Photographing a “Ghost” Using Off Camera Flash

I photographed a ghost! Well, not quite. Keep reading to mix long exposure, second-curtain flash and the timing, to photograph a “ghost”.

Producing an image of a “ghost” is not difficult. In this case, I made it using a combination of long exposure, second-curtain flash sync, and playing with the time of the model in the frame.


In previous posts you saw how I worked with Jessica in order to demonstrate a few flash techniques. In a shoot we did back in February, we ran a few experiments with long exposure, flash and movement. Most of those experiments didn’t quite turn out the way I intended, but there was one that did.


My intention for this shot was to show a semi-transparent Jessica in the frame, while the rest of the image was reasonably well exposed. We did it in one shot as you can see in the video.

Ok, that was a bit fast. Let me explain what happened and all the circumstances around the shot:

Step by Step

First, we were shooting right after sunset. This allowed me to set parameters in the camera (ISO 100, f/7.1) to use a bit of a long exposure (4 seconds). These parameters produced a slightly under-exposed frame.

Jessica’s ghost – Behind the Scenes

Then, I asked Ricardo to hold a small flashlight, marking the place for the model to pose.

I set a Godox TT685 inside my 90 cm octabox on camera left, with a power of 1/32 so it lit the model just a bit. I controlled this flash with a Godox X1T transmitter, but you can also use an XPro transmitter. I set the camera to fire the flash using second-curtain sync. This ensured the flash fired at the end of the exposure time.

The model started out of frame, so I pressed the shutter button, counted two seconds and asked her to step in the frame and strike a pose.


Jessica’s ghost – SOOC

Back home I got the image in Lightroom and did some adjustments. Specifically, increased the exposure by 0.7 stops, increased the Contrast just a bit, turned down the Highlights and brought up the Shadows. Oh! I also brought the temperature down.

Jessica’s ghost – Edited

And there you have it. This is how you can mix long exposure, second-curtain sync and asking your model to step in the frame in the middle of the exposure, so you can create an image of a “ghost”.

I really hope you found this post interesting, informative but also entertaining. If that is the case, please leave a comment below and share this post with your friends! But most of all, please remember to Stay Safe, Keep Learning and Keep Creating.

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