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Examining Old Photographs Of Ghosts


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#1 MortimerGraves

 

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 06:15 AM

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This photo always messed with my head because something seemed wrong, and I couldn't find it. Today, I think I did.

Notice the shadow forming the lower robe is in front of the steps. However, it passes behind the railing. The effect of the arms is paterned decorations on the wall.

Thoughts, anyone? Share your own analysis of old ghost photos!

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Edited by MortimerGraves, 10 March 2013 - 03:09 AM.

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#2 platinumblue

 

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 08:10 AM

Hey @MortimerGraves!  Nice thread

I really enjoy these old ghostly photos mainly due to it being less likely, faked, by modern technology and software tools.  I'm not saying that they therefore can not be explained by some other logical reasoning (printing glitches/camera malfunction etc), but they do have a sense of "authenticity" about them.

I did some research about the famous Hooded monk spectre of Newby Church and found bits and pieces of information.

Apparently the photo was taken in the 1960's by Reverend K. F. Lord at Newby Church in North Yorkshire, England.  He claimed that he saw nothing unusual in the church on that day, and that the photo was merely a snapshot of the altar.  Only after developing the photograph did they see the image of what is supposedly, a hooded monk.  The church has no reported history of being haunted and was built in the 1870's.  The robe the monk was wearing is called a cowl and you can read more about it here.  Unfortunately no one could get their hands on the negatives to see if the image has been tampered with, although many experts say the image as we see it here, was not.  Some analysts reckon the monk was around 9 feet | 3 meters tall...

Another one I enjoy is that of the "Brown Lady of Raynham Hall"


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The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall is a ghost, which reportedly haunts Raynham Hall in Norfolk. It became one of the most famous hauntings in Great Britain when the image of the 'Brown Lady' was captured by photographers from Country Life magazine who were photographing the staircase in 1936, where it would become one of the most famous paranormal photographs of all time. The "Brown Lady" is so named because of the brown brocade dress it is claimed she wears.

According to legend, the "Brown Lady of Raynham Hall" is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686–1726).  The story says that when Townshend discovered that his wife had committed adultery with Lord Wharton he punished her by locking her in her rooms in the family home, Raynham Hall. According to Mary Wortley Montagu, Dorothy was in fact entrapped by the Countess of Wharton. She invited Dorothy over to stay for a few days knowing that her husband would never allow her to leave it, not even to see her children. She remained at Raynham Hall until her death in 1726 from smallpox.  The first recorded sighting of the ghost, made by Lucia C. Stone concerning a gathering at Raynham Hall at Christmas 1835.

Source: Wikipedia
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#3 Tantric KittenGStudy

 

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:10 AM

It's a fallacy that faking pictures in pre-digital and pre-software days was less likely to occur.  It takes skill and finesse to make them look credible but none of it requires any particularly complex techniques.  When I was in college in one of my photography classes I actually faked a series of ghost photos -- never intending them to be anything but art but if they fell into the wrong hands someone could do some serious damage to my credibility with them.  I did it entirely manually -- some were done in the enlarger (much easier) but others were done on the negatives themselves.

The first photo has always looked like a run in the silver emulsion on the negative to me.  The rail is darkened but the bright spot overrides that to the point it appears that it is "behind" the rail.  It's also odd that it looks like the villain in the Scary Movie movies -- the scream mask and the long, black robe.  It could easily be a processing error or a flaw in the film itself that was only on that single frame.

The Brown Lady photo is not a processing error -- not one I've ever seen.  It's either legitimate or deliberate double exposure/fakery.  There's no middle ground.  Either someone actually took a photograph of an entity on the stairs or they set up a (not difficult) double exposure where one shot was taken on the stairs and another shot was taken in a carefully calculated neutral background with a strong, bright light on the person in the robes on the same frame of film.
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#4 dmitchellcsum

 

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 06:34 PM

I'm a fan of the Lincoln ghost photo.

Lincoln Ghost

There has been many that claim this real because of age, but I was watching a special recently stating that the photo was taken by a man who made his living taking photo's of people and their deceased loved ones. That leads me to think that the photo is most likely faked since as most of us know, getting spirits to perform on command is nearly impossible.
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#5 MortimerGraves

 

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:54 AM

This is a rather infamous case

View Postplatinumblue, on 02 March 2013 - 08:10 AM, said:

Hey @MortimerGraves!  Nice thread

Thank you! The Brown Lady is one of my favorites, as I don't think anyone has fully debunked it to date.

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The rail is darkened but the bright spot overrides that to the point it appears that it is "behind" the rail.

The stairs are also brightly lit at the right but the shadow is in front of them. Anyho, you make a good point on that scream mask. I think it screams "Possible if not Definate Fake!"

