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I am new to making haunts. I want a really cool one this year and I'm good with prop making and such but I am learning that I am hoooooorrible at lighting. I have spent hours probably reading threads here but when I try it in real life I am not getting the same effects as other people.

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this is my yard..I will be having tombstones throughout it and want an overall blue color effect but still able to see/read the tombstones.

What I got were the green stake lights from lowes with the CFL swirly bulbs. I am getting a blue wash but it seems washed out to me. Plus those bulbs are pretty blinding even with some hoods on them. I put one in the right corner attached to the fence and one in each tree pointing out/down.

Idk if I really have the budget for LED's even though from what I've read those seem to be the best option.

any ideas on placement or anything would be really appreciated!
 

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You definatly need some focused spot beams here. CFL bulbs tend to scatter light wheras spotlights do just that, they focus the light more toward one spot. Try some garden stake Christmas type spotlight holders in the yard with blue spotlights (or whichever color you choose). At halloween I also make use of my black lights and props with a little UV paint on them. Spirit stores also have colored LED spotlights that work fantastic. Good luck....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Is it better to just direct light towards each prop? I have 23ish tombstones so I was thinking an overall light might be better. I had the halogen bulbs from Lowes but they seemed way too bright. I was also going to add some black lights :)
 

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The Christmas stuff is slowly coming out and last year Lowes had LED flood lights with red and green covers and they made good tombstone lights. I haven't seen them yet this year. Years before I used red, green, and blue flood lights in the yard stake flood light holders. The color flood lights are available.
One year to direct the flood light and avoid a washed out effect I used some aluminum flashing and made a round tube to fit over the bulb and holder. It worked ok and was better than without it.
 

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Direct your light to the target of interest. Don't over light everything in the yard, ...let imagination work a bit this way. Darkness is your friend, don't scare it away. Use the suggestion by jbaum and put some flashing or a PVC/Dryer vent tube around your lights so that the light doesn't spill everywhere. For Halloween night, I'd turn off the 'string' lights and just use your spots. You've also got a couple of nice trees there that you can use as lighting trusses to hold spots and direct them down on certain props and tombstones. Small LEDs are also nice. Even a cheap LED flashlight with a red cover for emphasizing one area/one tombstone can last hours on batteries. Just throwing out ideas here, but you've got to experiment. Have a helper move spots around for you while you watch from other areas to get that just right effect. Then of course a street light may play havoc with all your good intentions. good luck. :)
 

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so, to keep light spill down you need to use something like 'barn doors' - like jbaum mentions above.

Probably the most important lighting tip in my opinion is to use zones. Have a red zone, a green zone and a blue zone. Warm colors come toward you (red for instance) and cool colors tend to recede (blue) so if you want to add depth to your yard you should put the red zone in the front and the blue zone in the back.

It's tough to balance blue against red or green, blue just tends to be so much more weaker. If you try to light the whole area blue it's going to seem washed out with no depth. If you do put the blue in back you will probably need a lot more blue lamps than the red.

Light up a group of objects in your zone and then accent certain items with yellow, purple orange, etc. By having different zones then this gives the eye places to travel. If it's all lit one color it's just background.

I buy those plastic rocks used to hide stuff in yards like sprinkler boxes and I turn them into light rocks but cutting a big hole in them. You can use these both to avoid light spill as well as avoiding your lights being seen ( I hate seeing the light - I just want the items illuminated). Any light shining in your eyes will tend to make you look at them and then away so avoiding this is important....

Just my two cents - there are lighting designers that can say a lot more but once I went from area lighting to zones my haunt is much more 'readable'.
 

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I've had good luck finding outdoor spot fixtures at Biglots. They run for $4 each. If they run out, Ace hardware has them for $7. Both are green plastic and come with both a surface mount and a yard stake. I use blue bulbs for the cemetery, red, amber, black (UV) and green for other areas. You can pick up most bulbs at Home Depot, Lowes, etc., and the UV bulbs can be picked up at either Spirit or Party City. I also use some floods for big areas like the cemetery. CFLs have a really short throw, so if you're going to use them at all, make sure they're in a reflector and hidden directly in front of whatever you're trying to light up. I've found that lining a reflector in glossy, light colored paint or foil almost doubles the output (be aware of fire hazards!). I haven't yet picked up this year's Gemmy spots, but Home Depot will have them available on the 10th, according to their website. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
These are really helpful.

