A Halloween-ish Experiment at Golden Gate Park and Fort Point

When I was at Fort Point shooting with some models, I thought to myself, "Is there something here that I might be able to capture, just one shot, that would work for Halloween?"

What follows are a few photos that, with just some tweaking in Lightroom, give that Halloween-ish / ghostly look to them. At least I think so...  I'm thinking along the lines of traditional ghostly photos, not slasher/horror pics, but the type you'd find in old Victorian England.

The following two photos were shot in early November last year in Golden Gate Park.  I had just gotten the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens and was really eager to try it out on a photo session with Laura.  It was a bright, sunny day, though just a tad chilly.  Laura is primarily a stage actor, and in these two photos she was able to achieve the look I was hoping for.  It was actually an impromptu decision to try this because I liked the texture behind her and thought it would work really well.  And for the facial expressions and mood of the scene, I asked Laura to recite the "Song of the Witches" from Shakespeare's MacBeth.

Amongst theatre professionals, there's a superstition surrounding anything dealing with the "Song of the Witches".  At first, I was wondering why Laura was not reciting the lines out loud, but then I later learned about the MacBeth curse and the supposed "accidents" that have happened when reciting the lines of the song out loud!

ISO 400   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/3500sec

For the above photo, I changed the colors to predominantly green in Lightroom and then added gradient filters on the side to make it look like a stage light was spotlighting Laura.

For the above and below shot, it was all natural lighting.  I did bring a speedlight, but the sunlight was way too strong and I didn't see a need to fill in any shadows.  But the strong sunlight was also an advantage because all around us we were surrounding by concrete and plaster, and the sunlight bouncing off the ground produced a really nice, soft light

For the below photo, Laura tried a different pose completely while again reciting the "Song of the Witches".

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/3500sec

I used another gradient filter in Lightroom on both sides, and then pushed the magentas and the reds to achieve the look.  This one is a bit more creepier than the first due to the look on her face.

The next three shots were taken at Fort Point, during the same Meetup group shoot from previous blog postings.  As I had Sophia in the spot that I though would make a good Halloween-ish photo, we decided to experiment.

ISO 800   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/500sec

The walls surrounding Sophia were actually an off-white color, and her dress was red, and the red dress was bouncing reddish light into the part below the windowsill.  I took the temperature down in this image, hence, the blue walls.  And I also really took down the shadows and deepened them, making them even darker.  Not exactly a spooky effect.  However, it makes you wonder what you might see if she turned around to face you.

The next photo would probably be that moment when she did turn around.

ISO 800   56mm   f/1.2   1/150sec

Arms outstretched, beckoning you to come forth.

The above photo didn't look Halloween-ish when first shot, but turning it black and white, and again deepening the shadows gave me the effect I wanted.  I think what I learned from watching the original X-Files TV show was that the dark shadows were intentional.  The idea with the lighting and cinematography in the series was that they wanted the shadows to be a character in the show.  At any moment, something might just leap out of the shadows!

I did a little extra work on deepening the shadows on Sophia's face in order to add dark circles under her eyes and to hide, and deepen her facial expression.  The hard shadows of the face look quiet menacing.

And here's Sophia as she really is...

Nothing to be afraid of, right...?


Gear used:  Fuji X-T1 and 56mm f/1.2 lens (85mm field of view on an APS-C sensor)