Creating Ghosts in Long Exposure Photographs

Creating ghosts in long exposure photographs can be a lot of fun.

However, it can also be tricky because if the shutter speed is too short then the ghost is too human, and if the shutter is too long then the ghost is more like fog or mist.

When I purposefully include a person in my long exposure photograph I tend to keep the person in the frame for no more than half of the exposure time.

Creating Ghosts in Long Exposure Photographs

The longer the shutter speed the harder it is for a person to stay still for that long.  So here are some other thoughts on it.

If your shutter speed is close to a minute then having someone stand still for 30 seconds should not be a problem.  If you shutter speed is around 10 minutes then standing still for 5 minute could prove extremely difficult.  So when the shutter speed is much longer try to position the person so he or she is sitting comfortably.  That will prevent too much movement.  Then when the time is up your subject can jump out of the frame quickly.

Another method of gathering ghosts in a long exposure photograph is to use flashlights, painting the person with the light, or a strobe like a LumoPro flash.  The flash technique is one that has been used for ages, and can produce some interesting floating heads in your photograph.. if you want that.

So next time you are out photographing a landscape, think about how you can include a person in the frame as well.

Then plan and execute the plan.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,



  1. Aaron February 19, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Good stuff. If you’re looking to experiment with ghosting on an iPhone, I’ve found the Slow Shutter Cam app is fun to play with.

    • Scott February 19, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      Great app for sure!

New Jersey Photographer

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