How To Photograph Ghosts

So in the past, I have written several pieces on different photographic ‘how tos’ and I plan on making more of a habit of it. To kick off this series, I figured I should start with something fun. And seasonal. So here we go:

How To Photograph Ghosts

Or rather, a ‘ghost.’ Because I am not promising that by reading this, you are going to be able to go out and find a ghost who is willing to pose for you. But I am here to make it look like you did…

Lets take a quick look at the history of ghost photos:



So these photos are clearly old and appear to contain ghosts. And while there wasn’t photoshop back in the day, there were still frugal people.

Are you wondering what the heck I am talking about? Well before the days of films, photographs used to be taken on glass slides. But if a photographer used a slide and didn’t like the final photo, they would wash the slide and re-use it, to save money. However, sometimes the slides weren’t washed all that well, so they would end up with a ghost like figure in the new photo.

Now obviously in this day & age, you don’t really see people photographing on slides…ever. So how can we replicate this effect? The answer is actually quite easily! While it is obviously possible to make double exposure photos with any number of photo editing program, it is also very much possible to make them in camera. And making them in camera is WAY more fun.

What you need:

  • A DSLR camera, or a camera in which you can manually adjust all the settings.
  • Tripod
  • A piece of thick, dark paper or cardboard
  • A remote for your camera (although it is possible to do without)
  • A light (any kind will do; off camera flash, flashlight or even phone light in a pinch)
  • A ‘ghostly’ figure. Friends and family work quite nicely

Now for this to work best, and for best creepy effect, I suggest doing it at night, maybe add in some flickering candles.

So while it is possible to do this with a wide range of camera settings, what you decided to set your camera on will depend on what look you are going for. You will need to experiment with aperture and ISO while shooting on Bulb mode for shutter. Regardless of what you set your camera to aperature/ISO wise, the principle is the same:

  1. Set up your tripod with your camera looking at the scene you want to photograph. A static scene is best, since you want the only moving object to be your subject.
  2. With your camera set to ‘bulb’, you are going to trigger the shutter, with your subject outside of the frame.
  3. Do not end the shot, but take the piece of cardboard/dark paper and cover the camera lens (gently! Don’t move the camera) and get your subject into position in the frame.
  4. Now remove the piece of paper, letting the camera capture your subject before triggering the shutter to close.


Experiment with how long you let the shutter stay open, and try doing shorter bursts with your subject in frame, to see how ghostly, or how solid, you can make them appear. If you find that they are always appearing too dark in the frame, then briefly shine a light on them while you are photographing them.

Get creative with this, play around! Get your subject to dress up, or wear ghoulish make up. Try different sorts of settings and see what kind of photos you can create. Its easy to see why this kind of photo shoot can be so much fun; way more fun than sitting at your computer and mashing two photos together in photoshop.

You can also apply this principle to non creepy shoots. Ever wanted to try cloning?


Self Portrait x3 by M. Corriveau

Want to make it look like the ‘orbs’ that paranormal activity shows seem to see all over? Try playing with light instead of a living subject.


This photo was actually an accident on my part…

There is no wrong way to do this as long as you are getting the desired effect. Its also a great way to get to know your camera settings and what you can do with them. Share your best ‘ghost’ photos with me over on my Facebook page! 

Good luck!

– Chels

Banff Film Fest Premiere: Drawing Home

The Banff Mountain Film fest is very much a who’s who of Mountain culture, which is why I feel incredibly special that I have received a personal invite to the World Premiere of a movie called Drawing Home. This movie was filmed primarily in the Banff area and shows off classic Banff and Lake Louise views.  I am super excited to get to be one of the first to see this movie! Do you want to join me at the premiere? Swing by facebook page and enter to win tickets!



Boston in the 1920s.  A young East Coast debutante is dating the most eligible bachelor in the world, John D. Rockefeller III.  Her future seems set: a dream life in the upper echelons of society.  But when she least expects it, she meets a young painter from one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Their worlds are polar opposites, and as their attraction turns their lives upside down, they soon face a universal question: Can you find “home” in another person? Inspired by a true story.

Starring JUAN RIEDINGER (narcos), golden globe and emmy nominee KATE MULGREW (orange is the new black, star trek voyager), emmy winner and golden globe nominee PETER STRAUSS (state of the union; rich man, poor man), TORRANCE COOMBS (reign, the tudors), KRISTIN GRIFFITH (king of the hill, the europeans, interiors), CHRISTIAN CAMPBELL as well as golden globe winner RUTGER HAUER (true blood, batman begins, blade runner) and WALLACE SHAWN (gossip girl, toy story, the princess bride), and introducing JULIE LYNN MORTENSEN as catharine robb whyte. academy award and grammy nominee JUDY COLLINS sings the original theme song “Stars in My Eyes.”

