Real or fake? Mysterious ghost pictures investigated


Cemetery ghost baby: Visiting the grave of her daughter in a cemetery in Queensland in 1947 a woman named Mrs Andrews took this picture of what she thought was a bare grave. She was shocked to see, when she got the film developed that there seemed to be the figure of a child sitting on the grave. Mrs Andrews didn’t recognise the child and her own daughter died at the age of 17, much older than the apparent age of this infant. A paranormal investigator in the late 1990s, Tony Healy, visited the site and discovered the graves of two baby girls. –Burden’s judgment: FAKE. Picture: Supplied

FRIDAY the 13th means black cats, bad luck, superstitions and … ghosts.

On this auspicious day we thought we’d bring you some of the best-known ghost images of all time.


Back Seat Ghost: Mr and Mrs Chinnery were visiting the grave of Mabel Chimmery’s mother one day in 1959. Mabel, before walking back to the car, took an impromptu photo of her husband who was sitting alone in the car. Or so he thought. Upon getting the film developed Mabel realised there was another figure in the car, sitting in the back seat, which happened to look a lot like her late mother! — Burden’s judgment: TOO CLOSE TO CALL. Picture: Supplied

These are some of the most famous ghost pictures of all time. In a time before Photoshop and digital manipulation these are the pictures that had experts stumped.

Are they real or are they fake? Is that really a ghostly spectre appearing beyond the grave or is it just a smudge on the film?


Raynham Hall

This portrait of “The Brown Lady” ghost is arguably the most famous and well-regarded ghost photograph ever taken. The ghost is thought to be that of Lady Dorothy Townshend, wife of Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount of Raynham, residents of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England in the early 1700s. This famous photo was taken in September, 1936 by Captain Provand and Indre Shira, two photographers who were assigned to photograph Raynham Hall for Country Life magazine. The figure has been seen many times on the staircase, carrying a lantern, grinning and appearing to have her eyes gouged out. –Burden’s judgment: PROBABLY FAKE. Picture: Supplied

We asked Rick Burden, founder of the Ghost Hunters of Australia website and the Down Under Spirit Team, about whether he thought they were the real deal.

Based on the Gold Coast, Burden’s team of 12 undertake psychic investigations where they can do anything from house “cleanings” (not the kind that involves the mop and bucket), spirit removals, possession removals or a combination of all three. They offer advice and help with anything paranormal-related for those that come in contact with something they can’t quite explain.


faint outline

This photograph of the Combermere Abbey library was taken in 1891 by Sybell Corbet. The faint outline of a man can be seen sitting in the chair on the left. It is believed that this is Lord Combermere himself. Interestingly though at the time Sybell Corbet took the above photo, Combermere’s funeral was taking place some four miles away. –Burden’s judgment: FAKE. Picture: Supplied

Just like in the Hollywood classic Ghostbusters Burden and his team will help rid you of your ghost problem as quickly as they can or if not they’ll tell you where your local ghost hunter is. They’ll even take a look at that weird blur in the background of that picture you took that time to see if it’s a ghost. Fielding at least one call or request for help a week Burden’s team will either offer their own help or put you in touch with a similar team closer to you.



The Watcher: This image, taken in 1959 in Alice Springs, seems to capture what looks like a female figure looking out from behind the scrub wearing a long white gown. Is she holding binoculars? Or is it just a trick of light? Perhaps a double exposure accidentally printed onto one image? –Burden’s judgment: TOO CLOSE TO CALL. Picture: Supplied

The most common problem Burden and his team come across in the field is when people accidentally bring back “entities” when they incorrectly use an ouija board or stage a seance.

How exactly does Burden ‘catch’ a ghost?


tall shrouded figure

This photograph was taken in 1963 by Reverend K.F. Lord at Newby Church in North Yorkshire, England. He claims that the room was empty of people when he took the photo. Alarmingly it looks like a tall shrouded figure standing in front of the alter. Supposedly the photo has been scrutinised by photo experts who say the image is not the result of a double exposure. –Burden’s judgment: PROBABLY FAKE Picture: Supplied

Using equipment such as full spectrum cameras, shadow detectors, vibration detectors, sound recorders, laser grid pens and electro magnetic field detectors allow the team to detect and confront an apparition.

When it comes down to it Burden is surprised there aren’t more ghosts captured on camera: “My opinion on this, is that we may not quite yet have the true correct technology to capture the paranormal on a regular basis.

“I believe we have the partial technology, which is why the paranormal can be intermittently captured, but not the full, true technology to do it on a regular basis.”



This picture, taken in 2008, was taken by photographer Neil Sandbach, at a farm in England while scouting locations for a couple about to get married. He was shocked to discover what looks like a figure standing in a spot that he was quite sure was empty when he took the picture. The owners of the farm have admitted they’d seen the figure of a child dressed in nightclothes on several occasions around the barn. –Burden’s judgment: POSSIBLE FAKE Picture:

When analysing ghost pictures, however, Burden admits: “It can also be almost impossible to prove to people that a captured image is real.”

But there are ways to cut down the obvious fakes from the rest using digital technology.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways that an image can be altered or tampered with these days, and we tend to get a lot of people that think they are funny by sending us obviously faked images and wasting our time.

“We just focus on helping those that are legitimate, and legitimately need help.”

Need help with a ghostly problem? Check out Burden’s extensive listing of Ghost Hunters in your area.


respected furniture dealer

This image taken in the early 1900s of a beautiful antique cabinet was taken by a respected furniture dealer at the time. The photographer was at a loss to explain the transparent hand that appears to rest on top of the bureau. Perhaps a former owner reluctant to let it go? –Burden’s judgment: FAKE. Picture: Supplied

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