There is no doubt about it, trying to capture evidence of the paranormal on film is a growing fascination among ghost hunter organizations, as well as, armchair ghost hunters across the globe. Evaluating those ghostly images carefully may reveal perfectly reasonable explanations or provide clues to the true nature of the spirits you think you see in the photo.
Not all images of ghosts and other spectral beings can be explained away, of course, but unless you rule out possible causes, you’ll never know for sure.
One of the most common causes for the appearance of ghostly images or spirit faces in photographs is matrixing. Because the human brain is designed to construct meaningful images from the stimulus it receives, it may perceive images of faces or human-like forms amid complex patterns. This often occurs in photographs of cluttered areas, trees, leaves, reflections in mirrors or other reflective surfaces.
Examine the image carefully to determine if the features you see are made up of parts of the background pattern. If leaves or other natural objects create parts of the image, the image is not paranormal and is simply the brain’s attempt to create a recognizable image from the colors, shapes and textures in the photo.
Grant Wilson, co-founder of The North Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) and crewmember of SyFy’s hit Ghost Hunters series, recommends evaluating the proportions in the image. If faces or bodies appear cartoony and out of sync with the normal proportions of the human body or face, take it as a cue that the image is probably created by matrixing.
If, on the other hand, the image is made up of distinct parts that are not related to patterns or reflections in the photo, shows typical proportions and cannot be explained by other means, it may be paranormal.
Misty images are often caused by breath that is not visible at the time of snapping the photo. Many mistakenly believe that because they could not see their breath that there was no breath to be photographed. According to the Middle Georgia Paranormal Group, mist formed from exhaling may be so fine that it is not visible to the naked eye, but it may show up on film. If your pictures were taken on a cool day, mist from breath must be considered.
Grant Wilson cautions that cigarette smoke can appear as a mist in photographs. He recommends that no one smoke during an investigation to eliminate the possibility of compromising photos with misty images caused by smoke.
Consider any vehicles running in the vicinity at the time the photo was taken. Exhaust can appear as a ghostly image on film.
Orbs are one of the most controversial images caught on film. Many inexperienced ghost hunters claim to have captured evidence of a haunting simply by photographing orbs. Orbs can be caused by dust, insects, moisture and reflected light.
Examine orbs closely. Grant Wilson explains that dust orbs appear perfectly round, have one solid color and do not have a defined border. He further explains that orbs created by moisture tend to be angular, fade from solid to transparent and have no defined border. Large droplets of moisture may produce a less angular shape.
Orbs created from reflections typically produce several orbs that appear in a line with one orb appearing brighter than the others do.
Paranormal orbs appear solid, range in color from blue and green to white, emit their own light and may have a blurred trail behind them. Grant Wilson cautions that even “real’ orbs are simply a ball of energy and do not necessarily indicate paranormal activity.
Objects in Front of Lens
Stray camera straps and fingers are probably the most common objects to show up in photos. Fingers appear reddish while camera straps often appear white. Another common object is strand of hair that may appear as wiggly strands of light. Always consider any objects that may have interfered with the view of the lens when evaluating ghost photos.
Defects in Film or Camera
Check your camera to rule out defects in the camera. If using film, double-check the condition of the film and the developing process. Light streaks that may appear red or orange may indicate exposure to light before or after the photo was taken.
Once you have ruled out these common causes for seemingly paranormal images in photographs, the conclusion is up to you. You may not be able to prove that it’s really the ghost of a long lost relative in your photographs, but you can present your evidence to the world without risk the of embarrassment for overlooking an obvious explanation.
Grant Wilson. TAPS: Give Me Some Proof
Middle Georgia Paranormal
Ghost Tech: Matrixing