Halloween is upon us for another year. A time to scare ourselves and others with tales of things that go bump in the night. Photography can be a powerful tool in creating the illusion of ghostly hauntings.
Take this photograph, created by us. St Giles is a church located in mid Surrey which dates back as far as the 12th century. There was no sign of paranormal activity when we were there (though walking around a deserted church and graveyard in the dead of night can give you the creeps), but when we reviewed this photograph on our computer, something incredibly strange was caught on camera… streaks of light appearing to originate from the tombstones behind us and heading in through the chapel door. Very spooky…
Or not… as you may have guessed.
We’ll let you into a little secret. We manufactured this ghostly image and I’ll tell you how we did this and how you can create a similar haunting Halloween photo to spook people with.
Firstly, you’ll need a tripod to mount the camera on as you’re going to shoot with a long exposure. A self timer on the camera or remote trigger will also prevent camera shake when pressing the shutter release button. You’ll also want a strong torch-light or two as this will create your ghostly light streaks.
When you have composed your shot, and worked out how long your shutter speed should be (our picture was taken at 30 seconds exposure), then get ready to run. With the torch in your hand, run from behind the camera to the church door and back again. There are two rules to maintain. Firstly, always keep on the move and secondly, ensure the torch faces the lens at all times. This will guarantee the light streaks are continuous.
The end result… you should have something similar to our photo.
Whilst you’re there, why not take some creepy photos of the graveyard too. Similar rules apply as before. You can even ask a friend to stand still in one place for a brief moment. This will create the effect of a ghostly apparition in your scene. It’s worth noting, that in very dark locations, you may need a light source to help light your shot. Here, we used a speedlite, manually fired by myself. A strong torch should also suffice. Don’t be afraid to move in the shot – as long as you don’t stand still, you shouldn’t appear up in the final picture.
Try it yourself. Ghostly photos fit for Halloween!
Author – Stuart Tree