Friday, October 31, 2014

Ghost Story Tutorial

In this post I'll show you how I made 'GHOST' STORY, which was my last post.  (Incidentally, there are many creative ways to make ghosted images and you can find tutorials on YouTube and other photo websites.)

The process I used was easy and quick, but will seem complicated if you are unfamiliar with PS and layers.  Here we go:

First I set the scene by dragging a chair and candles in front of the fireplace in my living room.  I turned on several lamps nearby for low lights.  I put my camera on a tripod, (very important), and put the settings to Aperture Priority at f/11, but many different settings would have worked as well.  I experimented by taking several images and dialing the exposure up and down until I got a dark but not too dark image.  The above shot is the one I ended up with.  As you can see, I wasn't very particular about the composition because I knew I would crop way in and straighten in post processing.

I then asked Jeff to sit down carefully, without disturbing or moving the spider.  I kept my camera position and settings the same, except that I turned the timer on, and ran to take my place in the composition for the next image.  It is very important that the settings stay the same and your camera does not move during both shots.  (Side note:  You might wonder why I didn't center us in the frame.  Because I was sitting closer to the camera, I would appear bigger than Jeff, and I didn't want that(!), so I knew in the final image the viewer would only get a glimpse of me and not the full butt/thigh view!)  Now I have two identical shots except that one is with us included and one is without.

After uploading to the computer, I opened both photos in Photoshop.
Working on the photo with the people, I clicked Select, then All

Then I clicked Edit, then Copy, after which I switched to the image without Jeff and I and made it active.

Now I clicked Edit, and Paste.  You will notice that my two images are now shown in the right panel with the people image on top.  Working on that top image, I lowered the Opacity slider, which is on the right side of panel just above the image thumbnails.  

I experimented with varied degrees of opacity until I got just the right amount of ghosting for my taste.  Remember I am only reducing the opacity of the top layer/image with the people. The bottom layer/image without the people stays at 100% opacity or transparency and does not change, so only the people will appear 'ghosted'.  When I was pleased with the effect, I flattened or combined both images, straightened and cropped.  Now comes the fun part.

I experimented with a variety of special effects, presets, editing programs, etc., and finally settled on a stylized B&W preset in Silver Efex Pro 2.  I finished it off with a dark vignette around the edge of the frame.

After uploading my two photos to the computer, the editing/post processing time was quick and easy, just a few minutes.  The hardest part was getting Jeff to pose for me!  HaHa  If anyone experiments with this effect, I'd love to see the magic you create!