First of all, if you are squeamish and don’t like gory images, just skip this post. The Fright Farm folks do a rather good job of making things look real, and I’ve done my best to capture that. So, that’s my little warning!
Ted Galaty and company have been doing up Halloween for many years. The last several, they’ve adorned the barn and associated buildings at the History Center with props and actors putting on a rather supersized haunted house experience. I’ve shot some of their work in the past and Ted asked if I’d be willing to take some photos for them this year. At the time, I had kind of a lot on my plate, so I couldn’t promise anything. But I was able to go out there Saturday night for their final night of the season.
The experience is in the form of a tour of the grounds moving from scene to scene with your guide explaining the story for each stop. Previously, I’ve just tagged along with one of the groups shooting as I go. It’s somewhat limiting in what I can do. And when I’m in a group situation like that (even for something like a wedding), I try to be mindful of the folks around me and not get in their way.
The other day, I woke up thinking about how I might light some of the scenes, so I offered to come out Saturday night after the paying folks were done if that would work. The actors would have been there all evening, and the Minnesota cold is beginning to show itself. But Ted thought it would work. We showed up a little early and did have one group pass us, so I don’t think we spoiled anything for them.
My son, Chris, came along to help with lighting. Shooting something like this is all about lighting and angles. The available light is pretty dim, of course, to help with the spookiness and to help with the illusions. In the past, I’ve used a speedlite gel’d with a blue gel. I used that again, although I used just a light blue gel. That speedlite was on a monopod, so would could put it where needed – up, down, behind. I had a second flash gel’d red.
I used the second flash when I wanted that red accent and tried to play off the lighting they had already set up. So, I was shooting pretty high ISO with low shutter speeds to bring in a lot of the existing light, letting my lights just add some punch or bring some light to faces that were too dark.
I also brought along this big Ryobi flashlight I have. We have a bunch of Ryobi tools that all use the same set of batteries. It’s a pretty sweet concept and they work great. The flashlight is big and bright, and I just plug in one of the big batteries and we’re good to go.
I used that light in only a few shots like the one by the bus tire. The idea was to give us a look like you might have driven up on this scene or walked up to it with only a flashlight or a headlight. I like the look it provides.
The flashlight served another role, too. Some of the areas were incredibly dark where I wanted to focus. As good as the camera is at seeing in the dark, it has limits. I just had someone blast my subject with the Ryobi, I set the focus, we turned it off, and I shot. Worked really well.
I was pleased with the results. It’s nice when you picture some shots in your mind, then can walk into the situation and basically achieve those shots. It’s fun to see how the Fright Farm has evolved over the years, getting a bit more interesting and sophisticated each year. It’s a fun photo shoot. I love shooting with gels, I love theatre, and shooting subjects that are different is challenging and just a hoot. I’m so glad I had some time to do the photos and that Ted and crew were willing to stick around and cope with the whacky photographer!