Halloween photography ideas: shoot ghosts on the stairs
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.
This first image was taken in April 1946 and is believed to represent the ghost of Sir Robert Peel descending the main staircase in Scotland Yard. Analyzing the photograph, Professor French identifies it as a long exposure shot.
“There are a number of artifacts that can cause spooky images to be produced by the camera itself or by the processing involved. These include long exposures giving ghostly images of someone walking across the stage, the camera straps being caught in the flash, resulting in mysterious “energy swirls”, and the se – saying “orbs” produced when specks of dust are blurred in the flash. “
Schuy explains how to recreate this photo yourself, using your own staircase, a subject dressed in subtle white or gray colors, and a torch.
1) Take this photo at dusk, just as the light is fading.
2) Select the highest aperture your camera is capable of – this should be an F value of around f / 8 or higher.
3) Turn off auto ISO adjustment and select the lowest possible value. Aim for a value between 100 or 200; this should produce an exposure time of at least 6-7 seconds.
4) Have your subject go down a flight of stairs. They should stop at a predetermined point for 4-5 seconds, then continue to walk briskly until they are out of the frame.
5) The photo should show a transparent, ghost-like figure on the stairs. If the person gets too faint, just turn a flashlight on them the moment they stop.
Inspired by this famous historical image, Eberhard attempted his own modern interpretation – a more abstract approach, called “On the Staircase”, of a spirit swirling up a staircase, which you can see below.
“For this technique, I used a very light white fabric and asked my daughter to stand at the top of the stairwell and let it fall, spreading the sheet a bit so that it slowly descended. “said Schuy.
“By using a tripod to take the photo, I could use long exposure times to create this mysterious shape without blurring the rest of the photo.” Here’s how he captured the image using a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with the Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4L IS USM zoom:
1) Using a tripod or other stable surface, position your camera upwards towards the stairs.
2) Rather than having a subject come down the stairs, have them stand at the top of the stairs and drop a very light white rag down the stairwell from top to bottom. The lighter the fabric, the slower it will fly.
3) Capture the photo using approximately 1/4 to 1/2 second exposure time (you can use the instructions from the previous photo to see how to achieve this). The result will be ethereal swirling energy!
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