Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for the 'Ghosts' Category

Old Man Winter and a creepy ghost pareidolia


Another impressive example of pareidolia, found by Jeremy Olden in his house at Lake Stevens, Seattle. Keep reading for the full image and a slightly creepy video showing our brain’s pattern-recognition machine – or something supernatural, you decide.

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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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Best Pareidolia Ever


Have you seen Jesus today? The photo above may be a good chance. Sent by Jessica Lundgren from Sweden to paranormal.about.com, you can see the clear profile of a giant bearded man with closed eyes. It does resemble common representations of a fellow named Jesus. Even though that enormous Jesus head doesn’t quite fit into the rest of the image. What’s going on there? Jessica writes that “the child died short after the photo was taken”.


If you look carefully you may recognize that the photo is of a Victorian couple, with a small child sitting on the knee of the man. And then you may realize that that child is Jesus. Or rather that the big white hat of the little one is Jesus’ forehead and his tiny right forearm is Lord’s upper beard. Jesus’ hair is the vegetation in the background. Simply amazing.

[UPDATE] In Simpsons’ colors:



Richelle Hawks makes some further comments, and finds some other less impressive pareidolia in that same old image. “What is most likely, and maybe no less compelling—are the false head and other anomalies just ‘meaningless’ coincidences in which we find/attach/force/desire meaning?”, she asks.

That we first realize a giant face in the photo, even though it doesn’t fit the rest of the image, is probably not a coincidence. We have more neurons dedicated to promptly identifying faces than the ones that recognize Victorian kids sitting on their dad’s lap. That’s why pareidolia happens so often with faces. You don’t usually see Victorian kids in the clouds.

An explanation that I hope doesn’t make this any less compelling: this is really the best pareidolia case ever. Want more? Keep reading for another interesting – and classic, and perhaps controversial – example.

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Long Exposure Ghost


“Photo taken in 2006, at night in a beach. There was no one there except for the five friends. A woman appeared behind one of the girls. The photo has been in my PC, no one had access to them, I’m the girl in white. The photo was taken ‘in the automatic’ (10 seconds), I positioned the camera over a table at a distance of approximately three meters.”, Jamile Moura wrote us when she sent the photo.

I found it very interesting, and upon looking at the EXIF information in the image, quickly found that the exposure time was very long: 2 seconds. That means anything in front of the camera over at those two seconds would be captured, and if it was moving, if would appear blurred, with a phantasmagoric effect. Just like the lady back there. The clearly defined parts of the image were captured when the flash fired.

So I wrote Jamile and suggested this, that a woman may have passed behind them and they didn’t notice. This is actually very common (I could even suggest our good old invisible gorillas idea), but she kindly insisted there could be no one else there. “Your explanation didn’t convince me, but I thank you [for the suggestion]”.

Upon a closer look and further thought, and mainly realizing the ghost woman blur appear in front of the girl, another idea came up. It was long exposure, but the ghost is actually the girl at Jamile’s left side. She was initially standing for a few moments, then just before the flash fired, she inclined herself. The blur and distortion makes her look different, perhaps older, but her dress and hair is still recognizable.

The guy with a cap was also standing and bent when the flash fired, so there’s a “ghost” over his head too.

“Your new explanation makes more sense than the one before, thanks!”, Jamile replied. Well, thank you Jamile for sending a nice example of a long exposure ghost and not accepting our first quick and dirty idea. The second one is better, we all agree.

We will follow with several other examples of long exposure ghosts in the next posts. Some of them do feature people that went unnoticed in the background (and there’s one of the lamest photos ever received that features such invisible gorilla).

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Ghostly Simulacrum


“A schoolboy wedding guest was stunned when he snapped the newlyweds’ first dance – and spotted an apparition of a ghost in the disco lights”, reported the Telegraph.

The photo is interesting indeed, but in full it’s more clear that it’s just smoke lit by the spotlights.


Which takes us to the fun world of the puzzling simulacra, like the seemingly ghost girl from Argentina:

The little girl by the door may be the sister of the fog kid, but this one could have been a table, chair or bed. Granted, one may conceive it was a ghost, but stay with us for more of these ghostly simulacra.

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