Halloween Photography Post-Processing Tips

by Elisha Snow | 11 years ago

I’m thirty-something years old, and I still love Halloween every bit as much as I did when I was 7. Sure, the candy is still a perk, but my real treat at Halloween time is the day I get to dress my kids up and take them out for pictures! But even better is the chance to manipulate those photos and make them something really special through simple photo editing.

It is so fun to add special effects that correlate with the costumes in Halloween photos. Got a few little monsters, vampires, and werewolves? Try a dark, high-contrast photo effect! Have a little princess? Try a soft, vintage effect. Here are a few simple techniques I’ve used on my Halloween photos.

Halloween photo editing tips

Tip 1: Add Darkness and Contrast
My 8-year-old son wanted to be Zane from Ninjago for Halloween last year. As we were taking pictures, he started doing the poses he thought were appropriate for a cool ninja. Based on those poses and the look on his face, I had a great time playing around with these photos in Photoshop! First, I increased the contrast using Levels and Curves to convey power and dominion. I darkened the sky and even added in some more clouds on the left using the Clone tool. I created a dark vignette around the entire photo and got rid of the lens flare spots from the flash using the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Finally, I used a Sharpen filter to make the photo crisp and clear.

Halloween photo editing tips

Tip 2: Remove Graininess and Go Vintage
I wasn’t thrilled with the way this photo looked when I initially opened it on my computer. It was way too dark and had some grain/noise, but it was the only one where all three kids were actually looking at the camera! I first lightened up the overall photo using Levels and then increased the contrast a bit using Curves. Then I used a Photoshop plug-in (Noise Ninja) to get rid of the noise. Since the colors were all so different, I muted the colors a bit by running a vintage action (“Seventies” action from Pioneer Woman, run at 50%). Finally, I used the Sharpen filter and cropped it to a size I liked.

Halloween photo editing tips

Tip 3: Boost Color and Add Warmth
Not that I’m biased, but that has got to be the cutest little band of superheroes I’ve ever laid eyes on! But when I initially opened the photo, I felt like it was just kind of “blah.” Because of the back lighting, the overall picture ends up being kind of flat, without a lot of contrast or color pop. So the first thing I did was punch up the contrast and boost the colors using Curves. I wanted the photo to have a nice warmth to it as well, so I manipulated the color channels to create that warmth, which also helped the skin tones look a little more natural. The final step was to sharpen it.

​With each of these photos, the processes and techniques I used were simple and easy to do, and even better they were easy to learn! Knowing these simple Photoshop tricks has taken my photos from so-so to frame-worthy in just a matter of minutes.


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