I shot the scariest possible Halloween photo: a selective color pop image!!!

selective color pop Halloween photo
(Image credit: James Artaius)

Forgive me, father, for I have sinned… I shot a selective color pop photograph. I am so sorry, I will say as many Our Fathers and Hail Marys as you deem fit!

In all seriousness, selective color / color pop images are one of the biggest no-nos in photography (along with sepia effects, but that's a story for another day). It's one of the very first tricks you learn when you get a camera – and one of the very next tricks you learn is that it's tacky, and awful, and you should never do it again! 

But on a "bloodbath" Halloween shoot, I absolutely couldn't help myself. The image was SCREAMING OUT for selective color. Bright, blood-red liquid pouring all over a vampiric subject in white lingerie, in a white bathroom… I couldn't not do it. 

On Olympus / OM System cameras – like the Olympus PEN-F (opens in new tab), which I was using – there are dozens of Art Filters and creative tools that enable you to achieve effects in-camera. Originally, I was shooting with oversaturated colors to make my subject's hair and tattoos really zingy, as in the image below:

Olympus PEN-F + Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro (opens in new tab) (Image credit: James Artaius)

However, once I saw the color of the blood… well, pop, I knew what had to be done. So I pressed a couple of buttons, went into the menus, scrolled to "Selective Color" and dialed in the red hues I wanted to isolate. 

And that's when I did it, that's when I committed the cardinal sin – willfully. Shamefully. Disgustingly. I depressed the shutter, captured the frame, and looked on the back of my camera. 

There it was, staring back at me: a color pop photograph. Not only should I have known better, I did know better… but I did it anyway: 

Olympus PEN-F + Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro (Image credit: James Artaius)

And the worst thing of all? I LIKED IT. I did a bad thing, and I liked it. Was it because it was so taboo? Something that photographers are never supposed to do? That I knew the shame and indignation it would bring? Was I experiencing some sort of perverse, repressed-Victorian pleasure? 

Perhaps. Or perhaps this was just one of those rare, 1-in-100 times where a gimmicky effect like this actually works. Or at least, when a kitsch time of year like Halloween makes it somewhat socially acceptable to commit photographic seppuku. 

Either way, I've confessed my sins. Now I'm off to find my rosary beads…

Read more: 

Olympus PEN-F review (opens in new tab)
Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro review (opens in new tab)
10 Halloween photo ideas (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.