How To Photograph Lit Pumpkins & Halloween Lights At Night

Pumpkin Carving 101

Part 4: How To Photograph Pumpkins & Halloween Lights

Photograph of a pumpkin and a gourd we carved. The ritual of turning an ordinary pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern is one of the most photogenic parts of Halloween.

You can document the whole process and preserve your memories for years by following these tips for taking quality pictures.

Here’s how:

  • Why not start your series of Halloween photographs right at the pumpkin patch (or grocery store)?

A pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkins.

Gentry's farm -- the best pumpkin patch in Franklin, Tennessee.

…and go for the candid shots, instead of the posed ones.

A pumpkin we carved of a witch.

  • Many people take their photos so the lighted design is all that you see, close-up. The best pictures are those in which you can see the design in relation to the actual pumpkin. Besides, seeing some of the orange pumpkin in the photograph adds some depth, as well as color! So, ideally, you will want to try to capture the glow of the light from within the pumpkin, while still being able to see the outside of the pumpkin itself.
  • Resist the urge to use a flash! Instead, put even more light than usual inside your pumpkin. If you decide to take a few shots with a flash, try to make sure your flash isn’t directed head-on at the pumpkin. Try placing your hand part-way over the flash to lessen the amount of light that actually hits your pumpkin. Just remember this: The less light you use, the steadier you will have to be with the camera to capture the photograph without blur.
  • Remember to move in close and practically fill the entire frame with the pumpkin itself. You just barely want to be able to tell the location where the photograph was actually shot.
  • For a unique background, try placing your carved pumpkin amidst some leafy vines in your backyard, or huddled within colorful flowers or shrubs. For these shots, you will want to include a bit more of the background than usual, as these items will add color and depth to your photo.
  • Take pictures of your lit pumpkin at different times of the day (and night). The ones that turn out the best will most likely be those you take when it’s not completely dark outside.

Lighted pumpkins on a porch step.

  • For a different look, take a few pictures with an outside light (lamp, porch light, etc.) illuminating the outside of the pumpkin, preferably from the SIDE rather than head-on. This will result in a very subtle lighting effect.
  • For a really creative “firey” look, place your lit pumpkin in the fireplace and make a small fire from a few sheets of newspaper directly behind it. Again, don’t use a flash. The result is a truly Halloweenesce photo of your Jack-o-lantern.
  • Capturing your pumpkin from different angles is also a good idea.
  • The trick to good Halloween photography is simple: Take LOTS of shots! The more you take, the more you increase your odds of capturing the “money shot”… the ones suitable for framing.
  • For the absolute BEST shots, you should mount your camera on a tripod and use a zoom lens. This will change the focal distance, blurring the background while keeping the pumpkin itself sharp.

Halloween pumpkins in the backyard.

on to Part 5: How To Photograph Kids Wearing Halloween Costumes

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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