.

jay's shadow said...

I just use the old tripod and set the timer on the camera trick.(thanks for the advice Mr. Rot) I am not very photo savy nore do I have the steady hand to take good photos.

Rot said...

Yep...the timer is a great way to get a still shot. I've been positive when taking a night shot on a tripod that I didn't move the camera when I snapped the photo...then I download it and see blur.

A tripod.
The night setting.
The timer... all key in getting a great shot.

NecroBones said...

Yeah, getting the shot right is definitely tricky. Tripod is a must. I rarely use the timer though. I usually just rely on a light touch on the button.

This year was the first time though that I was able to do most of the shots for my haunt completely "in camera". Some of the really dark and less colorful shots were with the "night shot" mode, and I had to brighten those a lot. About 95% of the rest were resized only, and shot completely manually with long exposures.

Rot, your shots are always beautiful and artistic. It's not just the tripod and the lighting, sometimes the angles are truly brilliant as well!

Rot said...

Thanks, Necro!

NoahFentz said...

Yeah...I'm still using 35mm, Tripod, Timer, No flash, scanner. For some reason though alot of pics came out blurry. It has to be something with red light. I took about five last year of Clyde who was in red light. I wound up using an incadescent bulb. The same thing happened with this years butcher area.

Rob said...

I think a haunt shows best when you try to capture or recapture the light that was there. Do check your camera against the color of light you are using... Last year my camera took an aversion to the more amber light we tried.. As a result I never posted any of the images. It looked like flashlights were on the props, when in person they looked very nicely lit.

Stephanie D. said...

Well, I'm still a bumbler when it comes to the camera and trying to get the right exposure, so all of these tips are helpful.

What struck me first when I saw your pictures that you had amber lights mounted above the scene, which really made it seem otherworldly. It was a real jar to see the street or business lights in one of the shots--brought me back down to earth; reminded me it wasn't a "real" place.


I always take dozens of photos at different settings. The amber lights you used make the entire setting other-worldly. Your photos truly emote "all things Halloween" for me, in much the same way as when I watch the film "Trick R Treat".