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How to Take Pictures of Ghosts, Apparitions and Spirits, Oh My!

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

I just came back from New Orleans where I learned that ghost photography is a thing. There are photographers who specialize in capturing ghostly images on film and you can bet that they have techniques that make these apparitions appear clearly despite their flimsy constitution and rapid movement.

If you plan to be visiting a haunted house or cemetery and are hoping to get photos that boggle the mind, here are some tips that will make you more likely to achieve your goal.

Eliminate Camera Shake

With ghosts moving by at high speeds, any sort of camera shake can easily ruin your image. Therefore, you will want to use a tripod as well as a remote release. The tripod will keep the camera steady while the remote release will prevent you from moving the camera when you take the picture.

Use a Flash

Because you are photographing at night, it’s essential to use a flash. If you use a flash that’s not connected to your camera, it will add depth to the scene. Flashlights and LEDs can be useful in capturing detail.

Long Exposures are Key

Long exposures are also essential in capturing a fast-moving ghost (10 to 20 seconds is ideal) and will work well with a natural density filter.

Consider the Background

A photographer may not always have the privilege of knowing how their ghosts will look or where they will appear, but it’s best to go for contrast. For instance, if you know your ghost will appear white, try luring it so you can capture a shot of it against a darker background and vice versa. This will allow its filmy appearance to stand out better.

It’s also not advisable to photograph a ghost against the sky. They sky does not have much real color and will not offer contrast against the spirit you are photographing.

Use Spectral Movement

Spectral movement won’t be useful if you are taking shots of ghosts, but it can give your subject a ghostly appearance.

For instance, you can take a photo of your subject laying down on a grave and then rising from it. Add a filmy appearance in post and it will look as if your subject is being reborn.

Alternately, you can use a long exposure and move your subject around. For example, you can set your exposure for 10 seconds. Have your model stand in one spot for 4 seconds, a second spot for two seconds and a third spot for an additional four seconds. Combine the various positions into one photo to create a sense of eerie movement.

Many cameras have multiple exposure modes that allow you to see each shot as it’s being taken so you can combine them as you see fit.

A similar effect can be achieved if you allow your subject to walk around and pop the flash as they move into different positions. This will capture a light reflection of the image in the various poses providing a ghostlike effect.

For best results, move around the scene to ensure each image is captured at the same distance and angle.

A photo of a ghost is something people will always want to see. The tips in this article will help you capture great shots, whether you are going for an actual ghost or just want to produce that effect. What do you do when you want to get terrific spooky images?


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