The Convict Church, Port Arthur, Tasmania
Email received from Kerrie, 27th January 2016:
"I would be interested in your informed opinion on the attached photo taken on the Pt Arthur Ghost Tour in Tasmania, Australia on 8 Jan 2016. We exited the church building - the first photo I took was portrait and appeared at the time blurred so I took this one landscape and took a few steps back to get the whole building in the picture. There appears to be a woman in a black hooded coat (bottom right). Around the same time we took this photo we heard the church bells ring and asked the tour guide if he heard the bells. He advised no bells are rung at that time of night.....Thanks again!"
The main part of my reply:
Thanks you for your email with the attached photo.
Well, I agree - there is definitely something or someone in the photo on the lower right of frame. It's not a photographic anomaly, but rather something that is physically present.
"Since you're photographing at night, the camera's automatic shutter speed is quite long, and you can see the pattern of camera movement from the squiggly shapes the highlights on the wall have left.
"There are a couple of possibilities that I can't be too sure about because I wasn't there:
- The slight camera movement has caused enough blur in some static object to make it look like a human figure, or
- perhaps there was a person there that you didn't notice. People seldom see things that are near the edge of the frame because they tend to be concentrating on the thing they're photographing.
"However, your report of hearing bells tolling when there wouldn't have been (at night) add an extra air of mystery to the whole occasion. I've not been to Port Arthur, but the place definitely has a haunted reputation."
(James Gilberd, for NZ Strange Occurrences Society, 27th Jan.)
We're not sure who or what the apparent figure is, whether it's a simulacrum (random shapes that appear to be a human figure), a real person, or a paranormal manifestation of some kind.
Occam's Razor would have us reject the third possibility as it depends on assumptions that are too unlikely or unproven (ghosts exist, and they can be photographed). But we think this photo is too good to dismiss in this fashion. We don't know what it is, but maybe we'll find an explanation in future. The case remains open.
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