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Halloween is fast approaching us and our #HauntedYork activities are well underway, with York Dungeon starting a new show, Hallowscream making a come back and York's Chocolate Story running family-friendly trick or treat tours.

Even with all of this happening in the city, we felt like we weren't truly celebrating our title of The Most Haunted City in Europe. So we decided to create a brand new Ghost Log. Our new map will allow you to see visitor submit ghost sightings across the city, as well as upload your own haunted encounters in the city.

If you've checked out or ghost sighting map, you might have noticed the picture that accompanied it of Mad Alice from the Bloody Tour of York, along with some ghostly figures. You might be forgiven for thinking that these figures were photoshopped in, but we're here to debunk that myth.

How the images were made

Whilst the images do look out of this world, we can assure you that we did not just happen to catch ghosts. The photos are product of specialist photographer, Charlotte Graham.

The technology involved is similar to that used in light drawing – where a long exposure allows the subject to ‘write’ in the air using a light source.  However, instead of one light source, the Pixel Stick has 360, all carefully programmed to shine in a specific colour, time and order.  Effectively, the stick dissects a picture into – in this case – 1000 slices, each one pixel wide and 360 pixels tall.  By walking at a fixed speed, and using a long exposure, these individual dots of light are merged into an image that the camera captures.  Walk too fast, and the final image will be far wider than it should; too slow, and everything becomes squashed up.

Just as in light painting, the person holding the stick is ‘invisible’ in the final picture, as they were only part of the shot momentarily, whilst the background was there much longer and so dominates the photograph.  The trick is to keep moving; pause, and you’ll be in the picture.

In our shot, our ‘human’ subject, Mad Alice of the Bloody Tour of York, had to stand perfectly still for the full 10 seconds of the exposure, or she would become blurred.  A targeted flash was used several seconds in – when the light stick had passed – to cast a bit of extra light onto her. 

And that’s how you make a ghost without any camera trickery. 

We’d love to see your creative spooky shots this Halloween (but no editing please – adding ghosts by Photoshop is the kind of trick a poltergeist would resort to!)  – or indeed, any real photographs of unexplained phenomena around the city that we can add to our Ghost Map of York.

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