photographic analysis revised
One of the most frustrating things for me to deal with as a paranormal researcher is the number of sincere people in this field who do not have the faintest idea how to take and analyze photographs. Since an authentic photograph of an apparition is the holy grail of paranormal investigating, it is very important to learn how to take good photographs, how to gain a thorough understanding of your camera, and how to analyze a photograph. Most investigators are very lazy when it comes to this issue. It's time to get down to serious business and learn the correct way to use your camera, how your camera works, and what a fake photograph looks like.
Here is why I am so frustrated. I have posted things like this before, but I hoped that it was starting to abate. No. I was wrong, as I often am. This was posted on Facebook recently, which makes it public, so I am using it as an example. All of the names of the contributors, as well as the group that posted it on their site, have been removed.
A picture was posted. The claim is that possibly something paranormal was caught in the window; some sort of ghostly image. The person was asking for opinions. Here is the picture and here are the comments. I have not corrected anything. My remarks are in red:
ok so going through pics on my facebook and i notice something in the window behind my daughter.... We have NO PETS. WTH is this
When examining a photograph for paranormal images, the first thing you want to ask yourself is, are there any reflective surfaces? Well, yeah. The window is a reflective, glass surface. Reflective surfaces will mirror or reflect whatever is around it. This reflection was clear and obviously a refection of what was right beside it on the table. You can even see the chair. Why didn't everyone get it?
Matrixing. We take images, especially ones that are gray-toned, and we see faces. Our mind's eye wants to organize everything shadowy into a face. Whatever the brain decides to organize it into, we then need to label and identify. So we "see" what is called a simulacrum..something similar to what we think we are seeing. Then we can't "not" see it. So, this time we have a cat's face. Once you "see" the cat's face you can't not see it. It's stuck there. Matrixing is also called Pareidolia. It is probably the biggest problem investigators have in analyzing photographs. If you become aware of this issue, you should be able to tell when you are matrixing.
Then there is the issue of influence. If someone says they see a cat's face, and we read that, then we tend to see the same thing. It unconsciously influences what we think we see. It's quite powerful and very common. If you become aware of this influence, you can set aside the influence and see objectively. Just realize that once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, it's very hard to get it back in.
So, when analyzing a photograph, first, look for reflective surfaces. If you can speak to a person who was there when the photo was taken, or the actual photographer, they can explain to you what or who was actually in the room at the time, and where they were. We can immediately rule out reflections of actual cats, boys, girls with glasses, bikes, dogs, and Native Americans.
Here are some very common mistakes that researchers make when analyzing photographs:
1. Orbs. Digital cameras with flash will turn a speck of dust, a bug, a water droplet, into an orb. Try an experiment. Get an old fashioned 35 mm camera. Kick up some dust by fluffing up a pillow, or simply kicking the floor. Take a picture with your digital camera, and another picture with the 35 mm. The digital camera will show orbs. The 35 mm will not have any orbs. So this is a problem with digital cameras. Be aware of it and do not waste your time on orb shots.
2. Camera straps. Often the camera strap or some other object will be very close to the lens of the camera. When a picture is taken it will often look like a white shape, misty, blurry, and often very odd. Make sure nothing like that was in front of the camera. Test by taking a shot to see if it looks the same. You can also go online and put in a search to look at many examples of this sort of problem.
3. Bugs. I was once with a team that got to set up video in a home for a whole week. While reviewing the video we saw an amazing white misty strand of something that looked like ectoplasm on the video. We tried to debunk it in every way we could think of but no luck. Wow. Had we caught something? No. I suggested that we rewind the video very slowly backward until we get to the place where the white anomaly shows up. Guess what? A spider drops down and it is the web! It was so close to the camera that it looked large and very odd. Sometimes a bug can land on your camera lens and because it is so close it can look paranormal, like an apparition or white mist.Of course, bugs can also show up as orbs.
4. Weather. If you are shooting outside, be very aware of the weather conditions. If it is damp, misty, foggy, or cold all sorts of things can show up on your camera that are not paranormal. If it is cold be very careful not to breathe when taking the shot. Your breath can look like mist.
5. Camera shake. Have you ever seen those photos of a steam or line of light? Your camera can do that. If you have it set on a fairly slow speed, then pan the camera, it will record a line of light. My suggestion is to experiment with your camera, trying to create things like this, just to be aware of how it happens, how your camera works, and how to recognize things like this.
6. Double exposure or film problems. This happens only with 35 mm cameras that use film. The last shot on the film role often will do odd things, the color will be off, or the image cut or blurred. A malfunctioning camera can accidently over expose a shot or double expose a shot. Also, if set on slow speed, and someone walked into the frame, they can look see-through or transparent. Any movement during a slow speed exposure will create this phantom effect. It can also be done with a digital camera.
7. Aps. Yes, there is an Ap for this. You can download ghostly apparition pictures and use them in your photographs, or double expose them or overlay them on top of your photos to turn them into paranormal photos. Watch out for this. You would not believe how many silly people try to pass these off as real. Do a search and it will give you all of the Aps and what they can do and what they look like so you can beware.
7. Deliberate faker-y. Over the years many famous ghost photographs that were once thought to be authentic have now been debunked. I was so disappointed to see the one below. It was my favorite ghost photo. The Hampton Court Ghost. Apparently, when you look closely at an enlarged version, the guy is wearing sneakers. I don't think they wore sneakers back then.
Hampton Court Ghost Photograph
This photograph has also been proven very recently to be a hoax as the alleged ghost is said to be wearing sneakers. It was a convincing hoax until recently.However, the photograph below has not been debunked. It is still a mystery and the photograph has been authenticated. It's one of the most famous of the apparition photos. Every serious investigator should be aware of what these photos look like. This one was used recently by a group as a double exposure over the interior of a restaurant and either the group or the client attempted to pass it off as a real photo from their investigation. All they had to do was know about this photograph to see it had been faked.
Girl on the gravestone
This photograph appeared in both the Chicago Sun-Times and the National Examiner. It was taken during an investigation in Bachelor's Grove Cemetery on August 10, 1991 with a group of GRS members. The picture is an enlarged black and white infrared shot taken of an area where many of the group noticed something unusual with some of the equipment they used. It shows a young woman sitting on a tombstone with parts of her lower and upper body being somewhat semi-transparent. The dress she is wearing is also out-of-date. It was taken by member, Jude Huff-Felz.