Haunted Chicago

Hoax Photographs

Since 1998, we have attempted to balance our truly unexplainable photographic results with false evidence of paranormal activity on film. This allows us to compare the two in an effort to distinguish actual evidence from that which is naturally explainable. As a aid to our visitors, we have always published these images to demonstrate what to watch out for in your own investigations. We have noticed that other sites have since followed in our footsteps of providing this type of counterpoint evidence. We appreciate the effort, and hope that they continue to follow our lead when it comes to categorically eliminating false results.


Scary Strap – This is a photo of a camera strap.  It should look familiar to you, you can find thousands of similar photos on other sites claiming that it is some type of “vortex”.  They usually point to the “swirling” character as an indication of paranormal origin.  It looks like this because it is woven.  Also, the strap in this photo is actually dark gray.  Because it is so close to the lens and flash and because it is made of a shiny synthetic fiber, it reflects almost all of the light from the flash directly to the film.  The edge is hazy because it is out of focus.  Do not be fooled by this type of photo.

Time Exposure Tracer – This image does not bode well for tracer-type ghost lights.  This image was produced when the point-and-shoot camera used to take it was set to the nighttime setting.  This causes the camera to use a time exposure in addition to the flash in order to  balance the exposure of the film between near and distant objects.  After the initial shutter/flash action which places a strong image of nearby objects on film, the shutter remains open to allow more distant objects to burn onto the film.  If the camera is moved after the flash, it will not have time to set up a solid image of distant objects, and rather will just seem out of focus or hazy.  In the event that a bright object comes into view of the camera during this open-shutter time, it will show up as a “tracer”.  The pulsing character of this tracer is due to the fact that it is probably a street light, which runs on 60 HZ AC.  What this means is that the light is actually flashing on and off at 60 times per second, too fast to see with the naked eye but easily captured on time exposure film.  This image was taken just after the tracer image, and the camera was held as still as possible.  It still produced a blurred image, but the distant objects (including car taillights and a brighter sky) had more of a chance to expose the film.

Fake mist - This was created on a 45 degree night when breath was visible. I held my hand out to distinguish this picture from the rest, and exhaled directly in front of the camera. Notice the location and texture of the mist. It is apparent from the picture that the mist is quite near the camera, as opposed to off in the distance.

Fake Ecto - Notice the light, well-defined "ecto" in the middle of the picture. This was caused by smoke from a candle recently blown out.

Natural Orbs - These orbs appeared on a picture facing the South wall of the Museum of Science and industry from the bridge across the river. This location is supposed to be haunted. While these "orbs" appear similar to some orbs of unexplained origin on pictures on this site, the "orbs" on this picture were definitely caused by water droplets on the lens of the camera.

Lens Flare - This picture shows the effect of bright lights or reflections on photographic results. The other photographer took a picture at the exact moment that this SLRs shutter was open, creating the interesting and colorful lens flare on the left side of the picture. Other common causes of lens flare include bright lights, sunshine, reflectors, or flashes.

Hooded Apparition - Notice what appears to be a hooded apparition to the left of the center of this picture. It appears to be floating out of the wall behind the investigator. It is actually another investigator, who happened to be wearing a hood to keep warm.

Time Exposure - This picture was taken at night using the time exposure technique. The investigator at the center of the picture began walking, and the picture was snapped. With the shutter speed set to 1/2 second, the figure that appears on the photograph looks partially transparent, and also appears to be in motion.

Strange Lights - The most frightening thing about this picture is the fact that I had it developed where I did. The lab technicians ruined the entire roll of film, including this one of the front gates of Resurrection Cemetery. Every last unusual occurrence on this picture can be explained as due to inept development. Notice the ecto like swirls - that's smeared developing solution. And the floating orbs that seem to be projecting an aura of light - that's light from the projector flooding through tiny holes made in the emulsion of the negative by some unknown but highly caustic chemical. And finally, the small strands of light, those are from scratches on the negatives from when they were dropped on the ground and stepped on accidentally. Oh, that's also a thumb print on the left side of the picture. Definitely a film processing horror story. Imagine how you would feel if you saw a visual apparition in person, and the pictures you took came back like this. The happy outcome is that several lab techs lost their jobs over this roll of film and several others like it.

Reflection 1 - An interesting reflection, I believe due to the use of a flat-plane ultra-violet filter used on the X-370. I will be researching this phenomenon and elaborating in the future.

Reflection 2 - Another reflection on film that I believe was caused by the particular lens filter used on the Minolta X-370.


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