Friday, October 31, 2008

Tips of the Trade: Capturing that Ghost Effect This Halloween

I regularly subscribe to various Digital Photography 101 tip pages, including emails I receive from Lifepics' Digi Pixels. I thought this week's episode explaining how to capture the ghost effect in pictures this Halloween would be extremely timely.

"The Ghost Effect creates an eerie blurry trail around your subject without losing focus, giving the impression that a ghost has haunted your picture!

Set the Scene...
To begin, set your camera to manual mode. Use a longer exposure (around 1/2 second), set your aperture to f11, and set your ISO to 800. The exact settings will depend on the amount of light you are using, so use these settings and adjust from there. The key to this shot is to make sure your flash is set to trigger; the flash will help create the ghost effect.

...and Take the Shot!
Next, get your victims -- I mean subjects -- ready. As you take the shot, move the camera intentionally, or have your subjects move while the shutter is still open (for example, ask them to jump as you shoot). The flash will freeze the scene, but the movement will create the ghost-like trails surrounding the subject. Be sure to take a few shots and adjust if needed. For lower light situations, raise your ISO and slow down the shutter speed, and do the opposite if you are shooting in a lot of light. Keep shooting until you get it right!

A Few More Tricks (or Treats)
Another technique you can try while shooting the Ghost Effect is to raise your ISO to intentionally make the picture grainier or noisier. Try ISO 800 or 1600, or even 3200 if your camera goes that high. This technique works best for dimly lit areas, like your outside porch. Also, try placing a color gel (such as orange) over the flash to add some more color to the shot. Finally, take a look at the last email I sent about converting the image to black & white or sepia for another spooky enhancement."

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