Halloween photography ideas: ghost figures and apparitions

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The spooky season is here, so what better time to take Halloween photos! And we’ve got a real treat – and, indeed, a few tips – in store, as a professional photographer and paranormal beliefs teacher are here to inspire you to take spooky shots based on haunted historical photographs!

Canon Ambassador Eberhard Schuy took inspiration from real-life paranormal photos throughout history to take high-profile Halloween photos. And Professor Chris French, an expert in the psychology of paranormal beliefs at Goldsmiths University in London, gives some context to the highly controversial authenticity of such images.

Here, Schuy chose to produce a shot inspired by floating apparitions appearing behind unsuspecting individuals, which is typical of haunted images such as these two historical examples below. Are they really paranormal images, however?

“Despite much criticism and many exhibitions of deliberate fraud, spiritual photography received strong support from many people from the start,” said Professor French.

“The image here of an ethereal woman’s face floating above the two models, taken around 1920, is almost certainly a deliberate forgery, likely by the proven William Hope hoax. A close examination of Ellen Nammell’s photo reveals that this is almost certainly another example of double exposure, perhaps unintentional.

This “apparition”, photographed around 1920, is probably a fake produced by William Hope (Image credit: Science & Society Image Library / Getty Images)

This photograph of Ellen Nammell (Image credit: Mabel Chinnery / Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Schuy put his own spin on the concept of the ghost figure with his snap, “Dancing Girl” (below). Shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV using the Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4L IS USM versatile zoom lens, it used a method that does not involve taking multiple exposures.

The trick to this treat is a postcard-sized glass panel – you can try taking the glass from a photo frame, as it needs to be the right size. With a subject to photograph and a torch or candle, you have everything you need. Just follow these simple steps:

1) Hold the glass facing right or left, at an angle of approximately 45 degrees, directly in front of the camera lens.

2) Position your subject next to the camera in the direction the glass is tilted.

3) The subject will be reflected in the glass and appear to “float” seamlessly in front of the rest of the background.

4) For an even more striking effect, ask the subject to shed some light on themselves, or perhaps even hold a lighted candle in their hand.

5) Capture the photo with your digital camera, trying out different variations of the glass pattern and position to create the effect you want.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4L IS USM (60mm, 15s, f / 11, ISO 100) (Image credit: Eberhard Schuy)

Read more:

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
Best Canon Standard Zoom Lenses
Home photography ideas: take a double exposure in camera
How to create a double exposure in Photoshop Elements
How to Create a Double Exposure Effect in Affinity Photo


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