Thursday, November 02, 2006

Velos de los Muertos

Last year, on a whim, I made myself a skeleton outfit out of black Levis, a cheap black sweatshirt, a Mayo Clinic Health Guide and some iron-on interfacing, then rode around on my bicycle cackling at people with a pumpkin on back. This was good fun.

I got my inspiration in part from the Mexican Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, which tend to be exuberantly colorful.

Day of the Dead skeleton
This one was in the Museum Shop at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

I decided to do this again. First, we had to get the pumpkins ready. We have a huge yard with a back gate, so have a couple back there, a couple by the back door and one by the front door, plus I needed one for the bicycle.

Preparations begin for All Souls Eve
I pressed Henry into service doing pumpkins.

Veloskeleton with bike
And here I am. Got to add fingers to my black gloves. When I first tried this last year, I used an REI candle lantern to illuminate the pumpkin. This turned out not to work very well. I switched to using several red blinkie lights and that works great. In this photo, I have six of them blinking away inside the pumpkin. Of course, they all blink at different rates so you get this cool flickering effect, much better than an actual candle.

Photo Note: to get the pumpkin face to show up, I used a slow shutter speed, 13 seconds in this case. The bike and I are illuminated primarily by the flash, the long exposure allowed the pumpkin blinkies (and background sky, neighbor's living room and moon) to burn in. A tripods is handy for this. This distant shot was to see if I framed it right--it was extremely dark outside. Once established that I had the camera aimed right, I zoomed in and got a closer shot:
Close up of Veloskeleton and Bike
The quick feedback of digital is great! This is with my new Sony DSC-R1 camera, my first "serious" digital, giving me the flexibility to use external flash and set manual exposures.

I rode about 10 miles all in all. I prefer to ride towards people and grunt or recite some doggerel like Ghosties Big and Ghosties Small, Skeletons are the Worst of All and then cackle and throw a candy bar at the smallest kid. Sometimes I just grunted, sometimes I stopped and handed out candy. Unlike last year, nobody came out and gave me a beer. I don't think it actually frightens anyone under 6, but it sure startles the hell out some folks! I think it adds to the light-hearted neighborliness as well.

And I look nice and friendly:
My expert makeup job
The makeup looks better from a distance!

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