Those who know me best, know I am a Halloween fanatic. I’ve been in love with this wonderful holiday for as long as I’ve been breathing. And, every year, I dress up. I do not put an age limit on having fun and I don’t think anyone should! Being a photographer, I’ve created silly Halloween images for the last two years – mainly for me and to share with my friends. This will be my third year, but, this year is a FIRST!
What do I mean by “first”? I’m lol to myself just thinking about it. I’m sure many of you will find this silly and, perhaps, ridiculous, but, it’s true – while I was creating this year’s Halloween image, I got scared! Honest! I actually scared myself and I had no idea I could ever do this, but it happened and it’s still kinda freaking me out a little. When I look at this new image, I get a little freaked out! I made myself so freaky looking that I am scared of myself! How is this possible?? I don’t know…but it is. So, that’s the ultimate Halloween joke, I guess. I’ve succeeded in scaring myself! Ha!!!
Granted, it WAS after midnight, last night, when I finished it and I was up, all alone, by myself, working feverishly. I was, quite frankly, OBSESSED with this image…or shall I say “POSSESSED” with this image? And, my inspiration for this new 2018 Halloween image you may find interesting. I was told by many there was no way I could top last year’s Halloween image of me dressed up as “Melanie” from that fabulous Hitchcock movie “The Birds“. I have to admit, my rendition was pretty cool. I was especially proud of the fact that I was able to use an actual location to shoot – one that I’ve admired for years (the David Glass House in San Ramon, CA). It worked out perfectly! The house reminded me of the architecture in Hitchcock’s movie, which was filmed in 1963 on location in Bodega Bay, CA. Oh, and all of those birds…how did I do that? Well, I happen to know a guy who rescues wild crows and….it was tricky coordinating them at first, but after about ten takes, they got the hang of it 😉 Ahhh…the magic of photography! So fun!
Back to the present and my inspiration for this year’s Halloween image. It started out a little differently…well, a LOT, in fact, quite the OPPOSITE. I had this gorgeous set of angel wings I acquired several years ago and I was just itching to use them. I decided to be an angel! Makes sense, right? Wings = Angel. I had my husband photograph me wearing the angel wings and costume with my iPhone. Then, I pasted my image onto a landscape scene from one of my favorite local haunts near my home – a beautiful nature-filled nameless pond. I was fairly impressed with my work (especially using an iPhone shot!) until I proudly showed my husband and heard his reaction. “That’s not Halloweeny”. Man! Talk about taking the wind out of my sails!! I was SO let down by his critique! I mean, I really worked hard on it and thought it was really clever and beautiful. But, you know what? He was RIGHT! And, I guess I knew all along that he was right, even while I was editing the image. He went on to say it was too spiritual and religious-looking. But, I still like it, so I’m going to share it here with all of you. As you can plainly see, it truly is the opposite of my completed Halloween image. Maybe I should use it for my Christmas card this year?
So, leaving that idea behind me, and STILL wanting to use those wings, I realized I needed a costume to compliment them – enter my dear friend, Leanne, and her gorgeous CAbi line of clothing! My friend, Leanne, is a CAbi rep. CAbi is a beautiful line of women’s clothing that is sold in people’s homes at parties and I’m a big fan. The company just unveiled their Fall 2018 line and one of those clothing items, called the “Tribute Dress“, fit my needs perfectly! My friend had kindly brought a few items over the day before to show me and the dress stood out like a sore thumb – but in a good way – A VERY GOOD WAY! It’s a burgundy or deep red-colored velvet dress with a boho feel, but in my mind, it was more Victorian-like and perfect for my photo! I thought my friend might find me odd to ask if I could borrow the dress for my photo op, but she knows me too well and was happy to participate! Thank you, Leanne!!
