Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Aiming to photograph a ghost!

When you're no longer young, you don't tend to have fewer ambitions. But there is still one that burns brightly in me - to photograph a ghost! There are many photos around purporting to show ghosts but, of the ones I've personally examined, most are photographic artefacts. But what I want is the real thing! Not too much to ask, surely?

To make the idea a bit more practical, I have set three specific conditions that would make a photo count in fulfilling my ambition. Here they are:

  • I must see the ghost as a real human figure at the time of exposure, even though it turns out not to be one
  • The photo must appear to show a human figure, if not to me then to at least one other person
  • it mustn't be a simple photographic artefact

The first condition means that it could be a misperception ghost, for instance, but not a hallucination. And obviously, if it was a real person, it couldn't be a ghost! With the second condition, I acknowledge that once I've realised the figure is not really a human, I might never see it as one again, in the photo or in real life. But if at least one other person DOES see it as a human in the photo, that will do. The third condition rules out all the common ghost photos where nothing odd is seen the time of exposure.

Ideally, I'd like the object to look unmistakably like a human figure, even to me, in the photo. I think this is possible because I've recently found that misperceptions can be photographed in such a way that they still work as a picture. See here for details including an example. That would be the ultimate ghost photo for me! So, whenever I have a camera in my hand, I am always on the lookout for a suitable ghost. It hasn't happened yet but I keep looking.

Tree stump as ghostThen unexpectedly, the other day, I came close to fulfilling my ambition without even taking a new photo! Someone saw one of my photos and thought it showed a human figure! It was a figure I photographed last year and described here. The photo is reprinted here (right). I said at the time that the tree stump (which is what the object really was) still resembled a human figure to me even in the photo but no one else, at the time, said they saw anything! So when, quite by chance, someone saw the photo, without knowing anything about it, and described it as a human figure, I was surprised and gratified.

While this photo technically satisfies my three conditions, it is a tiny 'figure'. I'm sure a much bigger, more obvious one could be produced. I could add a fourth condition concerning size but then it starts to look messy!

So the search goes on!

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