How can anyone not like Halloween with all the things that come with it? My birthday falls a mere week before Halloween and over the years I have come to embrace the holiday as one of my favorites of the year. It only makes sense that my photography would track my fascination with all things creepy, horrific, and spooky during the Halloween season.
As a kid (and still to this day), I loved watching scary movies. I would try to sneak into R rated slasher movies with my best friend and when that failed, we would talk his mom into coming along so that we could get in – with parental supervision! Bless her heart. We would sit up front as his mom sat further back in the theater, no doubt probably falling asleep. Now as an adult, I love the week following up to Halloween. You can catch all the classic horror movies on TV and the pay-per-view services ramp up horror movie viewing options as well. Over the last few years, some stations have begun making it a month of scary movies, one an evening until Halloween. Several years ago, this gave me an idea - an idea to do my own photographic version of a build-up to Halloween night. Thus, I started creating creepy images posting one a day during the month of October.
In addition to combining my love of photography and my love of movies where teens having sex in the woods get torn to shreds, I also use this opportunity to further experiment with Photoshop. It gives me an excuse to edit my photos to extremes I never would otherwise in very strange and (hopefully) disturbing ways. I am far from an expert at Photoshop and all the things you can do with it so this forces me to become more proficient at Photoshop in general. Plus, there are tons of cool Photoshop video tutorials online specifically geared towards making scary images. And who doesn’t enjoy watching good Photoshop tutorials on how to create a dismembered body? And yes, I am the first to admit that some of the images aren’t edited as convincingly as I would prefer, but therein lies the challenge and enjoyment.
The first year I did this month-long photographic exhibition, I got some very strong reactions, both for and against the idea and images. There were those that absolutely loved it and there were those that found the images too dark and disturbing. In fact, I lost a few page likes which I attributed to those that did not like the month long creepy images. There were also some individuals that fell somewhere in-between – they weren’t necessarily fond of the images themselves but still liked the creativity and effort I put forth in the images. At one point, I considered stopping the series so that I did not offend anyone but then convinced myself you cannot please all of the people all of the time. Besides, I was personally having a blast with it – and still do!
My inspiration for these projects comes from several sources including the internet, movies, and my own demented imagination. I find creepy photos with kids are sometimes the most powerful. Check out Locked Illusions for some great images with kids and adults alike. I originally thought finding models for these types of shoots would be an issue, but I have had several individuals offer to model specifically for my October themes. It’s funny, people I couldn’t bribe to do ‘normal’ modeling are usually more than willing to get covered in fake blood and simulate losing body parts - proof that I’m not the only weirdo out there! Thanks to some amazing and willing models, I am well on my way into this year’s album. Hopefully between now and October 1st, I will have enough images to make a decent run at it this year. For those out there with a love of things spooky and dark like me, October and Halloween are right around the corner! CAN’T WAIT!!!
I recently did a car pinup shoot where I put my new Nikkor AF-S 35mm 1.8G DX lens to the test. I mainly got this lens because I often work in areas that are small and limited on space. This lens is perfect for boudoir shoots where the rooms are cramped. With my last boudoir shoot, I used my Nikkor AF-S 50mm 1.8G exclusively. Using the 50mm, I often found myself up against walls trying to get far enough away from the model to get the composition I wanted. Had I had the 35mm at the time, things would have been much easier, MAYBE!! Since I now own both lenses, I thought I would do my own comparison of the lenses to see which comes out on top. Sadly, I cannot necessarily crown one the winner over the other, unless I restrict my judging criteria.
First off, the 50mm lens is an FX lens. It is designed to be used with full size sensor Nikon cameras. That being said, you can most definitely use it on Nikon crop sensor cameras. A full frame sensor is larger than the cheaper crop sensor (thus the name ‘crop’). When using an FX lens on a crop sensor, you are only grabbing the inner portion of the image being projected by the lens. Although you are not taking advantage of the full image of the FX lens, you are grabbing the portion of the image that is the sharpest; the center of the image. The 35mm DX lens is designed specifically for crop sensor cameras. While you can use it on a full frame camera, you will get very noticeable vignetting around the outside of the image. You can correct this to some degree in post processing, but to get rid of it all, you will need to crop the image inward a fair bit.
So what’s the difference between a 50mm and a 35mm? In layman’s terms, it’s the amount of the scene in front of you that will appear in your camera. The smaller the mm number, the more of the scene you will get. Therefore, a 35mm will take in a wider scene than a 50mm. In the example above, you can see that the 35mm has more scenery in it. Although Ed (E-very D-ay, my doll for my previous 365 day project) looks smaller and further away in the 35mm image, there is more image generally. These images were taken from the same spot using the same camera.
If we zoom in on both of the images, you can start to see that the 35mm lens is a tad sharper. Also, the image is slightly brighter and a little less saturated. To get Ed to be the same size in both images, I had to move closer to Ed with the 35mm lens. This is why it is a better choice over the 50mm for close-quarter shooting. Conversely, I was further back with the 50mm but it is a tad softer in sharpness. The image is also slightly more saturated and a little darker.
Next, I got as close to Ed as I could to fill the frame with his face. I was not able to get close enough to do that, so I got as close as possible and cropped the image down to fill the frame. I did the same thing with the 35mm and cropped similarly. This close to a subject, and cropping even closer in post, the sharpness difference is very noticeable. The 50mm really looks horrible compared to the 35mm. This really caught me off guard as I anticipated the 50mm being the better of the two for sharpness, especially since my crop sensor is only taking the sweet spot of the image from the 50mm to begin with. However, I still prefer the darker and more saturated image of the 50mm generally. However, for extremely close and zoomed images, the 50mm falls embarrassingly short.
My last consideration was bokeh! Bokeh is the blurred background effect you get behind your subject in an image. The wider your aperture, the more the background will blur, generally speaking. For all of the images used for this comparison, I was wide open at 1.8 for both lenses and shot at ISO 100. In my personal opinion, the bokeh with the 35mm is nowhere near as nice as the bokeh you get with the 50mm. The ‘bokeh balls’ with the 35mm tend to be more football shaped whereas the ‘bokeh balls’ with the 50mm tend to be more round and softer – which I find more pleasing.
So which is the best lens? Well, if sharpness is all you want, especially for close-ups and cropped images, the 35mm is for you (assuming you are using it on a crop sensor camera). However, if you prefer a more saturated image with much better ability to produce amazing bokeh, consider the 50mm. Yes, I realize you can saturate your images in post to your liking, but it’s not quite as easy to create nicer bokeh from the elements in the actual image in post processing. I am really amazed that the cheaper and smaller 35mm produced that much sharper images close up. I am so amazed that I plan to fine-tune focus my 50mm just to see if it might have a back or front focusing issue. After fine-tuning it, I will definitely run this comparison again to see if it is any better. It really is hard for me to recommend one lens over the other. Although sharpness is obviously a huge issue with images, I’ve shot some amazingly sharp images with the 50mm, so much so that sometimes I have to actually soften the image to get the desired effect I am after. However, should I upgrade to a full frame camera in the future (which I most certainly will), the 35mm will become less useful to me as it will not project an image big enough to cover the entire full frame sensor. I really prefer the bokeh, darkness, and saturation I get with the 50mm. However, for close-up images, the 35mm can’t be beat. Anyway, I hope this comparison has helped if you are deciding between the two. As always, get out there with your camera and stay out of your comfort zone!
Keep the interesting parts of life in focus.