Ghost Photography

Create a spooky invitation or social media post with this photography trick by changing a camera's shutter speed. A camera's lens is like your eyeball, and a shutter is like your eyelids. If you can look without blinking for 6-8 seconds, then you'll understand what you are asking your camera to do. A long exposure (also called slow shutter) set for 6 seconds opens the shutters and allows the lens to record for 6 seconds. If something changes in front of the camera in those six seconds, a double image and blur appears. Thus a ghost appears!

What You'll Need

1. Camera with adjustable shutter speed or

2. Advanced photo app for your smart phone

3. A tripod or stool

4. Spooky decor, dim lights, and a friend in white clothes (preferably)

5. Flashlight

Step 1: Choose a Spooky Scene

For the best effect, work at night or in a dimly lit area – the places a ghost would mostly likely hang out. You can dress it up with spooky decor, cobwebs, or just head to a dusty attic or dark basement. You must be able to see the background so set up some dim lighting if needed.
 

Step 2: Camera Settings

You want a long exposure (also called slow shutter) of at least 6-8 seconds. For a manual camera, set a 6-second exposure, small aperture (F8 or so depending on the available light), low ISO (100), and turn off the flash. Every camera is different so consult your manual. Some smart phones now let you set a long exposure but usually not with the stock camera app. You might need to download a more advanced camera app and follow directions for setting a long exposure. (For my iPhone I use the Camera+ 2 app.)

Step 3: Set the Camera on a Tripod

The camera must remain completely still while taking the photo. You will need a tripod or set the camera on a stool or books. Pushing the button on the camera will also cause shake, so use the camera's timer feature which delays taking the picture a few seconds. You will not be able to achieve this effect by holding the camera in your hands.

Step 4: Taking the Picture

Your friend will look more like a ghost if dressed in white or light clothes, and yes a bed sheet works great! You will need a bright flashlight shining directly and only on friend. The subject will hold still for 3-4 seconds then dart out of the frame. It may take a few tries to get something you like. Moving towards the camera also creates a very scary effect!

Step 5: Editing the Photo

No photo is ever complete without a little editing and there are some great apps to edit your photos (l love Snapseed). Play with levels and colors until you get the look you're happy with!