They see dead people.
April 4, 2002 2:11 AM   Subscribe

They see dead people. Seattle's own floating monument to a bygone era, the ferryboat Kalakala, is rumored to be haunted. The members of A.G.H.O.S.T. investigated earlier this year and claim they caught spectral images on film. Are those hazy orbs actually visitors from the spirit realm or does someone just need a new camera? Go on, tell us—do you believe in ghosts?
posted by gutenberg (24 comments total)
BTW: I've never had a firm opinion about ghosts, though I admit that under my somewhat cynical veneer I'm easily spooked. Mostly I'm curious to see if others have insights or experiences to share.
posted by gutenberg at 2:19 AM on April 4, 2002

A shade looks like a drop of water on glass, a distant light out of focus. People will see horses in the clouds, gods in the stars, and terror in a fragile spider running over dust.
posted by pracowity at 3:23 AM on April 4, 2002

those 'orbs' look just like the watermarks that appear on badly printed photographs - like when I was first mucking about in the darkroom in my student days.

If you are not careful about rinsing your prints, and drying them in suitable conditions, pools of developer and/or fixer appear on the images and create dark or light spots.

Images can be powerful, but expecially in these circumstances do not tell the truch.
posted by mook at 3:34 AM on April 4, 2002

My brand new digital camera makes the same 'orbs' every so often, depending on the light (I assume it's dust). Though I do drive right down Northlake everyday, right past the Kalakala. My camera often in tow.
posted by crasspastor at 4:06 AM on April 4, 2002

I wonder, if you just showed those photographs to somebody without 'priming' them with the whole ghost theory beforehand, would they see the orbs and assume they were spirits? I doubt it very much. I mean, I realise one can't conclusively prove that they *aren't* ghosts, but faced with the two hypothesises, which stands the test of Occam's Razor?
It's a shame really, because although I think of myself as a skeptic, like many people I've had experiences that I would be hard pressed to write-off.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:19 AM on April 4, 2002

An old friend of ours was one of the first of the group of workers that went up to Kodiak, Alaska during the "occupation phase" that was the first part of the restoration of the Kalakala. At one point, he was living on the boat, by himself, freezing his ass off in the middle of the Alaska winter. As far as we know, he didn't have any visitations, although he probably scared the shit out of the local populace.

The boat was a cannery for 25 years, so it's quite possible that they're capturing the spirits of long-departed tuna.
posted by groundhog at 6:28 AM on April 4, 2002

Why do these sites never show us a scan of the original negative or transparency, or give any details about the film type and processing?

Anyhow, nothing here to convince me we're not looking at drying marks, finger-grease or the kind of chemical staining you get when a local 1-hour lab isn't keeping their machines as clean as they should (very common source of bluish-white spotting on prints).
posted by normy at 6:45 AM on April 4, 2002

Maybe there are ghosts in the one-hour labs. Kids who couldn't take the tedium anymore and guzzled developer.
posted by pracowity at 6:51 AM on April 4, 2002

I always wonder about these pictures. Part of me really wants to believe them. I wonder about the "likely" photographs, such as the girl by the gravestone, and if the phenomena is not more of a projection from the taker of the photo. Perhaps a traumatic event in the area can linger", be picked up by a medium, and channeled onto the clean slate of unexposed film? Now I don't believe any of this balderdash, but I really want to.

Orbs? Give me a couple of drinks and I can see 'em easy.
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:10 AM on April 4, 2002

Last year I interviewed a few of these spookchasers, and was shown similar photographs. However, in pressing the question, I found that they were unable to capture the same 'orb' in a simultaneus exposure of two cameras set at right angles from the target - east and north focused to the middle, for example.

Rather than admit that there may have been dust inside the lens of the spooky camera, they preferred to believe that spirits have a selective visibility and don't neccessarily have to appear in three dimensions.

posted by Perigee at 7:53 AM on April 4, 2002

Even though I've had some experiences I have a hard time explaining (I'll elaborate if this turns into a creepy story-sharing exercise), I'm a die-hard skeptic. I enjoy looking at "ghost pictures", I love reading the stories behind them, and some of them even give me the creeps, but ultimately, no matter how much I'd like them to really be pictures of ghosts, I just don't think they are. There are so many different combinations of technical factors which can give you seemingly "unexplainable" photographs. And, as a photographer, I tend to think that it's far more likely that these "ghost pictures" are technical glitches (either ordinary ones or unusual combinations thereof) than that they're photographs of dead people's spirits.
posted by biscotti at 7:58 AM on April 4, 2002

No. And a few normal film distortions is not about to change my mind.
posted by rushmc at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2002

You cant't tease us like this, biscotti. C'mon, out with it.
posted by ttrendel at 9:10 AM on April 4, 2002

Or can't, take your pick.
posted by ttrendel at 9:11 AM on April 4, 2002

Random orb detected over sleeve on right . Something Awful is haunted.
posted by elgoose at 9:36 AM on April 4, 2002

those are some seriously lame "ghost" pictures.

