October is the month of witches and ghosts and all things spooky. So when my friend Jo McAvany showed me a photo of a witch posing in the woods and said, “I want to do something like that, but with lots of witches”, my enthusiastic reply was “great, what can I do to help”.
Jo started texting her friends asking them to wear spooky makeup and get black outfits that would fit the witchy theme and we made plans for where and how the photographs should be made.
Jo’s idea was to have a coven type scene and thought that including one male among the witches would be a good idea. That would be closest to the writings of Margaret Murray in her 1921 work, “The Witch Cult in Western Europe”. According to Murray, a coven consists of 12 witches and a devil as leader. A coven is a group in which witches gather.
We didn’t get our 12 witches, but Jo was happy that there were eight women willing to get dressed in black and make time to be photographed as witches.
I brought speed lights on stands and Jo had a flash trigger on her camera. We originally had the idea to place one flash behind, but one flash wasn’t enough to illuminate everyone so we decided to use only two, lighting from the front. One was placed off to the side, and another directly behind Jo with her camera. However, with many of the shots Jo just cranked the ISO and shot with natural light.
For the later after dark photos, where the only light was coming from witches holding candles, we didn’t use a flash at all.
Jo did start by trying both a 14-24mm and 24-70mm, but ended up using the longer 70-200mm lens for most of her shots.
I mostly was moving the lights around and making sure they were connecting to the sender. I also wanted to take photographs of the participants getting ready and of Jo taking the group photos.
I did take some after dark photos of the witches holding candles on the beach using my 24-70mm.
Jo invited another photographer, Bob Clark, to join us. Bob showed up just as we were finishing, grabbed a light stand, put his flash on it, and whisked some witches off into the trees to take pictures.
The photo session was definitely a success with some good photos for all the participants to have. Everyone had worked hard to create the witchy Halloween theme.
I am thinking the group photo might make a good Halloween greeting card. Greeting card? Sure, send a friend a card that says, “Have a happy Halloween”.
Next time I want to use a lot more flashes and maybe have coloured gels. I might set some flashes out in my yard this next week and try some lighting ideas. Now if I can just find a tiny witche’s hat and get one of my chickens to sit still while wearing it.
Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or email@example.com.