by Elizabeth Whitcomb
When Halloween was approaching, my friend and I decided to go try some spooky fun so we headed to a local cemetery with our cameras, tripods, and a white sheet.
Neutral Density filter(s)
Shutter release/remote (or use your 2-second timer if you don’t have one)
A crazy friend
ISO = 100
Shutter speed = 8 seconds
Aperture = varies, depending on the available light and your ND filters
For this image, Deb was under the sheet and I had my camera set to ISO 100, 8 seconds, f/16 and a 3 stop ND filter (it was around 5:45 PM and mostly cloudy). I originally set up without the ND filter, auto-focused on Deb, switched my lens to manual focus (so it wouldn’t try to refocus with the ND filter on), and then carefully put the ND filter on the lens. I triggered my camera and counted 4 seconds out loud. At the 4 second mark, Deb ducked down behind the headstone for the last 4 seconds.
Here are some general rules of respect I try to follow (whether photographing ghosts or just photographing in a cemetery)
- Get permission and follow any rules laid down by the property owners. Cemeteries, temples, ruins, etc. are most likely owned and managed by some entity, whether it is a church, local government, historical society, or private property. Be sure they are okay with you visiting and doing photography at that location.
- Get a permit if required
- Do not walk on graves (in the case of this image, this was a family marker with all the graves behind it)
- Do not touch headstones or other artifacts
- Do not move anything: flowers, mementos, etc.
- Unless it is part of a specific assignment or for journalistic use, avoid photographing any graves less than a century old
- Do not photograph other visitors
- Do not photograph during a funeral or when someone is paying their respects
- Some sites are very sensitive to visitors, due to age and condition. Bring as little gear as possible, and avoid anything that may disturb the site (heavy and/or hot lighting, dragging large light stands across the ground, using tomb markers or other artifacts to support your gear, etc.)