Ghost Pictures 101

April 13th, 2013 | Posted by Paranormal Association in Dr. Paul | Ghost | Ghost Hunters | Ghost pictures

With all the pictures going around with apparent orbs, spirits, demons and other unexplainable objects it seems like a great time to have a discussion on ghosts caught on tape or film. There are many concepts and we are going to explore the more common theories.


What is a “Ghost”?

More correctly called “Spirits” because the word “Ghost” refers to what we see and a spirit is what they are. Most people use the words interchangeably for easier reading. A spirit in ghost form is the soul or life force of a once living person who’s corporeal essence is still on this earth and visible or able to interact with the living in some way. Most believe the spirit has not moved on to Heaven because it has unfinished tasks left to do with the living. Others believe ghosts are images of people who, because of an extreme event or repetitive activity, have left their action etched in time; this belief infers that no sentient spirit exists when we see the ghost. For example: A maid walked up the stairs every morning at 7:00 AM for 30 years and her steps can still be heard even years after the staircase is torn down. There are many other explanations, none which have been proven true or false.


Do ghosts exist?

disneyIt would all depend on your beliefs. “A negative can never be proven”. This means that no one can ever prove that a ghost does not exist anymore than God or Heaven can be proven not to exist. If a ghost went on a nationally publicized conference and allowed all scientific study and tests to prove they were really a spirit, then and only then we could prove they do exist. Anything less and skeptics would still say it is not proven. Until proven true the answer remains open since we cannot prove they do not exist.


Can I believe in the Bible and ghosts?

The Witch of Endor called up the spirit of Samuel in ghost form to give a prophecy (1 Samuel 28:7-20) and when the disciples saw Christ walking on water at first they believed it was a ghost (Matthew 14:25-27), so the Old Testament and the disciples in the New Testament believed in ghosts. The word “ghost” is used in the King James Bible 108 times, almost always it was used to describe other than what we use the word for today. Some Christian scholars insist that their interpretation and explanation of the Bible and ghosts is that all the dead go to Heaven or Hell immediately so what we see as a ghost is really a demon imitating a spirit to deceive us. However even on that theory, a demon does appear in our world as a ghost and visible. Thus, even a biblically religious person or an agnostic could both see the same ghost and the only difference would be interpretation of what they saw. A full atheist who believes the soul does not exist would not believe ghosts exist and if they did see one then they would use all alternative explanations besides something paranormal.


Can a ghost be captured on film or EVP?

2627404670_ghost_halloween_xlargeJust like the “proving a negative question” on existence of ghosts, it cannot be proven that they cannot be captured on media. This leaves the possibility that they can be. There have been many instances where, for money, notoriety or some other deceptive motive, pictures have been faked. Logically, some people making fakes do not discredit all instances; it only produces the need for more careful review. The theories range as to why a ghost can be picked up on film. Basically, if there is energy to a spirit then that energy in some way could be picked up on a recording device, be it in the light wavelength, temperature, sound or some other way yet to be fully understood. Some believe spirits are in a dimension close to ours, which sometimes cross and are perceivable under normal circumstances. An EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) is a sound recording set at tones not audible to the human ear, adjusted in frequency, then played back at tones the human ear can understand. My personal issue with most publicized EVPs is the narrator tells you what you should be hearing within the static before you hear it and then people seem to hear the pre-stated words. However some recordings are very clear in the words spoken. Seeing, hearing and smelling as we understand them is limited to what our senses can detect. Much like some animals who can see, hear or smell things undetectable to us, as we continue to experiment with our technology to enhance our environment we may find better ways to detect stimuli out of our standard perception.


How to determine if the picture was faked?

W. Hope made a living taking pictures of spirits.

W. Hope made a living taking pictures of spirits.

Assuming ghosts exist and they can be photographed it is difficult to know for sure if one is caught on film. First the credibility of the person taking and submitting the picture needs to be investigated. Someone with a history of making money from claiming UFO and Bigfoot sightings may be too big of a coincidence to believe they also happened to find a ghost. On the other hand it is unlikely a grieving parent would be mentally sick enough to falsify a ghost picture over their own child’s grave. Second is the “chain of title” the film has been through. Meaning could someone have tampered with it? A person with their own developing room or a Photoshop expert producing a ghost picture may be suspicious. However an amateur photographer sending film to a respectable lab is more comforting. Sometimes the ghost is positioned in the picture with an artistic placement, which makes the picture questionable.


How do I know if it is a real ghost?

facesIf the credibility is believable then what was caught on film was likely, to the best of the photographer’s belief, what was filmed. The question then turns to, “Is that object in the picture a ghost or an illusion?” From the time we were babies we learned instinctively to look for faces, and still do. We can see a face in the dirt if we look long enough. Bushes with different colored leafs, dark shadows, etc can look like a face or a body. Given the number of pictures taken per year, many optical illusions of faces will show up by odds. By checking the surrounding area, textures and lighting we can often explain an illusion. What is left will be classified as “unexplainable” and possible ghost pictures.


