Wednesday, January 16, 2008

See that straw? Grab it!

There are too many people out there who want to believe in ghosts to the extent that they’ll take absolutely any kind of ‘evidence’ and grab at it. Clutch it to themselves and wander around like Margaret, the Log Lady from Twin Peaks. ‘My evidence will have something to say…’

Orbs and rods are prime examples. These have been shown over and over (Oh, just think of a high number and imagine ‘over’ to the power of that number) to be nothing supernatural at all. Yet still they appear. The gullibility of the desperate knows no bounds.

Do ghosts exist? Yes. I’ve met them. Don’t believe me? I don’t care. I want to prove it. I can’t prove it. Until I can, please continue to disbelieve. It gives me the impetus to continue trying.

Well, it’s raining here. In a country where rain is a constant to the extent that nobody mentions it any more, that statement has special significance. So I’ve been virtual ghosthunting. Searching the internet for possible real ghost photos. It’s not rewarding work.

Here’s a site I found tonight that I haven’t seen before. Don’t read on. Look at the site, view the pictures and make up your own mind first.

What follows is my opinion of the pictures posted there. I stress that – my opinion. Is your opinion much the same or very different? I’d be interested to know.

Please. LOOK AT THE PICTURES BEFORE READING ON. Don’t let my opinions affect yours.

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Photo 1. Deliberate fake. Double exposure. I made one of these when I was nine years old using a plastic toy camera with no control of shutter or aperture, a plastic lens and roll film. I had no tripod. I rested the camera on a concrete windowsill, my friend stood in shot for one exposure and left for the second. I’m sure I still have that photo in the attic somewhere. If I can find it I’ll post it. Easy. This photo proves nothing. I call deliberate fake on this one.

Photo 2. Possible. It would be much stronger if there was an identification of the woman and proof she was dead before the photo was taken. I wouldn’t dismiss this out of hand but I’d be very cautious. It could so easily have been faked. It could also have started life as an artistic image with no paranormal claims attached.

Photo 3. The Brown Lady. One of the most famous ghost photos out there. Two men (Shira and Provand) were photographing Raynham Hall. Shira saw something on the stair and told Provand, who saw nothing unusual, to take a picture. Shira insisted that witnesses were present while the plate was developed. In short, he did everything possible to ensure he couldn’t be accused of fakery. Still not proven to be faked, this is one of the best ghost photos ever.

Photo 4. Oh come on. The most blatant and awful fake I’ve ever seen. It’s a double exposure with the woman first sitting, then standing. Even quantum theory won’t allow a ghost to be in two places at once. The sitting legs look more solid than the rest because they are overlaid with the exposure of the standing legs and the bed in the background (check pillow height) has moved. Who could possibly be fooled by this? It’s not even a good nudie pic. Artistic? Maybe. Supernatural? Cobblers.

Photo 5. I don’t see a face. I see a flash reflection. Anyone see a face in there?

Photo 6. Breath or mist. Ghosts don’t fly. You don’t get super-powers when you die. Sorry.

Photo 7. (and the enlargement below it). Could be. Could also be a reflection. Can’t tell from the photo as it is. I’ll leave it as ‘possible’ for now. I’m especially concerned about the man whose head is out of shot. Which way is he facing (looking towards the mother and children would be my guess) and what does he look like? Something like the reflected image, maybe?

Photo 8. In fact photos 8-10. If you have long hair, tie it back before taking pictures and make sure there are no stray bits. These last three are all hair. Not deliberate fakes, but mistaken identities.

So I have two possibles out of those, and there are potential non-paranormal explanations for both. Not a great result. I don’t count the Brown Lady since that’s almost an icon and is reproduced everywhere. This one has been somewhat ‘enhanced’, the original was nowhere near as clear. That’s not a useful approach. Don’t do that.

Then again, if I had the Ultimate Ghost Photo, would I give it away for free on the internet? Not likely. I’d want it properly peer-reviewed, checked, double checked and checked all over again and my name stamped on it in indelible ink.

Then I’d post it on the internet. You can bet it won’t have an orb in it.

Don’t grab straws and hold them up as prizes. You’re not helping. Orbs are bunk. Rods are bunk. Concentrate, people, and look for the alternative explanation before you clutter up the serious investigations with all this crap. There is enough junk out there, please don’t add to it. Fake ghost photos are fun but please, please, make it clear you faked it for fun. The gullible will clutch at it, the sceptics will take it apart in seconds.

It’s a serious subject with enormous implications. Cranks aren’t useful.

2 comments:

Southern Writer said...

I always like to look at "ghost" pictures, but I sure do need to see some fresh ones, don't you? Your cynicism is exactly the reason my friend was impressed with you, btw. I think it goes for me, too. No straw grasping!

You know the famous one in Bachelor's Grove of the woman sitting on the headstone? I would swear that somewhere on the web, I once ran across a site that compared that photo with some old oil painting, and they were identical. I'll be danged if I can find it again. I wish I could because I was unfamiliar with the ghost photo when I saw the comparison. I shrugged and went on.

Cobblers? I love that. I'm going to start saying that. Is it a common expression there, like "bullocks," or just something you say?

Romulus Crowe said...

SW - they have that 'woman on headstone' image on page 2 of the site. Scroll down to 'more ghost photos'.

That particular image was taken with infrared film. The thing about using infrared film is that you can't see through the lens while taking the photo. So it could have been someone sitting quietly, in dark clothing (which would appear light in infrared) and unnoticed. Or it could have been set up. Or it could be real. Impossible to say.

It's also possible, along with a lot of photos currently touted as 'ghost photos', that it was set up for an artistic purpose. Just an exercise in art, not an intention to deceive, but seized on as 'evidence'.

Cobblers, by the way, is a British way to say 'bollocks' without actually swearing. Just like the way some Irish catholics say 'Feck'. We know what they mean, but they're not saying the actual word so it's okay as far as they're concerned.

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