2016, October 31: Haunted Tour Photo

Haunted Happenings is a group in the United Kingdom that arranges for paying customers to participate in ghost hunts at spooky locations around the country. On October 31, 2016, they were hosting a ghost hunt at the abandoned Newsham Park Hospital in Liverpool, England, a structure that had a past as an orphanage, hospital, and asylum. As per their tradition, the group participating gathered together for a photo that would be posted to the Haunted Happenings Facebook page later, along with a summary of the night's events.

        On this night the photo was taken by Phil Barron, one of the hosts; three hours later, during a break, he lightened the photo on his phone, then sent it to the home office to be posted on Facebook. It was then officially posted at 3:50 AM on November 1.

Newsham Hospital photo
The photo posted November 1, 2016 [Larger version here]

        It was hours after the group photo had been posted that something odd was noticed. One commenter pointed it out in a post at 11:21 AM, and in reply the Haunted Happenings staff said they'd only just noticed it too... there should have been 29 people in the picture, and the extra face makes 30, so it wasn't just a poorly lit participant. The extra figure simply shouldn't be there.

Closeup... no better resolution available [Sources here]

        One commenter felt there were two faces, that of a woman and then that of a child a little lower in the image, next to the woman in white in the front. This lower shape is less distinct; but if it is a face, it's much larger than the face above it. In reply to the comment saying there were two faces, Haunted Happenings replied:

"I've gone over this in my head dozens of times, and I'm convinced she wasn't there, or the face below her. There's 29 people in the photo, not including the girl or the child, Phil was behind the camera - that makes 30 - and there were still 3 guests yet to turn up at this point.

"You can also see the hood of the gentlemans coat showing up through the girls face. Incredible photograph."

I'll add that the hairline of the odd figure appears to block out some of the neck and chin of the man behind, and that the second, lower face is too large to be that of a child.

        The group had apparently seen a lot of strange activity that night, with participants reporting seeing shadows and feeling someone touching them when no one was there, unexplained knocks and bangs were reported, and Ouija board messages were received... so perhaps it was just the right sort of night for one of the spirits to become visible.

        The story hit the international news media on November 7, which only added two more details. First, the main news release claimed that 32 people were present when the photo was taken, not 30 (one being Barron, the photographer). The only other thing is a strong statement from Phil Barron that Photoshop, a well-known image editing software, was in no way used... these accusations had started as early as a November 2 re-post of the picture in the Haunted Happenings Facebook page.

        This is a common accusation now in cases of photos showing items that shouldn't be in them, skeptics pointing out that a ghost photo is great for the ghost hunting business; of course on the other hand, who else would be in a better position to accidentally catch a ghost on film than people looking for them on a regular basis? In the end no proof of a fake has been put forward, so the opinion of whether the photo is altered or not is a matter of personal choice.

        Perhaps not surprisingly, Haunted Happenings hosted ghost hunts most nights in October, but at locations other than Newsham Park Hospital; Oct. 31 was the first night at this location. Since the photo was posted, Haunted Happenings has hosted several other nights at the Newsham Park Hospital, and took a group photo in the same room each time - posted in their Facebook page on November 5, 6, and 12 -- and the phantom face has not re-appeared.


        A hearty thanks goes out to Eric Stratford for alerting me to this story!

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