Monday, 25 November 2013

Seeing through blurry ghosts

Blurry orange shapeIf you saw this anomalous photo (right) would you have any idea what it was? I know what it really is so it seems obvious to me but I doubt that applies to many others. Amazingly, I have seen anomalous photos just as blurry as this. As I've commented in the past, most anomalous photos are pictures with 'something wrong with them' - at least from the point of view of a serious photographer.

I was on the point of deleting this obvious 'mistake' (caused by a focus problem) when it occurred to me that it might usefully illustrate the sort of anomalous photos I see all the time. What puzzles me is this. Why do people bother to examine photos like this one, which shows no sharp detail whatsoever? Even if there WAS a real ghostly face in this photo, it would be so horribly blurred that it would almost certainly not be recognisable as a face at all since everything in the photo is completely out of focus.

Modern cameras are so automated that they can take a reasonable photo in almost every situation. But sometimes they do make mistakes, like this shot. Perhaps, as a result of being used to routinely reasonable photos, people (other than serious photographers) don't realise that some parts (or even the whole) of some shots are photographic artefacts, rather than representing anything real that was actually physically present. In the photo above, the objects shown were obviously not blurry at all to the naked eye.

Not so blurryIf there is another photo of the same scene (taken at the same time ideally) this can hugely helpful in working out what such a 'problem' photo might really show. So here (right) is another photo of the same scene, taken just after the one above. Regular readers will be unsurprised to find that it shows a bird - a Chaffinch. Now the bird, the leaves, tree branches and so on are obvious. But note how the background is still out of focus so we still don't know what those bits are. But at least we can now make some reasonable guesses based on what we CAN see. The background probably contains more leaves, branches, a patch of sky (the blue bit) etc.

So, if we saw a 'face' in that blurred bit it would be difficult to say whether it was real or not. It could just be a result of the blur, making one object blend into another to give a result resembling a face. Even if there was a real face there, it would be difficult to say for sure and certainly impossible to say whether it was a ghost or maybe a real ordinary person. The fact that almost every anomalous photo I've ever examined has had a 'fault' (from the point of view of a serious photographer) tends to support the idea that most are photographic artefacts.

PS: I've just noticed, looking at the original blurry photo, it looks like a monkey face, looking right, with white shiny eyes. Or is that just me?

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