I recently did a short photoshoot to promote a local Hallowe’en event. We wanted a spooky witch outside the town market hall (where the event will be taking place), so that necessitated a night shoot. Great. I’ve not done one of those before – but, then again, it can’t be that different from a dark studio, right? (Well, apart from the vicissitudes of the weather.)

As it turned out, we had a very pleasant evening for it; not cold and no wind to blow the lights over. I used two speedlights: an old, cheap and trusty thing toward the back at the left to provide a bit of rim lighting, and my SB-600 front and left (about waist-high, to get under the hat), fitted with an orange diffuser.

The pictures were taken on a Nikon D800, using 50mm f/1.8, 28mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.8 lenses. I post-processed in Lightroom, using the really rather good XeL:Color develop presets from x-equals. For those that use them, I applied Kodachrome 25 emulation and the ‘E6 in C41 E’ cross-process emulation (for the greenish cast).

Here’s a comparison of an image before (bottom right) and after (top left) processing:

The only thing I did in Photoshop was to give Yorick his glowing eyes back (they had been overwhelmed by the flash and looked a bit dull and unremarkable).

It was a fun shoot, and serves to illustrate that there’s nothing to be scared of shooting at night – as long as you’re in control of the light (as any photographer should be), it’s no worse than shooting in a studio. Well… it can be a bit difficult to focus properly when it’s that dark, but it’s not impossible.

Special thanks go to Sarah for having the idea in the first place and for making a very convincing witch.

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