WHAT IS THAT? A shot of Widtsoe Junction, Utah, from photographer Berthold Steinhilber's haunting new book, Ghost Towns of the American West (Abrams, $29.95). GHOST TOWNS? Yep. Once gold and silver mines dried up in the early 1900s, thousands of mining towns in California, Nevada, and Utah were abandoned -- sometimes so hurriedly that personal effects and fully stocked stores eerily remain. WHAT'S HIS PHOTOGRAPHIC SECRET? ''Lichtmalerei,'' says the 35-year-old German. HUH? Translation: light painting. Steinhilber combined one-hour exposure times, dusk skies, and multiple light sources to illuminate 19 deserted burgs. BUST ANY GHOSTS? ''No ghostly experiences,'' he says. ''But my assistant had two really scary run-ins...with snakes.''