Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Great Pumpkin

It always amazes me when Halloween hits.

Not because of the silliness of the occasion.  But rather because the date is a huge annual milestone, a cliff after which time falls precipitously.

To wit...

In the prairies, every day without snow after Halloween is a gift.  Literally.  It's like a ticking timebomb.    Sometimes the bomb goes off early and the kids are forced to gather free candy through the white stuff. But with global warming it seems most Halloweens are still showing grass, and green(ish) at that.  Unfortunately we're living on borrowed time after the costumes hit landfill.

Point the second - effective November 1st the gloves come off as retailers immediately begin cramming Christmas down our collective throats.  Guarantee Thursday's paper this week will be stuffed with fliers shouting out this sale or that.  And once the Christmas season starts it's a mad ride towards New Year's Eve and another year is in the books.  

Thus Halloween has me looking back asking "where the *&%! did the year go?", and looking forward slackjawed wondering what I'm going to stick under the tree for the wife.

The added spank this year is that we should be cheering over our beloved Winnipeg Jets by now but... don't even get me started.

And so we find ourselves carving pumpkins, with me flipping through Google looking for an idea that I can steal.  Also coming across some absolutely sick work by amazingly talented sculptors.  Took it upon myself to throw caution to the wind and start digging.  Next thing I know, this is staring back at me...

Was a fun experience, and already has me thinking of turning up the volume next year.  Maybe even getting some proper tools.  Although the grapefruit spoon (yes, a grapefruit spoon) worked amazing well here.

Afterwards I felt compelled to pull out the flashes and booms and modifiers to shoot Scarface.  Something else I haven't done in a while (another "where has the time went" moment).  For those so inclined here's the setup if you want to immortalize your own carved creation...

There are two flashes at work here.  One (a Nikon SB-910, domed, gelled with a full cut of CTO to simulate warm fiery candlelight) poking through the back.  The opening is covered with tinfoil to help reflect but more importantly to seal in the light.  Second is a Nikon SB-700 boomed overhead blasting through a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe softbox.  It is positioned close, just out of frame, and is slightly forward of Scar-Boy and angled back.  The relative position allows that light to not only be quite soft, but also wrap around the pumpkin.

Everything is triggered remotely.  One great tip I learned way back from either David Hobby or Joe McNally was to set one light at a time when working with multiples.  Absolutely true.  First dialed in the internal light (wanting a glow from the eyes and mouth but still detail), then the softbox (to light the exterior, with the angle from above highlighting the texture of the skin).  Both manual mode - so nothing is jumping around as I re-frame.  As for camera settings - also manual, with goal to nuke the ambient light so all I'm getting is The Great Pumpkin peering out from the darkness.  ISO 200, 1/250th second max sync speed, and f/16.  RAW file developed in Lightroom, then fine-tuned with Nik Software's amazing Color Efex Pro 4.  

Maybe next year I'll try and amp up not only the carve but the lighting as well.  Trick or treat.


  1. Nice pic - and carving job!

    FYI, I noticed en route from the bus this morning that HRM has already put Christmas wreaths up in downtown Halifax. Sheesh!

  2. Oh, and a work colleague brought Husband and me Jet tee-shirts as thank you gifts last week. I didn't have the heart to tell her we don't follow hockey. (They're a hockey team, right? :-) )