Photo Tip Friday: Part 1, How to Photograph Ghosts

by Mary Denman    @MaryDenman

This is not a post about ghost hunting! 

Instead, it's about learning how to photograph a ghost  or how to create a ghostly image in your camera. 

It's a really fun technique with lots of potential. 

What do you need to do this? 

A tripod, or steady surface, some knowledge about the manual function of your camera, and a friend to help you out! Or, you could do it of yourself! 

So today, in part 1, I want to show you how it works. Then next week, we'll go over some more cool techniques that you can try. 

Let's get started. 

I took this series of photos in a bathroom with no windows at night. I just used the lighting from the lights above the mirror. 

I set my camera up on a tripod and played around with the ISO, aperture and timing until I was happy with it. 

PHOTO 1: As you can see, I used an ISO of 100, an aperture of f/22 to let me take a long exposure and a shuttle speed of 4 seconds. My son is the ghost in front of the mirror and in the mirror.
PHOTO 1: My son as a ghost.

What this did was to allow my son 2 seconds to stand in one spot and then quickly run out of the room for the last 2 seconds of exposure. 

That's why he's see through. The camera recorded both my son and the wall behind him. In just one take. No editing needed. 

TIP 1: Use a high aperture or f-stop to let in very little light so you can take a longer shot to give your subject time to get out of the picture. 

PHOTO 2: This time, my son stayed in the photo for the full 4 seconds while I was only in it for 2 of the 4 seconds. 

This created a solid image of him and a see-thorough image of me. Notice how scared he looks at the ghost behind him!
PHOTO 2: My son and his ghostly mother.

By only showing me in the mirror and not actually behind him in the frame, it certainly looks  ghost-like. 

This leads us to the next tip.

TIP 2: Mirrors make great props in creating a ghostly image! Since I shot the photo from and angle at the side of the mirror, you can't see the camera in the reflection. 

PHOTO 3: This one only shows our images in the mirror and not us in front of the mirror.
PHOTO 3: The ghost scaring me!

Because my son was behind me, he was further from the light and a little darker, adding to the mystery factor. 

TIP 3: Try different combinations of people and ghosts. Also, try whether you want to focus in just on the mirror or include the regular person in the shot as well, like in the 2 prior photos. 

This is something you can try at home. Tonight. With the tripod or sold surface, you can actually do this technique even if you're alone. 

ASSIGNMENT: Get your camera and play with the manual setting. It's often listed a M on the dial. Then, try my settings and see what happens. If it ends up too dark, either use a longer exposure or try going up one ISO to 400. You can set the camera down to do this if you don't have a tripod handy. Experiment until you get an image you like. 

FOR BLOGGERS: Have you thought about whether or not you're being transparent with your audience? Authenticity and letting your readers see into your heart speaks volumes to them. Too, taking photos like this for your blog would just be cool! 

FOR CELL PHONE USERS: Unfortunately, this technique isn't doable unless you can get an app that allow more control over your camera. You can't ever control the f-stop on a cell phone. But, you can get apps to help you control ISO and shutter speed. You can also get lens attachment. Yes, they make lenses for cell phones. Micro, macro, you name it! They magnetically hold onto the body of the camera. How cool is that?

Here's a link to Part 2.


Blogs I join for the weekend:


  1. I LOVE it! This is so creepy and FUN!

  2. Wow, that's just soooo amazingly cool Mary. I've definitely got to try it!!!

  3. This is brilliant. I am totally going to give this a go. Thank you for the tips


  4. Cool, will have to give it a goul I mean go.

  5. Fun ideas!
    Thanks for sharing at

  6. This is such a cool technique Mary. Perfect for Halloween! You are my featured post this week at Sweet Inspiration.

  7. How cool!! I have to try this!