I grew up in rural NWPA, surrounded in forest. I took an early interest in cryprozoology and sharks and have read many books on various crypto subjects such as Bigfoot and Megalodon over the years. I am not a professional writer or a journalist, but I do the best I can. I have a quirky, obscurely dry and sometimes sarcastic sense of humor than can get me in trouble. Some love me and some hate me, but I am who I am.

Here at Ghosttheory, we do our best to see things through the eyes of logic, evidence and fact. We are not so much trying to debunk as we are attempting to bring reality to light.

Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of photos out on the Interwebs and we’ve used our fair share as subjects of articles we’ve written. In that time our skill in spotting mundane anomalies has improved and has aided us in analysis.

Here’s a good story from Autumnforest’s ghosthunting site. Many may know Autumn from her insightful comments made here at GT and more readily over at Bigfoot Evidence.

This is Autumn’s no nonsense look at common photographic mistakes made by amateurs and ghost hunters alike.

Debunking Photographic Evidence

Let’s talk more about photographic evidence when it comes to haunted locations. The advent of the digital camera was a blessing for some, a curse for others. It allowed us to see and print photos on our own and even preview them and delete them on the camera, but it also meant that we didn’t get around to making hard copies for our photo albums quite so much.

The other unexpected curse is the placement of a flash right in front of a lens, creating the ability to have that light shine on every particle that goes by the lens. You walk through a room to investigate and take photos, and every step you take is making the dust on shelves and pollen in clothing and hair, and particles in the carpet stir up. Sure enough most of your indoor dust photos are taken after walking int a room and taking a shot. Photographic evidence is very hard to come by. Nearly everything taken at night can be explained by the flash on glass ceiling light domes, photographs on the wall in glass picture frames, window reflections… Let’s look at some explainables and I suggest you take these sorts of pics with your own camera to see how they come out. I have a friend with an Olympus and her camera’s orbs are pentagon shaped.

Above we have a classic dust orb shot taken as I walked into the room and started snapping pictures.

The photo above shows strands of hair which often appear as translucent tubes. Sometimes the photos will also show small spherical shapes which appear to be inside the “tubes”. However, upon closer inspection it is no surprise that these anomalies are tinted the color of the photographers own hair.

This picture shows what happens with a slow shutter speed, or moving the camera where there are lights.

This one is nothing more than cold breath on a chilly night. There are those who will swear they photographed a spirit flying by in some sort of mist form.

So, what the heck is the ball-shaped object in the above photograph? Sorry, it’s nothing more than a reflection caused by taking the picture through a window.

A classic dust shot with a twist, notice the moth at the center top which gives an added dimension for a claimant to focus attention on.

The next one is a common braided camera strap. It will come off the bottom of the shot more often than not as the person is holding the camera. I simply removed mine from my cameras. One less thing to fret over.

See what happens above when taking a cemetery shot. Unfortunately, it was just time to water the grounds via the paranormal sprinklers.

Is this some eerie and mystifying occurrence? Nope! Just an errant finger caught in front of the lens.

On occasion you get one that baffles you. This one bothered me the first couple years of ghost hunting because the orb appears behind a fence some 12 feet away. Of course repetition brought the realization that when dust particles are picked up by the flash, it can be far enough away from the lens to look quite translucent. It takes some zooming and contrast to realize that it is in front of the fence, not behind.

There are those who may wonder, why would anyone misinterpret such obvious and common camera issues? Well, in my opinion people want so badly to see something that they lose a bit of perspective and logic.

I’ve seen some “ghost hunters” who have been taking paranormal pictures for years still insist that “orbs” are something otherworldly. Unfortunately, these types will never be convinced otherwise.

If one person learns from this paranormal photography 101 lesson, it’s one less observer who is ignorant of the facts.

Thanks again to Autumnforest over at autumnforestghosthunter for providing us this lesson.

  • Ramon

    Good collection of examples, nice to see.

    It does remind me of Robbert van den Broeke though. This guy faked all his “supernatural” powers. His photographs of ghosts where cut out figurines at close distance while focusing further away, resulting in a fluffy out of focus ghost.. boooooo!

  • PCWilliams

    Great article!

    Along these same lines, this is one of best orb articles i’ve ever read:
    http://www.parascience.org.uk/articles/orbkill.htm

  • Henry

    Nice to see your back Scott. And your front (just to gt ahead of the joke)

    Yup, I have a few of these, and an even better example of orbs.

  • Michiel

    One other culprit is cigarette smoke. If one is holding a lit cigarette while taking a photo, especially at night, you can get smoke in front of the lens and get some very nice “ghosts.”

  • Thank you. I always advise people to learn their own cameras and what these things look like when they show up and keep a file of “hair,” “fog,” chandeliers” and other.

  • great coverage, when you really start to look you can really start to see the realities of each photo. wonderful stuff. thank you.