I know I still owe people Part II of my “Challenging the Dark” duet, but I thought I might just quickly take the time to address what I see as a burning issue in the Paranormal Community.
Ghost Photography; can I take pictures of ghosts?
In the days of the world wide web it pretty easy to Google “Ghost Pictures” and be submitted to an fantastic onslaught of pictures ranging from apparitions, ectoplasm and orbs to angels, faces, demons and “white mist”. With each of these pictures comes a myriad of arguments for and against the apparent ‘validity’ of the photo/picture-type thing.
So I took the time to write down a little list that I go through when I am faced with a picture that claims to have captured some form of paranormal activity… including my own!
1 – What is this photo of?
Sounds like a fairly simple question. Not really. What is the claim of this photo? Is it of an apparition/orbs/white mist? Try and nail down exactly what you’re looking for so you know what characteristics it has. If there is a caption, try not to take it to heart straight away… sometimes an unbiased look on a picture can debunk any sort of paranormal explanation. Like this:
First look… claimed to be an ‘unearthly mist’. What would you describe this as? Smoke? What sort of thing makes smoke like this? A cigarette? Behold! Cigarette smoke:
Being an ex-smoker and an amateur photographer I know what cigarette smoke photographs like. Up close it would be out of focus, as found in the first photo because the camera was focussed on the girl and the smoke passed between the girl and the camera. Hence; ‘ghost mist’ debunked.
2 – What is its context?
Where, when and why was it taken? Was it taken in a graveyard at midnight after you heard a noise behind you? Or is it a family happy-snap that you took of the kids playing in the living room five years ago? This is all important. Knowing the circumstances of a photo can help you debunk or find support of a claim in the picture.
Orbs? (*Shudder* The amount of garbage orbs claims out there make my toes curl… I took this one btw :P)
I took it around 9pm as we were walking to the Redbank Tunnel in Picton, NSW, Australia. I was in a group of about 10 people and it was an unsealed road through private property to the tunnel.First alarm bell should ring at ‘unsealed road’. Unsealed means dirt, dirt means dust. Night means flash and dust+flash = dust refractions. Not to mention the fact that I was in a group of people supports the dust theory, as that means that there was at least 20 feet marching along that dark road!
Taking a picture after – say – hearing a disembodied voice, then finding an anomaly in the picture then has a little bit more pulling power. Because not only do you have a personal experience and then the anomaly, if you were to actually capture the EVP you then have a powerful combination of evidence that something was going on!
3 – Does it support itself?
Are there frames before and after the said anomaly? This I feel is the most important thing and – alas – the rarest thing to find on the internet when looking at paranormal photos. Most people will find a anomaly and post just the odd picture and claim it as a ‘ghost/spirit’ etc without showing the before and after shots.
Was the anomaly there the frame before? Did it stay to the frame after? This is why I personally always take shots in threes. Most of the time if I see something I can check back and forward and see ‘how long’ it was there for.
So if you full-view these three you may catch what looks like a grey ‘figure’ on the right-hand side of the frames 2 and three. When I first saw these I had a ‘Oh holy shit!‘ moment… then I checked the frame before them. Notice how this grey ‘figure’ started on the bottom of the frame? Closer inspection made me realise that it is the same shot three times, only the last two I shot the picture with a portrait orientation. The first would be what was really going on, and it dawned on me that what I was seeing was the beginning of the tunnel and a very conveniently-placed rock.
Two photos, taken in the same minute… anomaly in the last shot (this was a few years ago before I developed my ‘rule of three’).
This was at the entrance to the Redbank Tunnel… an very special place to me, as it was where I saw my very first orb. I stood where I had seen them all those years ago, turned my back as if I was walking away, took two selfies and walked off to rejoin the group.
As interesting as this small light may be I have no ‘after’ shot. Shame really.
