Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lights, camera... where'd he go?

I've been looking for ghost pics that aren't the traditional centre-frame, facing-the-camera type since both SW and TGF brought the subject up.

They do exist. There are a couple in the collection on that have probable apparitions at the edge of the frame. One, taken in snow (took a while but I found it. Page 6, 'little girl lost', if that link fails) has what appears to be a woman trying to get out of shot before the picture is taken. Difficult to verify because of the weather.

Ghosthounds lets anyone join and upload photos so there are a lot of mistaken-identity shots there, but they have one or two worth closer scrutiny.

I think the reason you don't see too many of these is that they don't have the makings of a 'great photo'. The subject is off-centre, sometimes not even completely in shot. That sort of image doesn't make news. The ones that circulate are the centre-frame shots where a face is clearly visible. Photos like that are newsworthy, and that's the reason you see them all the time.

A couple of things struck me while browsing sites and reading the comments. First, why do so many of these ghosthunter groups seem to be in such vicious competition with each other? There is a serious element of 'It can't be a ghost picture because my team didn't take it and we're the best'.

It's not football. There is no league table. If there is, we're all at the same point on it. None of us have proof. Guys, you're not slapping down competition, you're attacking colleagues. That's not productive at all.

By all means point out mistakes. By all means expose deliberate frauds. Attacking everything you see isn't a scientific approach, it's a fundamentalist approach of the worst kind.

Yes, there are rank amateurs out there taking shots all over the place in the hope of catching something on film. You know what? They have as much chance as anyone else. Nobody can predict where or when a ghost will choose to show up in a form that can be photographed. The more happy snappers out there, the better the chance of a good photo. Encourage the amateurs. Some, at least, will go deeper into the subject and become more professional. They'll present fewer and fewer mistaken images as they develop. Telling them now that everything they do is crap can only have one outcome - one less camera searching for evidence. We need more, not less.

Secondly, orbs. Yes, the orbs are still out there. I've seen pages and pages attempting to justify these images, all failing dismally. Orbs are dust. Not talcum powder, not soil, not ash or smoke. Dust. Likewise, 'rods' are insects. All of them. Drop the orbs, please.

There was once a scientific concept of the 'aether'. This was postulated as an explanation of how light could move through a vaccuum or some such thing (it was long before I was born). Anyway, the 'aether' was supposed to permeate all space and act as the supporting matrix of the universe. It was finally proved to be wrong. Science dropped it and moved on.

When a theory is proved wrong, then it's proved wrong. Clinging to a dead theory doesn't make it true. Orbs have been demonstrated to have nothing to do with the paranormal. Demonstrated, redemonstrated, and demonstrated again. Orbs are bunk. Let it drop.

Holding on to the orb theory when everyone knows it's just dust does not improve the credibility of the subject as a whole. All it does is give the skeptics an easy handle to latch on to. Orbs were a nice theory, but orbs are dust. That theory is done. Stop trying to justify orb pictures. Move on.

What we need are identifiable images of definitely dead people. Images that don't match any existing pictures of those people so they can't have been overlaid with Photoshop. Images that cannot support any other explanation than that they are images of ghosts. Clear face shots, no less.

Orbs will never prove a thing. Even if they weren't dust, they'd still be no use. Mists can be explained away as breath or cigarette smoke, even where the photographer is utterly certain that's not the case. Mists won't prove anything.

Go for the apparition. Don't waste time with orbs.

The only way a photo will provide proof is if it contains an identifiable apparition. It's a tall order, I know, but there are already one or two out there. The Freddy Jackson photo is one of the best so far.

Filter your results, people, and only show the best. Keep the mists offline.

Bin the orbs.


ThatGreenyFlower said...

Au contraire, Rom! My HEAD is an orb. Don't tell me that spheres of dust don't merit further investigation! =)

Seriously, you're right. The problem is of course in every group--each wants to be the first, best, or most legitimate. Somehow, with a clarity of thinking that rivals the average 13 year-old's, it's thought that trashing the work of others will make them look better. Sad.

Romulus Crowe said...

13-year-old... yes, that sounds right. The average 13-year-old doesn't realise how they really look when they do that, and neither do some of these folk.

I'd like to say that academics are better behaved, but on the whole they're pretty much the same. There's plenty of 'yah-boo, you're wrong' in all branches of science.

It's probably just a human thing...

Southern Writer said...

I like the picture, but didn't see the log, much less the girl on it. There appears to be "something" on the right, so I'm wondering if the person who wrote the caption knows their left from their right, or if the picture was printed backwards. I just don't see whatever it is. How irksome.

I have another picture from the other day that has a bit of purple light in it that I'm going to send to you, and ask you to explain, if you would please. I don't think it's anything paranormal at all, but would like to know what causes it. Have to go to work first. Will try to remember to send it tomorrow. Sorry about that other one. It had me going for a while.

Southern Writer said...

Rom, I’ve been playing with that picture, trying to enhance what I can see, although I’m not sure I see what everyone else sees. Anyway, I posted some of the efforts here:

I'm only going to leave them there a few days, as obviously, I "borrowed" the original from Ghosthounds.

Romulus Crowe said...

Hi Lesia
I took a look and was impressed to find the figures didn't vanish when you processed the image. Artefacts often do (though not always). It does suggest there might be something more than a trick of the light.

There are a few things I always keep in mind with internet photos -
1. The possibility of deliberate fake. Some people do it for a laugh, some for attention and some to try to catch out ghosthunters. There are many deliberate fakes and they're not all easy to spot. I don't, at the moment, think this one is a deliberate fake. If it is, it's a good one.

2. Mistaken identity, and camera artefacts. Mistakes are easy - the 'Boot Hill' photograph has someone in the background. The photographer didn't see anyone. Well, the photographer was focused on their subject - in the foreground - and paid no attention to the background while taking the photo. The Boot Hill one could be mistaken-identity.

Camera artefacts are much more common with digital than film. Digital images are far more coarse than film and are made of pixels. They don't have the gradation of the chemical-reaction image in film so edges can appear sharper than they were in real life.

While I don't think that girl photo is faked, I can't rule out the possibility that false edges formed in the falling snow due to the nature of the pixels in the camera. While the chances of those edges forming a figure are slim, the possibility still exists.

What would have been great would be a series of shots showing the figure in motion. But then the photographer wasn't looking for ghosts and didn't see any while photographing. If he'd done a 'bracketing' (where the camera takes three shots, one at 'correct' exposure, one at just below and one at just above) then he might have found the figures in three different positions. Now that would have been impressive indeed.

That's the power of hindsight. If only...

It's still an impressive picture. One of the best I've seen in a while. I wonder if it was a digital camera? I don't think the camera type is specified in any of those pictures. If it wasn't digital, it'd be much better evidence.

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