how to create ghostly images

**This photography tutorial was posted on the ever-growing CM forum; however, we think it’s so rad that we just had to share with you, too**

by Mickie DeVries

I thought I would do a quick tutorial of how I achieved some recent ghostly shots. I think this would be a fun idea for Halloween and I would love to see your photos if you try this!

how to create ghostly images photo

First you need a tripod. Next you need to figure out your settings. I shot these in manual, but shutter priority mode would probably work great also. What I’m most concerned about with my settings is that I have a shutter speed of around 15 seconds. Because of that, you are going to want to try this with low ambient light. With such a slow shutter speed my aperture is usually quite narrow, typically f/8 or above . My ISO is often set very low also. I then take some test shots without my subject to make sure my exposure looks good. For these shots I do not expose to the right and I’m okay if I have a slightly darker exposure since I want my overall look to be dark. I will then have my subject stand where I want them in the frame, grab focus and then switch my focus to manual.

how to create ghostly images photo

Now to the fun stuff!  Your subject is not in the frame when you push the shutter button, it’s just your background scene. Have your subject walk very slowly to their end position, once you press the shutter, and have them freeze as still as possible. The longer they stay in any one spot the more opaque they will become. For here it is a bit of trial and error with how slow they walk into position and how opaque you want them to be. I look at my LCD screen a lot during shooting and it’s a good idea to have them try walking at different speeds to have a variety of looks to pick from when you get them back onto your computer. You may see some ghosting from their walk into position, but usually I think this adds to the ghostly feel, though quite often I see none.

how to create ghostly images photo

For post processing, I have always converted mine to black and white because I think it ups the haunting factor. I quite often dodge the subject to bring them out a bit more and darken much of the rest of the photo.  If you have any questions let me know!

how to create ghostly images photo

how to create ghostly images photoMickie DeVries, Michigan
CM Mentor
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Mickie DeVries resides in West Olive, Michigan close to the beauty of the Lake Michigan coastline. She is married to her husband of 13 years and has two children. Mickie is a hobbyist photographer that mainly photographs her two children, much to their dismay. She has been part of Clickin Moms since April of 2011, and besides photography she enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and camping.


 Read all photography tutorials by Mickie DeVries.

how to create ghostly images photo

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11 Responses to “how to create ghostly images”

  1. Oct 31 2013 at 11:29 am #

    This is AWESOME!!!!

  2. Meredith R.
    Oct 31 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    these are so fun! great blog post.

  3. Oct 31 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this! May I ask for some clarification? Are you pushing the shutter twice? Once when the ‘image’ starts of just the background and once when the ‘ghostly subject’ is into position?

  4. Oct 31 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Hi Kayla, just press the shutter once :) Then when they do enter the frame they will be see through since the camera already recorded the background behind them. Remember the longer they stay in one spot the more opaque they will become, but they will need to freeze in one spot at some point so they show up as more than a blur in the frame.

  5. Jennifer
    Nov 01 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Thank you so much for this – this is just the kind of fun stuff I love to try! I didn’t get a chance to really set the scene but I just wanted to see if I could get it to work (total newbie here)…and it did! Thank you for sharing this!

  6. Ligia
    Nov 01 2013 at 11:03 am #

    This is way beyond cool, thank you for sharing your steps, great tutorial.

  7. Nov 03 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Really cool!!

  8. Oct 29 2014 at 1:12 am #

    This is fantastic…can’t wait to try out these tips!


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