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2003 (ca.): Manila Ghost Photo

The legend:

Sometime in the year 2003, two girls in the city of Manila (in the Philippines) asked a stranger to take their picture with a smartphone, a Nokia 7250. The resulting picture included more than was expected. Neither of the girls felt a presence or any sort of physical contact at the time, and the fact the picture was taken with a digital camera phone makes a double exposure impossible.

Ghost Photo
Manila ghost photo [Larger version here]

The Known Facts of the Matter

        This shot has been described by some websites as "one of the best ghost photos," and is often displayed on sites describing the picture as both true and terrifying, typically with no actual story... the legend above was cobbled together from snatches of story at five different websites. Since no photo can stand on its own, I've been digging into the story of this one.

        The Nokia 7250 was first commercially available in the year 2003, which is the same year I've found the earliest copy of this photo displayed [Link Here] -- other than a singular website that pre-dates the phone (more on that below). The story, as this website gives it, is:

"This photo was taken at Eastwood City in Manila through a Nokia 7250, a phone with a camera. These two girls were out for the night and they wanted to have their picture taken. After asking somebody to take their picture, what they saw on the phone's screen shocked them. A ghostly being was beside the girl in right and it appeared to be holding her arm. FREAKY!"

...which basically sums up every known version of the story. The title given the shot on this page -- "THE LATEST INTERNET PHOTO CLAIMED TO BE A GHOST PHOTO" -- clearly implies they got the photo and story from a different site, so this is not the first posting... but I have been unable to find an earlier occurrence, in any language. It's just been a long time, and many of the services that now copy and archive internet information didn't exist in 2003; so maybe someday an earlier source will be found.

        A review of the photographic capabilities of the Nokia 7250 camera smartphones shows that the image above indeed could have been produced by such a phone... in fact, it's slightly lower quality than the phone could produce. So the image may be a trimmed down photo, or may have been shot in a low quality setting; the main point is that there's nothing in the photo itself that would disprove the possibility of being taken with the camera that was named.

        Of course, the main immediate problems with the photo is simply the lack of actual information: we don't know who the girls were, or exactly when the photo was taken, nor has it been proven it actually depicts a portion of Manila... so the picture is still in a unreliable state by way of paranormal evidence.

        So let me make the situation stranger.

Got Apps?

        For some time now I've been comparing newer 'ghost photos' against the false ghost profiles provided by a number of phone apps that can add a 'ghost' to everyday pictures, and then be shared, printed, and posted to the web... and one of these apps, GhostCam: Spirit Photography by Thepparit Insa, has the exact 'ghost' seen in the photo above available to add to pictures. This example is from their web page in the Google Play site advertising the app:

GhostCam

...and here's just the "ghost" itself, placed against against a dark background:

Ghost Example #2

I'm not the first person to notice this, and it is assumed by a number of people that the photo at the top is just a fine example of the GhostCam at work... but there's a problem with this idea.

        All of these theorists have generally assumed the Manila photo must date from around the year 2006, and that the GhostCam software must have existed at the time. But as I mentioned above, the photo can actually be dated back to the year 2003... and it cannot be proven as far as I can see that the GhostCam software either existed or had this ghost available in the year 2003.

        In addition, an actual comparison of the figure in the original photo and the 'ghost' available in the phone app shows they are not exactly the same; similar, but not the same.

A Comparison...
Comparing the ghost to the 'ghost' [Larger version here]

        One possible reason for this would be that the 'ghost' in the phone app is not the cause of the original picture, but a copy based on the original picture. The GhostCam app includes a number of movie ghosts in its selection, so it's clear that the creator had an eye out for popular ghost images to include... and the 'ghost' above might have been added because the original Manila ghost photo had proven to be so popular!

        So we come to a situation of asking which came first: the ghost photo or the GhostCam ghost? If it can be proven that an app existed in the year 2003 that could place the ghost in the photo, that would solve the problem; I've been completely unable to track or prove this possibility myself -- and I have tried very hard. If the 'ghost' in the later GhostCam software is actually just a copy of the figure in the original Manila photo, then we are left with the questions of where the original photo came from. So, due to a lack of known details I have to label the Manila ghost photo as 'Unreliable' as evidence of ghosts for the time being. Maybe someday I'll run across an earlier posting of the image that has more information about its origins... but until then, we'll have to wonder.

Acknowledgements

        Thanks go to an anonymous reader for pointing out the Nokia 7250 wasn't available until 2003... which makes the one website I ran across that claims to have posted the legend of this account on December 31, 2000, a very strange matter [Link Here]. The only assumption is that they have the wrong date on their site. Unfortunately, they are not cataloged in the Internet Archive (due to the strange way their web pages are served out), so there is no way to trace a better date for their posting.