Ghosts on Stairs
The Whole Roll

The Whole Roll from a Trendy Halloween Photoshoot – By Chase Taylor

March 19, 2021

I am not a TikTok user myself, but as a college student I think I might be the odd man out. For those of you who are not familiar with TikTok, that’s a topic for another day, but in October of 2020 there was a trend going around where people were dressing as ghosts and taking photos. Some good friends of mine were considering doing this themselves and I promptly offered to take the photos. I thought that the classic look of black and white film would give the photos a unique look.

Ghost Patty Cake

Two ghosts playing Patty Cake

Sitting Ghost

Ghost Leaning on Wall

Closeup Portrait

A slightly closer version of the previous shot

Ghost Against Wall

Ghost Headshot

This alley gave me lots of portrait opportunities

Instantly my mind was working out the details. “What film?” was my first question. Of course, these photos had to be taken at night to really fit the ghost theme. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any high-speed film laying around. I had loads of Ilford HP5+, my primary film stock, but 400 ISO was in my opinion too low to be used. I had never pushed film before, but I wasn’t afraid to try. I was torn. Part of me wanted to play it safe and only push to 2 stops to 1600, but I elected to push 3 stops to 3200. I certainly don’t claim to be the first person to push HP5 to 3200 and I am certainly not the most experienced with pushing film, but I am pretty satisfied with the results.

Relaxed Ghost

Ghost Double Exposure

My first double exposure

Ghosts in a Row

Ghosts in a Row 2

I forgot to flip the double exposure switch twice

Ghosts in an Elevator

Crooked Ghosts in an Elevator

I rushed this shot causing it to be a bit crooked

Ghost Elevator

Ghost 2 in front of Samford Hall

I really like the way the grain looks in this photo

Ghost 1 in front of Samford Hall

I don’t like the positioning of the sunglasses in this shot

Ghost laying

Naturally, my next question was, “What camera?” I would have loved to have used my trusty Olympus OM-1, but the meter caps out at 1600 and I don’t have the confidence or the patience to calculate the correct exposure myself. I pulled out my Nikon F3 with its motor drive. It is a real beast of a camera, but there is a certain charm to its bulkiness and weight.

The internal meter on the F3 has an ISO range from 12 to 6400. It also has an 80% center weighted meter which I am quite fond of. The heavily center weighted meter meant that most of the time I was metering for the highlights, but for these shots I don’t think shadow detail is very important.

Group Photo

Ghost on Railing

Ghost Posing on Railing

Ghosts in Tree

Ghosts with Hands Up

Ghosts with Hands Up Unfocused

I missed the focus here

Ghost Singing in the Rain

Ghosts and Rail

After sunset a college campus doesn’t really get any darker because of all the lights scattered about. While it never gets pitch black, there is not always enough light to handhold. I am personally not very fond of carrying around a tripod, and I don’t own a flash units for any of my cameras. Ultimately I chose to carry a headlamp I use for backpacking with me, and I used it for roughly a third of the shots. I would like to try some flash photography some day, but I’m sure I’ll pull out my headlamp at least a few more times for some night photography. Grudgingly I still brought a tripod with me, but I used it as little as possible. I always feel slowed down by it.

First of the Roll Ghost

First of the roll


Upside Down Ghost

Row of Ghosts

Sitting Ghosts

Sitting Ghosts

I missed focus on both of these

Ghosts Leaning

The lighting in this photo didn’t quite turn out like I had hoped

I am quite satisfied with the results from this roll. The grain structure of Ilford HP5 Plus when pushed is amazing. This is certainly something I would do again, but I might invest in a dedicated flash unit. Focusing at night is something I don’t have a lot of experience with, but it is something I feel only gets easier with practice.

Ghost 1 on Stairs

Ghost 1 on Stairs 2

Ghost 2 on Stairs

Ghost 1 Side Portrait Close

Ghost 1 Side Portrait

Another out of focus shot

Ghost 1 Portrait

Ghost 2 Portrait

This one turned out a bit underexposed

These photos could have easily been made on a DSLR or even an iPhone, but I think film gives these photos, and the TikTok video they were used in, a distinct look.

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  • Reply
    March 20, 2021 at 12:39 am

    These pics are so fun and goofy!
    Great results pushing the HP5

    • Reply
      Chase Taylor
      March 22, 2021 at 4:54 pm

      Thank you. It was certainly a ton of fun to shoot.

  • Reply
    Brian Nicholls
    March 21, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    Ha ha, ha! An excellent ‘Pythonesque’ – style subtle parody for all who would intellectualise photography. The tears rolled down my legs!!

  • Reply
    March 25, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    Great (and fun) results, and this is actually the perfect situation for pushing film! You may already know this, but pushing doesn’t really enhance shadow detail (you get about the same amount as you would if you shot at box speed) but it does increase highlight detail, and highlight detail is what the ghosts are all about. Patty Cake and the one on the park bench are my two favourites.

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