Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Haunt Lighting

My haunt lighting sucks. I admit it.

I throw it together. I never adjust it. I always feel rushed, whether I am or whether I'm imagining it. And if I'm not rushed, I'm tired. I generally work twelve to fourteen hours a day during the season, and I wipe myself out. (This year was the worst, because I found out my chronic shoulder pain is a torn ligament, arthritis, and tendonitis, so everything takes. More. Time. Yay, me.)

I really need to work on the concept of balance! Have I mentioned this before? ;)

Anyhow, I vowed this year would be better. Not perfect, since I don't have a job right now and therefore don't have the income for all those nifty can lights and bling I really want, but definitely--better!

I am stepping up my game, because I won't be embarrassed by my lighting. Any. More!

Since I did a "Haunting 101" lecture at Scare LA this year, I decided it was time to knock off the "do what I say" thing and start to put my knowledge into practice. It's hard to do with commissions awaiting completion and dumb things like laundry needing to be done, let alone all the work needed to post my work on Etsy, but dedicating an hour or two to making the lighting better is not going to kill me.

So, like many of you hard-core haunters, I went back to the Skull and Bone lighting tutorial, a.k.a. the haunter's Holy Grail of lighting.

The thing I really twigged to when reading this well thought out article, is that haunt lighting is not necessarily as much about lighting as it is about creating shadows.

Creating shadows. Key thing in a haunt, since, you know, it's supposed to be creepy.

I was relieved to see that like me, he had to deal with The Street Light From Hell. I have one that I've been glaring at for years, unable to pull anything together to just dim it down a little bit. (And I don't think the City of Folsom would be willing to help out with this one, pesky street light for the likes of me!) I've thought of making a large, old-school version of the Beistle favor boxes (which would make an amazing street light, in my opinion!), but did I mention that whole "time crunch" thing? And the fact that the street lamp probably throws off a ton of heat and I haven't figured out what I can put up there that won't catch fire? *sigh*

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Skull and Bone had to completely re-do his lighting because his city had replaced the old street light with a much higher wattage one, so his old lighting scheme didn't work. He actually opted to add more light, rather than less, in order to combat the light pollution from his demon street light.

In this picture, he actually allowed the street light to do the lion's share of the work, and added LED tea lights. (You can also get LED candles with a remote for a very reasonable cost.)
I think this effect is pretty scrumptious.

This year, I have decided to use blue floods almost exclusively. Blue light makes things cold and appear to be farther away, while red light not only warms things up, but brings them closer. I also purchase a few LED pin spots from Darklight, which throw out a shocking amount of light for such tiny things!

One of the things he mentioned which piqued my interest was Electroluminescent (or EL) wire. EL wire is sort of like the rope lights you find at Home Depot, and they look fairly easy to use. I hear they're cool, temperature-wise, as well. I ordered from Amazon Prime, so I would get them in time, and am going to try them out this year to see what they can do. It's relatively inexpensive (I think), so why not? I ordered blue, to stay in keeping with the blue floods and unify the house. We'll see how it mixes with the floods and the yellow Street Light From Hell. I'll probably switch to red floods for Stewie and the area closer to the house. I'll likely also put some jack-o'-lanterns out by the tombstones for a nice contrast to the blue lighting. If not that, then I'll add some LED candles like those shown above. We'll see what works better.

Anyway, I would strongly encourage you to look at the Skull and Bone lighting tutorial, and really take the time to sit down and read it from start to finish. There are many gems in there to be had for someone who's looking to step up an old lighting plan, and he just updated it in January of this year to reflect some of the new technology available to us which wasn't available back in 2007, when he first wrote it.

And above all, kids, have fun!


  1. THANK YOU!!!! This post is extremely timely for me. Due to a rather hectic schedule, I didn't start putting up my display until this past Monday...which is incredibly late for me. From the beginning, I've battled street lights, and had to deal with the upgraded so-bright-it-burns-your-corneas bulb the city put in during the Springtime. I'd already decided to use a lot more blue lighting (great minds...!), but this info will definitely come in handy as I adjust my lighting over the next few days. Thanks SO much for sharing!!!!!

  2. Shellhawk - you really have to stop posting such interesting material. I am suppose to be in the garage carving tombstones. Instead I am inside taking pictures of a skeletons playing with the lighting and such due to the inspiration I get from you blogs!

  3. Yes, this post did come at a good time! I'd forgotten about that tutorial. My yard has the opposite problem - we have no streetlights on our street. I'm right smack in the middle of the block anyway. I have some blue LED spot lights in the cemetery and a couple green ones outside, but I still need something. Maybe those little spots are just the thing?!?


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