Photo Tip Friday: Part 2, How to Photograph Ghosts

by Mary Denman    Twitter: @MaryDenman   Instagram: @MaryFDenman

Photo 1
Today's tips are part 2 of how to photograph ghosts. Last week, I explained about needing a trip-pod, using a high aperture value, and using a longer exposure. A link to that post will be at the end of today's post. 

This week, I'll show you a couple of other ways to create ghostly pictures for Halloween and how to use long exposures to make people do a double take at your photos!

How do you like Photo 1? My son was breathing on the window from the inside of the house and I was outside. He held a flashlight below his face. Pretty cool, huh?

Let's get started with learning how to photograph ghosts.

PHOTO 2: Ghost in the window
PHOTO 2: Can you see the ghostly face image that looks like it's in the yard? Down at the bottom of the photo? I was taking pictures of hummingbirds coming to the feeder outside the window and noticed the face in the shot. 

Is it a real ghost? No, it's just my hubby. He's sitting at the kitchen table working on his computer right beside me. The soft light from the screen illuminated him enough that what I caught was his reflection in the window. 

It was late in the day and so the light from his computer caused the reflection. 

TIP 1: Use a window to create a reflection that looks ghostly. 

PHOTO 3: Doing a ghostly double take.
PHOTO 3: This shot is almost exactly how I took it. The only editing was making it duller in color to make it look older. 

This is not a double exposure. It was one shot. I didn't do this by editing.

So, how do you do something like this? 
I used the bannister of my stairs as the solid surface to rest my camera on. Then, I set the camera on Manual and set the ISO as 4000 (because it was night time and very dark in my yard), set the aperture at f/22 and left the shutter open for 13 seconds.

My son stood in one spot for about 6 seconds and jumped into the next position 

PHOTO 4: A ghastly, ghostly deed. . .
for about 5 seconds.

Because the shutter was open for so long, the camera recorded both my son and the yard behind him. That's how you create ghostly images.

PHOTO 4: This picture was harder because my son had to hold his hand in one position for the first half of the shot and then jump to the second position in the right place for the second half. 

The lighting for photos 3 and 4 was simply the porch lights. No flash.

TIP 2: Let your subject change positions during a long exposure of 10 - 15 seconds. 

TIP 3: Plan on taking multiple shots to get your lighting and exposure right. 

TIP 4: Tell your subject to be very still. With long exposures, you need your subject to be still if you want it to be fairly clear.

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. Then, let me see your handiwork!

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! 


Blogs I join for the weekend:


  1. These are great tips - I've just started a beginners photography class and have got off auto for the first time! I love the ghost in the window shot - so clever! Happy Halloween!

  2. These are such really cool tips Mary. I seriously need to get me a camera that I can work manually.

  3. I loved Part 1 of your ghostly series Mary and Part 2 is just as awesome. I can't to try some of these this weekend. Thank you so much.

  4. Eek! So scary! I've done "accidental" ghost shots, if that makes sense? Hope you had a great halloween, Mary!