Ghosts and Fairies Caught on Camera

Ghosts, Angels and Fairies Caught on Camera

Cottingley Fairies - spirit photo of Arthur Conan DoyleFor many years I have written a column in Fate & Fortune magazine called Phantoms on Film. On this section of the site you can see some of the best images from my collection as well as my explanations for some of the most famous mysterious ghost photographs. Here you will find many real ghost photographs and images of Angels caught on camera. Some fakes like the famous photo of the Cottingley Fairies and some are clearly photographic anomalies but some are impossible to explain. Perhaps you can help us get to the bottom of what is causing these mysterious images to appear on camera?

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The Basics:

Have you ever encountered a real ghost picture?

In most cases I can usually explain what has happened to create an apparent real ghost picture. There are instances that have me perplexed though and I just cannot explain how a ghostly image got on the screen. The problem I have is that in most cases it is impossible to know if other factors were involved such as someone’s face getting caught in a reflection, someone smoking, stray light and so on. The be sure that a ghost picture is real we would need a very controlled environment which is hard to do in the pictures sent to me at my column.

Do you think that ORBS are spirits?

I’ve looked at thousands of orb images and I’m pretty well convinced that they are either dust or moisture that is either in the air and close to the camera or on the camera lens. However when I have been on ghost hunts with the BBC and other programmes we have had lots of ORBS that are hard to explain – such as when we have asked for them to appear or soon after the medium has challenged the ghost to appear. Some of these stories are explained in more detail on this site.

Where can I take real ghost pictures?

People love to visit alleged haunted locations and graveyards and snap their cameras until something is captured on camera. The problem is that these are usually wild and unstructured events so it is easy to pick up things that are not ghosts such as smoke from cigarettes, moisture, reflected and refracted light, thumb marks on the lens and so on. To make a serious investigation you will need to make sure that all these things are excluded from the vigil.

Why do ghosts appear on camera?

Spiritualists distinguish between spirits – the souls of the departed and Ghost – residual energies left from events from the past. It may be that some forms of photography can capture these vibrations from the past. There have been some interesting cases where a medium has given a message from a spirit person to say to take a photograph at a specific spot and they will appear on the film and another where the message was that an image of a murderer will appear on the film. I have detailed these stories on some of the posts above. Perhaps ghost appear to help us with unsolved problems.

Where can I join a Ghost Photography Group?

There are many groups set up to hunt ghosts and get photos. Unfortunately most of these are just plain silly. They use Ouija boards, have no trained medium with them, use unproven ‘ghost detecting equipment’ and, to be frank, are just kids trying to give themselves a fright. If you would like to get involved in serious research then you could ask at your local Spiritualist Church if they know of a reliable group or you could try your photography skills at a development circle. The Spiritualist National Union now used infra red cameras at their physical mediumship circles to prevent cheating.  These circles are conducted in black conditions. So far nothing reliable has been captured on camera.

What sort of camera should I use for Ghost Photography?

Get yourself a high quality film camera so that you know what you get is real. Old digital cameras struggle in low light and often produce strange results that some people love to fantasize are ghosts. Similarly old digital cameras with a faulty diode can produce a great number of orbs and odd effects.  If you want to waste your time and take fake ghost pictures, then use an old digital camera. If however you are serious about research, use a quality film camera or infra red or ultra violet video cameras.

When is the best time to take ghost photos?

Jumping around graveyards at the dead of night is not necessarily going to give reliable results. I would suggest that the most interesting times to take spirit and ghost photographs is while a medium or healer is working. At this time, spirit is close and permeating the mediums or healers aura so this would be a good time to experiment.

Who is the most famous ghost photographer?

Some of the famous names associated with spirit and ghost photography include William H. Mumler, William Hope, Charles Lakeman Tweedale, David Duguid and Edward Wyllie. Unfortunately most of these were exposed as frauds. The biggest headlines were made when the author and spiritualist Arthur Conan Doyle claimed that five photographs of Frances Griffiths with the alleged fairies, taken by Elsie Wright in July 1917 were real.  To the modern eye used to photo montage, double exposures and special effects, it is clear these images are fakes. Sadly these Cottingley Fairies  were easily shown as fakes and the adverse publicity seriously damaged the reputation of Doyle and the serious investigations he had made up to this point.

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