Behind the Scenes of the My Halloween Themed Shoot



Back in October one of my favorite models, Cassi Gross, messaged me asking if I’d be interested in doing a “post-apocalyptic themed belly dance shoot” before Halloween. This is something you simply don’t say “no” to.


Before all of my shoots I like to go “location scouting” where I look for the most fitting location for the shoot. An abandon house, that my family owns, right down the road from me ended up being the perfect location for Cassi and I’s creepy Halloween shoot.


iPhone shots of the location taken earlier that day.



To give the images that eerie Halloween look I knew they’d have to be tonally darker so we chose to shoot after dark and light it mostly with flash.


For the first shoot I had Cassi get into fully costume and climb into this abandon building. I had my Alienbee strobe with an umbrella to camera right just out of the shot. I was also on a tripod because I was using a slow shutter speed to pick up some of the subtle blue colors in sky in the background.



For the next image I moved my flash into the building, removed the umbrella, and pointed it towards Cassi. This lit up the textured walls of the building and helped give Cassi’s mask shape. Both this image and prior required minimal retouching in Photoshop and Lightroom.



The last image in this shoot involved lighting the craggily tree in the front yard. To light up all of the branches I’d have to do a composite, or combine multiple images into one using Photoshop. With more flashes this look would have been achievable without compositing. I attached my camera to my tripod and photographed three images with my flash in various locations lighting up the different parts of the tree.


The three images before retouching used to make the final composite.




I later combined the three images in Photoshop. I used layer masks to reveal the parts of each image with the tree lit up the best. I also applied some sharpening, dodging, and burning to achieve the final product.



We shot a few less successful images that evening before hearing something that we both thought was wolf. We freaked out and packed up only to realize once we listened closer to it that it was only an owl. We talked a bit longer before parting ways for the evening. A huge thanks to Cassi for the photo shoot idea and being willing to model for me again!



Photographer/Retoucher at Ryan Watkins Photography
Portrait and Wedding Photographer catering to Clare, Mt Pleasant, and Midland, Michigan. Ready to travel anywhere in the state.

Graduate from the Hallmark Institute of Photography and recipient the Highest Academic Honor.

Published in several magazines including Shutterbug, Digital Photo, Outdoor Photographer, and PDNedu.

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