The Redbank Tunnel is 180 meters (592ft) long. Whatever this was, it was too small to be ambient light from the end of the tunnel (as it would be shaped like an upside-down horseshoe) and completely the wrong colour (white or a cool tint would suggest starlight or moonlight). Too dim for a train (The country trains are freaking BLINDING!) and seemingly off the ground of the end of the tunnel as it sits too high in the frame.
There were no people in the tunnel, as it is condemned, we didn’t hear them, and the tunnel is regularly swept for trespassers before the tours by a security guard.
Interesting? Yes. Paranormal? Maybe. Unfortunately it hides in that gray area a little… if I were assessing it as ‘solid proof’ I’d turf it due to the difference in camera angle and lack of a third shot. It’s more… shaky possibility.
4 – When in doubt, throw it out!
I’m a huge advocate for treating paranormal investigation as a (somewhat instinctual) science. Meaning that every theory and finding should be backed up by hard evidence. No guesswork, no maybes. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with something as unpredictable as spirits or things that you cannot replicate with constant results, that’s when things get hazy.
Instead the importance of documentation and supporting evidence must step up and take the slack. Here’s an example:
This pic is courtesy of Ghosts TV – an Australian duo that operate out of the North Shore – i.e. North Sydney. It was posted on their Facebook page on 13/1/2013 with the caption: “Alright Ghost TV friends. This one is really odd… What do you think this is?”
I will not debate the validity of this team (as much as I’d like to) as they have a habit of upping brow-raising photos (doing more harm than good sometimes) but I will explain the process that I took when analysing this photo.
* No context; no place, no time, no date and no explanation as to why this photo was taken… or who even took it. (Minus)
* No claim is made as to what we are seeing. We are left to decide for ourselves. (Plus)
*Let’s look at what we know:
Its a square, meaning it quite possibly was taken on an iPhone and saved/cropped via instagram. Supporting evidence to this theory? Low resolution, pixellation and bad ISO.
At the back of the table the skirting board is blocked out of view and the back of the chair is also out of view. However we can see through aspects of the apparition… what we can’t see through is a constant thickness resembling a soft-edge brush from Photoshop. There are also colour irregularities on the back of the chair; Two splotches unattached to anything that don’t fit with the colours surrounding them.
Interestingly enough, we can see the leg of the table clearly… which lies in front of the blocked out skirting board. If this were to imply movement then why is nothing else around the skirting board blocked with same density and colour of the bottom of the apparition?
This entity casts no light on the walls, yet somehow cast ENOUGH light be be captured by a standard camera. Standard digital camera sensors (the ‘eye’ that captures the image) are manufactured to see exactly what the human eye can see. They have a special chemical coating on a piece of glass in front of the sensor that blocks out IR and UV light, meaning that it really does only see what we can see. (Unless you are like me and like gutting your camera and pulling out said IR/UV blocker for snapping full-spectrum pics :P)
There is also no reflection of this entity in the shiny surface of the vase OR the vinyl floor, you can see the table legs clearly).
The movement of the ‘hands’ of the apparition resemble a photographic technique known as Light Painting where the shutter is held open longer than normal photo, whilst the photographer moves a bright light around the frame to illuminate certain shapes or parts of the body/buildings etc. This can also apply to the face, if the person where to blow out a candle in the frame.
The purple splotches on the floor also resemble the colour mode of the paintbrush in Photoshop. They have no light or substance of their own, no definition and no texture, only the colour of the picture is tinted purple.
A weak piece of evidence. It is presented in a way that does not support what it implies itself to be (an apparition), there are too many inconsistencies within the photo that do not support the placement of the apparition against the background of the photo and the camera itself is an illogical tool of choice – seemingly capturing something that it should not scientifically be able to capture.
That said. There have been times when a spirit has made itself known on a standard camera without being visible to the naked eye. However there is just not enough support to allow for this possibility.
Not necessarily fake, but unlikely. Thus… thrown out!
I’d like to know what you think? Do you think that they have captured something here? If so, what? Comment me!