Friday, October 22, 2010

The FauX-Files: Attack of the ghost pic app

Just as Agent Mulder believed, the truth is out there, but one often has to see through falsehoods to get to that truth. In that spirit, The FauX-Files is a collection of intentionally faked (or debunked but convincing) paranormal "evidence." The purpose of The FauX-Files is to serve as a tutorial of how to spot doctored images, videos, etc. so everyone is less likely to get suckered by them. If you'd like to be submit your own FauX-File, email with a description of the "evidence" and under what circumstances it was captured/created. Please be as specific as possible (camera models, software, lighting conditions, location).

For this entry of The FauX-Files, parapsychology researcher Sarah Harmon sent us an image making the rounds on the interwebs, along with one sent to psychic Ericka Boussarhane as "evidence."

Take a look:

A "ghost photo" circulating on the Internet

A photo sent to Boussarhane as "evidence"

Notice the similarities between the "ghosts" in each photo? That is either one globetrotting, photo bombing yurei or a fake. Harmon rightfully suspected the image and decided she'd try to do one better by faking her own pic.

Says Harmon, "The doctored photo [featuring Boussarhane herself] is literally two images layered in Photoshop and then the edges of the 'ghost' are blurred away by the 'erase' tool set on blur 37%. You adjust the opacity of the layer to a ghostly film and then merge the two, do some burning of the details of the ghost and voila!"

The result:

Sarah Harmon's admittedly doctored photo of Boussarhane
Nice work, Sarah.  But wait, there's more. The yurei appeared in another submission, this one from Carla "MonkeyGirl" of Carla tells us she faked this ghost (who was resting at a hotel between photobomb haunts, it would appear) using a Droid app:

Carla "MonkeyGirl" submission from a Droid app

Well that reminded me of two recent "ghost photo" news stories that were covered, seriously, by news outlets that ended up being the result of the Ghosts Don't Exist movie tie-in "Ghost Capture" iPhone apps. The first was from last February when a construction worker who pranked The Sun newspaper in Great Britain with a picture of a "ghost boy" at a work site. The other is from The Lufkin Daily News in Texas that reported on an image which appeared to be a woman's mother-in-law in her bathroom.

Both of these images are just some of the ghost options available on the app. They include:

There you have it, you too can fake a ghost pic for all occasions with relative ease. So, for instance, you're hanging out in Gettysburg with a friend and Abraham Lincoln, and need a gentleman or Civil War ghost ...