If you want to capture photos on your digital camera of your kids in all their Halloween glory—or should I say gory?—check out these photography tips to makes your shots memorable ones.
Consider the light. Most kids start trick-or-treating in the afternoon. For photographers, the golden, late-afternoon sunlight can be great for portraits, since the light is warm and soft. It may also produce some long shadows on the ground, which can add a haunting effect to your shots. Around dusk, crouch down and shoot up at your subjects in order to capture them as silhouettes against the sky.
To capture jack-o-lanterns, you’ll also want to shoot in natural light. Be sure to turn off your flash. Since you’ll be shooting in low light, use a tripod or set your camera on a stable surface. Also, use the self-timer to avoid shaking the camera and blurring your photo.
Experiment with your flash. You probably know that nearly every point-and-shoot includes a built-in or pop-up flash. What you may not know is that often you have more than just one flash mode to choose from. When it gets very dark, try using slow-sync mode, which fires off a flash but keeps the shutter open. This lets you include some ambient light and avoid the black-curtain effect (in which your subject is illuminated, but the background is entirely black or in shadow). When you use slow-sync mode, you can also get some cool light trails (from, say, a passing car) and other interesting effects. But try experimenting with this before the big day to see if you like the feature.
Also, refer to your camera’s manual to see what other night-scene modes your camera has. Some cameras have some effective night portraits and night-landscape modes that optimize your camera’s settings for shooting in low light. For example, Sony has a "twilight" mode that fires off six photos quickly, chooses the best, blur-free portions of each shot, and combines them into one.
Expect red-eye. There are ways to avoid the red-eye effect in your candid shots and portraits if you have an advanced camera like an SLR (you can use an external flash and bounce the flash). But it’s difficult to avoid this annoying effect on a point-and-shoot. You can try turning on the red-eye-reduction feature, if your camera has one; it still might be hard to avoid, particularly with photos of children. Luckily, you can correct red-eye in most image-editing software.
Choose a new angle. This can be very important when shooting toddlers and babies. Often, novice photographers shoot down at young children. Instead, try crouching low and shoot on their level, or even up at them. If your camera has a swiveling LCD, adjust it for hard-to-reach shots.
Set up your composition. There are endless methods for setting up a composition. One effective way is to use the rule of thirds. Here's the basic idea: Avoid placing your subjects in the dead center of the picture. Instead, if your digital camera has this feature, turn on the grid setting on your LCD so that you see a tic-tac-toe pattern. Then line your subject up on one of the four spots where the vertical and horizontal lines cross; each of these spots is roughly located 1/3 of the way from the top to the bottom and from the left to the right side of the frame; hence, the term "rule of thirds." Doing this instead of placing the subject directly in the center of the frame usually improves the aesthetics of your image.
Also, be sure to get both vertical and horizontal photos. And if your camera has it, try some panoramas.
Have your kids get in character. Some of my favorite Halloween shots of my kids are when they’ve gotten into character and are acting out the part. Let your models be themselves, and have fun.
And don’t forget, most cameras now capture HD-resolution video. So be sure to have a large memory card, or carry an extra, in case you also want to capture some video.