DRAWING HOME will celebrate its world premiere on November 2 at the 2016 Banff Mountain Festival in Canada and its U.S. premiere on November 10 at the 2016 St. Louis International Film Fest.

Last Best Brewing Company


Beer and Coffee are two of my favourite things in life. Specifically Craft Beer and Fratellos coffee. Fratellos Bullrider coffee is the reason I get through mornings at work and beer is well…beer 😉

So what happens when a Calgary brewery brings together these two things?

Caramel Latte Beer.

14522850_10210799302008350_5726823896291804989_nYup, you read that right. Last Best Brewery, downtown Calgary, has a caramel latte beer and you need to try it now.

The coffee aroma is the first thing you notice when your beer is set down in front of you. The beer is incredibly smooth with strong caramel flavour and a solid coffee finish. This beer doubles as a dessert and is not to be missed!





I F@#king Did It

Excuse my language.

But I am seriously over the moon about what I did last night.

I am insanely claustrophobic. Like take-the-stairs-because-crowded-elevators-suck claustrophobic. My biggest challenge as a firefighter was getting comfortable wearing an SCBA mask. Which now is no big deal, but its different when I’m working.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would willingly go 10 stories underground, sliding through manhole sized rock chutes and crawling on my hands and knees through calcite covered underground passages, I would have given you a resounding ‘Hell no!’

But a lot can change in a year. In this last year, I have pushed through every fear and boundary holding me back, except for my claustrophobia. Until last night.


At 5:51 last night, I pulled into the parking lot of Canmore Cave Tours. I reluctantly threw a jacket on and trudged up the stairs, into the waiting room with 15 other people, mostly strangers. We were all here for the same reason: To test out Canmore Cave Tours newest tour, Halloween in the Rockies. The plan? Gear up, hike up to Rats Nest Cave, descend into the cave and then watch a horror movie.

The movie of choice? The Descent. While the scariest part of this movie is actually the inaccuracies (seriously, an Ice Axe?!). watching it in a cave, deep underground definitely added a whole new element of horror to the evening.

If you think that I’m crazy for picking a horror movie night as my time to challenge my fear, you should know that I LOVE horror movies, so that was actually what convinced me to go into the cave. I have worked for Canmore Cave Tours as a social media manager since June, but I have blatantly refused to go into the cave. Until now.

14581389_10210937268777433_3733774201869201601_n-copyAfter gearing up in the Cave Tours office, we headed out for the cave. The trail head is about a 7 minute drive from the office, and as we all parked and dug out our head lamps, the light was fading fast.

The hike up to the cave is short and a little to the steep side, but the twinkling lights from Canmore looked beautiful in the distance. We hiked our way up to the mouth of the cave, and under a tented tarp, we all put on our harnesses, knee pads, overalls and helmets and got ready to enter the cave.


Getting up to the cave is a little bit of a scramble, and then you duck through a freshly unlocked gate and you are in the cave. For me, the hardest part of the experience was actually the entrance: that first tightening of rock around me, the darkness below. But there is something incredibly reassuring about being in a climbing harness and clipping into the rope system that gets you into the cave; it gave me something familiar to focus on, a job to do with my hands and a distraction for my racing mind.


Once in through the entrance, its a bit of a squeezy slide into the first cavern, where the14680538_10210937266377373_2805941129221877209_n-copy cave opens around you. We hung out in this cavern for a bit, watching about half an hour of the movie, before it was time to move on. The guides took down the screen, and in the floor of the cavern behind it was what appeared to be a tiny hole. When Max, one of the guides, announced that that was the route forward, my stomach clenched a bit.

In all honesty, the hole looked smaller from a distance, and when I got up close, I could see that it opened up below. The wooden ladder built into the rock was reassuring, and in I went.

For the next 2 hours, we worked our way down an impressive system of caves, stopping in different caverns to watch the movie, section by section, until we made it to the Grand Gallery for the ending. We even got to explore an area called The Grotto.


