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1972, October: The Extra Foot

On April 4, 2009, an unnamed user posted two strange pictures and a story onto the oddly named Can You Explain These Photographs? website. According to the poster, the picture depicts himself (on the far left), his wife, and two other guests attending a wedding reception in October 1972 in the town of Paisley, Scotland. Pictures were taken of all the guests by a professional photographer; but after the pictures were received, they were found to have something extra hiding in them.

Wedding Fun
Peek-a-booAn unexpected extra...  [Picture sources here]

Behind the tall man a white leg and foot can be seen... and by the woman's hand near him, a person's face appears to be peeking at the photographer. The leg appears to be a full sized man's, yet if the man was there -- and certainly if he was bent down to peek -- more of his body would be plainly visible.

        The poster claims that the photographer's negative of the shot also shows the extra figure, and that the photographer had no way to explain it's presence in the picture; there had been no one crouched down in the shot at the time, and no one was there when the group left. The poster had a friend who was working with the police, and they arranged for the photograph to be examined by a 'police photographer' who declared the photo was "genuine and not faked."

        The poster of the picture and story explained that a Glasgow medium had predicted he would receive such a picture, and that two other mediums were able to confirm his possession of a spirit photo.

Theories and Questions

       It was immediately suggested that the image was a photoshop alteration, based on the fact that the top image has surface damage next to the tall man's leg that is not seen in the closeup... but if real, it's likely that the writer of the account could have gotten an enlargement of the suspicious features made by the original photographer, and that each picture is literally a different copy of the original image. Also, one of the respondents to this initial accusation -- a user called "Jack hayes" -- claimed that the police examined the photo "over and over, and found no real evidence that it was fake"... which makes me suspect the police had some evidence, and that 'Jack hayes' is likely the original poster of the pictures and account.

        Many of the people commenting on the page came to one of two conclusions for a mundane explanation of the extra figure in the photo. The first proposed idea was that the man was holding a scarf behind his back for his wife, which is what looks like a leg, and that his hand and ring are what looks like the face and eye. I don't see it myself; I see a foot and an eye... but that's not proof either way. The theory assumes that either the photographer and the poster (who was in the picture) both either failed to note the man holding a scarf, or forgot about it later, which seems unlikely.

        The second guess on the matter was that it was a child standing behind the man, and that the leg just looks full size because we see the front of one leg and the back of another... and the eye peeking at the photographer is exactly that. If true, however, not only did the child have a very large head -- the eye looks adult sized -- but neither the photographer nor the poster (who, once again, was in the photo) noticed a child hanging out, which sounds very unlikely.

        In both cases, there is an unstated assumption that the person posting the story was either wrong or lying about the strange details in the picture; and, strangely, there is also an unstated assumption that the poster was telling the truth about the origins of the photo to begin with!

        Unfortunately, though the pictures -- and to a lessor extent, the story -- have spread to many websites, there is nothing positive that can be said. Due to the fact the picture has no public display I can trace earlier than the 2009 Can You Explain These Photographs? posting, it is very possible that it could have been produced with photoshop... and with no actual information about the person who posted the story, this suspicion is hard to ignore. It's equally possible that the photo is perfectly real and vintage, but completely staged.

        This is the ongoing problem with all 'paranormal' photographs: they are only actually worth as much as the story and confirmable details that come with them, no matter how interesting they look. So for now, this account is marked as "Unreliable" until such a time as either more is known of the person who posted the story, or until evidence of the original event and investigation that can be dated back to around 1972 appears.