This is rather an infamous case.



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in the 19th century William Crookes, noted for his involvement with Florence Cook and the spirit of “Katie King”, asked for his photographs in the séances to be destroyed after his death. Not all of them were, and the ones that remained clearly show the spirit was the medium.

In spite of being caught dressed as "Katie", Cook continued to perpetuate the fraud aided by Crookes claim that he saw the medium and ghost together in Florence's spirit cabinet. He would lead the supposed "ghost" around the room where people were told they could touch her but not to grab her as it could harm the medium. After each brief appearance, "Katie" would return to the cabinet and Florence looking tired and disheveled would reappear.

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Edited by MortimerGraves, 10 March 2013 - 03:10 AM.

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#6 Ectoplazzum

 

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 09:09 PM

why'know, that monk picture has creeped me out for years, and now that I am looking at it, I'm wondering if what I have thought all along was a face that looked like it was melting isn't a face at all, but a white cloth hanging on a hook on the wall?  Look at the very right hand side of the organ.  There is a drapey, white thing there as well.  It could be that what appears to be eyes isn't eyes at all, but maybe markings on the cloth (if it's a cloth)?  And NINE FEET TALL???  Geez O Pete!  That's one BIG monk! I don't know, now that the information about the railing and all has been pointed out to me, I am wondering if this monk pic is all just a rompin' stompin' case of pareidolia!

#7 MortimerGraves

 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 05:29 AM

View PostEctoplazzum, on 03 March 2013 - 09:09 PM, said:

why'know, that monk picture has creeped me out for years, and now that I am looking at it, I'm wondering if what I have thought all along was a face that looked like it was melting isn't a face at all, but a white cloth hanging on a hook on the wall?  Look at the very right hand side of the organ.  There is a drapey, white thing there as well.  It could be that what appears to be eyes isn't eyes at all, but maybe markings on the cloth (if it's a cloth)?  And NINE FEET TALL???  Geez O Pete!  That's one BIG monk! I don't know, now that the information about the railing and all has been pointed out to me, I am wondering if this monk pic is all just a rompin' stompin' case of pareidolia!

I would love to see this shot enlarged and enhanced.
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#8 Snowlord

 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:20 AM

I tried, but it was a small image to start with.




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#9 platinumblue

 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:19 AM

You are the most experienced photographer I've come to know @Snowlord.

I'm very curious, what's your take on these 2 images? (hooded monk and Brown Lady).  Is there a logical explanation?
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#10 Snowlord

 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 03:59 PM

View Postplatinumblue, on 04 March 2013 - 11:19 AM, said:

... I'm very curious, what's your take on these 2 images? (hooded monk and Brown Lady).  Is there a logical explanation? ...

Is there a logical explanation? ... not being an expert in film, and not having the original negatives even if I was, it is difficult for me to come up with a specific one. I do think there is one, somewhere, though. In those old days it was common to fake images like this to advance the paranormal beliefs of the time, so I would bet my money on a couple fakes. They seem a bit too specific to be just random anomalies.

#11 Judecat

 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:47 PM

I just noticed that whatever it is on the monk one is in front of the steps,  but behind the alter cloth.  No idea what it could be,  just an observation.

#12 Ectoplazzum

 

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:29 PM

I could be totally off my rocker, but the more I look at this picture, especially at the enlarged version of just the monk (thank you, Snowlord, for doing that!) the more I am convincing myself that the "face" of the monk is actually something hanging on the wall behind the altar.  It just doesn't look like a face to me.  The one thing I ALWAYS had a problem with when it came to this picture was the fact that the monk's face looked like it was melting.  I could never figure out why that would be.  A monk, of all people, would have been, or SHOULD have been, one of the people on the planet who would have pretty much been assured a quick trip to heaven.  So it makes little sense to me that this one is an earthbound spirit with a face that doesn't look like a human face would ever look.  I could even understand if he had been an UGLY monk!  But a MELTING monk?  Not so much.  Now that the oddity with the shadow of the robe has been pointed out, along with the fact that the monk is standing NINE FEET TALL, I am having SERIOUS doubts that this photo is anywhere NEAR authentic and, while I don't have any idea what the white cloth is, I have more or less convinced myself that it is just that, a white cloth, hanging on the wall in just the right spot to look like a "face".

#13 MortimerGraves

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 04:57 AM

Thanks Snowlord. Most of the things that make this look ghostly rather than simple shadow are caused by the background detail (making it look like arms in the original), the melting face, (some sort of fabric), etc. As the shadow passes in front of the steps, but behind the rail and the altar, I think manipulation of the image to for a definite fake is probably the truth.

