Thursday, April 21, 2016

Is this a Ghost?

Colorado's Stanley Hotel is famous for inspiring Stephen King's horror novel The Shining, which was adapted into the iconic Stanley Kubrick film that starred Jack Nicholson. The hotel also is an alleged hotspot of paranormal activity, and has been featured multiple times on paranormal investigation shows such as Ghost Hunters. Recently a hotel visitor snapped the photo shown above, which looks like it contains a human figure at the top of the stairs. But the visitor saw nobody on the staircase while the picture was being taken. So is it a ghost?

Henry Yau took a panoramic image of the lobby of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, this week.

When he snapped the photo, there was no one at the top of the staircase, he claims — but when he took a look at it later, he saw a ghostly figure in what looks like period clothing coming down the stairs.

“When I took it, I didn’t notice anything,” Yau, director of public relations at the Children’s Museum of Houston, told

One paranormal expert said the photo shows not one, but two spirits.

“When we blew up the picture, we immediately saw a second anomaly just to the left of the first figure,” Kevin Sampron, a paranormal expert at SPIRIT Paranormal Investigations in Denver, told WUSA. “To us it looks like the first figure is a lady dressed in black and to the left of her it looks like a child.”

Looking at the picture myself, finding two figures in it is a bit of a stretch. It also is hard to say whether the figure is dressed in period clothing or anything like that. It just looks like a dark, human-shaped outline to me - like someone dressed all in black. I'm thinking that spotting two figures in the picture is more likely to be a mosaic effect.

Skeptics have argued that the figure is an artifact created by the cell phone camera's panorama function, which is possible - except that in my experience when that happens you usually see a more defined line where the images splice incorrectly. I can't find a line like that in the photo, but I'm also not familiar with the version of the software used to take it.

So without access to the camera and the location to try and replicate the shot, it is difficult to say whether or not this is some sort of artifact. The panorama function adds another layer of complexity to the shot, where something like that could have been introduced. On the other hand, it does look a lot like a classic ghost photo, so the camera may have captured something paranormal or at least unusual.

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