Halloween photography ideas: ghosts and apparitions

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

Canon Ambassador Eberhard Schuy has drawn inspiration from real paranormal images throughout history to shoot high-level Halloween photos. And Professor Chris French, an expert in the psychology of paranormal beliefs at Goldsmiths University in London, gives 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 these really paranormal images?

“Despite much criticism and many revelations of deliberate fraud, spiritual photography enjoyed strong support from many people early on,” says Professor French.

“The image here of an ethereal woman’s face floating above the two sitters, taken circa 1920, is almost certainly a deliberate fake, probably by the tried and true hoax William Hope. Close inspection of Ellen Nammell’s photo reveals that this is almost certainly another example of double exposure (opens in a new tab)maybe unintentional.

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

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

Schuy put his own spin on the ghost figure concept with his shot, “Dancing Girl” (below). Photo taken with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (opens in a new tab) Using the versatile Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens, he used a method that doesn’t involve taking multiple exposures.

The trick to this treat is postcard-sized glass – you could try taking the glass from a picture frame, as it should be just the right size. In addition to 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 lens 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, have the subject light up, or perhaps even hold a lit candle in their hand.

5) Capture the image with your digital camera, trying different variations of the glass pattern and position to create the desired effect.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (60mm, 15s, f/11, ISO100) (Image credit: Eberhard Schuy)

Read more:

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review (opens in a new tab)
The best standard Canon zoom lenses (opens in a new tab)
Home photography ideas: shoot a double exposure in camera (opens in a new tab)
How to Create a Double Exposure in Photoshop Elements (opens in a new tab)
How to Create a Double Exposure Effect in Affinity Photo (opens in a new tab)

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