How I Photograph G-G-G-Ghosts! (5 Ghost photos and a little tutorial) SWC

For 5 years now, I have photographed Truckee's Haunted Historical Tour, and every year I get to photograph local ghosts!

Ok, I've never really seen a real ghost and I have no great supernatural experiences to write about. But I was motivated by @jerrybanfield's #supernaturalwritingcontest to write this how-to on getting fun ghost photos. I hope anybody reading this is not offended, I don't want to come off as making fun of the contest. I want to hear your stories too, I'm just having a little fun with the topic, and maybe someone will learn something new.

I have been hired five times to shoot the Truckee Haunted Historical Tour and on the first year, I had the idea to get extra creative with a few of the actors who where friends of mine. I had thought about what settings and lighting I might need but it was going to be a bit of an experiment. I ended up nailing the shot, it was used in a bunch of publications to promote the event the following year, and now they expect their cover shot ghost photo whenever I get hired, lol.

The following photos are a mix of natural low light (lights in the room) and a flash with a Garry Fong Light Sphere on it. You will need a tripod and I would recommend a shutter release cable. I like to make sure the flash is set to first shutter curtain sync. The camera settings will vary depending on the amount of light in the scene but the exposure time I like is 2 - 4 seconds, this allows for the movement of the ghosts to be captured.

I like to have both "real" mortal people and ghosts in my shots. How I achieve this by having the "real" people stay completely still during the 2 - 4 second exposure. The ghosts start out staying still for the photo, the flash fires (first shutter curtain sync) then the ghosts back out of the photo slowly. The flash lights up the ghosts in their initial position a little bit, you will need to dial in the flash brightness by adjusting it manually on your flash. When reviewing the photo, if you are not seeing through the ghosts when they are in their starting position, you will need to decrease the flash power until you can see through them. As the ghosts back out of the scene slowly, they may leave a streak of light and color that will be even more transparent than the initial starting position. This will give a look of movement to the ghosts. If you have them move faster out of the scene, the movement will not show up at all.

For these shots, I usually have about 5-10 minutes with the actors so I have to work fast. Some of the photos require a little more time dialing in the exposure and movement of the ghosts but I don't have the luxury of picking out the locations, backgrounds, or scouting the scenes first. The method above works for me. Some basic Photoshop editing was used on these to perfect highlight detail, shadow detail and color balance but nothing fancy or complicated is required. I'll put the camera settings below each shot to give you a better idea of where to start with your camera settings.


1. Canon 5DS R with 24-105mm lens set at 24mm. Flash, ISO 50, f4, 2.5 second exposure.


2. Canon 5D Mark II with 24-105mm lens set at 28mm. Flash, ISO 400, f10, 2.5 second exposure.


3. Canon 5D Mark II with 24-105mm lens set at 24mm. Flash, ISO 500, f5.6, 4 second exposure.

Ghost in Truckee 1.jpg

4. Canon 1Ds Mark III with 24-105mm lens set at 24mm. Flash, ISO 100, f9, 2 second exposure.

Ghosts at the Richardson House.jpg

5. Canon 1Ds Mark III with 17-40mm lens set at 17mm. Flash, ISO 50, f9, 2 second exposure.

So what one is your favorite? (If you even like them at all...)

I hope this little tutorial helps you have some spooky ghostly fun! Don't be bad with this info, some people are more gullible than others...

More info about the Truckee Haunted Historical Tour can be found here: (most of the photos on the site were shot by me).

Please let me know if you have any questions about this technique.
Thank you for looking and reading! Cheers!

-Scott Thompson



Hi @Scottshots
You got a great effect here. Like the way you get the "ghost" to leave a trail when they are moving out of the picture.
I have to see if I can manage something similar :)
Thx for the tip!

Kindest regards

Thank you @gydenhorn! It's a fun effect to shoot. It always takes a lot of experimenting with the settings in order to dial in the exposure for the ambient light. But if your "ghosts" are patient and cooperative, some really fun photos are possible. I actually did this type of shot about 20 years ago in the film days so not too much photoshop is needed. Have fun!

awesome, thanks for sharing, I should learn it

Thank you @brondon, and thank you for resteeming! If you've got the gear it's not too hard to set up. Have fun!

