ghosts in the asylum?

Photo Copyright 2002 by Brian Kromer. All Rights Reserved.

This eerie photograph was submitted by Brian Kromer and was taken with a Polaroid camera at a state-run mental institution in Allentown, Pennsylvania by his uncle in 1971. The photo depicts Brian's grandmother (left), his grandfather (center) and his grandmother's brother (right), who was an inmate at the institution at that time. The photo was placed in storage after his grandmother's death and was discovered again recently. Brian gave a me a copy of the photo to study at the Independent Ghost Hunter's Conference in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania in April 2002.

Although his uncle clearly recalls that no one else was present in the room when the photo was taken, three images seem to be present alongside the living subjects of the photo. There is a portion of an image to the far left, what appears to be a bearded man to the right side and then another man who is on top of the photo subjects in the center.

John Weaver of the Capital Ghost Forum (who organized the April conference) also studied the photo and added this: " I've shared this [photo] with a retired professional photographer (who is also familiar with Polaroid from using it for layout/comp shots) who agrees with my observations: The figures on the left and at center materialize in front of the living people and the figure on the right does not, staying behind them. Even if it were a double exposure, (with a Polaroid?) there would be background details behind the misty figures and there is no trace of this."

I would have to agree with John in assessing this photo but while a double exposure with a Polaroid may be nearly impossible today, it was not always that way, as I was reminded by long-time researcher Jim Luehrs. That is not to say that this photo is a double-exposure, but it's possible that it could be. Unlike the debunkers out there, we do not maintain that just because something is possible to reproduce that it must be a hoax. Jim just wanted to caution me that Polaroid cameras were not all the same as they are today. He writes:

"In 1971, the Polaroid camera had a bellows type front to it. There was four steps to taking a photo with these cameras.

1- focus the camera
2- cock the camera shutter ( lever-right side from the lens)
3- press the shutter release button to take picture
4- pull the film out from the back of the camera

"A double exposure was very simple to do. After the picture was taken, to get another exposure on that photo, all you had to do was to re-cock the lever on the front, and again press the shutter button , then pull the photo out from the back. A person could re-take as many shots on the same photo as they wanted to do.

"I owned one of these Polaroids from 1970, and when I was on the Police department I used to use this camera to take mug shots with it, getting frontal/side shot of a person on same photo. What I did back then was to take a plastic cap from a 35mm container, cut half of the cap away , placed it over the lens, leaving half of the lens uncovered, shoot the front profile, turn the cap to cover the other half of the lens now, re-cock the shutter, have the person now turn to the side, and press the shutter again now getting the side profile, it worked perfectly for me doing it that way. I even took it a step further to take and just cut out a fourth of the cap, doing this I could take four ID type photos on one photo. Take the picture, turn the cap/cover a 1/4 turn, re-cock the shutter and shoot again, doing this four times gave me four really good photos on the one picture.

 "That photo (above), taken when it was, is very subject to being a double exposure."

Again, no one is saying that the photo is a double exposure but the possibility is there. We simply do not want to present only one side to the research and feel that it's necessary (if any progress is to be made in this field) that we present both sides of the coin. Personally, I don't feel that this is a false photo, based on my past experience with photographs and double exposures. The main thing missing here is a double background, as most double exposed photos seem to have. The "extras" in this photo (while not clear and concise) seem to be a part of the present image. I can find no evidence of another location where a first photo would have been shot.

That's my own opinion anyway (for what that's worth) and while we will never have a negative to authenticate the image, I think there's a good chance this a real representation of a haunting. What do you think?

Copyright 2003 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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