TriCounty Paranormal Group

Fact & Folklore

Accidental Paranormal Phenomena & Photographs

Before we start to look at the accidents we must first touch on what a photograph is...  A photograph is a record of light and light waves on a piece of film (or as is the cases for some now a days, on disc).  It records the light bouncing off of and illuminating objects.  They work very much in the same way our eyes do.

Accidental paranormal phenomena occur in photographs for many reasons...  The following are some of the more common ones.

One of the most common cases of APP is accidental multiple exposure.  This normally occurs for 1 of 2 reasons. 
A) someone forgot they already used this roll of film and re-used
B) the camera is not advancing the film properly. 
It is easy enough however to recreate this using manual cameras, as the operator has control over film strip as far as it's advancing and rewinding goes...  
It is also possible to recreate this using scanned images and over laying them in Photoshop and other such digital computer programs. 
And for the skilled photographic darkroom worker, they can dodge and burn the photos onto the paper too look like ghosts/Spirits as well.

Another APP is Orbs.  Gracious I have seen so many proclaimed Orb photos I have enough in memory to last me 100 lifetimes. 
Most often this is an insect flying through the scene.  The light bouncing off of a set of light translucent wings or shiny iridescent shell is often enough to cause the little spots of light.  Also don't forget about lightning bugs...  There are different species that have different colored rumps that glow.  In my lifetime and travels I have seen 3 personally.  The most popular are green.  But back a time ago when visiting grandparents I remember two other varieties with Yellow Lights and Red Lights on their rears.  We used to sit and watch them for hours at dusk and twilight.
Dust floating may be caught and mistaken for orbs as well.  Dust is in the air all around us (I won't get into what it is made up of as most will gross out at it) all of the time... it is very easy to miss as our eyes are used to ignoring it. 
Also Fingers and bits of hair waving close to the camera lense can be mistaken for rods and orbs as well (by the way there are no such things as rods-they were made up as a very successful hoax).  
Another and less considered origin of Orbs (now a days at least) is swamp gas, which can also occur in ditches or any area where there is stagnant water.  It is caused by the release of gases from decomposing plant/animal materials.  It is also normally accompanied by an unpleasant odor if you are unfortunate enough to be in a rather confined area with it, although the odor-unless you are downwind, rarely is present in the great outdoors unless there is a large concentration of stagnant water. 
Orbs can also be caused by film development errors with the processing machine, which is why so many people now swear by digital.  I personally feel you get better resolution with traditional cameras and film. 
I have seen an actual orb in real life, and followed it over a 1/4 mile.  I feel that if there is an orb then it should have been seen in real life, not just shown up on a photograph.

Another fairly common reason for APP in photographs is that the camera was shaken or disturbed during the exposure. 
Creepy setting + Weird thing you don't recognize + Being taken at night so there is very little else to compare the photograph with cause all is black = being mistaken for some sort of APP.  
Also the Aperture of the camera affects the quality of detail in things at a distance in photographs.  If you are photographing with a camera that allows you to control the aperture, make sure it is the largest number available (Normally this is 22 or 32).  It will mean a longer exposure time, but it will also mean greater detail.  
Most cemetery ghost photos that I have been privileged enough to see end up being nothing more than an out of focus grave/tomb stone in the background. 
To avoid this Always use a tripod and a cable release... Also, make sure everyone you are with at the time knows where it will be set up, so they do not knock into it during an exposure...

Some ppl show photos with odd colors, lines or blobs in them that are most often a photographic development problem.  Often greenish or bluish in color, or white with a yellow &/or reddish outline, due to the way the development process works.  This may be something that happens on the film or on the print.  They have no particular given pattern for occurring or shape in which they occur, so it make sit very difficult for the photographic layman for picking them out.  However, it is very important to keep this in mind when examining photographs showing "Paranormal Evidence."

In addition a poorly put out campfire with smoldering ash can give rise to Smokey wisps, that when caught on camera appear "to be evidence that ghosts/spirits exist."

It is very important to keep one's wits about them when viewing photos.  Most of us want to believe in the Paranormal...   But jumping to conclusions does nothing to help our cause.  To be skeptical and check out all the details is the only way we can ever prove what we are seeing to others.


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