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Do You Believe?
March 21, 2008 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Do you believe in ghosts on film? The history and controversy of spirit photography.
posted by amyms (41 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I certainly do. Just yesterday I saw them, walking hand in hand across the bridge at midnight.
posted by flatluigi at 8:16 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, ghosts on film. No.
posted by flatluigi at 8:16 PM on March 21, 2008


No. And those links are lame. Sorry.
posted by unSane at 8:20 PM on March 21, 2008


no, but I do believe in double exposures.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:25 PM on March 21, 2008


No. And I hate that this always shows up on national TV shows in Japan. I know it's more common to believe in ghosts here, but come on guys, blur and glare in your photos != ghosts.
posted by p3t3 at 8:26 PM on March 21, 2008


If you really could randomly capture a ghost on film, wouldn't every pro photographer have at least one or two good examples after the thousands and thousands of pictures they've taken? Yet it always seems to be the amateurs with crappy point and shot cameras that get all these great shots of ghosts. Funny.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:29 PM on March 21, 2008 [7 favorites]


Meh.
posted by WalterMitty at 8:35 PM on March 21, 2008


Rough crowd tonight. No worries. I don't believe in spirit photography either, but I think the history behind it is fascinating. And I think the photographic examples and techniques are very interesting, especially the ones that are so obviously faked, so I decided to share some links on the subject.
posted by amyms at 8:36 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, several orbs can constitute a single spirit.

...who sneezed?
posted by katillathehun at 8:37 PM on March 21, 2008


I don't believe in them, but they still freak me right the fuck out.

How about Ghosts on Video?

Electronic Voice Phenomenon?

Larry Glick (WBZ AM 1030 Boston, 1970's) used to interview EVP "experts", and, lying awake as a kid listening them, I would think, "yeah, RIGHT," while at the same time pissing my pants because there's a cemetery a block away and who knows what the shit was happening there, if I took my tape recorder, what would I find....

**pulling covers over my head**

Yeah, to the nay-sayers, and...
Feh! to the meh-sayers! Good post.
posted by not_on_display at 8:42 PM on March 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


As I kid, I used to be fascinated by books on the supernatural - ghosts, mediums, astral travel, UFOs, clairvoyance, dream interpretation, divination, unsolved mysteries, mythical beasts, psychokinetic powers... the full bit.

Now - *sigh*. It just kills me how patently, pathetically false most of this stuff is. I mean, it's acquired a real tragedy for me that makes it difficult to look at. The idea that someone sees a puff of cigarette smoke or lens flare and thinks it's a benevolent spirit or their late Auntie Ethel - I guess it shows how desperate people get. It's like cold reading... if you don't believe in it, watching it can be excruciatingly sad, watching people take the most random bollocks as proof they're communicating with dead loved ones.
posted by RokkitNite at 8:44 PM on March 21, 2008 [7 favorites]


I like the post, to tell the truth. It's interesting to see photos faked using actual smoke and mirrors. Y'know, for the historical value and stuff like that.
posted by flatluigi at 8:44 PM on March 21, 2008


not_on_display: How about Ghosts on Video?

It doesn't flow as well, man. Too many syllables.
posted by flatluigi at 8:46 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


To be perfectly honest I just got really creeped out by the articles - memories of being totally freaked out by similar spirit photos when I was a kid.

Interesting, yeah. But forgive me if I don't touch them ever again with a ten-foot pole.
posted by WalterMitty at 8:50 PM on March 21, 2008


Here's a slide show of spirit and ectoplasm photos taken c.1918 by Dr. T.G. Hamilton of Winnipeg.

Possibly the most shocking bit in this related article is the fact that there is a Winnipeg Rationalist Society.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:51 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you can take photographs of fairies, why not ghosts?
posted by SPrintF at 8:51 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, but I believe in viral marketing for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation's new film Shutter opening nationwide this weekend.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:56 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Regarding getting scared by this kind of stuff as a kid: Oh definitely! I used to babysit for a family who had the entire Time-Life Collection of the "Supernatural" and "Unexplained Mysteries" books. After putting their kids to bed, I'd spend the rest of the night reading up on all things scary. I'd be a complete emotional wreck by the time they came home, but I had to maintain my composure so they'd hire me again.
posted by amyms at 8:57 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Would that be... wait for it...

Pepsi BOO?
posted by not_on_display at 9:01 PM on March 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


No, but I believe in viral marketing for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation's new film Shutter opening nationwide this weekend.

Yeah, amyms' 137 FPPs before this one were just part of a clever strategy, serving as deep-deep-deep cover while she bided her time. I don't believe in the stuff either, but there's something compelling about the absurdity and grotesqueness of the images. Prints of the ones in the slide show I linked to were displayed in the library I visit, and they always attracted and repelled me.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:03 PM on March 21, 2008


Thanks, Alvy.

CarlRossi, I don't know what the hell you're talking about, but your attempt to be too cool for the room has fallen flat.
posted by amyms at 9:06 PM on March 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


EVP's Preeeeviousssslyyyyyy..... (cue spooky music)
posted by not_on_display at 9:07 PM on March 21, 2008


Pfff... Orbs. Dust more like.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on March 21, 2008


Shutter really does look like the arse end of the whole J-Horror phenomena doesn't it?
posted by Artw at 9:09 PM on March 21, 2008


Why are ghosts always seen wearing clothes? When people die, do their clothes die with them?
posted by Tube at 9:30 PM on March 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ghosts wear clothes to avoid freaking people out, the same reason I do. If a person can have a soul I don't see why an inanimate object can't be either linked to it or have a soul of its own so if you believe in ghosts clothing "dying" is about as plausible.