What does the forum think of The Tulip Staircase Ghost?

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I have to admit, this one to me, anyhoo, seems difficult to debunk

Edited by MortimerGraves, 10 March 2013 - 03:12 AM.

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#14 Judecat

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 05:32 AM

My issue with the "ghost" is that at the time the picture was taken the church was less than 100 years old,  having been built in the 1870's.  There were no monks associated with the church in those hundred years,  There was no history of a haunting at all.    And there was NO association with the old Catholic monistaries that Henry the VIII had done away with.   Basically there is absolutely no reason for there to be a monk on that site,  either alive or dead.

#15 SpukiKitty

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:33 AM

Perhaps the weird shrouded figure isn't a monk.

IF it's real, it could be a negative enity, it could be an ancient pagan priest figure from WAY long ago (A Druid?)...who knows? Perhaps there was a guy who lived in the area VERY LONG ago who may have been disfigured & with gigantism....a freakishly tall guy who wore a shroud with a veil over his face.

Also, IF it's a real ghost, why would it be bound by the material rules of height & proportion? It could be a perfectly normal-sized guy from long ago who, now that he's a pneumatic being, can look funny when materializing. It can stretch or change size. This is why certain alledged apparitions being "out-of-proportion" don't automatically scream "Yo, I'm fake/an illusion" to me. It's a ghost, it's not hylic solid matter. There are other things to look for if you want to see if it's a fake/illusion/false-positive or not.

Then, of course, there's the possibility that it's a hoax. Photo experts may have examined the photo. Did they look at the negative? Are they credible experts? I'm all for experts examining photos but if they're hacks or haven't looked at EVERYTHING, they're meaningless. The famous "Girl In Wem Hall Fire" picture was touted as "for real" & "unexplainable" for years by alledged experts...only for it to turn out to be a pic from an old postcard (some grumpy-looking girl on a street in a poofy white dress & hat) shopped into the flaming Wem Hall pic.

Edited by SpukiKitty, 05 March 2013 - 07:26 AM.

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#16 SpukiKitty

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:39 AM

View PostMortimerGraves, on 05 March 2013 - 04:57 AM, said:

Thanks Snowlord. Most of the things that make this look ghostly rather than simple shadow are caused by the background detail (making it look like arms in the original), the melting face, (some sort of fabric), etc. As the shadow passes in front of the steps, but behind the rail and the altar, I think manipulation of the image to for a definite fake is probably the truth.

What does the forum think of The Tulip Staircase Ghost?

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I have to admit, this one to me, anyhoo, seems difficult to debunk

I swear, I see two or more figures in this picture. Look at the hand higher up. See the thumb? Nobody has two left hands (unless they have some sort of weird condition)! There's 1 or 2 poorly-defined figures & one well-defined figure....not one figure with both hands grasping the rail in awkward, laborous fashion.

I think I even see a face on the upper figure. I'll post some "outlines" & show you what I see.

Edited by SpukiKitty, 05 March 2013 - 06:50 AM.

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#17 SpukiKitty

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:17 AM

MY FINDINGS WITH THE TULIP STAIRCASE:

The Original
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Interpretation #1, Two Figures
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Interpretation #2, Three Figures
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Edited by SpukiKitty, 05 March 2013 - 07:19 AM.

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#18 SpukiKitty

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:24 AM

MY FINDINGS WITH THE TULIP STAIRCASE  (Cont...)

THE UPPER FIGURE APPEARS TO HAVE A FACE!

Original
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Outlined
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Not Outlined (but pointed out)
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#19 Snowlord

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:39 AM

I agree that there are at least two people in this image, combined with motion blur and poor resolution caused by dim lighting and possibly the wrong ISO of film used for the conditions. I agree with the "two left hands" view of this image.

#20 Tantric KittenGStudy

 

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:43 AM

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he stairs are also brightly lit at the right but the shadow is in front of them.

The difference with that is the amount of exposure/silver emulsion that would be there.  The stairs aren't bright enough to cause a complete absence of emulsion in that spot but the flash reflection on the rail is.  If you look at the thing hanging on the side of the altar you can (just) see it's darkened with the rest of the shadow and all other bright spots that aren't so bright that there's an absence of emulsion are similarly darkened.
When you do processing yourself you learn very quickly to be careful with the water temperature and potential for bubbles -- water temperature issues (especially if it's not a steady temperature... so if you turn the water on just before processing the film) can cause stains very similar to the dark spot.  Bubbles will cause white spots with (often but not always) dark rings around them.
These problems are in the processing of the film so the resulting negatives would have the flaws -- although careful examination would turn them up (and the negatives no longer exist so far as we know... no one has examined the negatives).
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