A few years back I got a wild hair and wanted to try my hand at crossing my favorite holiday with my favorite hobby. Some backstory: I started my digital photography path by going to design school and learning Photoshop. This helped a lot when it came time to learn about editing RAW files and photo manipulation. So much so that I jumped into creating a small project that brought some local urban legends to life (this project was called #weirdkansas - if you’re interested, here’s Part 1 and Part 2).
Anyway, the love affair with creepy Halloween stuff led me to wonder what I could do to blend these two things. Since I was still relatively new to rigging cars, I figured it'd be a fun challenge to include a rigged car in the image.. and then it hit me. I wanted a vehicle in motion that could represent a ghost or some kind of lore. Why not rig a Mustang and shoot for a Headless Horseman vibe? So yeah - that's what I did and how I got started on this Monster Cars path.
Fast forward to September of 2019 and I'm bouncing ideas off of my wife, trying to figure out how I can mash the holiday and hobby together again. I'd long considered a Frankenstein's Monster image.. but figured I'd need something crazy tall. Then, while looking through images for inspiration, I realized that I could achieve that large monster look by shooting from above. In fact, that'd play out perfectly because it would give me an opportunity to simulate the table he laid on before being animated.
Rounding up my first set of super cheap lights that I bought back in 2010, I set to work to create a layout that would simulate Tesla coils. Adding a third light to the mix, using a flashlight and a florescent tube light cover, I created the lightning rod. Of course, I don't actually have access to a Tesla coil, so the lightning bolts themselves were brushes created in Photoshop. And my method for capturing this top down image: the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. (If I'm totally honest, I didn't think this was going to work out. I'd never done bracketing with a drone before and the wind was absolutely insane the night I shot this.. but it actually worked!)
Now, I knew for a couple years I'd been wanting to do something with Frankenstein for a future image.. but having missed a few years in between, one monster wasn't going to cut it for this year. Considering some of the other obvious choices, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy - I went for one that was a bit less common and possibly more of a challenge: the Creature.
If you've been following my work as of late, it's no surprise that I used a buddy's off-road rig to create this shot. Its ability to handle water without issue, as well as its fish eye style bumper lights and wide flared front fenders made it a great fit. All that was left to do was figure out the where and the how - and that was the simplest part of the whole thing. By the time we were done, we were sitting in a small pool of water, next to Wichita's infamous "Big Ditch," and using 16 pounds of dry ice to create the necessary fog to make the scene a bit more eerie. (If you haven't seen The Creature from the Black Lagoon - it's almost all shot during the day, totally black and white, and is cheesy as all get out.. but man does it look good for the time it was made!)
So, there's some backstory on the why behind these images, as well as some info on how they were created. If you've got questions, I've got answers - so feel free to hit me up and I'll be happy to share what I can! Happy Halloween, friends!
Gear: Sony A7RIII, Sony 24-105 f4 G OSS, DJI Phantom 4 Pro, B&W CPL, YN360, Vagabond Mini, Flashpoint Light Kit, Flashlight & Florescent Tube Cover, Flashpoint Light Stands, Manfrotto Tripod
Post Processing: Adobe Photoshop