The first examples of spirit photography date back to the mid-19th century, when the pioneers of photography attempted to provide tangible evidence of a world beyond our own. But the paranormal is notoriously difficult to capture, if possible. Today, among the growing number of ghost images circulating on the Internet, there are a handful of photographs that defy explanation and seem to provide visual proof of an existence beyond death.Resisting the test of time and experts who have spent their careers demystifying some and not disproving others, in chronological order, here are the ten most famous ghost photos ever taken and the scary stories behind them.
1. Corroboree Rock Spirit (1959)
Taken by the Reverend R.S. Blance in 1959 during a visit to the Corroboree Rock Reserve in Alice Springs, Australia, this famous photograph seems to show a woman holding her hands in front of her face, looking away. Blance claimed that he was alone at the time the photo was taken and that he only intended to capture the natural beauty of the place. The mysterious apparition was discovered during the development of the negative and since then photography has joined the many legends surrounding Corroboree Rock, which has long been a place of spiritual importance to the Aboriginal people of Australia.
2. The ghost of Lord Combermere (1891)
Taken by photographer Sybell Corbet in 1891, Lord Combermere’s figure can hardly be seen sitting in his favourite chair in Combermere Abbey, England. The second Viscount died after being hit by one of London’s first electric motor taxis. It is said that while Corbet was taking the picture above, Lord Combermere’s funeral was held a few miles away. It is interesting to note that if the character’s head, necklace and right arm are clearly recognizable to those who knew him, also, his legs, seriously damaged during the accident, are mysteriously absent from the photograph.
3. The rear driver (1959)
This famous ghost photograph was taken in 1959 by Mable Chinnery. After visiting her mother’s grave, Mable turned around and took a picture of her husband, who was patiently waiting for her in the car. What Mable did not expect was that her mother would appear in the picture, sitting in the back seat behind her unsuspecting husband.
4. The Brown Lady (1936)
Perhaps the most famous ghost photo, the brown lady or Lady Brown from Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England, became world famous after the appearance was captured in the main stairway during a photo shoot for Country Life magazine. The Brown Lady is so named because of the brown brocade dress she wears and would be the spirit of Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686-1726), the sister of the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.
5. The Spectrum of Newby Church (1963)
Kenneth Lord said he saw nothing unusual when he took a picture of the altar inside the Newby Church in Yorkshire, England, in 1963. But after developing the negative, he was surprised to see this semi-transparent hooded figure emerge with a strangely terrifying appearance. Estimated at two meters, the masked character was examined by photography experts who confirmed that the image is not the result of a double exposure or the product of another photographic ruse. To add to the mystery, no evidence of paranormal activity has ever been reported to the church which was built in 1870.
6. Tulip Staircase (1966)
The Queen’s House at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, has long enjoyed a haunted reputation. Shaded apparitions with sounds and not inexplicable, it was only in 1966, during the visit of the Reverend Ralph Hardy, that inhabitants of the other world were finally filmed. With the intention of taking only one picture of the impressive “tulip staircase”, Hardy, after developing the photos, saw the appearance of a veiled figure climbing the stairs. The original negative was examined by experts, including some from Kodak, who agreed that the photo had not been tampered with or altered.
7. Freddy Jackson (1919)
Freddy Jackson, a Royal Air Force mechanic, was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1919. On the day of his funeral, a group photo was taken of his squadron and Jackson was not going to let his death prevent him from showing up for the group photo. His face can be seen behind the fourth airman from the left in the back row. When the photograph was made public in the 1970s, retired RAF officer Victor Goddard confirmed that Jackson had indeed appeared from another world.
8. The Ghost of Amityville (1976)
The Amityville home has inspired many books, movies and is easily one of the most famous places in American history. In 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. killed his parents and four siblings in the Dutch colonial house built on the south shore of Long Island at the request of a dark presence. A year later, the Lutz family settles in and discovers that their demons are lingering. The Lutzes lasted only 28 days in the house before fleeing in terror. This photograph was taken by Gene Campbell in 1976 during a paranormal investigation conducted by Ed and Lorraine Warren. Using an infrared camera on the second floor, it wasn’t until Gene looked at the negative rolls in 1979 that he discovered this picture of a little ghost boy.
Widely regarded as the spirit of John Mathew DeFeo who was only nine years old when he was murdered by his older brother, this child is considered one of many spirits that haunted the home.
9. The Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove (1991)
Located in a remote section of the Rubio Woods Forest Reserve in Chicago, Illinois, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is home to many stories of encounters and terrifying paranormal activity reports. Closed and abandoned in 1991, the Ghost Research Society of America decided to make a visit to see if the haunting rumors were true. After observing unusual signs on their equipment, the group began taking pictures of where they were, and although invisible to the naked eye, an apparition appeared on one of the photographs. The figure appears to be a woman sitting on a tombstone, perhaps in prayer. The photo was nicknamed the “Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove” and was published in both the Chicago Sun-Times and the National Examiner, earning it international fame and the reputation of being one of the most fascinating paranormal photos ever taken.
10. Mary Lee, Waverly Hills Sanatorium (2006)
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium, the former tuberculosis hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, is well known as one of the most haunted places in America. Opened in 1910, it is estimated that 64,000 people who were admitted to Waverly Hills and died there before it was closed and abandoned. Today, the site is open to visitors who regularly report strange events. The photo above was taken by Tom Halstead, professional photographer and member of Missouri Paranormal Research. During a paranormal night investigation, Halstead began taking photos of an area commonly known as the “death tunnel” and captured this strange character standing in the dark.
Which could be the mind of Mary Lee, a nurse who hung herself in room 502 after being raped by a doctor. We wondered if that photo had been tampered with. Halstead died in 2013, but shortly before his death he was asked about this photograph, his answer “I have nothing to prove to anyone”.