Oct 06, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

A Color Photo of a Green Ghost and Why Almost All Ghost Photos Are White

“Is This The First Ever Colour Image Of A Ghost Caught On Camera?”

A recent headline on the web site Higgypop asks one of those questions that generates many more queries, like “Haven’t I seen a color photo of a ghost?” “Why does it seem most, if not all, photographs of ghosts are white?” “Are ghosts the same color regardless of the race they were when alive?” “Does this have anything to do with the practice of wearing a white sheet when pretending to be a ghost?” You may have more questions like this, but the answers to some of these may be the same for yours. Let’s start with the incident that prompted the good folks at Higgypop to formulate the first query about a strange photograph of a disembodied green hand floating in front of a seemingly unnoticing paranormal investigator.

“For the very first time we've probably caught the real colour of a spirit, which kind of looks like a Slimer-ectoplasmy-like green.”

You know the stuff.

That statement come from Chirs Bores, who calls himself the world’s first “ghost behaviorist” – more on what that is in a minute. Bores makes his bold claim on a promo for an episode of “Ghost Doctor,” a show that “is dedicated to finding that next level in ghost hunting through psychology, sociology, ancient texts and more by using the latest technologies available.” In this YouTube clip from the upcoming Halloween episode, Bores is visiting the allegedly haunted Oliver House in downtown Toledo, Ohio. Opened in 1859, the Oliver House was first a hotel, later converted to industrial use, and is now home to a brewery, a brew pub, restaurants, an art gallery, residential apartments and more. Besides being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is also listed on many Toledo ghost and paranormal tours because of its many spirits, like a soldier in uniform who appears so frequently, he’s known as “The Captain.” The ghosts may be from the Oliver House’s other past uses as a Civil War infirmary, or as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Bores has been to the Oliver House before and has his own regular contacts – a woman whose late husband left her to join the Civil War and a black servant whose murder there in the late 1800s was covered up.

“I am not a Ghost Hunter. I am a Ghost Behaviorist. There is a distinct difference. A ghost hunter seeks out the paranormal; a ghost behaviorist has figured out what to do with a spirit after they have found it. If you think talking to spirits and getting into their psyche is only done in the movies, think again! I’ve studied the behavior patterns of spirits to better understand what they want and how they can be helped.”

Bores explains on his website that how he is not like the television ghost hunters who rarely have encounters longer than 60 seconds (watch a few shows and see if you agree) – he claims his unique techniques allow hm to communicate with spirits for 90 minutes or more as he gets to know them for the real purpose he’s generally brought in to do … cleanse the building of its ghosts. That is why he calls himself a ghost behaviorist or the Ghost Doctor. If knows ghosts so well, perhaps he can explain why the ghostly hand he photographed at the Oliver House is green.

In the YouTube clip (watch it here), Bores has one of his special pieces of equipment called a “REM-Pod” for summoning and communicating with spirits. As he explains what he is doing, a green light travels in a flash over the REM-Pod in front of a window. The flash is definitely green and, when the shot is stopped, looks like a hand. Unfortunately, the short duration plus the presence of the window makes it look like a reflection, but Bores says it is not. Higgypop asks some good questions: why didn’t Bores see the light when it happened? (He saw it when he reviewed the video.) Why didn’t the ghost hand trigger the REM-Pod – which is the purpose of the equipment? While those questions are unanswered, maybe we can answer the other big question – why did Bores think this was the first ever color photo of a ghost?

“He slimed me. I feel so funky.” — Peter Venkman in ‘Ghostbusters’

Could it be that all of our images of colorized ghosts come from movies like “Ghostbusters”? Venkman’s slime was green, but the ectoplasm and ecto-mist of ghost stories is usually clear or foggy white. Orbs sometimes seem to be colors other than white, but these are not the images of the person the spirit once was. Funnel ghosts or vortexes are generally wispy white swirls or smoke that are made visible by light – which, when coming from a flashlight or light bulb, is white. In the history of photography, color film and color digital images are relatively recent innovations, so old black-and-white photos of ghosts are white by default. Since most ghost hunting occurs at night, photographs have long suffered from the lack of light to appear on film, thus looking too dim to be identified as a color. Low-light photography is another recent innovation that goes a long way in making an image clearer, but not necessarily more colorful. So, unless the ghost is a bright blast of non-white light, it will most often be white – regardless of the race of the spirit.

Then there is the image burned into our brains of ghosts looking like humans under white (never colored or printed) sheets. That comes from the burial practice of wrapping a corpse in a shroud and buried in it. In the days before coffins were common, the decease was buried in the shroud … thus the assumption would be made that when they come back from the dead, they would be wearing the same covering. In poor families, the shroud was often the sheet on the bed where the person died, or where the family prepared the body for burial. By the 1400s, depictions of ghosts were usually wearing shrouds. That inspired graverobbers to cover themselves with white sheets and scare away people bothering them, or worse – scare them into giving the ‘ghosts’ their money and belongings. In early theatrical performances, sheets made it easy to portray a ghost character – if no sheets were available, white face and body makeup would suffice. That practice carried forward to early black-and-white movies and eventually to cartoons – think of Casper the Friendly Ghost.

You get the idea -- it's still good for Halloween.

So, we know where the idea of white ghosts originated from. That still doesn’t prove that Bores took the first color photo of a ghost. In fact, there is still reasonable doubt that the green disembodied hand is truly a ghost. This is not to doubt his ability to speak to ghosts and remove them from buildings in his job as a ghost behaviorist – just the color of the ghost in his video.

Let’s hope Chris Bores returns to the Oliver House and brings back his green hand ghost for an encore appearance to settle the ghostly dilemma. The people who make green sheets will appreciate the business it could generate.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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