5 Ways to Avoid Dark, Blurry Halloween Photos

Two boys dressed for Halloween posing around pumpkins and fake skulls. Pressmaster / Shutterstock

Can you say that you celebrated Halloween if you do not have photos to prove it? Taking pictures in the inevitable dim light of a Halloween party is not easy, but it's not impossible! Here are some tips for getting quality photos, even vampires.


Every professional photo shoot, whether indoors or outdoors, requires some preparation, especially in lighting. Photographers need to know what will be the intensity of the light, if they need additional lighting, what kind of camera and what camera setting they will need to use. This saves time on the day of shooting. Thus, subjects can enter, pose and continue the event.

You can approach Halloween in the same way. Your family and friends will be well dressed and you will want to take some pictures. You do not want this to become a chore, or they will run away before you can get a good, clean picture.

If you prepare for the event, this can save you time and stress. Before the big night, decide where you want to take the photos, the angle at which you take them, the elements you will use, and clear the room of any object (shiny objects, small light sources, etc.) that could put the path and spoil the shots.

You can create a background, decorate the background or simply rearrange some elements to make room for your models. Be as creative as you want!

The essential element that you must keep in mind is lighting.


The configuration of lighting is a fundamental step in photography, but it is easily overlooked. Wherever you take your photos, make sure that a source of light illuminates the face and outfits of your subjects. You want the light to bounce off of them, the camera detects it and turns it into a sharp image.

A girl dressed as a witch looking in a pumpkin.MNStudio / Shutterstock

Although the lack of natural light certainly makes it more difficult to obtain a good, satisfying shot, you have the advantage of being able to move artificial light sources. For example, if there are lamps around the room, bring them together so that they throw a uniform light on your subjects. If you do not have enough lamps, borrow some from other rooms.

If you have only one lamp post, place it directly behind you. if you have two, put one on each side. This will prevent dark, unattractive shadows from appearing on the faces of your models. Just be sure to keep a certain distance to avoid blinding them!

The camera settings

Whether you have a compact camera or a digital SLR, play with the settings in advance to have more control over the end result, especially in low light.

If you have a general idea of ​​what the automatic, semi-automatic and manual modes mean and how they work, you will benefit immensely when you take pictures in different environments, which saves you time!

Here is a brief overview of the main parameters to know before Halloween:

ISO: This is a measure of the sensitivity of the image sensor in your camera. The higher the number, the more light will be captured by the sensor, which will result in brighter images. However, it is not as simple as it may seem. If you increase the ISO sensitivity too much, you may get very grainy photos, uneven colors and a loss of detail. Although some devices can maintain good image quality at high ISO values, try to achieve a maximum of 3200 ISOs if you do not intend to make prints.
Opening: The objective is for the image sensor what the eye is for the brain: the larger it opens, the more light passes through and reaches the treatment center. In optics, this opening is called opening. It indicates how much a lens is suitable for taking pictures in low light environments. You want the opening that your lens can provide is as bright as possible, which is indicated by a small number preceded by a f. To do this, set your camera to A mode, then turn the dial until you reach as few as possible. Any value less than f4 will work perfectly.
Shutter speed: This is the time during which the shutter stays open. As expected, the longer it stays open, the more it is exposed to light. At night, you need to work with a slow shutter speed so that the image sensor captures as much light as possible. However, a longer exposure time increases your chances of getting blurry images because it detects even minor movements. Therefore, when shooting people, be sure to keep a shutter speed greater than 1/60 if they are still; you can go up to 1/250 if they move. To do this, set your camera to S mode, then turn the dial until it is low enough to capture a sufficient amount of light in your image.

Again, experiment with these three elements, because it's not enough to just set them to the maximum extent. It all depends on the lighting of the room. Leave the aperture as open as possible (that is, the lowest number) and try different ISO and shutter speed settings to get the desired result.

If you can do some test testing the night before, it will save you time for Halloween.

Use a tripod

Slow shutter speeds require a firm hand and / or still subjects to capture sharp images; however, this is not always possible. When this is a tripod is practical. This not only helps you take multiple pictures with the same frame (even if you do some), but you can also further reduce the shutter speed if the subject and / or scene allows it.

It is certainly practical, even essential, to have a tripod in low light conditions. If you do not have one, find a surface at the right angle on which to place your camera and voila!

Do not be afraid of flash

Flash can make or break a photo, which is why many prefer to avoid it. This could make things disappear and sometimes even cause a loss of detail in the image. However, this can really help in dark environments if there are no other sources around to enlighten the subject of your work. The best way to prevent bleaching – and blind everyone – is to broadcast the flash.

You can do it in different ways, even if you only have the camera's built-in flash. An easy-to-use trick for diffusing the flash and giving your photos a softer and more uniform appearance is to use a plastic bag on top. Just grab a plastic bag, inflate it, tie a knot and place it on top of your camera, at the flash's location. This prevents the harsh light from landing directly on your subjects' faces and disperses it in the room.

If you take the time to know the settings of your camera and try before Halloween, you can avoid a lot of disappointment during the big night. Ideally, you want to be able to take your photos with confidence so that you can be proud of them later when you show them to everyone. The more you practice, the easier it will be to do your job.

And if you run out of ideas on what to be for Halloween, here are some the essentials that will prepare you for this last minute party!

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