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Halloween Portraits In Medellin, Colombia (DIY How To Do Your Own)

Medellin Colombia Bogota Red Devil Satan

This year for Halloween I was in Medellin, Colombia.  I missed Halloween in Colombia last year by only a few weeks because my visa was finally up but I made it a point to be here this year for it.  Colombians LOVE Halloween and they go all out for it.  So much that there was three full weekends of Halloween in Medellin (weekend prior to the 31st, the weekend of the 31st and the weekend after).

My roommate (Wilson, see top photo) normally always has a big party for Halloween but for some reason he decided to have it 06Nov this year.  Yes I know, Halloween parties in November doesn’t make any sense but when you’re in Colombia you just go with the flow and enjoy!

I hate to admit it but I didn’t dress up at all (haven’t since I was like 13. Yeah I’m a party pooper I know) but the 15 people who did come to the party went all out for it.  I decided I was going to try and snap a few shots of each persons costume.  What do you think?

Medellin Colombia Bogota Comic Heroes

The Comic Book Heroes and Villains

Medellin Colombia Bogota Red Devil Satan

The Blood Seekers

Angel Baby Pirate Costumes

The Pirate, Angel and Baby

Masks women Medellin Colombia

The Ladies

The party was GREAT and we had way to much food and drinks for it.  I think just about everyone was borracho (drunk) by the end of it, as I didn’t go to bed until 3:30am.

I had a great time but I won’t lie taking these photos kicked my butt!  It wasn’t a hard set-up to do but took a few things in order for it to work.  So if you are wanting to know how I took these shots at a party on the fly, I decided to lay it all out for you below.

→ Camera Gear Used ←

  • Canon 5D II
  • Off-Camera Flash Sync Cord
  • 8′ Lumiquest Softbox with Canon Speedlite 580EX II
  • Note: You might need a flash light as well to shine on the person face to get your Auto Focus to lock

The gear used is simple stuff most should have anyways if they like to do off camera flash work.  If you don’t have a sync cord then wireless triggers work as well, just the sync cords are super cheap (about $10-$20 for one).  I also had to use a very small flash light to shine it on the closest eye to get my cameras auto focus to lock.  Without it I would have had to keep a light on, which I didn’t want to do.

Some of you might think I used a backdrop for these photos but I didn’t.  I wanted just a portrait of each person so I decided I would kill all the lights in a bedroom, then fill flash the model with my speedlight.  I sat on the floor looking up at them and had them lean over in front of me about 3ft-4ft away.  I would then kill the lights and have a friend stand behind me with the flash light shinning it into the closest eye of the person.  Once I locked the auto focus, I normally started out with the softbox below my camera.  Then I would move it a foot to the left, take a few more photos, then move it to my right a foot and snap a few more.

To be honest the photos I took with the softbox right below my camera seemed to come out the best.  It almost made a ring light affect on them and the shadows your seeing are on the ceiling, as I was seated looking up.  What made this so hard was trying to speak in Spanish with the guy who had the flash light, then the person who was modeling but the worse part was trying to hold my camera with one hand and my flash in another hand.  By the end of the 8th person I couldn’t hold them both up and take a photo.  So I had someone else hold the flash… which I should have done at the start.  You could also just put it on a stand of some sort but since my sync cord is very short I had to hold both.

I shot most of these at f/5.6, ISO 100 with a shutter speed of 200 sec

I shot most of these at f/5.6, ISO 100 with a shutter speed of 1/200 sec

Ok, I know this is a very bad set-up shot but it was the only thing I knew how to put together to show you how I was taking the photos.  It is important to note that I didn’t have them stand close to me and look down for the shots.  I had them bend over keeping there heads up and just looking down to create the affect.  If they stood over me and just looked down I would have given everyone double chins (not a flattery look still).  So the shadows your seeing are actually on the ceiling more then the wall behind them.

What do you think?  Not bad for an on-the-fly portrait session.  Any tips or questions, leave a comment!

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  • Dustin Main

    I appreciate the walkthrough.  I know just about nothing for flash setup (and I don’t have any flash gear) but I hope to try sometime soon.

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    nice post information

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    good job


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