How to print yourself a happy Halloween
Due to the current global pandemic, this year’s Halloween will feel very different. As we spend more time in our homes, the craft of photography and videomaking has continued to enable enthusiasts with the freedom to express themselves under extraordinary circumstances.
Whilst trick-or-treating this year may be discouraged; learning new techniques and tricks with your camera equipment can be as rewarding as the treats themselves. We all know shooting after dark in low-light settings comes with its challenges, however experimenting with everyday household props, lighting or reflectors could result in capturing an unexpected image that makes you look twice.
In the spirit of Halloween, acclaimed still-life photographer and Canon Ambassador Eberhard Schuy has shared his professional insight for photography enthusiasts to capture their own haunted style imagery that would send shivers down any spine.
Speaking about his iconic levitating chair image, Eberhard said “This image consists of two exposures, one with a chair balancing on a tripod and the other without, so I was able to retouch the photo and cover everything that I didn't want to show in the image.”
1. Using a fishing line, secure an object to the ceiling so it appears to float unsupported.
2. Position a glass half full, with a bottle of drink floating next to it or perhaps float a pen over a half-written page, so it appears as if the pen is writing by itself. Thousands of different images can be created with this technique.
3. Ensure the hanging object is still, so you can focus on the subject and create the impression of a poltergeist in action.
In addition to Eberhard’s insight, Canon aligned with Professor Chris French, an expert in the psychology of paranormal beliefs at Goldsmiths University London, to debunk myths that surround some of the most widely debated haunted photos.
Professor French said, “In the early days, photography itself was seen as a mysterious process and the discovery that double exposures and other darkroom tricks could be used to produce ghostly images was exploited by a number of notorious fraudsters of the day.”
Floating apparitions appearing behind unsuspecting individuals is typical of haunted images, however is everything as it seems in paranormal pictures such as this?
According to Professor French, there is no need to worry about ghostly figures appearing from behind in images stating, “Despite much criticism and numerous exposures of deliberate fraud, spirit photography had strong support from many people early on. On close inspection of the photo of Ellen Nammell (above) reveals that this is almost certainly another example of double exposure, possibly unintentional.”
To produce photos of apparitions as shown by Eberhard’s ‘Dancing Girl’, for a simple solution to creating transparent portraits, he suggests using a small pane of glass.
1. Hold a pane of glass rotated to the left or right, at an angle of 45 ° directly in front of the camera lens.
2. Position your model next to the camera in the direction the glass is tilted towards.
3. The model will be reflected in the pane of glass and appear to float transparently in front of the rest of the background.
4. For a more striking effect, have the model shine a light on themself or hold a lit candle in their hand.
5. Capture the picture, trying different variations of the model and position of the glass to create the desired effect.
In his interpretation of a well-documented photograph featuring the alleged ghost of Sir Robert Peel on the stairs of Scotland Yard, Eberhard takes a more abstract approach to create a swirling spirit effect.
He says “For this technique use a light white cloth and ask a friend to stand at the top of the stairwell and drop it, spreading the sheet a little so that it slowly sails downwards. Using a tripod to take the picture, use long exposure times to create this mysterious form without blurring the rest of the picture.”
Eberhard recommends using four simple steps to capture similar circling spirits from home:
1. Using a tripod or stable surface, position your camera facing upwards towards the staircase.
2. Have the model stand at the top of the staircase and drop a light white cloth down the stairwell from top to bottom. The lighter the cloth, the slower it will drop.
3. Use an exposure time of around 1/4 to 1/2 seconds.
4. The result will be an ethereal swirling energy.