Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Another Long Exposure Ghost

Following our series of long exposure ghosts, we post here the image kindly sent by our fellow Brazilian reader, Paulo José:

“It was the night of February 19, 2008, and I and my neighbor Jessica were in the street talking and photographing things of no importance. The strange thing is that only some time ago, looking through the hundreds of photos we took that we found this one. Due to the exposure of one second, the image was blurred and the street lights turned into bright lines. But I can’t find an explanation for the man (?) that appears in the photo not having the lower part of his body, nor even having a shadow. As it was some time ago, I can’t remember if there was someone passing in front of the camera, but obviously there was. I just can’t understand why the photo turned out this way. I hope you can help me”.

Paulo also wrote he likes to explain ghost photos, and is damn right to note that the second-long exposure is part of the explanation for the man with no legs nor shadow. The other element is, as seen previously in long exposure ghosts, the interaction of this exposure with the flash light. That in this image was fired too. And the final ingredient is a handheld camera, moving quite a bit during the exposure.

Look at the inverted “L” that many of the lights in the image turned into. Those lights were originally just points, and that trail is an indication of all the movement the camera made during the exposure of one second. Now, if a point of light may turn into a large inverted L trail, how would a man who doesn’t like paparazzi be distorted?

Apparently, quite a bit, as different parts of the man were illuminated in a different way by the flash light, which has a range of only a few meters – all those people taking photos in stadiums with flash are just wasting their batteries, unless they want to capture the heads of people directly in front of them instead of the game hundreds of meters away.

That the man’s legs were also moving, perhaps hastily, would also make them more blurred, and thus less visible.

In all, several different effects interacted to produce that result. I won’t pretend to know exactly how they worked, so this may not be all the help to fully understand the image that Paulo wanted, but it may give some more tools to comprehend it a bit more.

[With thanks to Paulo José and the anonymous man who didn’t want to be photographed. He is now somehow a worldwide mystery.]

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