The Grotto is a deep section of the main cave, with a pool of water in the bottom and calcite covering everything. This pool of water represents the future of cave explorations in Rats Nest Cave, one of our guides, Chantal, tells us as we stare into the water. Cave divers have gone into the water, searching for more passageways. A research team put green dye into the water, and it came out below the mountain 4 days later, so there is definitely a passage there. But who knows if it is passable by humans. That remains to be discovered


Calcite build up

. To this date, adventurous cave divers have found 4 chambers beyond the Grotto; following narrow channels underwater in SCUBA gear. Each channel has led to another room, with another pool of water, leading deeper and deeper. The idea of exploring these unknown reaches of our world is incredible and I look forward to hearing what is found. It was pretty cool to see in person, all the things that I had only seen in photos up until last night.

Last night was an incredible experience. A genuinely life changing experience. I faced my last, greatest fear. Sure, there were some parts that I really did not like, but after getting through them, I felt incredible. Would I go back? Hell yes. I already have plans to go back. I look forward to continuing to work through this fear, until I’m no longer even the slightest bit afraid. A huge thanks to Chantal, Max and Lisa, our guides last night who were encouraging and patient and made the entire experience incredible.


While Canmore Cave Tours’ Halloween in the Rockies event is sold out, they have some amazing plans for Christmas coming up, so stay tuned for more on that!


Paddling the Kan

At 4:38 today I got a text from my buddy Travis: ‘Heading down to the Kan if you’re in the area shooting.’

These were magic words to me; I had been trying to decide what to do with my evening (I’m trying to avoid having time to catch up on laundry 😉 ) so this was the perfect distraction.

I headed up to Canoe Meadows, knowing that Travis and the friends he was paddling with, Emily and Jodi, would be putting in upstream at the Widow Maker and making their way down the Kananaskis River towards Canoe Meadows. I grabbed my camera gear and hiked up the side of the river, nestling in among some boulders on the riverside to wait.

I didn’t have to wait too long before I saw the colourful canoes coming around the riverbend.

Canoes? I can hear you saying ‘But Chelsea, those look a lot like kayaks.’ and you would be right. These are known as C1’s. If you havent seen one before, they look an awful lot like a kayak, but the paddler kneels in a saddle inside and uses a single bladed paddle, making these very much canoes.

I had a lot of fun shooting the three friends on the Kananaskis River, these are some of my favourite photos from this evening:


Photographic challenges:

I was losing light quickly while shooting. Shooting fast moving subjects when you want super sharp photos can be incredbly challenging. I shot most of this in manual, continually adjusting my ISO to the dying light, and keeping the shutter speed fast enough to freeze frame images.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect.

How many times, over the course of your life, have you been told that? If you grew up with parents like mine, it is probably something that you have heard a lot. It is a simple statement that rings true, especially when it comes to firefighting.

As firefighters, we can often spend more time training than we spend on actual calls, and that can be a great thing. Odds are, your local fire department trains together at least one night a week, year round, to make sure that they are in tip-top shape, always waiting and ready for the next call.

Despite the name, a lot of the calls a firefighter respond to are not fire related; they are car accidents, medical calls, and even occasionally chasing bears. So we obviously spend a lot of time training for those calls (except the bear chasing thing 😉 ). However, I think it is safe to say that training for fire calls is the most fun.

So how do we train for these events? Obviously we can’t go around lighting fires just anywhere! We use specialized facilities to create realistic fire scenarios. My department visits the Burn Tower in Calgary a bunch of times every year; this large concrete structure allows us to light fires, smoke up the building and run real drills in a controlled environment.

I wanted to share some photos from our last training day at the Burn Tower. These are the days where we really get to bond with our crew and practice all the different techniques that we learn in textbooks and classrooms.


Staging the truck outside the Burn Tower


SCBA bottles 


Firefighter have lots off cool tools to make their jobs possible: the Thermal Imaging Camera, or TIC is a vital piece of gear.



Redwoods newest firefighters getting ready to go into the Burn Tower for the first time.


Coordination of different attacks is vital to keep everyone safe.


Group shot from our last day at the Burn Tower


That’s me!


Firefighting is messy work


Group selfie: I love these guys!


Two probationary firefighters from Redwood Meadows protect exposures


I would like to thank Chief Evans of Redwood fire for the group photo and the close up of me. 

Wild Rose Brewery

Wild Rose is a craft brewing staple in Calgary.  They also happen to be the creators of my all time favourite beer: Velvet Fog. But Wild Rose is way more than just a brewery.



