“For no mere mortal can resist, the evil of the thriller…” ~ Michael Jackson

Pumkin, Halloween, Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, Candles

I know, overly dramatic title. Halloween always makes me think of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and Vincent Price narrating at the end of the song, “Creatures crawl, in search of blood, to terrorize y’all’s neighborhood…” I bet you’re already singing “Cause this is Thriller…”  Good luck getting that out of your head.

I thought that today would be a great day to share my number one tip for photographing  a carved pumpkin.

I left it fairly late in life, but last year was first proper attempt at carving a Jack-o-lantern, I went with something simple, Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas. See the image above.

This year I went with something a bit more spooky. Photos below.

So have you guessed my number one tip yet?


Yes, candles. If you take a photo with your camera on auto the flash will fire and you’ll completely lose the spooky effect and the flash will shine off the pumpkin’s skin.  Unfortunately I can’t show an example of this as I never use flash on a pumpkin. Trust me, it just won’t work.

I can however show you what  it looks like to leave the camera set to auto, but with the flash off.


It’s okay, but it’s really just a disembodied face, there’s no references to turn this into a picture. Most of the photos you’ll see online will be like this, but add a couple of candles…


Isn’t that better? You can still see the glow from the candles inside the pumpkin, but the ones outside have added a reference point. You can see the surroundings, you can see that it’s a pumpkin and if anything, I feel this looks a little more sinister.

I also shot these in manual mode. The camera’s auto exposure will make the scene too bright, and will also try to give a really long shutter speed to achieve this, which introduces camera shake. If you switch to manual mode, aperture as wide as possible, (f1.8 in this case as I used my 50mm prime) and a shutter speed of around 1/30th sec, and a fairly high ISO ( i used ISO 800) then you should be fine. Always experiment. Take a few shots and choose your best.

Finally, it’s also worth taking a picture without having the lantern lit up. Just to show how different it looks in the natural state.

What do you think? Any other tips you could share?

Craig Lucas



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