Zombie Portraits


Photo by Taylor Irby

Photography on a college budget is hard. This though, is one of the situations where determination outweighs the drawbacks. I wanted to shoot the zombies in the annual Muncie Zombie Walk in a traditional studio-lit style. The problem though was having the lights to do this.

The equipment used for this shoot is a hodge-podged kit comprised of anything I could beg, borrow or steal (kidding). Including a one light kit that I keep here, and a one light kit that fellow photographer Taylor Irby keeps at school, hence the non-matching anything. The kit also included light stands borrowed from a school light kit that, combined with a monopod gaffed to the stands made up a back ground stand. And to top it all off I had to abandon my Nikon system to shoot the flashes we had more of.

Now all dramatics aside, it was not that hard, aside-from working with the bare-minimum of equipment. I had two lights. One the key, shot through an umbrella was a 430 ex (I) and the rim/background light was a 320 ex shot through an photoflex xs softbox. For this application I wasn’t super concerned with fill; the darkness under the eyes that would result would be almost advantageous in this application. Regardless, I positioned the umbrella some what forward to get as much wrap as possible and the rim light far enough back to hit the edge of the face and the background.

Once the lights were set up it was just a matter of grabbing the zombies and having them pose. I had most of them kneel. It led to a more dynamic pose, but other than that basically let them do what they wanted. I didn’t bother to correct a lot of the head forward habits, once again allowing the darkness under the eyes.


Photo by Taylor Irby

I shot until the key light overheated from sitting in the sun and being fired off at full-power.

Post-processing was straight forward. A bit of clarity in Adobe Camera Raw and in Photoshop CS6 I added contrast using a black and white layer set to blend-mode softlight. I burned in the edges of the frames using a multiply layer and then slightly over-sharpened all of the photos. Under different circumstances I would have liked to have a third light for the background and had a round gradient, and thus been able to pull the background a bit away from my subject.

To see how they ran click here for the paper at the Ball State Daily News.


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