The world has enough things to be scared about without making shit up.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 10:13 PM on March 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Henri Robin and a Specter is one of my favourites ...

thanks amyms
posted by squeak at 10:19 PM on March 21, 2008


Related: has anyone ever listened to Art Bell's "Ghost to Ghost" show that he does on Halloween? Back in college we used to, um, partake then sit in a darkened room and enjoy the willies that listener supplied ghost stories gave.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:22 PM on March 21, 2008


Why are ghosts always seen wearing clothes?

Because a guy who offers to sell a photograph of someone's dead mother appearing the way she appeared to loved ones every day perhaps could hint that it is part of a message from the other side, a desire to say things that were left unsaid, perhaps a sign of hope for things to come. As someone who profits from people's gullibility and despair, you would definitely get bookings for a nice expensive séance or three.

Whereas a guy who says, "Hey, you wanna buy a picture of your dead mother naked?" is going to need dental work and legal advice.
posted by pracowity at 10:30 PM on March 21, 2008 [9 favorites]


not_on_display: Konstantin Raudive and EVP was featured on WFMU's Beware of the Blog (is there nothing they don't know?). Or buy Konstantin Raudive: The Voices Of The Dead (I believe it's still available).

Thanks for the post, amyms. I love ghost stories, ghost photos, even Ghost Hunters (dude, they're plumbers! and they hunt ghosts! and it's pretty hilarious as well as being pretty strange--plus they use Cool Edit/AA to playback all the voices). I've loved ghost stories since I was a little kid and used to check out the same books about ghosts and monster movies from my small town library (there were three books--the poor librarian probably thought I was going to nail a goat to the door after awhile). But it's not a Bauhaus-loving Goth fascination that I have, it's more of a folklore/folktale fascination. For instance, the fact that La Llorana has moved from South America to all parts of North America and taken different forms (in the version from SE Kansas, she's a Native American/early settler) to fit the culture.

Then again I've always thought Margaret Fox (rapper) and the Yorkshire Fairies (rock) would be a good MC and band name.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:47 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


i have experienced EVP (which i had no idea was actually 'termed' until this thread) and i just kept recording and ignored it.
posted by dminor at 1:05 AM on March 22, 2008


EVP is crap just like every other supposedly paranormal phenomenon, but it still scares the piss out of me. It's amazing how your lizard brain works; I can know full well that something doesn't exist and still break out in a sweat and glance over my shoulder.
posted by Justinian at 2:01 AM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


:Ghosts on film:
:Two minutes later:
:Ghosts on film:

This isn't karaoke?
posted by ryoshu at 2:17 AM on March 22, 2008


Don't mean to be blunt, but what a crock of shit. I have just got a digital SLR and have already captures maybe 1,000 spirits on camera already - that dust & snow is a bitch when using a flash!
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 4:09 AM on March 22, 2008


I have a bunch of old film cameras in varying states of disrepair. Those wacky things in my prints are not ghosts, they're what I get for shooting with old broken cameras. (That, or any good camera repairman is also an exorcist. Someone please take that idea and run with it.) Having them has taken all the fun out of scaring myself with ghost pictures. Yawn. Lens flare. Light leak. Somebody's finger. Inappropriate flash in a dusty room. Light leak.

I want to believe in ghosts because they make the world more interesting, but the ghost photography I've seen is all busted cameras, bad technique, and the occasional well-done double exposure.

Do ghost hunters these days recommend using film or digital cameras? Despite all of this, I want to go on a ghost hunt. I don't expect to find anything, it just seems like a fun way to blow an evening.
posted by cmyk at 7:16 AM on March 22, 2008


Yes, I believe in ghosts on film.
posted by Nedroid at 7:31 AM on March 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


p3t3: ...national TV shows in Japan. I know it's more common to believe in ghosts here...

Agreed. It's pretty terrifying when you find out how many people in Japan actually believe in ghosts, despite being otherwise well-educated. Still, means you can pick up an apartment on the cheap if it's 'haunted'.
posted by theyexpectresults at 8:15 AM on March 22, 2008


I can't believe people still believe in this stuff. Didn't Houdini debunk all this already?
posted by zzazazz at 9:14 AM on March 22, 2008


I find all things photographic interesting, even misinterpretations of common artifacts in the photographic process. Seeing strange figures because of tricks of light is understandable. But for the life of me I can not figure out why the belief in "orbs" persists, when the truth is so easily explained if not obvious.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:05 AM on March 22, 2008


I'd like to believe also, but have to settle for healthy doubt.
It's much much much more attractive to think that with enough willpower you could retain your what-have-you after you expire. Ultimately, though, I think we're all wormfodder. Best shot at carrying on your being is to breed, as unimaginative as that is. Hey, it's fun to try, though, right?

This FPP made me click on 5 totally unscary youtube videos that promised me fear. At first I thought 'why haven't I looked for this shit before?' and now I know.
posted by Busithoth at 10:12 AM on March 22, 2008


Just once, I'd like to see something involving the supernatural that is compelling. I mean, I don't believe in it. Any of it, at all. But it would be nice to see something that isn't instantly refutable for a change.

"Oh look; out of focus dust."
"Check it out, a double exposure."
"Hear that? That's bleed over from the local college radio station on ungrounded wires."
"Check out this video, it's a blurry reflection of a light bouncing into a camera lens."

Most of these things are so obvious that if you aren't looking for spirits or whatever, you would never even think it was something odd. But because it's always found by people who Believe, they see examples everywhere.

It's only a strong moral compass that keeps me from exploiting people's gullibility to make a lot of money by showing them images from beyond the veil.
posted by quin at 10:54 AM on March 22, 2008


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