Victoria and I have always enjoyed Halloween. In fact, its most likely our favorite time of year. It’s the only time everyone can dress up and unleash their inner monster and this is what Oni Studio is all about: Bringing out the hidden personality! When we met Johanna and company we knew we had met our match. Every year Johanna, along with an army of volunteers, operates the Frightville Haunted House to help raise funds for the Oak Harbor Boys and Girls Club. We had met Johanna a while back as she had been a fan of our work and was kind enough to invite us out to shoot the event. During the pre-shoot reconnaissance we knew this wasn’t some run of the mill haunted house where people were just going through the motions. This group means business! With countless hours dedicated to designing and building the sets, special effects make up and nightly shows, their dedication to raise money for such a fine cause is admirable and we wish them the best of luck with their event.
If you would like to help out with the Oak Harbor Boys and Girls club or make a donation please call the administration office at: 360-240-9273 or you can visit the website here.
The first time we saw pictures of the Frightville House they were taken by another local Whidbey Island photographer, John Pendleton. His pictures had a very creepy and gritty feel to them, and were just as phenomenal as his other work. Since I put John in the same class and category as Joe Mcnally in the area of lighting, the prospect of going out and shooting the same thing he had was intimidating! Victoria and I talked it over (as we do most of our shoots) in order to attempt to flesh out every creative detail. In this process we will discuss lighting, draw out diagrams, examine potential pitfalls, discuss marketing possibilities and research the internet to see how the project has been shot previously. She wanted to utilize a more even type of lighting with softboxes and grid modifiers, but I was vehemently against it. I thought it would make the pictures look “too real”. Victoria stressed that all other photographers would try to light it in a spooky type way, and that her style of lighting would serve to distinguish our work from others. Since I didn’t have any ideas of my own I went along with the plan.
After a long discussion we packed up most of our studio equipment and set off to the Frightville House with the intention of using our grids and softboxes. Although we walked through the rooms before, when we actually got there with all the equipment, we realized the spaces were too small for setting up our studio lights. In addition to that we had forgotten our hot shoe speed light! We were trying to figure out a lighting set up when Victoria dropped another bomb on me by saying, “No pressure, but they are not open today. The crew came down here on their own time and spent hours in make up just to have this photo shoot done.”
Sometimes when the pressure gets really applied to me I have an epiphany, and thankfully I had one then too. Why not just use the light that’s already here? The keepers of the house have done a lot of research and experimentation into sculpting the light in the creepiest manner possible. With the creative use of our light reflector, high ISO, tripod and Photoshop we would be able to bring that raw fear to our viewers!
It took a bit of adjusting with the camera, but we started getting some good shots until we got to the shot posted below with the corpse bride in front of the moon. Obviously the moon back lights her, and no matter how hard we tried to bounce that light back into her face with the reflector, we were not getting enough detail in the face. I was racking my brain to a solution when I saw another volunteer using a flashlight to find something they had dropped, and then the ghostly voice of Obi Kenobi whispered in my ear, “Use the flashlight Luke!” I would have never had attempted this in front of my instructors at DINFOS, but I took the flashlight and shined it directly onto my reflector to diffuse it. Victoria took the picture and I waited in nervous anticipation for the little happy jump she does when the picture is good.
“Click”….happy jump! Yes!
So the irony is that the thousands we have spent on lighting equipment was defeated by a $20 dollar flashlight, and an old $10 ebay special reflector. Kinda neat!
All the shots we have here were taken with the use of only a reflector or a combination reflector/flashlight. We hope you get as much pleasure viewing them as we did shooting them!
…This is our 11th year and the Haunted House is one of our main fundraisers for the Club. All proceeds from the house benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Harbor. Everyone who works in the house is a volunteer and construction begins in April to have the house ready by October. (We do like to joke with our “masterminds” that they start planning on October 31st right after the house closes for the season). It takes between 25 and 30 volunteers a night to man the house, again all volunteers. We are very proud that Frightville was rated #5 out of all the haunts in Washington State. …thanks again for the great pics! It was a lot of fun to watch you do your magic!
Director, Boys and Girls Club of Oak Harbor
Keep in mind constant reader that we were only able to shoot a small portion of the haunted house. There are many more rooms, and many more monsters! We at Oni Studio hope you have an awesome and safe Halloween! Tune in next week for another exciting and sexy edition, and remember if you would like to book your own shoot with us its as simple as filling out the contact portion on our website here!