To add..I forgot to say that I made aluminum can covers for the lights to make them more spotlightish. And yes the string lights are just temporary until I can get the yard lights fixed.

Would everyone agree I need to mix colors? I thought I had seen some haunts that seemed primarily blue but maybe they had accent colors I didnt notice.
 

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Is it better to just direct light towards each prop? I have 23ish tombstones so I was thinking an overall light might be better. I had the halogen bulbs from Lowes but they seemed way too bright. I was also going to add some black lights :)
What everyone else said. A big flood would be easier and wash all of your stones with light, but will light the spaces between them and make everything look flat. Individual spots will make the stones pop and the dark spaces between them will help define them. Twenty-three spots may seem daunting at first; you could arrange them in clusters, say 4-6 and light them as a group. I would use the same color light for clusters. That would create paths for other prop you might want to highlight using different colors.

Also, if you leave your porch lights on, try lower wattage bulbs, colored bulbs, shrouds, or gels to reduce the light spilling out onto the yard.
I'm no lighting specialist, but I play one at Halloween. :cool:
 

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This is what I was thinking I may have to do. If I lit all the "clusters" with one color would you recommend adding another color somewhere? The only other props in the graveyard will be the skeleton man in the chair because my husband will be walking around as a zombie and I dont want to clutter it too much.

I do have a red light because I was thinking of lighting up a tree red but havent messed with it yet.

OH and my porch light is already a green bulb :p
 

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If I lit all the "clusters" with one color would you recommend adding another color somewhere?
Yes. I'm thinking: light the clusters in blue and use other colors like red or green to highlight other props. If you don't have many other props to light, you could light the front clusters in red or orange to bring them forward and the back clusters in blue to help them recede. - not my first choice.

The only other props in the graveyard will be the skeleton man in the chair because my husband will be walking around as a zombie and I dont want to clutter it too much.
This makes me think to have all the stone clusters in blue light, the skeleton in a yellow light, and maybe some well placed, concealed green narrow spots or uplights that your zombie husband can step into to make him pop as he moves in and out of the shadows.

I do have a red light because I was thinking of lighting up a tree red but havent messed with it yet. OH and my porch light is already a green bulb :p
I think lighting the tree can be a good idea depending on where it is within your display. We have a tree that sits close to the street and is sort of awkward and in the way for decorating, but i have lit it with colored floods just to give it a creepy look and attract TOTs since it is so close to the street.

It probably won't look perfect the first time you set them out. Be sure and take time to play with the position and angle of your lights.

Please post some pics after you get it done.
 

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I just want to say thank you to everyone! I was really lost before but after all the tips/help I feel I have a better handle on the lighting.

heres what I did today..the blue is the cfl and the red is an LED (the green is the garage fixture which may or may not stay)

This is just one 'cluster' of tombstones.
(oh I know the pics arent the best..theres a car parked on the street blocking my best angle and I still am getting the hang of my camera and the best settings to use. The tree is not that bright in real life!)

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Wow! Huge improvement. I think you just levelled up! :)
Ha-ha! Well said! I can hear a little spooky 8-bit melody and see an icon over dryersheet's head.

thank you! I really couldn't have done it without the help from this thread. I knew what I wanted but had a really hard time visualizing HOW to do it
The neighbors will be asking how got your haunt to look so good. Next year, you'll be giving advice .;)
 

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The neighbors will be asking how got your haunt to look so good. Next year, you'll be giving advice .;)
I wish :/ I'm one of a handful of houses that decorates for Halloween and I'm probably the only one that goes all out. I didnt do a haunt last year because it was my first year in this house and when I saw no one else decorating I figured no1 would show up...then I had about 500 kids come TOT! So this year definitely going all out. I'm better at the technical stuff like pumpkin carving (I have 42 foam ones) so thats what gained alot of excitement last year.

At least my house gets noticed though!
 

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There's nothing better for haunt lighting than those LED spotlights at Spirit... except the same LED spotlights at homedepot.com for $10 cheaper with free shipping! At $15 each, they cease to be cost prohibitive. I've got 3 of the black light spots and 2 green spots new this year. The black light spots are semi-blue with huge fluorescent activation potential. They were insane for my haunt last year on some mostly white floating ghosts and accentuating my low-lying fog. They are completely beyond any CFL bulb's performance.
 
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