Nestled into an old military building, Wild Rose’s taproom offers a great selection of food and beer. The Bison Brisket is absolutely mouthwatering and pairs well with any of their beers on tap. The decor in the brewery is eclectic but cute and the place has a warm, friendly feel to it.

If you are around town and looking for somewhere to grab a great lunch with an even better beer on the side, swing by Wild Rose!14670594_10210799297568239_2707905218103497101_n14656394_10210799298928273_1147155026228941749_n14519697_10210799297368234_8241278279071723853_n14642216_10210799297728243_6285360876347601306_n14600846_10210799300648316_7181073977697378313_n

Well that wasn’t what I expected…

If you follow along on my adventures via my blog or Facebook page, then you probably saw my post about heading to Jasper for one day.

To say the trip did not go as expected would be a bit of an understatement…

So I left for Jasper on Thursday afternoon after work as planned; the skies were clear, the roads were dry and only a few flurries were predicted weather-wise.

About 4.5 hours later, I made it to Jasper, despite the spotty whiteout situation on the Icefields parkway. I saw the largest wild wolf that have ever seen in my life along the highway, as well as a couple of moose and a fox. So not bad for the wildlife viewing.

Upon making it to Jasper, I met up with an old friend of mine, Sara, at the Jasper Brewing company for a much-needed pint of beer and whole lot of catching up. Since it was the Jasper Dark Sky Festival weekend, I had been hoping to get in some star photography, but unfortunately the weather was not on my side; by the time we finished our beer, the clouds were moving in.


Cozy in my sleeping bag

But that was okay, I had the whole next day to get out and take photos, I just needed to tuck in for a good nights sleep. I had brought all the right gear for the wintery camping conditions in Jasper, and nestled into my wool base layers, a fuzzy Patagonia sweater and a warm sleeping back and settled in for the night. I was absolutely exhausted, so when I half woke up at some point in the middle of the night and felt snow flakes on my face, I didn’t really think about it, I just pulled the sleeping bag up over my face and went back to sleep.

But when I woke up, I realized instantly that the quality of light was off. Early morning light takes on a soft, muted look after a fresh snowfall, and through my barely open eyes, that’s what I was seeing. I opened my eyes all the way and went to look outside through the window, and realized that it had indeed snowed. And quite a bit! I couldn’t see out at all!


I procrastinated leaving my sleeping bag for as long as possible, and it wasn’t until I crawled out and opened the door that I remembered I had left my boots on the ground outside the night before. I had meant to grab them when I crawled into bed, but there they were: sitting on a log outside, covered in about 2 inches of snow. It was a magnificent start to the morning…

I got dressed in the cold as quickly as possible, layering up until I was a bundle of down and fleece and finally warm again, topping things off with a toque and scarf. Then I headed into town for breakfast at Bears Paw Bakery, my favourite place to stop for baked goods and delicious coffee. Their raspberry white chocolate scones have been a favourite of mine for many years.


The snowfall and terrible road conditions had kind of kiboshed my plans for the day; The 14725522_10210872203630845_6874242741706445518_nradio was advising people not to drive and I had seen first hand how slippery things were, so that, along with the incredibly low cloud cover that made it impossible to even see the mountains, kind of took sightseeing off my to-do list. Deciding to play it safe, I toured around Jasper Park Lodge (their art gallery is fantastic!) and up to Maligne canyon, but that was about as far as I wanted to go. I did a bit of window shopping and grabbed lunch, to give the snowplows enough time to get the Parkway clear and let the sun warm things up so that I could get on the road home.

At about 2pm, I decided that weather had warmed up enough that I could head out, so off I went. About 15 minutes outside of Jasper, I noticed my truck was pulling to the right, so I pulled over and…


Yup. That’s about the flatest flat that has ever been flat. Luckily I had a spare tire (and a full-size one!) under the truck, so I was back on my way. I squeezed in a quick photo stop at Athabasca Falls before heading out in earnest; my goal was to get to the Peyto Lake lookout while the sunshine lasted.


No such luck. While driving on the Icefields, the highway went from sunny and dry, to rain and fog to whiteout snow conditions, in a never ending circle of weather. And as luck would have it, it was a blizzard at Peyto, so no luck on the photos there. The snow continued until I got back to Lake Louise, where the sun miraculously came out and stayed out for the last hour of my drive back to Kananaskis.


So while the trip did not go as expected, and I didn’t get hardly any of the photos I was planning on, I still had a great time. Sometimes its the trips where things go wrong that become memorable.