Spirit Photography is the most challenging area of ITC and produces very few results. The majority of images purported to be of Spirits have natural explanations, such as orbs caused by dust or insects in the air. A number of photos purported to be spirits are simply faked. The camera and how it is used, can also create false ghostly images. Digital cameras like Sony process images in specific ways, such as leaving the aperture open longer for bright areas. This creates a clear image with streaking lights through it or a blurring in brighter areas. Add the Pareidolia effect and this section should be called, “What is not Spirits or Ghosts in Photography”.
If spirits can be photographed, what should they look like? I would expect a photo of a spirit to look like what is historically reported, by those who have witnessed an apparition. Most who report having seen a ghost describe seeing a person, a white misty figure or featureless dark shadow in the shape of a person! Shadow people are the most commonly reported apparition and they are said to move very quickly.
The Importance of Multiple Frames
A rapidly moving low density shadow figure, moving from right to left would be hard to capture on film. A shadow figure moving towards or away from the camera, would be easier to photograph with a longer exposure setting. Using a flash shortens the exposure time and may be too bright, washing out any shadows. Longer ISO exposure times require the camera be mounted on a tripod.
Anytime one is attempting to photograph spirits, the camera should be stationary on a tripod. Also, the camera should be set to a continuous shooting mode or multiple shots should be taken from the same point of view. The objective would be to produce a series of photos in which a spirit manifests, then disappears under controlled conditions. Anything caught with the above method would carry more credibility, verses a single ambiguous photo with no before or after reference images.
Multiple Frames Examples
The below sequence of 3 photos was captured at a store on River Street and is a good example of the above method. Shadow people are commonly seen at this location. The photos were taken using the dimmed overhead lights, with the camera on a tripod. The camera was set to a continuous shooting mode of 1 frame per second. The camera was set up at the bottom of a ramp and a person would have had to move 15 feet in less than a second not to be captured in the following frame. In the second photo of the sequence, a shadow figure appears. Whatever caused the shadow was moving very fast and was there for less than a second.
These 2 photos were captured at the 17Hundred90 Hotel, in room 204. When the photos were taken, we were in contact with the spirit of Anna Powers who is reported to haunt this room. The photos were taken using natural light, on a tripod, with the camera set to a continuous shooting mode of 1 frame per second. In the first frame, there is a shadow of what appears to be a woman in a long dress moving out the door. This shadow is only present in the first frame. Four people were present at the time, everyone was dressed in shorts and no one went near the door.
These 3 photos were captured by Kathryne during an investigation of the Ford House, with her full spectrum camera. They are the best pictures of Ghost Mist or Ectoplasm that I have ever seen. A single frame would be interesting, though you could not conclude much from it. With the three frames shot in sequence, the mist can be seen forming, expanding and then retracting. It was 75 degrees inside the house and no one was smoking. If the mist was created by breath or smoke, it would not have retracted as this mist does in the last frame.
Note: Kathryne was prompted to shoot these photos, when Libby saw something behind one of the guests.
Spirit Photography – Identifying False Positives
Multiple Frames are important to identifying false positives. The risks of producing false positives with slow shutter speeds in dark conditions are high. It is important to know what you are photographing and who is around. The below series of images were provided by a guest during a Ford House event.
It would appear that something is manifesting in these 2 frames.
After increasing the brightness and contrast on both pictures, what is actually being photographed becomes apparent. It’s me! In the first frame, once brightened I can be seen next to 2 guests setting up a recorder on a stand. The light from the open door is illuminating my collar. In the second photo I step back slightly into the light as I move away. The bright area washes out most of my detail and the motion creates the light anomaly. If the first frame did not exist, it might appear that something is manifesting in front of the 2 guests.
More Examples of False Positives
The first picture is of dust orbs and the second has a light streak on the left in the window. On the right you can clearly read the signs, making the picture deceptive in that it doesn’t appear that the camera had moved. Many digital cameras have a longer exposure for bright areas causing a glowing streak if the camera is moved. The Exit sign on the right clearly shows this effect.
Note: It is common at this location to catch dust orbs and streaks. A local entrepreneur is now claiming this location to be haunted and charges tourists a ridiculous $60.00 for a 2 hour investigation. It’s so dusty here, you are almost guaranteed to catch pictures of Ghostly (dust) orbs.
Insects and water droplets in the air also cause interesting ghostly effects. In the summer, the air outside is almost always full of insects and they can be inside as well. The first photo is most likely an insect reflecting in the flash. The wings create what looks like little arms, on the ghost shaped glowing object. In the second picture there were a lot of fine water droplets in the air. I was curious what the droplets would look like reflected in the flash, they formed a ghostly mist. Breath creates the same effect.