Initial results of the 'ghost' photograph project

At the start of March we asked people to submit their ‘ghost’ photographs for analysis. The best of these images were then posted on the project website, and the public invited to offer comments, and vote on whether they believed each image depicted a genuine ghost.

The response was remarkable. We received around 250 photographs from all around the world, and had thousands of comments and over a quarter of a million votes.

The majority of the images showed mysterious-looking orbs, mists, figures and faces. Many of the photographs may have a normal explanation. For example, orbs can be caused by the camera flash reflecting off tiny dust particles, mists can result from condensed breath in front of the lens, long exposures can create ghostly figures, and apparent faces are often people seeing patterns in random shapes.

Even though we had the public submit their most mysterious photographs, the images we received don’t provide compelling evidence for spirits. If ghosts are out there, it seems they are somewhat camera shy. There were possible normal explanations for the majority of the pictures, and so were surprised that, on average, about 15% of those voting thought that the photographs portrayed genuine ghosts.

You can still take part in our study by visiting the project website, and you can read the comments about the winning image here.