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What to look for when looking at a strange photo

by Darren Croese AGHS


Simply by being involved with ghost hunting, from time to time you may find people coming up to you and asking you if you think a certain anomalous shot they took is something ‘strange’.
Of course, they see you as a ‘believer’ and expect you to get excited which is fine when it’s just between friends. But if it’s someone that you don’t know personally then you could very well be being set up deliberately – or worse, you will end up being referred to as having ‘authenticated’ the shot as paranormal in nature… only to be ridiculed by people who actually have expertise in the area and who can and will happily supply a perfectly serviceable mundane explanation… and so your name quickly becomes mud, and the reputation of the whole community suffers.

This obviously is not good for any of us, so I’ve thrown together some of the more obvious and simper errors that can be made when taking a shot that can result in a ‘spooky’ look from completely innocent causes.

I have worked briefly as a photographer in the past, but I am certainly no ‘expert’ in the field. This is simply a list of simple flaws that I have experimented with, not an exhaustive dissertation by any means.

If you feel this may be helpful to you then read on.

Part 1:

Mist Shots


Photo 1: The Demon Dog Photo
(click for large image)




Loungeroom phantom


Photo 2: The Loungeroom Phantom
(click for large image)




Ghosts are commonly described as having a misty-like quality or appearance to them – particularly in Hollywood. When actually encountered they often are not, but that’s another subject entirely. Unfortunately, this common belief has the effect that some people cry ‘ghost’ whenever they see a misty something in a photograph.

The two shots above are FAKE. Totally and unashamedly fake.
The Demon Dog (I LOVE that shot. Can't believe how good it looks) is nothing more than my breath swirling in front of the camera lens on a cold night. What you (and I) see in it is nothing more significant than finding shapes in clouds overhead. I took a load of other pics that night and I’ll be happy to include them if anyone is particularly interested, but what I would recommend is for you to take your own.
Experiment with a digital camera where you can take as many shots as you want for free. Then post YOUR shots up – but always be honest and label fake shots clearly.

The Loungeroom Phantom shot was actually made by some burning incense (cigarette/cigar smoke works as well). The path the smoke has taken simply illustrates currents in the air. What I was trying to highlight here is that any time a flash is involved with the shot be VERY careful about how you interpret it.

A flash is reflected back by tiny particles in the air which may or may not be visible when you take the shot. So, if you are ever asked to look at a (night or indoor) photo to determine if it is showing anything spooky I would recommend you be extremely sceptical.
Ask lots of questions - Weather conditions on the night (esp temperature), was a flash used, was anyone smoking, were you with a group (more people = more hot air (LOL)), and compare the shot against others that you know are fake to see if there are similarities.

Remember, just because you can explain what the person has snapped, does not mean that they were deliberately trying to fake the shot - so be nice ;-) If you are the one taking the shot, - stand away from any group you are with - be very conscious of where you direct your breathing when you are shooting - try to use time exposure (with a tripod) instead of a flash if you can - don't smoke when shooting, and keep away from others who are smoking - keep notes on the conditions (weather, etc) when the shots were taken Also keep these in mind when you are looking at 'ghost' pics on other sites around the net.

[Part 2: Orbs will be coming soon…ish]

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