How I Lit the Shot: Susan Magnano’s spooky Halloween light painting photos

If you’re looking for Halloween photography inspiration, we have a treat for you! Photographer Susan Magnano has shared with us how she used KYU-6 light wraps to create light painting in her amazingly spooky seasonal shots!

Halloween photo using light painting with a model in a pointed witches hat

What was the concept of the shoot?

The concept was developed during a spontaneous collaboration with my friend and model Dawn. I had new tools to try out including the KYU-6 and she had a new outfit. Sometimes I have a plan in mind and other times I just create based on the location, subject ,and my tools.

Halloween photo of a model in a witch outfit with green light painting circles and flashes

What setup and lighting did you use for these Halloween light painting shots?

I used a KYU-6 to light up Dawn’s face and body by doing a scanning technique. I positioned the KYU-6 at a 45 degree angle and fairly close to Dawn then, starting at her head, moved swiftly from the top of her body down to the bottom. I made sure to keep the light pointed only at Dawn with the black back of the KYU-6 pointed towards the camera. I also used the KYU-6 to create different light streaks from her hand by pointing the KYU-6 at the camera and making circles. I loved how you could change the colors and the brightnesses.

I also incorporated a tube from with a Nitecore flashlight in it to create the circles and bigger patterns. 

How did the KYU-6 help you achieve the shot you wanted?

The KYU-6 is great for lighting my subjects and not spilling light on the background. Typically I use a strobe to light my models but it can spill on to the background. With the KYU-6 you can be close to your subject and paint light on them because the light beam is narrow and with the black back it won’t spill into your scene. 

Red lit Halloween photo with a model in a witch outfit and light painting streaks behind

What was your biggest challenge?

Finding a dark place in New York City.

What type of post-processing was involved?

I typically look at a photo and whatever is distracting me from my subject, I eliminate it or darken it. For example, if I had light spill on the ground I would darken it. I also add a little sharpening and contrast. 

What gear did you use for these Halloween light painting shots?

Who was involved and how did they play a part in the shoot?

My friend, Dawn Chase is an amazing model and photographer. She is also a fellow “Burner”, or Burning Man attendee, and has an extensive wardrobe of awesomeness that she created herself. She also did her own makeup and hair. We have a great time co-creating in the darkness. You can find Dawn on Instagram.

Green lit model in a witch outfit with red light painting trails coming from the hands

About Susan Magnano

Susan Magnano is a wedding, event, and portrait photographer based in the USA. Susan also loves to use light painting. You can find many more examples of her work on her website and you can follow her on Instagram.

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