Ghostly figure is caught on camera (hint: not really)

I love when people take a picture, see something they think is out of the ordinary, and automatically assume it’s a ghost. The fact this dock is closed when this picture was taken still makes me think it’s much more likely this picture of a figure is actually just a person (trespassing?) than a ghost. Remember folks: if there’s a logical explanation as well as a paranormal explanation, it’s always the logical explanation. The funny thing is, while this kid was wondering what the heck this person was doing, this person was probably wondering the same exact thing about the kid.

After the article, I explain why his reasoning for the figure not to have enough time to get off the dock between photos can easily be disproven in a couple of different ways. And why, in a broader sense, I don’t believe any story that claims to tout a paranormal photo.

A STUDENT photographer was left shocked after inadvertently capturing a ghostly figure on Clevedon Pier while taking pictures for his A-level coursework.

Matthew Hales, 17, from Yate, took an early morning trip to Clevedon in November to capture pictures of the incoming tide.

Matthew, who studies at Brimpton Green and Chipping Sodbury Link Sixth Form, was using a time lapse technique on his Nikon D3000 which captures pictures over 30 seconds.

It was not until he checked the individual frames did he realise he had captured a ghostly male figure standing on the pier.

Matthew had arrived in Clevedon at 6.30am and captured the photo around 15 minutes later.

But as the pier was closed and not due to open until 10am, questions are now being asked about who the shadowy lone figure on the Victorian landmark was.

Matthew said: “When I went through the pictures I was surprised to see the figure of a man standing on the pier – it was almost like he was looking straight at me.

“The technique I was using captures everything which happens for 30 seconds, so he must have been stood there for at least that long to appear in the picture.

“However when I checked the frames before and after there was no sign of him or of the figure walking to or away from the location.”

The picture continued to puzzle Matthew until he saw a story about ghosts being spotted on the pier by early morning anglers.

Matthew added: “It did freak me out a bit when I saw the figure appear on the pictures.

“It was only when I saw the story in the newspaper that I thought I may have caught the ghost on camera.”

Clevedon piermistress Linda Strong, 56, said: “Looking at the pictures there is no evidence that this is a fisherman and the figure seems to have appeared from nowhere.

“Having zoomed in on the photograph there are clearly no fishing rods out to sea.”

So here’s what we are presented with: three photos, taken one right after the other (each over a 30 second time span), with the photo in the middle showing a figure. Now, the man would not have to stand there for a solid 30 seconds to appear in the photo (this is how people achieve “ghost” photos – do a time lapse and have someone in the photo for less time than the total photo exposure – so let’s say for the first 15 seconds someone is in the photo, standing perfectly still. They hop out and for the last 15 or so seconds, they aren’t there. They will show up as being semi-transparent in the photo). The photo is too grainy and distorted to really study, but it does appear that the man’s right arm is somewhat transparent, indicating to me he was not in the photo for the full exposure time. Since the area behind the man is dark and shadowed, he could have easily “disappeared” once he decided to step away from the dock.

However, let’s say for argument’s sake he was in the photo for 30 seconds. How could he appear in one of the photos and not in any of the others? Most cameras these days, including the Nikon D3000, are automatically set to the noise reduction feature. Taken right from the Nikon D3000 user manual:

Photographs taken at shutter speeds slower than 8s or at ISO sensitivities over ISO 400 will be processed to reduce noise. The time required for processing is roughly equal to the current shutter speed. (Page 122 of the manual).

This means that for each 30 second photo, there’s a 30 second gap of time between photos where the camera is processing. S0 a 30 second photo is followed by 30 seconds of processing where the screen goes black and the camera’s working to reduce noise. Then another 30 second photo followed by 30 more seconds of processing. So on and so on. From what I’ve personally experienced and have seen, this feature is automatically set to on for all cameras, and most people aren’t even aware it’s a feature that can be changed. So a minute and a half (30 seconds of processing after the first photo, followed by the 30 seconds of the second photo being taken, followed by 30 seconds of processing of the second photo) is plenty of time for a man to amble onto the pier, wonder what this kid is doing, and amble away.

Boom, done.

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