Photo Tip Friday: Creating Ghostly Images

by Mary Denman
Twitter @MaryDenman
Instagram @Maryfdenman

Today, I decided to teach you how to create ghostly photographic images. 

I learned this photo technique from my brother way back in the 80's. On film.  

I finally realized I could duplicate it on digital. 

So, today's tip will definitely be more technical. But worth it. 

Let's get started!  

In order to create an image that you can see through, you will need certain conditions. 

1) It's much easier at night or in a dark room. You can't really recreate the ghostly images in bright light. 

2) A tripod or stable surface to leave your camera on. 

3) The ability to use your Bulb (B) setting on your camera. 

4) Willing subjects. 

Now to the pictures! 

As you can see, I'm sitting on steps. But I look like a ghost...

This shot was taken at night. 

I played around and settled on ISO 200 for the shot. If you get the ISO up to 1600, it won't require much light and then you can't leave the shutter open for long enough to move out of the picture. 

I set the Aperture on f/22 which lets a smaller amount of light in so the shutter could be open long enough without it being over exposed. 

Here I am with my oldest brother. 

So, how do you get a ghostly image with no post picture editing?

Simple. Notice the time the shutter was open....4.5 seconds. 

My brother sat as still as he could (but he is a tad blurry.) I sat in the picture for about 2 seconds then bolted out of the shot. 

The result is that he is captured normally, but my image AND the stairs behind me are also captured in the long exposure. I become a ghost. 

Of course we had to be silly.

Again, notice I'm a tad blurry since I had to sit still for 6 seconds. Notice I could be an actress with all the shock on my face....

We couldn't help but laugh. It was so much fun to do.

So, give it a try. Start with the ISO, time and Aperture that I used. Then, modify as needed. 

Not sure what ISO and Aperture mean? Check out my blog posts that explain them here:  
PART 1  

You will have to take a few shots to get it right. But at least with digital, you can see what you did immediately. When my brother and I did this in the 80's, you had to wait til the film was developed to see if you had done it right. 

For Bloggers: Think about these shots with ghostly images. Like your blog and your writing, do you have a clear message that you want to get across? Is your blog inspirational? Product oriented? DYI? Think about it. I always want my blog to be a place where you feel welcomed and inspired. Where you can learn about photography to help your blogging. Or just taking better pictures for your family. You need a goal that helps you know what and why you're posting. 

For cell phone users: This technique won't work on a cell phone unless you can control the time of a photo. On my iPhone, there isn't a way currently to do that. I wish I had more help for you. 

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking! 


Blogs I join for the weekend:

Say G'Day SaturdayAmanda’s Books and MoreMy Turn For UsThat Friday Blog Hop Weekends Are Fun Linky Partythe happy gal blogThe Jenny Evolution


  1. This is really neat, great day to share!!! Happy Halloween!!

  2. What a fun post for a Halloween Day!

    1. It's fun to create ghosts! Thanks for coming Linda Kay!

  3. You are so funny! I don't think I've seen this side of you. Great tips!

    1. You mean, you've never seen through me like this! ;)

  4. Hello! Came over from @ChristinaMorley Make my Saturday Sweet.

    This is so cool and perfect for Halloween! I'm going to show it to my daughters. I just know they're gonna love it for Halloween!

    1. Let me know how the pictures turned out if you take them! Don't you love Tina?

  5. So cute!. Perfect for Halloween - a little creepy! :)

    1. Fun, right? You will have an email from me soon Sherry! :)

  6. This is great! I'm going to try this out..I wonder if either of my kids can sit still for more than a second though? (Came via #FYBF)

    1. Try it anyway! You may like what you see! Or don't see!

      Thanks for dropping by!