In 1995, a mysterious fire erupted in a town hall in Wem, England. Resident Tony O’Rahilly snapped a picture of the inferno, but the photo he developed contained a chilling surprise: a bonnet-clad girl standing in the flames. Tony shared his creepy capture with friends, and the ghostly image soon made headlines around the world.
Some say the ghost belongs to Jane Churm, a 14-year-old girl who accidentally started a fire in the old town hall in 1677. Others insist the photo is a fraud. Why? In 2010, a newspaper in Wem ran an old photo from the 1920s. In it stands a bonnet-clad girl whose clothing and features closely resembles the figure in the fire. It seems O’Rahilly inserted the girl, if she is indeed the same person, into the picture of the fire. Do you think it’s the same girl?
Not sure if that creepy ghost picture is real? Here are six questions that can help you sort the real pics from the fakes and mistakes.
Does the Setting of the Picture Make Sense?
Many so-called ghost pictures are taken in empty rooms or darkened hallways. In other words, places most people have no interest photographing. This may be a red flag as many fake ghost photos feature boring backgrounds or unremarkable subjects. If you see an image with an oddly dull setting, read the caption or description to learn why the photographer snapped that particular photo. Did he or she hear odd noises? Get a weird feeling? Visit a site rumored to be haunted? Some ghost hunters take pictures of random objects in hopes of finding a ghost. Did a ghost hunter snap the picture or was it someone else? If there seems to be no plausible reason for the picture, it’s probably a fake.
Does the Photo Seem Too Good to be True?
Some ghost photos seem too good to be true, and they probably are. While there’s no rule that says ghost photos must be blurry or indistinct, terrifying images of floating specters or gliding apparitions are almost certainly fake.
Has Someone Manipulated the Picture?
Programs like Adobe Photoshop and quirky apps like iPhone’s Ghost Capture make it easy to manipulate photos and insert ghostly images. The Daily Mail published the picture below last August, but the Victorian-era spook clearly came from the popular ghost app. Spotting Ghost Capture fakes is simple if you know which spirits to look for, but outing Photo Shop frauds can be a bit more challenging. Sites like Foto Forensics can help.
Is the Photo Poor Quality?
A large amount of ghost photos are too blurry, too dark, or too out of focus to serve as evidence for the paranormal. It doesn’t help that many fraudsters rely on poor image quality to hide evidence of manipulation or other trickery.
Is There a More Logical Explanation?
Many so-called ghost photos have a logical explanation that has nothing to do with ghosts. Deliberate hoaxes aside, a number of things can cause spooky effects in a photo, including dust, smoke, lens flare, camera straps, lighting issues, and long exposures. Eliminate all possibilities before proclaiming a photo paranormal.
Is the Ghost an Illusion or Open to Interpretation?
We’ve all seen photos of ghostly faces, but are they really ghosts or merely a trick of shadow of light? Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which people interpret an image or sound as being significant, even when it’s not, and this often manifests in people seeing faces where none exist. Other ghost photos are open to interpretation, with some people spotting spooks in shadows and others seeing nothing at all.
Have you seen a ghost picture that you are certain is real? Please send a link or send the pic to firstname.lastname@example.org!