Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Blurry ghosts

MovementAnyone who looks at a lot anomalous photos is eventually likely to come across the results of 'night portrait' or 'night mode' mode. Digital cameras usually have several automatic exposure modes for particular types of scene, like portraits, action, sport, snow scenes and so on. Each mode makes particular exposure settings appropriate to the scene being photographed. These settings usually override any that the photographer makes.

Some 'night' scene modes, particularly 'night portrait', combine flash with a long exposure. You can see the result here (right). The photo shows a lit torch lying on a copy of ASSAP's Seriously Strange magazine. This picture was photographed in near total darkness.

The flash has illuminated the scene, giving it a generally sharp overall appearance. That's because a flash only lasts a very short time, typically a few thousandths of a second. So, in low light, it's like taking an exposure of a few thousandths of a second. However, there is an obvious blurred area in this photo. This was the bit of the scene also illuminated by the blue torch on the right of the frame. It looks blurred because the camera moved during the longish period after the flash fired but before the shutter finally closed (some 2 seconds in this case). The rest of the photo remains unblurred because there was nothing illuminating it after the flash finished. This combination of a blurry area against an otherwise sharp background in a flash photo is a good indicator that night mode was used (which can be checked in the EXIF data, if available).

No movementThe second photo (right) shows the same scene but without the motion blur. This is the sort of photo you'd get with a flash when selecting another exposure mode.

Looking back at the blurred photo, note how the whole area illuminated by the torch got blurred. In particular, see how the words 'Bigfoot in Indiana' are blurred while 'also inside' are not! The first set of words was illuminated by the torch while second was not.

What makes these 'night scene' mode photos often get reported as anomalous is that they appear sharp overall. That makes the isolated blurry areas look like a paranormal effect. Also, the light source producing the effect may not always be obvious, as it is here. It could out of shot, illuminating something within the frame.

As well as blur, these type of photo also frequently feature light trails. These are not so often reported as paranormal but still appear inexplicable to many people.

People sometimes see apparent faces, figures or other unexpected objects in such blurry photos. Because these objects are blurry, and often transparent, it adds to the impression that there is something paranormal or ghostly going on. For these reasons, it would be best to avoid night mode on paranormal investigations!

Unfortunately, there is not usually a non-blurry version of the photo available to compare with the 'anomalous' version. If there was, like the pair above, it would be easy to see just what the real objects in the photo really are.

No comments:

Post a Comment