“Ghost boy” appeared in a widely-publicized photo in late February 2010.
The story was: A British builder took the photo at a school in England that was being demolished. When he reviewed the pictures he took of the demolition process, he saw the image of a little boy in one photo. The builder claimed that the hairs on the back of his neck went up.
The school was Anlaby Primary School, near Hull, East Yorkshire, in the U.K. Part of the original 1936 building was being demolished. (The rest of the school is still in use.) The site has long had a reputation for being haunted.
At least two major UK newspapers considered the picture newsworthy, The Sun and the Daily Mail. (Click on the Daily Mail screenshot, below, to see the full-sized image and article.)
However, this photo was a fake… one of many hoaxes we’re seeing online.
This particular photo was created with a 99-cent iPod/iPhone app called Ghost Capture. The image of the little boy is at the center of the app screenshot below, in the second photo row from the bottom.
This kind of nonsense is among the reasons why I don’t analyze or critique “ghost photos” for readers.
People send me photos all the time; reporters and journalists are especially eager to get me to say that a “ghost picture” is real, when they know it isn’t. (I’m pretty sure they want us to look gullible or stupid.)
While we want to assure readers when their genuine photo shows an image that they find comforting, we can’t confirm that ghostly images in pictures are really ghosts.
Any photo can be made to look like it has an anomaly. From 99-cent iPhone apps to Adobe Photoshop, these pictures can look utterly fake or convincing. Anyone can be fooled.
I’ve said it before: A ghost photo is only as reliable as the expertise and integrity of the person who took it.
If you want to learn how to evaluate ghost photographs, browse my articles on the topic. I don’t know anyone else who’s spent nearly as many years as I have, trying to make sense of “ghost” photos.
Generally, ghost photos don’t show crisp images of people. At best, the ghostly images are blurry, indistinct, and sometimes difficult to identify unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. (The same can be said for many EVP recordings.)
Though I’m delighted when I see an eerie image in my own ghost photos, many strange photos can be explained as tricks of the light or something natural, rather than an actual haunting.
It’s smart to rule out the normal explanations, before placing ghost photos online.
Many people sent helpful comments. For example, several observant readers mentioned the ghostly apparition of the man at the tree.
The following are just a few of the very best of the many comments I’ve received about the photo, when I first posted it. They’re listed in the order that they were received. Some of these comments are unique, and others show that several people see similar images in this photo.
(This is a very long page. You may want to print it out, and then compare the comments with the original photos.)
“…take a look in the bottom left corner- I see what looks like a woman’s face in that misty area.” — W. Ceranek
“…the first one I see is in the upper tree trunk (closest to the front) you can see a body without a face. It looks like a male figure standing with feet apart, arm almost down to his side, but the sleeve has a ruffle at the end, but no hand really to be seen. His shoulder is just about to the top balcony. He looks like to be wearing the skin tight pants I (riding pants)? with a long tailed coat on.
“The second one I see is where the tree starts a V shape. It looks like there is an upper body of a man, like he is sitting for a portrait. He looks like he has white hair that comes just below the ears, his facial features look like he has a heavier face, like he may be a bigger man. You can see the white shirt in the V under the jacket (coat) he’s wearing. The collar of the jacket looks like the lapels are larger and then come down to an angle.
“There is a line on the picture (third tree back) that looks like a hair? Or it could be some type of energy form.
“If you look at the top of the balcony, it also looks as if it is on fire.
“It does also look as if there is a skull form with a very long pointed chin.” –DC from NE
“…Some aspects of the photo look like it could be double exposure, yet some parts of it are in focus, plus the orb and orange lights which don’t seem to be affected by that either.” — Kyleigh (NZ)
“…there appears to be a little boy standing on the balcony. Where the second story of the mansion looks to be divided into four parts by the pillars, in the second “part” a little boy in a white shirt is standing before the railing. His head reaches above the railing, and he looks sad. He has short brown or red hair. His legs are hard to see.” — Yuka Oh
“..in weird1 there is a face of sorts, although a little evil looking he is looking to the left and a little down you can see the left eye and a grin on the face.
“Zoom is the original of mom2 it is the original picture but zoomed in on the light. In mom I tried to highlight the features of a woman? It also looks as if she is turning away and something is in her arms.
“if you look at zoom2 again you should be able to make out what I was trying to recreate. You need to zoom in quite a bit to see anything.” –SSX
“…in that picture of the tree with the white house behind it, I see two things I think might be quite odd. … at the bottom of the picture, in that small plant in the left corner, it looks like an arm because you can kinda make out the hand, but it might not be right.
“Up in the balcony of the house, to the farthest right of the balcony, if you look closely, it sorta looks like there is a blue-ish figure up at the top. I’m not sure what he/she is doing, but I thought that was quite odd.” — Rachel
“…the bloke against the tree…he looks kinda weird.” — DR in AU
“…on the top balcony it looks like there’s someone standing there, perhaps a lady in an old dress. I’m not sure, but there is someone or something standing there.” — Paul Williams from Hawaii
“..why does it look like one, if not two, little heads peeking over the balcony like two kids who should be sleeping but aren’t?
“What are the bright green spots in the tree top? (reflection maybe?)
“I love the ‘happy face’ that is in the V of the tree trunk, I’m sure it’s something on the house itself but it looks funny from this point of view.” — Kath
“I don’t think in the blurred picture that there is a set of cartoon eyes in it. But I do think that if you look at it again above where you thought you’d seen cartoon eyes above it, just a little closer to the green on the trees is a black circular shape I would say that that is the face or head and then as you look down to the left looks like an arm in the white and orange.