Thank you! It's a fun one to get.

Whao. This is so nice! You totally deserve the curie bro. #1 all the way for me. Once again whao! And I'm sure once Jerry reads this he won't mind. Freaking awesome post.

Thank you @ramsamuel! I hope he doesn't, I thought about it after I posted and I believe it would be a huge ding again my page if he flagged it... I'll try to keep the awesome posts coming, cheers!

Spooky. :D
I'm gonna try this. I like the third one, such a creepy photo.

Nice. #3 Taking whiskey shots with the dead. Have fun!

Pretty eerie looking at the ghosts in the pictures.
I like your take on the Supernatural writing contest even if it isn't writing about your experiences with the supernatural.
Good job, Scott! Followed you for more photography posts in the future! :)

Thank you @idontgnu! I'm glad so many people found this post entertaining and perhaps useful. Thanks for the follow. Just followed back, I see that you have a swc post as well. I'll read it later but I have to head out to shoot a virtual tour in a few minutes...

Your post is a nice take on the whole contest. Very well put together, too. So it only makes sense that it got such great exposure!

Thanks for the follow and I hope you enjoy my submission for the SWC!

Thank you again @idontgnu. I read your submission, that was a fun one!

Very high imaginary photo shot.

Thank you @jie28! I've got to use my imagination fast with theses shoots. Usually I don't know who I'm photographing or where. And some of the actors are more patient then others...

welcome you did it my friend usually the great photographer is taking shoots without finding any reason just stand on your mind.

Amazing. That's how people in the 19th century did it. Just with analog cameras instead of digital ones. Did you try black and white?

Thank you! Yup, I actually did something similar with film about 19 years ago. But it was color not b&w.

These are fucking great, man! #3 all the way.

Thanks @brandt! If you ever need some portraits while you doing your hauntings, hit me up!

Will do. I've been trying to take selfies but my weird ghostly body keeps jumping around and changing shape and the photos never come out right. I could use a professional. I'll keep you posted.

Sweet! I may have landed my first gig through steemit!

Unfortunately I can only pay you in bad jokes. I hope you will find this arrangement to be acceptable.

Ah dude, you're almost as bad as some the real estate agents I shoot for...

Incrível! Maravilhosas suas fotografias!

My favs are one & two. Excellent, thanks for the explanation of your process. I've been fascinated with capturing ghosts for quite a while.

Thank you @keithboone! And no problem. #1 is my favorite of the bunch, it's also the most recent. The look on his face while he's getting yelled at by his dead wife was classic.

Very crafty. Though I have no such hardware, it was very educating, thank you.

Thank you @nameless-berk! I see you have a Sony, all you really need is a tripod and flash.... Glad you enjoyed the post!

Congratulations @scottshots, this post is the second most rewarded post (based on pending payouts) in the last 12 hours written by a Dust account holder (accounts that hold between 0 and 0.01 Mega Vests). The total number of posts by Dust account holders during this period was 11929 and the total pending payments to posts in this category was $3150.75. To see the full list of highest paid posts across all accounts categories, click here.

If you do not wish to receive these messages in future, please reply stop to this comment.

Thanks! I think you're bot but I also hope you will be sending me similar notifications often...

OK, so I went from a 35 reputation score to a 46 with this one post! And by far the most amount of upvotes and steem earned. Thank you to all of you who upvoted this post, I'm not sure what went right, but I hope you find it useful! Cheers!

Curie found this post as exceptional so you got reward for that :) @scottshots
happy steem

Thank you @saimegh for the explanation. I just did some research, explored the site and the @curie page and I now understand what an honor it is that Curie found my post and thought it was a "hidden gem". Thank you for resteeming the post too!

First off, @scottshots, thanks for making me aware of the Tahoe beauty and surroundings!

@saimegh, great to have it explained, I am willing to explore steem mechanisms and, one day, earn the exceptional status, too 😎

@morionmaddox Glad you are learning here too. Cheers and have a great day!

Coin Marketplace

STEEM 0.27
TRX 0.08
JST 0.043
BTC 29614.78
ETH 1974.41
USDT 1.00
SBD 2.70