Gilson Road Cemetery, NH – What IS This?

Is this a real ghost at haunted Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NH?

Weird photo from Gilson Cemetery

This “ghost photo” was taken at Nashua’s Gilson Road Cemetery when we were researching ghosts and hauntings. It’s one of my favorite “What is this?” pictures.

I took this ghost photo with a $6 disposable Fuji camera. On that night, a group of us were testing inexpensive cameras to see what an amateur could expect when taking photographs at random in a haunted location.

By the time I took this photo, the fog was just starting to roll in. We could see clearly without a flashlight, and many of our cemetery pictures were normal, but the mist became a factor later in the night.

We took two identical shots at every spot, and the photo immediately before this was almost entirely black and crisp. (You can see it at my article about the strange mist that night.)

The photo after this one was also sharp. It looked identical to the first of the three. There was no photographic evidence of humidity or fog, just a few orbs. It’s typical of what we see in photos from Gilson.

No one was smoking. There were no houses nearby when this picture was taken, so there was no risk of wood smoke from a fireplace, either.

(Since then, a subdivision has been built immediately across the street from this cemetery.)

What is this weird, swirly mist…? Is that a gravestone to the right?

It should be, because that’s what the camera was pointing at.

We’ve had dozens of letters from readers, suggesting everything from a ghostly finger to the Virgin Mary. This is our most popular real “ghost photo.”

Whatever it is, it’s weird. And cool. And yes, this is real. It’s not altered from the original film print in any way at all.

I don’t think that it’s scary, but some people do. In fact, it reminds me of an old InfiniteFish background, in a way.

Camera: Fuju disposable Quicksnap, 800 ASA
Developed at: One-hour processing, Shaw’s Royal Ridge, Nashua
Location: Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NH
When: 26 Nov 1999, about 5 p.m.

2012 update:  After testing photography techniques, I’ve realized that this might be the result of exhaling while taking the photo.

However, there’s a problem with that theory. The orbs in this photo… they’re not consistent with other false anomalies (with the same camera) from exhaling.

That’s part of debunking: Not just saying “it might be ___,” but also confirming that it’s consistent with the new theory.

So, this is still my best mystery photo.

Read more about Haunted Gilson Road Cemetery.

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5 thoughts on “Gilson Road Cemetery, NH – What IS This?”

  1. I dunno about everyone else but I look at the picture and I sort of see a sad looking man with a locked-jaw hunched over.

  2. I would say this is probably condensation on the camera lens, a picture of the ‘the fog was just starting to roll in’, or some other manifestation of moisture in the atmosphere. This is a good example of a picture that you want to know the dew point, temperature, and weather conditions at the time. Without that information, no one can even begin to debunk this very interesting picture.

    As far as what I see, it does kinda look like Rosarch from the Watchmen.

    1. Bobby, thanks for your comment. It wasn’t condensation on the lens. If it was fog, it was fleeting, as other photos didn’t show that. Humidity, dew point, temperature, etc. — and how each affect every camera you use — are all factors that every serious ghost photographer needs to research.

      This is one reason why I warn people that, to evaluate any ghost photo, they need to have been there when the picture was taken. I’m covering the basics in my upcoming book, Ghost Photography 101. The biggest surprise, as I took photos to illustrate fake orbs & anomalies as illustrations, has been how difficult it is to create convincing anomalies with smoke, camera straps, pollen, dust, and so on.

      1. Fionna,

        Thanks for the gracious reply to my posting. I’m certainly a mediocre photographer and only slightly better at photo analysis. And, I should’ve realized that someone of your experience would have considered all the factors you mentioned before declaring a photograph possibly paranormal in origin.

        Given that, your advice is absolutely sound…

        to evaluate any ghost photo, they need to have been there when the picture was taken.

        Having spent the afternoon doing just that with several photographs sent in by our clients, this tenet was very clear to me. Thanks for the advice.

        I hope your book is continuing to do well.

  3. Thanks!

    The book is in rewrite right now. I published it, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the results, partly because color is so important to understanding what’s going on in the pictures… and what isn’t. Now, with Kindle Fire, I can write an edition that really will show useful photos.

    When I first saw what breath can do in “ghost photos,” my first thought was, “Ah-HA! That explains the weird Gilson photo.” Then, I looked at it and — though breath could explain some of it — it’s not the whole answer.

    It’s funny. As much as it may sound like I’m a starry-eyed believer (and I do believe something not yet explained is going on at haunted sites), I’m always looking for that “ah-HA!” that will explain anomalies… even photos like this, from over 10 years ago. They just sit in the back of my memories and nag at me, because I truly want “normal” answers if there are any.

    In general, for the most reliable photo analysis — and as you said — the rule is: You had to be there.

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