Halloween Photoshoot in Kents Cavern, Torquay, Devon

If you’ve ever wanted to take photos inside a cave but didn’t want it to look like every other photo out there? If you’ve seen my photos from the shoot and wondered how I did it? Read on…

Kents Cavern is located in Wellswood, Torquay, Devon and is a major tourist attraction here in Torbay.

There are thousands and thousands of photos of Kents Cavern out there but the main theme with all those photos is the colour orange. Take a look at a screenshot from Google’s image search results…

As you can see, the photos all look the same.

Signature Rouge is a professional dance company based in Devon and they contacted me wanting to do a Halloween special photoshoot inside the caves. They had booked the caves as a private hire for an hour.

As I knew it was a Halloween themed shoot I initially thought about the typical orange and red colours but that search result above showed me I needed to be different and make our photos really stand out.

When I saw their costumes I immediately knew I wanted blue as a prominent background colour. I run my ideas past them, explaining that a lot of superhero posters use blue and with their colours, it would really pop in the photos.

My main problems were threefold…

  1. I didn’t have a lot of room
  2. The lights already in the cave had to be overpowered
  3. I needed to separate the girls from the background blue

With just an hour to do this, I knew I had to work fast. The girls needed to get changed and ready so I worked on the background lights while they got changed.

If you just wanted to have a different looking photo to everyone else, use a gel to cover your flash. It doesn’t even have to be proper flash gels, any wafer-thin, see-through plastic colour will do. As long as your flash is bright enough you can overpower the other colours. If your flash isn’t powerful enough, take the photos in darker areas so your light doesn’t have to compete with other lights.

In my case I used a 4 flash set-up. 2 bare-bulb flashes behind them, pointing at the cave walls, both with blue gels to complement the orange lights inside, or in some cases, overpower the orange lights inside.

The other two flashes comprised of an AD200 in a softbox and a Speedlight inside another softbox. I needed to make sure all the group were as evenly lit as I could get it. I also absolutely needed to separate them from the blue backlighting so they didn’t all look like Smurfette.

The result was quite special looking for a cave shoot…

I wanted a 5th light behind them as a kicker light to make them pop that little bit more. As you can see from the photo above, I simply didn’t have any space behind them to add a back-light.

My camera settings were as follows:

ƒ/4.0 / 24.0 mm / 1/80 / ISO 800

My background flash settings were around 1/32 and the lights on the dancers were around 1/64, depending on positions.

If you have an event, a photo shoot or an idea for something different, I’d love to be a part of your idea. See my event photography and photoshoot page for more details.

Simon Day

If you have a wedding, portrait, event or festival coming up please contact me. Likewise for portraits. Check out my social media channels: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter