How To Catch A Fake

During college, one of the elective courses I selected to take was an introduction to digital imaging. The class taught how to scan and save pictures onto a computer along with basic lessons on photo editing with an earlier version of Photoshop. At the time, the ability to manipulate images I viewed to be exciting as one would no longer be limited to errors of film cameras where flaws such as red eye could easily be corrected. In learning this technology, I realized I could never again trust any picture taken of something paranormal.

Back in the late 90s, I was aware certain photos of ghosts could be faked along with several techniques used in film photography to produce them. The course I enrolled in revealed an insight on how anyone with a scanner, computer, the right software and a little knowledge could fabricate any image. This revelation became reality in the early 2000s, as faked photos of Bigfoot, ghosts, and aliens flooded the Internet. Thus, why I could no longer take any filmed paranormal at face value.

Over the years, I attempted to learn techniques to spotting the fakes and hoaxes. However, this became increasingly difficult as the skill and technology was more refined in creating such images. Even today, the few I concluded to possibly be genuine after much scrutiny would later be debunked as a fake by someone else. With the increasing number of hoaxes out there, the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not is a necessity for all paranormal researchers to develop.

The following is a list of techniques I learn on how to detect fakes and hoaxes which I hope will aid those in their own investigations.

Always see with the eyes of a skeptic. Any alleged paranormal in an image, photo or video you must not take at face value, until thoroughly examined.

Always question the source of the image. Can anyone truly trust where the picture was taken from? A little research into source of the photo could help to reveal the fakes. An example, I recall was an image of little girl’s ghosts looking through a window, yet in looking up the address of the house where the alleged spirit haunted was an undeveloped plot of land.

Does it look too good to be true? If you are looking at a clear image of a Bigfoot or a ghost, the odds would be the photo is a fake produced by powerful photo editing software. Anything paranormal I viewed in the past has been blurry, inconclusive or just hard to make out and those which were distinguishable turned out to been faked.

Focus attention to the shadows and lighting within pictures. Most fakes I discovered because of the errors in the lighting and shadows. There was this one photo of a ghost in the graveyard casting a shadow on a tombstone.

Are there any defects in the images? At times, I found little mistakes within the fakes made by the photo editor. This included mismatched colour, blurred or uneven edges, whited out corners, etc. These signs indicated the photo was tampered with.

Has the picture been debunked? The Internet is a valuable tool in determining the truth to an image as most visual evidence of the paranormal out there has been examined by a group or individual to be proven real or fake.



15 thoughts on “How To Catch A Fake

  1. davidcalvert108

    I’ve been doing image analysis on alleged paranormal photos and videos for several years now and receive a few on my F B timeline, asking for my considered opinion on them. Many of them are due to camera artifacts, rare meteorological phenomena, mirages and other assorted natural phenomena. Many are just downright hoaxes. There are some, however, that defy analytical rationale. These are very rare and probably make up only 3% of the hundreds I’ve analysed.

    Only today, I got a message from a client who thanked me for my analysis on a video she sent me, which turned out to have a prosaic and very common camera artifact explanation. However, she added that she had been approached by several ghost hunter groups who told her that the video had captured a real paranormal event. She chose their non-analytical explanation over mine. I guess the ‘eye of the beholder’ sees what it wants to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kaine Andrews

    We have a saying where I work; “Any time someone invents a better security system, someone else invents a better criminal.” It can easily be applied to concepts such as this. For every genuine photo, there’s 100 or more easily detected fakes, and probably another 50 that are so well done one can’t tell the difference. When we find new ways to spot the fake, the fakers find new ways to make them. Constant tug of war. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. davidcalvert108

      It is as you say Kaine …. ‘a sad state of affairs’. I would also add, And bloody frustrating! However, it is very rewarding to nail the fakes to one’s mast. Which reminds me …. I really must get a bigger mast. lol

      Liked by 2 people

      1. davidcalvert108

        Yes. A genuine photo could be interpreted as fake. In cases where there is uncertainty, I often enlist the help and opinions of other image analysts to get an independent appraisal. The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) is one such group. They are a great resource.


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