Austin – Texas Governor’s Mansion photo

A ghost picture…? I’m not sure.

At the 2003 New England Ghost Conference — where I was the opening speaker — a few of us were discussing whether some ghosts need an energy source to manifest. The context was EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena, or recordings of ghosts, talking) and whether ambient noise can be helpful.

In March 2006, I started experimenting with extra ‘noise’ in ghost pictures. I took the following photo at dawn with a FujiFilm A345 digital camera. I was at the fence surrounding the Texas’ Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas (USA).

My camera was set to Night mode, so the lens stayed open longer. It’s a hand held photo, not using a tripod. The resulting blurring may have allowed spirits to create effects with the light.

(Worth repeating: The blurring is deliberate. I wanted to see what spirits might do with these images, just as they seem to turn some white noise into EVP.)

I took several photos like this one, but this picture stands out. I’m not sure why.

I haven’t yet identified anything in it, but it’s one of those photos that I look at and think, Something’s in this picture… but what?

governors mansion texas haunted photos

I can see the apparent cartoon-style eyes in the tree. That’s probably from the overlap between the tree and the balcony.

I’m looking for something a little stranger than that.

Here’s the background on some of the ghosts of the Governor’s Mansion:

Disappointed suitor

      – In the mid-19th century, Governor Pendleton Murrah’s nephew shot himself in the guest bedroom where he was staying. After that, the room was sealed for years, when his ghost continued to moan and sigh inside. However, the noises continued and the ghost kept rattling and turning the doorknob, so they reopened the room. It’s upstairs, in the area that’s not open to the public, and it’s on the north side of the mansion. That’s what’s shown in this photo.

Sam Houston

      – This former governor, for whom the city of Houston was named, never finished his term of office. He haunts the bedroom with the bed that he bought for the mansion, and a large copy of his photo.

Pendleton Murrah

      – A loyal supporter of the Confederacy, this governor walked out of the mansion one day and rode to Mexico to avoid being taken prisoner by arriving Union soldiers. He died in Monterrey, Mexico, a couple of months later. He haunts outside and inside the mansion.

Pregnant maid – In addition to the men who haunt the mansion, at least one woman does. She’s a maid who was unmarried and pregnant, and dismissed as soon as her condition became apparent. She waits outside the house, hoping to be invited back.

(You can read more about these ghost stories, and other true ghost tales of Austin, Texas, and vicinity, in my 2006 book, The Ghosts of Austin.)

Below, you can see a normal flash photo of the same scene, taken minutes earlier.

I’ve received many great comments about this photo. I’ll definitely continue our experiments with this photographic technique.

To read highlights of comments we’ve received, see Ghosts in Texas: What people see in the Texas Governor’s Mansion photo

What do you see in this photo?

If you see anything odd in the photo at the top, leave a comment below.

And, if you’d like a printable copy of this unusual photo to examine more closely, here’s a link to a PDF copy of it: Texas Governor’s Mansion Ghost Photo by Fiona Broome

9 thoughts on “Austin – Texas Governor’s Mansion photo”

  1. Yes, that’s the point. As I said in the original post, “the blurring is deliberate.”

    Some researchers have luck providing white noise for the spirits to use in EVP. We’re applying that same concept to visual imagery.

    We’re deliberately keeping the camera lens open (allowing some movement and blurring) so that the spirits can use that potential to add images and anomalies to the photos.

    It’s not about the blurring itself, but what the spirits might do _with_ those blurred images, to send us messages.

    Admittedly, that’s a long shot, but everything is worth trying in ghost hunting.

  2. The top picture, it looks like it’s tryign to show a face, oddly I can see the mouths and half noses as if someone was cut in halves or the noose shadows could be blocking the image.
    And the bottom, yeah, it looks like a normal flash, but looking at it, something’s not right. . . if a maiden was pregnant and waiting to come back in, I cant really find it but the lowerleft looks like a skeleton’s femur or a small broken lead pipe, mabey a small pole?

  3. Great observations! There are so many possibilities with this photo. We intend to experiment more with this photographic technique, to see what other stories may be revealed at haunted locations.

    We’ll definitely follow up on your suggestions, looking for these pieces in existing ghost stories at the Governor’s Mansion.


