In honor of Halloween, today I will be exploring spirit photography and the best techniques to use in order to capture a spooky specter on camera.
According to Chris Black, an artist and photographer, the most important thing to do when attempting to photograph spirits, is to do everything you can to avoid a blurry picture or a picture with artifacts.
A stable platform is the first priority, even the slightest shake can alter a photo. A tripod is always your best bet for a stable photo, ghosts or not, but if you’re caught without one, it’s important to know how to hold a camera as stable as possible.
“First thing to do is to hold the camera properly, this involves placing the camera in the palm of your left hand and then gripping it with your right. pull your elbows into your body, lean forward and steady yourself,” said Black.
It is extremely important that you have a good understanding of your camera. Most of the spirit photography you’ll be doing will be in the dark, leading to longer exposure times and high ISOs. These two factors can cause a lot of digital artifacts if you aren’t careful, and the blurrier or grainier the photo is, the more people will call it fake.
“Once you understand even the basics you remove a large amount of artifacts mistakes and general image problems which everyone else mistakes for a spirit,” says Chris.
Finally, it is important to understand the types of digital artifacts, even taken under the best conditions, you still might end up with a few, and you need to know the difference between a real spirit and a camera/user error.
Lens flares are often mistaken as spirits, so is bokeh. The majority of “spirit orbs” caught on camera are just out of focus light. Lighting itself is the core of photography, so flash should be avoided at all cost for capturing spirits.
Chris Black said, “This leads light to bounce everywhere, you shoot a flash directly at glass then congratulate yourself on the awesome entity you captured! Where possible you should completely avoid using a flash when photographing spirit. It introduces so many uncontrollable factors and creates a multitude of artifacts.
Any form of made lighting can also create all sorts of strange effects in a camera too, halogen, led, fluorescent, incandescent, you must always account for the lighting around you.”