The historic Ephrata Cloister has some spooky areas even in the daytime, so with Halloween coming up I thought I’d try making some of the photos into scary Halloween scenes. It turned out to be not only extremely easy but extremely fun. I added some information on how I created the scary photos at the bottom.

The first photo shows a ghost I saw lurking in this basement area…or could it have been just a weird discoloration that was probably water stains on the stones? I didn’t add a border to this photo to make it look like someone took a quick snapshot while running away from the ectoplasm.

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I used posterize to make the gravestones look older and weather-stained:

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This building is simply a side view of the sister house at the Cloister. The photo uses dramatically saturated black and white, posterize, plus a dark gray vignette to make the intense sky. You can almost see the ghosts looking out at you:

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Here are some tips for making scary photos in Picasa:

  • For most photos the biggest effect comes from changing the photo to black and white and really cranking up the shadow adjustment slider. Then experiment with saturation to darken the photo even more.
  • Sharpen the photo and see if you like the clarity, or if adding the softness of Orton-ish would make a better effect.
  • Sometimes glow will make a great ghostly effect.
  • An overall graduated tint to evenly darken the photo can be helpful, or you can experiment with tinting the photo to other colors.
  • Posterize or comic book can add sharp edges for more interest. Be sure to sharpen the photo first.
  • If you make the photo too dark, just change the fill light or highlight adjustments to lighten it up again.
  • Resize the photo using another program like Paint. In Paint, you just need to open it then choose resize. I usually make a photo 750 or 850 pixels on the longest edge to make a manageable size that won’t take up much room in my computer’s memory.
  • You could also try importing werewolf or haunted house images to place in photos. However, they have to have a transparent background. I don’t see a way to do this in Paint so you would need to use Photoshop or a similar program.

Happy Halloween photo fun!