Over the years I’ve invested a lot of time trying to find genuine "ghost pictures" and have, of course, conducted investigations of my own trying to capture apparitions. While most of the photos circulating the Internet are compelling enough at first glance, closer inspection soon reveals that many have, in fact, been faked or are simply due to our brains being tricked.
Some are blatantly obvious; some are more subtle; and others are cleverly rendered. Very few have fallen into the category of "genuine" in my opinion. An increasingly large number of ghost pictures have been emerging for some time, primarily from Asia, which feature a female "ghost" unashamedly resembling the ghost from The Ring (or Ringu in Japan). In the beginning this no doubt started as a kind of shock-horror joke, but Samara (the long-haired otherworldly 8-year-old in the white dress from the movies) has been appearing all over the place, sometimes passed off as a "genuine ghost". This is an example of blatant fakery.
I was inspired to write this article because recently several of my comments dismissing apparitions caught on film (camera and video) – including the reasons why I believed they’d been faked or manipulated – were deleted, and more often than not, the undeleted comments remaining praise and give kudos to these so-called paranormal captures. It makes me wonder if the individuals or paranormal groups responsible have been busted – and they know it – and just want to cover their tracks.
I’m not an expert in photography or videography, but I know enough to ably differentiate between fakery and genuine. So, here are five common-sense ways to help dismiss these blatant frauds.
Five Ways to Spot Faked Ghost Pictures
What is the source?
This one should be most obvious, but sometimes even the best fakes fool experts for several years. In fact, we’ve even been mistaken on occasion as well.
A prime example is the Cottingley Fairies
. These were a series of five photographs taken in mid-1917 by cousins nine-year-old Frances Griffiths and sixteen-year-old Elsie Wright (at the time the first two photos produced) with their father’s Midg No 1 camera. They fooled many people for well over six decades until, in 1983, they admitted to fakery.
Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, also a prominent Spiritualist, was convinced that they were genuine. This, along with an opinion from Harold Snelling, a photography expert, who opined that "the two negatives are entirely genuine, unfaked photographs … [with] no trace whatsoever of studio work involving card or paper models", only gave further weight to the claims. He did not endorse any depictions of fairies, but added that they were "straightforward photographs of whatever was in front of the camera at the time".
¶ Visit the Cottingley Network for some comprehensive information about the Cottingley Fairies.
Some tabloid newspapers (online and offline) will purposefully sensationalise paranormal stories, especially Empire News, along with convincing backstories and compelling photographs. These are then often propagated as genuine articles.
Finding the source of an image, can help determine its origin. A very good browser plugin is TinEye (available for Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera). With a simple right-click on an image, the plugin can list all of the sites the image has been used on and even, with some power-research, back-trace an image to its original source.