Halloween is just around the corner (again!)

This family won the best fancy dress award and you can see why! Canon 1DX, 200mm F2

Do you know I can remember blogging about this last year almost as if it was last week, it's amazing how quickly it comes around! This year will be the fourth time that I've arranged to photograph the annual Pumpkin Festival at Apley Farm Shop. This event has

One of my favourite Halloween photos! Taken late in the afternoon on an overcast day when the light was absolutely perfect. Canon 1DX, 200mm F2 at F2, cropped quite a lot!

an increasing success year on year - we get some fantastic photos of excited children picking their pumpkins and have to do that in all kinds of weather of course - last year we had the tail end of a hurricane to cope with, so lots of hair flying around and coats flapping (and gazebos trying to take off) and I still managed to delight everyone with some lovely shots. Nothing wrong with a challenge is there!

Apley Farm Shop's marketing photo - this happy chap is featured on leaflets and their web site this year. Canon 1DX, 200mm F2. I had to go back quite a way for this shot, it's surprising how high kids can jump :

This year I'm planning to take some bigger external flash equipment with me - sunny days are actually quite frequent in October (as are windy ones) and getting that balance to remove shadows at midday takes quite a bit of power, so I'll be bringing along my Elinchrom ELB400 equipped with a beauty dish (can't use anything bigger because of the wind). I've started to use the beauty dish more and more with younger subjects, it really does work incredibly well - I used it extensively at a senior prom back in June and apart from the portability the light is very easy to control - I'll blog about how I used it later but suffice to say it's one of the pieces of equipment that I use the most for outdoor photography . The best shots from a lighting perspective always come first thing in the morning at about 9:30, particularly on a slightly overcast day and of course last thing in the afternoon, it's surprising how quickly the light quality changes through the day and how soon it fades away so I'm grateful to have the low light performance of my Canon 1DX which copes with it brilliantly - most of my photos are taken with the big 200mm lens wide open so it's not a big problem with individuals but group shots are quite popular as well and so it needs to be stopped down quite a bit to get the depth of focus, I always arrange the groups carefully to get the balance right, which can create quite a few laughs in itself for everyone!

Someone last year gave some feedback on Apley Farm Shop's facebook page saying "photographer was brilliant" and I can remember her well, we were trying our best to arrange her big group of young children who wouldn't stay still for more than about two seconds - I finally got the shot with a lot of patience and it created so much attention when we got it up on the screen for her!

One of the best things about this event is when whole families turn up in fancy dress, the amount of effort that goes in is great to see, I just love parents who get their kids into the swing of things and lead by example 🙂 following demand I'll be dressing up myself this year, although it's quite difficult to handle a camera while dressed as a wizard or in a full pumpkin suit of course, so I'll need to have a good think about that one. Maybe a skeleton outfit?

Talking of skeletons, l I've just repaired my (somewhat battered!) one who's been patiently sitting in my garage since being put aside after Halloween 2017. He's done some great service and had his fair share of scrapes and I get quite a few odd looks because he rides with me on the front seat of the car (I do put his seatbelt on). He's fallen off the roof of the car before now when I forgot he was up there and drove off. I got quite some way and wondered why I was being flashed by the oncoming traffic. I found most of him on the verge but had to go a into a ditch to recover his leg and then had to walk along the side of the road with his disfigured remains. God knows what people must have thought was going on. His leg fell off (again) last year courtesy of some very enthusiastic children who didn't realise just how fragile he was, so that's all fixed up, I hope he lasts the course, he's quite a feature on our stand. Last year someone asked to have a photo with him!

So I'm really looking forward to it again this year, it's lovely to see people who come back and say how much they loved their photos so if you're reading this and you've bought our photos before - here's a really (really!) big thank you and hope to see you again this year!

Finally - last year at the end of the festival I took some time out to shoot some video footage to help Apley Farm Shop with their marketing - our photos go onto the publicity leaflets and client web site of course but video does help to attract new customers. One of the most overlooked aspects of this is getting everyone's consent - I'm often surprised at how photographers and videographers assume that they can push something out for marketing without getting permission to do so, so I always make sure that everyone is ok (twice) and ask them to sign their consent for marketing use. It's being professional and making sure that my client has the reassurance that I've thought about every detail before the shooting even starts. It can be a challenge when someone doesn't want to give consent but I do understand there are reasons why so I'm always patient and work around it if necessary. Here's the 2018 video below, Mrs Pumpkin the storyteller is a joy to behold so it's as much fun for adults (as you can see) as it is for children,  I'll be shooting again for the 2019 video this year and I'll certainly be riding on the Pumpkin Express more than once!


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