Monday, November 9, 2015

TALES OF HALLOWEEN trailer [HD] Now in theaters and on-demand

Review: The movie was really cheeky and fun. I'd recommend keeping it on your watchlist for next Halloween's countdown movies. It was no Trick 'R Treat which is my favorite Halloween movie.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Halloween 2015 and Murphy's Law

2015 was an interesting haunt year, as all are. I spent a lot of time repainting my tombstones and aging several that I've meant to do for the past few years. I also hit a limit on new features to add when I had to stop and rope things in to be ready. That is always a tough decision. I tried advertising by promoting our new Idaho Humane Society donation collections with two of the local news channels. They told me that they'd post something with photos and details, but nothing was done. I paid for Facebook boosting on my haunt page and it got lots of hits, but the numbers were about the same. We had 34 trick or treaters and their families. We even handed out full sized candy bars that the kids loved. Sadly, there were no donations for the IHS. Haunters have to take the good with the bad.
This was the monument I made for my sister's memory. My mom flew out this year for her first haunt experience and she had a good time. She liked the monument and we kept a real candle lit on it, kind of a little everlasting flame for even when the lights went out. Obviously my perspective has shifted and I don't let the little things get to me, they really are unimportant and the 6 years I've spent building this thing make each setup a little easier.
So why do I set up 20 tombstones, 9 figures, 5 singing pumpkins, a fence with columns, and about 80 homemade spotlights plus several other details for 34 kids when the big old street a few miles away shuts down for thousands of trick or treaters? Oh, did I mention the hours of electrical work and programming of a light show? I do it because those 34 kids and their families stop and take photos and chat with me. They love it. They are amazed that so few people come by. Strangely, my neighbors love it as well and there were a lot more porch lights on this year. Several houses made an attempt at some sort of decoration.

Then so many things went wrong!

Why do I do this to myself? I started doing a light show 4 years ago using an Arduino, my computer, and Vixenlights. It is really fun and when I figured out how to use the program I went nuts with bombastic lights choreographed to music show. Let me tell you, hearing the Betelgeuse theme, Thriller and This is Halloween several times a night can drive one insane. I spent so many hours banging out light sequences for those songs I had to wear headphones because it was so annoying to my husband to listen to thriller slowed down four times and restarted over and over again so I could get precise lighting sequences.

Anyway, The light show that was meticulously designed began to misfire. Mind you, I ran it for two previous nights with no problems. For the life of my I couldn't figure out why. Luckily I had some ambient tracks set to a random light show with different lights dimming on and off. The funny thing is that when I first envisioned doing this, I wanted eerie sounds and moody shifting lighting. I got so carried away with the blinky song sequencing, I sort of lost sight of the original idea.

Then, my fog machine timer went bad and would no longer go on it's own. If I wanted fog, I had to go behind the display and press the button. I did this for a few families taking group photos. Fog machines are fickle things.

Lastly, my very expensive camera stopped working and was giving me an error code. That was really bad. I'd never had a problem with it before. Luckily I got some good shots and OK video footage. I later figured out how to fix the error.

Here's a couple movie files of the haunt, the first is color video and the second is good old B&W shots. I really enjoyed doing those.

Click the photo for the color video footage:
Click below for the Black and White slide show, this year's official Haunt video.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Phase One: Haunt 2015

We have a new infestation this year. The cemetery goes up next weekend. Tombstone repair that was much needed is underway. Here's to a great 2015 Halloween!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oh the Woes of Haunt Photography and Video

WikEd had a great post on how wonderful Halloween displays are ruined with bad photography. He did the best job of explaining the problem. Flash photography sucks in this situation. Check out his blog (click the link above or the photo above). Please click on each photo for a larger version to see the detail.

I stumbled across the problem when I started haunting and played with the automated night settings on my old point and shoot. I was getting really great pictures with no flash and a tripod. No flash means your shutter is usually opened wider and or longer which can result on camera shakes and blurred images.
This is one of my first low light photos.

After that camera gave up the ghost I was in the market of a DSLR. I've always love photography and it seemed like the next move for me. The cool thing with those is that you can buy multiple lenses for different situations. No it isn't cheap. Not cheap at all, but there are some descent deals out there and I happened upon the Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. That means it is a great low light lens. The lower the aperture number (1.8) the larger the aperture you have to work with, so that in low light settings, you get a lot of forgiveness.

I also switched lighting of the haunt from big par 38 can spotlights to homemade little 12 volt LED spots that aren't as harsh. The only problem is that the light output is even lower.
This is one of my first shots with the DSLR and the crappy lens that came with the kit. Not too bad really. This was before the 50mm 1.8 that I use today. The camera sure picked up a lot of the light.
This photo was taken with the 50mm 1.8. I was quite happy with it. It was taken with the aperture setting to allow it to shoot at 1.8. I also used a tripod.

I started playing around with settings and got some great shots last year (2014). That little lens is a go to favorite of the 6 I have. (it's seriously stubby and affordable at under $200).

My next installment will be on haunt video. That topic has been haunting me for the past few years. I'm confident I can get a good one with my DSLR which are known for great low light picture quality. The only problem is that I have to move to full manual mode which has been a little intimidating.