As I have done for the past several years, I accompanied my grandchildren and their parents for several blocks of their annual trick-or-treating tour of the neighborhood Wednesday. Because of the time of year and the actual time of day for trick-or-treating (6 to 8 p.m.), it's been my experience that ambient lighting gets progressively darker quickly from start to finish, so it's a challenge to photograph accurately each and every time.
My old approach used to be to shoot with available light and push the ISO and shutter speed settings to the hand-holdable limit until I absolutely had to go to flash. This year, I decided to go with flash from start to finish, and to avoid the usual long recycle wait of the pop-up flash, I attached a Speedlite 580EX II to my Canon 7D and Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I equipped the Speedlite with a flash softbox modifier.
The focal distances for the shots was changing constantly, too, so I was going between Manual and TTL modes on the flash, adjusting its zoom levels from 24mm to 70mm, and also varying the camera modes from Manual (which I stuck with when focal distances remained relatively constant), Program (when the focal distances were varying often and quickly) and Shutter Priority (when I was wanting to control ambient background light).
My rate of properly exposed images was about 95% early on, when taking shots before we left the house. There, focal distances remained pretty constant. Once we hit the trail, however, focal distances were all over the place and lighting ebbed dramatically, dropping the successful exposure rate to about 50%. For one, I was on the move, and for another the kids were moving even faster. The older boys, for example, were way ahead of us -- although within eyesight. Consequently, the majority of my shots were of the younger girls, and the majority of those were of the youngest, Addy, now 3 years old, who was not interested in running fast with her older sister and two cousins.
Funniest moment of the night came early, before leaving the house, when two girls in pink polka-dot outfits on the trick-or-treating trail stopped at the house to collect candy just as we were trying to set up a group shot of our costumed little ones outdoors. The polka-dot girls heard the adults telling our kids (four grandkids and two friends of the family) to gather for the picture and thought they were being asked to pose in the shot, too. So they did. That's the photo you see leading off the post. The "interlopers" are the two girls in pink polka-dots on the far left.
Meet the cast of "costumed characters":
Above: 3-year-old Addison, dressed as Repunzel.
Above: 6-year-old Lizzy, dressed as Snow White.
Above: 10-year-old Ricky, dressed as Ninja 1.
Above: 7-year-old Jake, dressed as Ninja 2, aka "Ice Ninja."
Above: Miles, son of Amber (below), who is Jake and Ricky's aunt.
Above: Beth, Amber's mother and grandmother of Jake and Ricky, hands out candy to Lizzy, Jake and Ricky.
The Shreve boys, Owen (above) and Spencer with his dad, David, below.
And now, for the "action" shots!
Above: OK, so there's very little action here. This is the rest of the adults pack staying behind to feed the trick-or-treaters.
Above: This really is an "action" shot; Lizzy/Snow White was spinning in circles on the sidewalk to pass time while waiting for the show to hit the road.
Above: Lizzy trying to indicate, through gloved hands (hey, it was a very cold night), how many treats she got.
You met the Shreve boys earlier; now meet a couple of the Shreve "girls." Above, Karen (left) and her daughter Lori size up the oncoming pack of treaters, led by Lizzy in her Snow White costume. After filling the kids' buckets, Karen had the kids pose (below) for a quick photo.
Addy/Repunzel with her mom, Kelly (above), and leading the tread through a leaf-laden sidewalk (below).
Above: Dominic, who was with a friend of the family, acting out his zombie football player character.
Above: Not really sure what sisters Nikki (left) and Amber Cathcart are doing, but it sort of looks like they're administering a police intox-check test on themselves.
Above: Addy/Repunzel and Miles/Mario, getting adult help down the stairs after collecting treats.
I end the post with four shots outside one house where the owner dressed up in costume (above) and stood out by the sidewalk to distribute candy. The yard had the ghost and tombstone decorations.