As a paranormal investigator, I have learned that many people find the entire issue of the paranormal fascinating and, at times, even "spooky fun". Unfortunately, some people take this a little too far and enjoy seeing if they can trick investigators like myself by hoaxing a photo. While I like to have fun as much as the next person and appreciate that such efforts helps keep my deductive powers sharp, they are also extremely harmful to the entire paranormal community and hurt serious study of the subject (especially when a clever hoax achieves national attention, at which time the harm done to the paranormal world can be extensive once it is successfully debunked). Often they are efforts by the hoaxer to prove how clever they consider themselves to be, but all they do is end up cluttering up my inbox in what is usually a juvenile attempt at humor. As such, I would ask people to refrain from playing such games and not inundate mine or other investigator's e-mail with your hoaxed photo(s). It is already difficult to respond to every photo received without having to wade through mountains of silly fakes on top of it.(Additionally, I do not seek permission to post hoaxed pictures so beware that your photo may well appear on my site without your approval.)

Another problem is that not everyone who has sent me a hoaxed photo knew it was a hoax themselves. Often they have had tricks played on them by others, which can be a cruel thing to do, especially when someone decides it's great fun to make light of another person's beliefs. No one likes to have their most personal beliefs made fun of, so please take that into account before you decide to frighten or belittle others.

Finally, most of the photos in this section belong to my private collection, al though a few of them are off the internet and are included either because they are especially well done or because they gained some world-wide recognition and appear often on line as real ghost pictures. Perhaps one of the most famous of these is the Wem fire ghost, which is considered one of the best spirit photos ever shot (see number 2 below). It was through the keen eyes and investigative prowess of a viewer that I was able to debunk that photo once and for all. (If you feel a photo included in my real spirit photos gallery section is faked and you can make a good case for it, please let me know. I'll even give you credit for it if you wish.)

Left: Fairly well known photo off the internet. Dead giveaway here is the "spooky" melodramatic pose, the cast shadow, and the general composition of the photo. This person really has a flair for the dramatic.

Right: You gotta love Photoshop. Here our intrepid photographer took a picture of a Civil War era wagon and then waited for someone in period costume to walk by, at which point he shot a second photo. Then it was simply a matter of cutting the figure out of the one photo, turning the transparency up, and splicing it into the wagon alone picture. Such fakes are easy to do and can look pretty authentic to the untrained observer. The biggest giveaway is the consistency of transparency of the figure; real ghosts tend to be either very solid in appearance or more solid at some points than at other points (i.e. the upper torso might appear nearly opaque while the legs and head may be transparent or even missing). They don't often appear this evenly transparent.

Probably one of the more famous ghost photos is this one taken by a gentlemen named Tony O'Rahilly in 1995 of what appears to be a young girl looking out from a raging fire at Wem town hall in Shropshire, England. According to Mister O'Rahilly, he shot the photo from across the street but didn't notice the young girl standing in the doorway of the burning building until he had the film developed later. Firemen found the photo so disturbing that they sifted through the ashes afterwards searching for the remains of a body but found nothing, leaving everyone wondering who the girl may have been. Not surprisingly, there is a bit of local folklore which claims that a young girl named Jane Churm accidentally burned the town hall to the ground in 1677 when she dropped a candle, and her ghost has been reputed to haunt Wem town hall ever since. However, evidence recently uncovered demonstrates the photo to most likley be a fake. Click here for more details.

Speaking of hoaxes, here are a couple brought to you by the folks at iPhone, who cleverly introduced a new application called "Ghost Capture". Now anyone can create their own ghostly image with the click of a button, thereby filling my e-mail with all manner of garbage. The problem is that these images are generally of a better quality than one can achieve with Photoshop, making them especially pernicious. They're so good, in fact, that recently a noted Australian psychic was fooled by one of these iPhone photos when he declared it authentic on an Aussie radio program, even managing to come up with a whole story about the child in the image. It just goes back to the old adage that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The problem is, of course, if the quality of hoaxing has gotten so good, how will one ever be able to tell if someone should really manage to get a really superb "capture"?

Left: Here's that creepy little kid again. (The same one seen in the photo above right.) Apparently has an affinity for pickup trucks as well as little girls.

Right: Same ghost girl as in the above left photo. One of the biggest give-aways that a photo is hoaxed--besides the fact that the same exact spirit is evident in photos sent to me by different folks--is the rationale for the photo itself. With the photos above, one could buy that the person wanted to get a picture of their kid and "something" strange just happened to appear; in these two examples, however, why would anyone take a photo of a guy standing on the bumber of his truck digging for something in the bed (with most of his head cut off to boot) or a mostly empty basement?

Sometimes hoaxers fool even the newspapers. The photo at left of a supposed ghost of what appears to be a medieval farm boy was taken near Evercreech, England in 2003 by a nice little old lady named Angy D'Arcy. It didn't appear in an article in the much vaunted Sun Times until 2008, however (that's when Mrs. D'Arcy finally got around to haveing the roll of film developed) and when it did, it created something of a sensation--especially since it was supposedly authenticated by "experts" as being real. Unfortunately, after a bit of further digging, it was determined that the figure was other worldy after all, only in this case the world was Tatooine, as in Star Wars Eposide 1: The Phantom Menace. Obviously either Mrs. D'Arcy or someone at the Sun photoshopped young Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vadar) into a tranquil meadow scene. Don't believe such a thing is possible? Just compare the image at right to the badly photoshopped image at left and see if the tunic, belt, neckline and hair aren't perfect matches.

This photo has been on the internet for quite a while. It supposedly shows the ghost of a little girl peeking out from between the legs of the two ladies in the middle (the ones with the hand cuffs) that apparently has made the little girl on the lower, far right corner cry. (Why the ghost girl is making the real girl cry is never clearly explained.) In any case, I've had this photo sent to me by several people who all claimed their neice or daughter or cousin or somebody shot it and this mysterious yet precoucious ghost baby showed up, which I found hard to accept, especially as none of these people knew each other. Remarkable coincidence you say? I'd say so! Anyway, this bad photoshop job continues to make the rounds on the internet and continues to be touted by those in the know as the real McCoy. The only thing really scary about the picture are these ladies.

Watch out for The Ring girl! The easiest way to know when someone has sent you a hoax photo is when you start receiving the same image from different people, as was the case here. Obviously the image has been either Photoshopped into an existing image or is an iPhone application like "Ghost Capture" (see above). The competing posts detailing how the eerie image came about are often examples of wonderful and, I suspect, largely unappreciated, story-telling capabilities, and while I enjoy each and everyone of them, enough is enough.

Left: Not everybody has a knack for photoshop. Here is an example sent to me by a girl from Sweden of an axe-weilding ghost sneaking up on her from the next room. Not only is the "ghost" obviously taken from a movie still, poster, or off the internet, but it was cut out with all the finesse of a chainsaw. Obviously this person has something else awaiting in her future besides cimematography.

Right: And you thought hoaxed ghost photos was a recent development. Here is an example from the prolific William Mumler, taken around 1872, who discovered that not only did he have a gift for taking photos of dead people, but that living people were willing to pay a lot of money for them. Using double exposures and some occasionally heavy-handed negative etchings, he made quite a tidy little chunk of pocket change until authorities caught up to him and so besmirched his sterling character as to ruin his livelihood. Mumler wasn't the only charlatan of the nineteen century, of course, but he was one of the better known ones.

WANT TO SEND ME YOUR GHOST PHOTO? I'd be happy to look at it. However, before you do, I ask you to first go to the spirit photo tips page and follow the procedures there (I promise, they're not extensive. Really.) Just click here.