What would they look like?

Because no picture has ever been proven beyond all skeptics to be 100% real of a ghost, no one can say for sure what a ghost would look like on film. Some say a picture is not clear enough as others say it is too clear to be a ghost. There are some classifications:


Ghost Fam 1Apparitions – This is a human shaped form or part of the human. It may be only a head, arm or the full body. They are in varied degrees of being translucent.


Shadow peopleShadow people – These are very similar to a full apparition however they are dark and in the shadows. Some believe they are simply apparitions in poorly lit areas. Others believe the history of shadow people is that they will follow a person, unlike an apparition who is stationary to a haunting, so have different characteristics and deserved a separate classification.


ghost_mistMists and vapors – These appear in a picture as a gathering of energy which has not formed to human shape. A flaw in photography can also cause this phenomenon so careful review of the circumstances during the taking of the picture is required.


orb112508lgOrbs – These are circular illuminated objects on film. The belief is that consciousness gathered in these balls is a form of ghosts. Light reflecting off dust or moisture in the air from a flash can cause these and often paranormal investigators have very sensitive settings on their cameras causing an accidental false capture of orbs which were not visible to the photographer. There have however been cases were witnesses noticed orbs and those were photographed giving a high likelihood of a supernatural entity capture on film.


Poltergeists – These are invisible entities which move objects in play or to torment. They would not be on film since invisible, but security cameras have picked up objects in motion which could not have moved on their own.


Why do apparitions have clothing rather than being naked?

white-woman-ghostsThe concept is that the soul does not have any shape but can form to a shape which is comfortable for it to be in when it was alive. Thus, a deceased person is accustomed to having a body, head, arms and legs so their energy forms to what would be natural for them. If the energy of a soul can form a human body then it could just as well by instinct form the clothes it is accustomed to. Also, although they can pass through solid objects, since they have little or no weight they do not get pulled by gravity through the floor. Rather they move at the level they were accustomed to move at. Likewise they could lean against a wall without falling through it.


Can Ghosts hurt you?

I know of no reliable account of a ghost harming anyone. Someone getting scared and running into a closed door is that person hurting themselves. The reliable accounts of poltergeist activity have some light weight object sliding across a table when on the other hand the rock throwing poltergeists have all been suspect or proven false. A ghost harming a person is only in the fully fictional movies or the movies based on a real event which highly exaggerated the circumstances.


Don’t demons attack people?

There is an ailment called sleep paralysis which causes the patient to feel as if they are being held down and there are also sleep disorders of scratching one’s self. Often people gain scratches or bruises by bumping into something in daily life, but only take note of them as being strange after being in a haunted place. Almost all accounts of demon attacks fit into the above categories. There have been very few demon attack instances verified by a third person that has been reliably documented which cannot be explained. These happen about once every 10 years out of the 7 billion people in the world. Even if these are true, they are not classified as ghosts and the odds of it happening is insurmountably low.


How do I take pictures of ghosts?

The fast answer is luck. Many paranormal investigators have been hunting ghosts in haunted locations for years and never taken a picture which could be of a ghost. Some of the best reliable pictures were when the photographer was not expecting to catch anything on film. Being in the right location is important since the odds of a spirit still inhabiting the house they died in is higher than a place they did not. Having a superior camera will increase the odds because those high megapixel cameras can adjust the settings (aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc) which would more likely capture something not visible to the human eye at the time the picture was taken. There are many internet sites which recommend the best settings to use. Take a lot of pictures in the same place using different settings. I would highly recommend keeping a log of which pictures were taken with what settings. Not only does this give you a record of which setting you should use next time, but it helps you be your own critic of the picture. If you find orbs or mists in the pictures you were taking, then go to some new construction where a ghost would not likely be and in the same lighting and humidity try to see if the anomaly shows up again to verify it’s not a camera malfunction based on your settings.



Someone else’s belief that ghosts do not exist should not influence your beliefs since there is no proof either way. The saying “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” is true since even if they exist they cannot harm anyone. Supposed ghost pictures should be validated foremost on reliability of the circumstances of when they were taken. If possible, locations should be revisited and examined to rule out lighting or objects which could have caused the anomaly. Innocent camera error will often cause ghost like pictures containing orbs and mists making them highly suspect. You own opinion if a picture is faked, camera error, an illusion, or real is what is important.

What are your thoughts?


By Dr. Paul (Staff Writer for

Dr. Paul claims to be a fictional person with 5 paranormal books released. You can read more at Dr. Paul Website

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One Response

  • shane says:

    Some Christian scholars insist that their interpretation and explanation of the Bible and ghosts is that all the dead go to Heaven or Hell immediately so what we see as a ghost is really a demon imitating a spirit to deceive us………however the same scholars preach of one judgment at the end can you be judged at death and at end of time this would be two judgments. However my theroy would be could a demon hold a lost soul to confuse and trick the living to open a portal?

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