First test. I put the flash in the basket. A little bright, but maybe it works.
Flash Test 2
Second flash mounted above the scene, looking down and snooted to only cover the basket area. Witch hat on pumpkin to simulate how it lights up the ghost once the cat arrives.
Flash test 3
Cat test shot. Not working. Ghost disappeared.
Flash test 4
Move the flash outside of the bucket and below the ghost with a flag on it to prevent spillage into the scene. This works.
Flash test 5
2nd test with cat is no good. Too much shadow on the cat and the bucket isn't illuminated evenly. Either need to widen my overhead flash or place a 3rd flash to fill in.
Flash test 6
3rd flash attached to table and bounced off of the wall. Much better.
Dark scene creation
Lowest EV bracket
Highest EV bracket
Final merge. There were 4 bracket shots used.
Find yourself a spooky font, outline and color it, rasterize it, then use liquify and randomly draw in some squiggles that will be heat wave distortions/melting.
"Draw" some fire. Basically, get a fire pic, paste it over a letter, layer mask it, invert the mask and then draw it on. Repeat it again, rotating the fire a tad and use overlay or screen blending mode to make the fire affect itself and be a bit more alive. Rinse and repeat for each letter, randomizing it along the way. This will take a while.
Put the two on top of each other, color adjust as desired.
Vector version of my logo to create a path.
The path that renders the flame. This actually took quite a few retries, adjusting parameters here and there to make it fit the scene.
Bring logo shape back in and set it to overlay.
Mask out shape to remove errant white/gray bits.
Move into place and mask a little more if needed. There was already a practical orange led light in this spot lighting up the mushroom above it, so putting digital fire in here works.
Highlights with cat
Initial composite of two images with layer mask to bring together shadow image with is everything from the pumpkin down and the highlight/cat image which is from the rim of the pumpkin up.
Final editing removing strings, backgrounds and adding more minor adjustments like removing most of the black tree. I found it distracting and not working too well.