The ones skallas linked to are better, but still not convincing. The first one on the left column is so bad I almost didn't even bother looking at others, but some of the others at least I could see how someone could take it seriously. Though I really have no doubt they're simple camera accidents - double exposures or unusual manifestations of light or dust. If cameras could catch "spirits" on film, they would have to be material in some way, in order to reflect the light that is exposed to the film. If it were due to cameras seeing further in the infra red range of light than the human eye, there would be consistent reports using infra red technology.

I don't understand the pic of the woman sitting on a gravestone. It just looks like a pic of a woman on a gravestone. Just because she's supposedly wearing an old fashioned dress (which I wouldn't have known) she's a ghost?
posted by mdn at 9:39 AM on April 4, 2002

Oh all right: I file this under "mass hallucination", rather than "haunting", myself. Three of my family members and I were at Warwick Castle in England a number of years ago. We walked into the great hall and all of us noticed that it had been set up as it might have been at the time the castle was in use: wall sconces with burning torches, reeds on the floor, etc. We all commented on this to each other, and I said that I was amazed that there were no fire code regulations against having burning torches in such an historic building, especially in a room filled with old wooden furniture with reeds on the floor (there was smoke in the air, you could smell it). When we turned back to look again, the room was completely different. There was some of the same furniture, but no torches, no reeds, no nothing. It was creepy, but that whole place was creepy (I thought I saw Someone Who Wasn't There in another room there as well). The Tower of London is much creepier, though.
posted by biscotti at 10:02 AM on April 4, 2002

Do any of the Los Angeles people remember a story from one of the local news channels from about six months ago, about a mysterious phenomenon called "rods"? They showed a bunch of film clips exposed in a certain way, and you could see these sperm-like things here and there, and they were trying to advance a theory that these "rods" were angels or leprehcauns or something. I know very little about photography, but even I could tell that it was nonsense. But I could never find an article about it online. Anyone know?

On an equally light note, has anyone else seen the frequently-aired late-night Cinemax soft-core movie, Erotic Posessions? It's about the ghost of a dead B-movie actress who died before she could finish her final film. She she comes back from the dead, and posesses not just a living actress, but also the incomplete film itself, the actual celluloid. There's a bizarre scene where the living actress is taking a bath, and the posessed film unwinds itself from the roll and gets in the tub with her, and the two of them more or less make love. It's so weird and so marginally erotic, and so sincere and consistent in its wacky premise, that I kept watching it even after I um, needed to.
posted by bingo at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2002

Do any of the Los Angeles people remember a story from one of the local news channels from about six months ago, about a mysterious phenomenon called "rods"? They showed a bunch of film clips exposed in a certain way, and you could see these sperm-like things here and there, and they were trying to advance a theory that these "rods" were angels or leprehcauns or something.

I'm pretty sure that Rodii is a leprechaun or an angel or a sperm-like thing.
posted by Skot at 10:49 AM on April 4, 2002

bingo: here you go. The "Roswell Rods" are just fast-moving bugs made to look elongated by virtue of the way a video camera works.
posted by biscotti at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2002

I believe in the possibility of ghosts, but I'm skeptical of photographs and video. Photos are probably the result of problems with the camera or lighting, or Photoshop.

I looked at all of the photos that skallas linked to without reading the captions, and most of them looked pretty innocuous without the power of suggestion.

The infamous Bachelor's Grove photo just looks like a woman sitting on a tombstone. And the "skeleton" in this photo is probably a reflection, but I do see, umm, a ghostly penis on the pillow.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:03 AM on April 4, 2002


^--- look, an orb in this thread. Run, it's haunted!
posted by gluechunk at 11:05 AM on April 4, 2002

I think someone ought to give these self-proclaimed ghost hunters a kick in the 'orbs'.
posted by RokkitNite at 11:49 AM on April 4, 2002

I see that most people seem to be going with the faulty camera/developing theory. I agree that the photos look like nothing remarkable to me. Hell, look at what this guy's camera can do.

What strikes me though, especially when I look at the rest of the website, is how earnest and sincere these people are. I guess it's like a lot of things—they really want to believe.

Seattle MeFiers: after the Deluxe on Sunday we could go look for the ghost at the Harvard Exit Theater(bring poorly-functioning cameras).
posted by gutenberg at 11:58 AM on April 4, 2002

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