With the influx of “ghost” photos in the media and on paranormal websites, its easy to start thinking that there might just be something out there. However with modern digital photo manipulation techniques, hoaxers, camera faults and even your own brain its quite easy to fall into the trap of getting excited over nothing.
Here are a couple of quick ways in which you can look at alternate explanations first. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Some of the following techniques do not even require specific camera knowledge, just common sense. This is by no means extensive or to be considered as the ultimate guide. I am after all human and therefore faulty!
Location/Composition/Reason – First off take a look at what the actual picture is of. For instance, someone has sent you a photo of an armchair with something wispy in it. The first question would be “Why were you taking a photo of an armchair?”. The photo taker may have a valid reason such as “We saw something and I grabbed my camera” or similar. If the location the photo was taken in seems “wrong” question this first. Be aware of the reason specifically too. For example if this photo coincides with a public event at a location, take note. This could be a marketing exercise!
Paradolia/Seeing faces in the clouds – The human brain is a clever old thing and this is a big factor in “ghost” photos. What you think you see isn’t what is there. This can be tested using the old ink blot technique. Grab a piece of paper, drop a big old blob of ink into the centre (or other liquid thats similar) and fold the paper in half, then open it up again. What do you see? Butterfly? Bird? Angel? Your mom? The list goes on. It all depends on how your little brain works. Everyone is different. Our brains are also very keen on making us see faces in everything. See below for an example. Hello Face on Mars.
Real people – You do get photos where people think they have captured a ghost and it looks spot on. But question the location and ask whether it could actually have been a real person that walked into shot!
Camera Straps/Your own hair/Cigarette Smoke etc – All the obvious things that can wander into shot and are very frequent.
Well thats enough for now, I’m tired and my eyes are requiring matchsticks to stay open. Part two I’ll look at camera faults, manipulation etc etc. In the meantime heres a fascinating selection of “Ghost” photos for your perusal. Science of Ghosts