“The shape I would say is an arm and it looks to be wearing a white gown of some sort…
“Then there is the same picture below but it isn’t blurred and although it is darker… I would say if you look close into the tree branches where the light shows through it looks like there are quite a bit of faces in it don’t ya think?” — Sonjia from Michigan
“…if you look towards the bottom i see an apparition of a face in the grass.” — Corey Joiner
“…the initials SP [appear] carved into the tree in the forefront and just next to it I can see a face.
“When I showed this to a local psychic, they suggested that the owner of the mansion had a family member who may have been murdered in the past, and the orange streak represented… vengeance on its mind at the time of the photo. … the yellow streak may have been sorrow towards or from the mansion.” –Mr. T. M. Cigobia, N.T Australia
“…in the house in the background, the light is on, and very bright for the daytime.” — Mike
“I immediately noticed the face (not the cartoon eyes) this face is centre of pic and transparent, though the right side of his face is more solid in appearance. his head seems to be tilted back slightly with prominent nose, cheek and jaw.
“…I copied the photo (temporarily) and circled the face and drew lines to certain features. Now I know this makes it harder to actually see the face in question but if you place it next to the original for comparison it’s pretty clear.
“I’d love to check this place out as I am quite psychic and have been contacted by the dead before but I don’t think I’ll ever find myself in the neighbourhood… pity!” — Kim from Australia
“What strikes me immediately about this picture is the erie cartoon like figure in the very upper right hand corner. There is a definite white outline of a head, upper torso, shoulders and upper arms with blue eyes, nose and mouth.
“I frequently see these types of figures in walls, furniture, etc, especially when deeply concentrating or meditating, but whenever I snap a picture, the figure is never present but 99% of the time an orb is visible right about where the figure should be.
“[My wife and I] decided to try an experiment. We went to a spot where I have had many “paranormal” experiences and I began meditating while my wife waited with her camera in hand. As I began to sense activity, I waited until sure enough the ‘faces’ began to appear to me (most of the time they were not apparent to her) and I told her where to take a picture.
“Sure enough in about 9 out of ten pictures, there was a very pronounced orb right where I said I had seen the face.
“…it seems like too much of a coincidence that they almost always seem to appear in the spot where I predict they will be. Who knows, but now I see this picture on your site with a figure in it just like the figures I see but can’t photograph. Very interesting.
“One theory I am toying with now is that for some reason, they are spirits that want to be noticed, but can’t physically manifest themselves. Instead, they can somehow produce an image that can be seen(or in this case photographed) possibly from their ‘thoughts’, which is why they appear cartoon like.” — Jay in Nebraska
“…the first thing that caught my attention was that white shadow on the top end of the bark just before the first leaves. It reminded me of a hand holding a pen (though in the actual shadow no pen is visible) at a bird’s eye-view.” –Kathleen
“…the first thing that i saw was what looked like fire lines on the trees but then i started to see what looks like the bottom of a chin and then the lips and nose almost in the center of the picture. It appears to me that the face is looking to the left which would be our right…” — Lito
“I can see a large skull in the mist on the left side, right where the big tree is.
“I also notice three other strange things in that picture.
* One, there is blue “rod” of light on the bottom left side, in the grass. It is not straight though.
* Two, there is a bright squiggly line just right of the center of the picture, right around the two smaller trees.
* Also, in the mist near the “skull”, I can also make out what seems to be a bust of a person, but it is difficult to determine whether it’s a man or woman. The figure looks to have short hair. This misty figure appears right where the big tree splits into a V.
“I can also see a small white misty area on the far right, in the shrubery or whatever that is. Then there is something on the ground that reminds me of a crude skull near the blue light, but closer to the center of the pic.” — SBM, Fredericksburg, VA
When there’s a normal explanation for a photo, I want to find it. Sometimes, I can’t discover a good explanation. Not one that works for the setting and the circumstances, that is.
That’s the case with this July 2005 photo at Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
I’ve written about Brennan’s Red Room ghosts. The photo, above, is completely unedited. I didn’t even lighten it. The picture was taken in July 2005, about a month before Hurricane Katrina.
It was a clear night, drier than most July nights in Louisiana. However, because it was July, I’m discounting the orbs near the light-colored area. I’m focusing on the light area itself. (No light-related puns intended.)
It was too hot to be using a fireplace, and Brennan’s kitchen is in another part of the building and fully enclosed. There was no mist above Brennan’s, so that’s not a reflection of the street lights. In fact, we didn’t see anything unusual when I took this picture. It was one of those ‘gut feeling’ photos… that innate, perhaps intuitive feeling that something would show up if I took a few pictures.
We were across the street from Brennan’s, so my flash was too far away to highlight the air above the restaurant. There were no skylights or spotlights that night, either.
If the light area were caused by something natural, we should have seen this ecto-looking area ourselves.
So, I’m not sure what the light area is. It’s almost directly above the room where, years ago, workmen in Brennan’s saw a terrifying face outside the window. (Those burly workmen were so frightened, they ran down the stairs and broke out through the locked doors. They never returned to Brennan’s.)
Sometimes, anomalies in photos are simply odd. There may be an explanation for this picture, but we can’t be sure. For every ‘normal’ explanation, at least three of us can argue convincingly that the normal explanation doesn’t fit the time, location and conditions of the photo.
I’m reluctant to label this ‘ecto’, because it could be something else. However, it’s the subtle kind of anomaly that’s easily overlooked when you’re expecting orbs, a vortex, or something more dramatic.
For many of us, the subtle anomalies can be more interesting than the obvious ones.