Top 5 tips to critically analyse ghost photos
When looking at potential evidence of the paranormal, it can be difficult to know where to begin. I feel that there’s often a lot more credit given to photographic evidence than it deserves, given that photoshop exists. Indeed, I think if you wanted to prove that ghosts exist by was of photography, that ship has certainly sailed, and it’s always going to be possible to fake a ghost photo these days.
That’s not to say it wasn’t always possible to fake, through techniques such as double exposure, or providing an account that suggests a figure in frame has to be a ghost, it’s always been possible to fake a ghost, but now it’s certainly a lot easier, with everyone, their mum, their dog, and their postman’s nephew’s hamster’s arch-nemesis able to compile something that may look a bit spooky. With this is mind, here are 5 tips for looking at ghost pictures:
Before even looking at the photograph in any detail, consider where it has come from, what the vested interests may be, and what skill set the photography may have, and if this is reflected in the paranormal image. There are some photos which can be easily faked by anyone who has a friend, and a camera, such as the opaque ‘lady in white’ type stuff. Anyone with Photoshop, and access to online tutorials could probably work out how to take two images from a tripod, one with a person in frame, one without and then drop the opacity of the person. In this way, knowing the relative skill set of the photographer can help you assess how likely it is that they could hoax a photo. But as a word of caution, please remember just how easy it is these days!
It may sound odd, but looking at the photograph as a set piece, like a film set, can help you to debunk it or credit it. It’s all down to what I like to call cinematic timing phenomenon.
I like to explain it like this. You know male orangutans? They’re objectively quite scary to look at, they tick all the cinema tropes of the near-human monster- the one we feel alienated from exactly because we expect to be able to relate to it. But they lack the cinematic timing in order to make the most of this. Indeed, seeing them in the wild, they’re gentle and placid. However, now imagine if that male orangutan acted like a villain in a slasher film, appearing at the single time to cause the largest jump scare - terrifying. We’ve come to expect scary things to have this perfect cinematic timing, but it’s a fallacy, nothing beyond the gaze of the film camera can consistently demonstrate this ability, outside of ‘real ghosts’ that is.
There’s too much perfect framing at play, the creepy black figure at the edge of frame is just too perfect to be true. Look at where the ghost is in the frame, and see if you can see the human mind ticking in the background, deciding where it would be most scary.
Show me the light
I find that a lot of non-edited photographs can be put down to light, or light based instances. These are largely orbs, something that those in the paranormal world claim is a manifestation of energy. I’m generally skeptical, but not cynical about things in the paranormal, but I find this difficult with orbs. I’ve done so much filming in night vision, and things that I can say are insects or dust look exactly the same to me as photos and videos of orbs. I’m happy to be overruled if someone can show me any evidence to the contrary, but from my own experience, i’ve found this to be the case; take orbs with a lot of salt.
Light can come from natural and artificial sources at all times of day, but people seem to forget this. Try to, if possible, look for the potential sources of light in a photograph showing one of those wispy types of ghost.
The ol’ camera quality cop-out
It’s 2019. 77% of Americans, and 85% of UK adults own a smartphone. Apparently, most ghost photos are taken by the percentages that don’t. Most fairly modern smartphones have pretty decent cameras, but despite this, there are still large amounts of ghost photos that seem to have been taken on the phones that time forgot. I find this to be an even larger issue in videos of ghosts, where, because fakery is that much harder, it becomes necessary to blur the image so that a cg model blends in more naturally, or strings are just that bit harder to see.
Because photography is a single frame, I would be interested to know if there is any correlation between the literal quality of ghost photo, and the uptake in Photoshop or similar software.
Where it’s published
Finally, consider where the image has been seen. If it’s on a single site where it’s unlikely to gain much publicity, then you have to consider one of two options, either the person taking it wasn’t seeking fame, or that they weren’t very good at pursuing it.
If the image is on the website of a tabloid newspaper, such as the Daily Star, the Mirror, the Sun, and for this purpose the Daily Mail, then you need to consider the pressure on online journalists to work with the click based revenue that is killing off the industry. It’s the reason why there are so many stories like this one, which don’t stand up to much critical analysis; it’s more about getting people onto the page than providing genuinely challenging paranormal content. Yougov reports that 1 in 3 Brits believes ghosts exist, that’s a huge audience just domestically for newspapers like the Star, now if you factor in the worldwide appeal, then you can see why the tabloids are so keen to publish ghost photos.
These are just a few things to look at when you start to look at a ghost photograph analytically. Try to always start from as neutral a position as is possible, and attempt to see what a photograph has in its favour, and what it doesn’t.
If you have a ghost photo or video you’d like me to have a look at, why not tweet me @Darken_Corridor, https://twitter.com/Darken_Corridor, and i’ll get back to you in due course!