Don’t Look Now…


Over the next few weeks I have a series of student make up artists’ special effects graded units to shoot.  The themes of these shoots tends to be of a horror or fantasy nature so I thought I would warm up my horror lighting skills by setting up a creepy home studio shoot and explain here how I got the final image.

To make it easy on myself I wanted to create an image that didn’t need a model or make up so I took to every photographers best friend, Ebay, and got searching for a potentially creepy looking doll.  I bid on several vintage dolls with cracked porcelain heads but in the final minutes the prices always rose beyond what I was willing to pay.  In the end I got a 30″ tall, 1980’s plastic doll, who in her worn state looked a little creepy.

I wanted to create a low key shot with only shafts of side lighting on the doll, picking out here eyes in particular. so I needed to find a suitable backdrop and method of creating the shafts of light.

Sticking to my budget approach, the background is a simple A1 sheet of black mount board and the shafts of light were created by shining an angled desktop lamp through slits cut in another sheet of mount board.

I experimented with the positioning of the lamp and the slit mount board until I got the effect I wanted on the doll’s face.

I spot metered from the highlights of the light shafts on the doll’s face.  I shot three portrait shots and one landscape.  I liked the landscape best and took it into Lightroom for some minor editing.

In lightroom I adjusted the contrast, shadow levels, clarity and added grain.  As you can see I did a small amount of localised editing on the eyes to bring them to prominence in the image.

Overall I am happy with the final image.  However, if I was to shoot it again I would bring the doll forward from the backdrop a bit more to let the shafts of light extend behind her on the backdrop to provide greater separation.

Hope you like the image and a little insight into how it was created.

You can see more of my work on my flickr stream:

Don’t have nightmares.





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