  4. I don’t know if anyone checks here anymore, but could it be possible that this picture is a premonition of some sort of the fire that happened this past summer?

  5. You’re exactly right. When I first heard about the fire, I couldn’t help thinking of this photo, why I spent so much time photographing the odd lighting effects at the Governor’s Mansion, and why I kept going back to look at the more dramatic photos.

    I do this, sometimes. I notice myself paying close attention to something… well, something that’s not really all that unusual or important. It’s just odd. The fact that it attracts my attention repeatedly seems even stranger.

    Then, something happens to explain it… and I get chills.

    This same thing happened when, on September 9th, 2001, I was driving past NYC on my way to Florida. I had to talk out loud to myself, to stop staring at the Twin Towers. After leaving the bridge that I was on, I kept looking for a place to park, to take photos of the towers.

    Again, I had to talk myself out it. I mean, really, there is no safe place to stop there, especially in morning rush hour traffic.

    Anyone who knows me in real life, knows that I generally drive through NYC as quickly as possible, to get past the traffic on my trips to Florida. On one of those drives, I would never, ever look for a place to park!

    Two days later, the tragedy struck. I suddenly knew why I’d felt so compelled to take photos of the Twin Towers. It was a premonition that had been difficult for me to ignore.

    I’ve been thinking about this photo quite a bit, as I’m interviewed by Texas newspapers and radio stations as part of their Halloween coverage.

    I’m glad you asked this, because I didn’t want to say anything myself. I mean, it’s easy to claim a “premonition” after the fact, and and I wasn’t certain if anyone else saw this picture as a fire photo.

    Thanks for raising the question!

  6. in the unblurred picture i see three potential ghosts! maybe four. i’m sure two are acual things but hey they look cool.

    At the very bottom left coner there is a rather large blurr/redness to it which at the very top looks like a woman face (proflie) and the bottom could be a dress.

    In between the trees i can see what looks like a man sitting down leaning against the colum.

    Also on the square part of the colum directly left of the center tree seems to be blurred into a human figure. and on his right hand (our left) seems to be a glow (orb?, ghost giving off the glow? or light behind the bush?) ((i didn’t know but it dosen’t hurt to say something))

    Then in the very very very far back ground directly to the right of the farthest right tree, inbetween the comlums looks to be the figure of yet another man. just standing there it seems on the steps since you can only see the top part of him. (also could be a chiar or something it hard to tell)

    Oh and did anyone notice the face/ blurr in between the Y section of the largest tree? or is that a sculpture embeded in the house?

    wow I just keep finding odd things. There is another upper portion of a man in the far far background biulding window (left window)

    Also there seems to be something in the window next to the door (third up) but that could easily be a reflection of the light.


    The only thing i see in the blured photo is the second to last one i mentioned which tells me there is probably just something in the window.

    oh and a very erre like face in the y section of the tree again!

  7. I don’t know…I see what the person above is saying about the second, more “normal” photo. However, looking at it from a photographic standpoint, there are just too many other things those could be for me to be able to call it genuine paranormal activity.

    I must admit, there does appear to be a man sitting between the two trees against one of the columns. Then again, I can’t rule out that we’re just not seeing the side of the building manipulated by the low lighting.

    The image of a woman’s profile and dress…I see what I think is being mentioned, but it seems to me that it’s more likely a weed or bit of a plant in front of the camera lens that the light from the flash is being reflected off of. It’s also possible that a camera strap swung in front of the lens as well, but that would depend on the type of camera used. Another option is point flare caused by dust particles in the air, or even a bug flying past.

    Unfortunately, those are the only two things that I can actually see in the photo.

    The first photo is intriguing to look at, definitely an eye-catching shot. I can’t say that I see eyes, or anything else in it unless I’ve looked at it for a while. But, even then the effect reminds me of when I’ve been staring at my ceiling for a while and I start to see shapes and faces. There isn’t much I can say regarding the lighting and the intentional blur that wouldn’t already be obvious…

    Great photos, and a great challenge of my skepticism “skills!”

  8. Hi, Not sure who checks this anymore, but when I looked at this picture I too saw the figure of the man in the fork of the large tree, but I felt like more was there. I saw the figure of the man on horseback fleeing the fire. Iand wondered if there had been a fire, after reading the comments, I see that there was.

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