Things were definitely getting scarier and finding that dress and adding on the wings was a Eureka moment. Of course, Halloween is about scary stuff…I mean, it wouldn’t BE Halloween without the scary stuff, right?! But, I’m an “equal-opportunity” Halloween fan – I like scary, I like cutesy, I like historical…I love it all! I especially love the movies made with a spooky theme. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve LOVED watching spooky movies! Of course, that goes hand-in-hand with my love for All Hallow’s Eve. But, I’m not a fan of slasher movies. I find them just plain dumb and gross. Nope. My favorites are the heroes of the horrors (Bela Lugosi in Dracula, Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman) and these classic movies…”The Ghost and Mrs. Muir“, “The Uninvited“, “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein“, “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken“…and then there are the more recent movies, such as “Fright Night” (the original), “Salem’s Lot” (the made-for-tv original), and “Van Helsing“. Now, those last three movies were a huge influence on my Halloween image this year. Can you see it? If so, I would LOVE to hear from you!! You would make my day and certainly make all of the hours I spent on this image well worth it!
Do you find my 2018 Halloween image scary? Or, are you laughing? Be honest! I want to hear from you – so please do drop me a note here! I’ve named my photo “Dark Angel Visits Eerie Acres”. Pretty cool, eh? Once I made my eyes red, I started to get freaked out. I did!! You may laugh at that, but it was an odd occurrence and unexpected, I can assure you! As I was coloring in my eyes with red, I started getting a little spooked. But, that’s when my mind turned from thinking this project was looking “stupid”, to this project was looking good enough to share! Honestly, it wasn’t until about the last 30 minutes of working on this that I felt confident enough to share it. Prior to that, I was almost in tears because my vision was not coming together the way I had intended. That photo is a good three days of editing! I like it! It’s campy and I’m happy with the way it turned out, but, do I think it could be better? Absolutely! Again, this type of photography is totally out of my element. I’m a nature photographer! But, I have to admit, it was a lot of fun and I highly recommend playing around with your imagination and having a go!
Here’s how I did it using very basic tools; first, I used a set of double doors with decent natural lighting in my house as the backdrop for my portrait. Then, I placed a step stool in front of the doors. I set my tripod and my camera at the proper height I wanted to photograph myself, making sure it was wide enough to include my entire body as I would be standing on the second step! I changed my autofocus in my lens to manual. I needed a model to focus on (since I couldn’t focus on myself), so I grabbed a large Halloween doll I had on hand and set her on the top step and focused my lens on her. It worked! Phew! That was a big hurdle and I was relieved to find success. Then, using my remote cable release for my camera and setting my shutter at the 10-second timer mark, I took the photo and ran into place on the second step and posed…over and over and over and over and over and OVER again! UGH! I’m getting too old for this!
When I finally had a shot I liked, I got busy in Photoshop. My wings were a white color, so I needed to change the white to black. But first, I needed to paint the white backdrop (my doors) black and THEN paint my wings black. Then, when I made some edits to the photograph of me and when I was happy with the way I looked, I was ready to add in the background image. I needed to wait until the sun went down (sounds spooky already) and my husband got home from work so he could crank up the fog machines for our graveyard scene in our front yard (doesn’t he create a great Halloween yard? It really sets the mood and scares the trick-or-treaters!) I set my tripod and camera up in the front yard and snapped away. Once I had a couple of photos I liked, I blended them together in Photoshop to create more a foggy look.
Now, I was ready to add my “dark angel” into the mix! Things were still looking hoaky for me at this point, but I was determined to see this project through! I layered my dark angel portrait onto the landscape background and resized myself to fit into the scene. I moved my “dark angel” portrait around several times before I found my “sweet spot”, so to speak. Again, I was still not happy with the way things were looking. It wasn’t until I started to color my eyes red that things got magical for me. It’s amazing how, sometimes, small changes can do big things! I added in a few color filters and dodged and burned my dark angel portrait so I looked ethereal. Then, I quit. It was well after midnight and I was sufficiently burned out and freaked out. I figured I could add in more, if needed, in the morning. But, when I looked at the image this morning, I just smiled. I didn’t need to add anything more! It was campy and creepy!! Exactly what I was going for!
I sure hope all of you get a kick out of my Halloween image for 2018, “Dark Angel Visits Eerie Acres”! I put a lot of BLOOD, sweat, and tears into it! Happy Halloween to all of you out there…and remember…if you happen to pass “Eerie Acres Cemetery” and see a winged dark woman in the skies, just wave…I’m told that even though she LOOKS scary, she’s actually quite friendly 😉 Mwaaahahahahahahahha!!!!!!