Thursday, 31 December 2015

Don't get your Hamptons Caught: Part 2: The "app"ening?

The Daily Star and several other tabloids reported on 29th December, a story centered  on a photo taken by bus driver Trevor Tye, which alleges to show the ghost of Catherine Howard stalking the hallways of Hampton Court gallery, specifically the area known as the Queen's staircase.

The image was taken in an area called the Queen's Staircase, and as you can tell it's highly filtered to make it brighter. A less filtered version has actually been circulating the internet for some time. This version below was taken from Haunted Earth's Ghost World, the article is dated January 2014, but states that Trevor took the photo in August 2012! The tabloids waited for four years to jump on this "amazing" evidence. They must be desperate.

What has changed between the two circulations of these photos is Tye's story of the circumstances surrounding it's capture, He tell's the Star, etc.., today: "Trevor Tye, 45, had driven a coach-load of tourists to the royal palace but ventured in to get pictures himself while he was waiting." They quote him as saying: "I was very careful when taking the picture to ensure no one was in the room - the last thing I wanted was someone ruining my shot."

This wasn't Tye's story back in 2012. From the aforementioned web page:
"The photographer, Trevor Tye was told to leave afterwards by Hampton Court staff as photography is strictly banned. Whether the reasons are conservational (to preserve art from camera flashes) or commercial (to sell their own photographs), nobody can confirm." Tye replies to this: "the reason I was asked to leave was not because of that photo, it was because I entered a roped off area in the cellars....I took this photo on my way out of the palace.and I can confirm that it isn't a real girl reading as the area had no body in...i waited ages for people to leave before locking the door for few mins to take photo,"
How long could Tye have waited if he was asked to leave? Surely he'd have beat a hasty retreat?

Also the Ghost World article alleges there are two ghosts. The other stood next to the little girl. This second ghost was conclusively debunked almost immediately by a user known as Sir Edward. Funny how it's been dropped in the latest apdaption of the story.

Another thing interesting to note is that Tye is not just a coach driver, as the Star eludes, he also lists himself on Bark as a paranormal investigator.

Hmm... The website for his group Middlesbrough Paranormal contains a gallery of images of visits from supposedly haunted locations. Many of them allege to show evidence of ghosts or spirits, most of which are nothing more than common garden orbs.

This seems odd for a man who stated this in the Mirror version of the story:
"Unfortunately the vast majority of ghost pictures you see are faked so I am really pleased to have caught something like this."
This one struck me.

Now, I'm pretty good at spotting an image that's been produced by a phone application. And after quite some time searching I think I found the face on the left. 

Unfortunately, it's not terribly definite. The face in Tye's image could just be pareidolia. I would have been far more convicted if I'd found Tye's man in a waistcoat. So I searched Ghost World: Haunted Earth  to try and find more stories with a connection to Tye. I found one, containing this image, which Tye claims was passed to him by a fellow coach driver, Craig Cooper.

This I could find.... Well.... I had a friend who could. Thanks to Anna Hill again! It's from the image manipulation suite 27 Ghost Brushes. Here's the image anna found laid next to Tye's original.

What should be very clear is that Tye is a very clever and careful app user. He either places the image in the background and extremely small, or in the foreground and extremely faint. Does this mean we should immediately assume that Tye's Hampton Court ghost is from an app? 

Not Necessarily. But Tye certainly isn't above faking a ghost picture. Another possibility other than photo manipulation  is a staff member in period costume or a member of the general public similarly dressed. The internet is jammed with images of people in period clothes at Hampton Court, even traversing that particular landing, not like the image below. 

What about the lady below, she could easily by mistaken for a ghost if snapped from far away.

The figure does seem to be reading an information panel intended for visitors. Presumably, any ghost haunting the building would be slightly bored of this after hundreds of years. Members of the general public visiting in period dress would be far more inclined to read tourist information, I would suspect.

That's if this even is a figure at all. An extreme zoom reveals that the figure appears halved. This leads me to believe what we are seeing is some trick of the light, pareidolia fills in the gaps and viola. Ghost.

Likewise, a negative of the image furthers I believe, shows this isn't a full figure or, in fact, a figure at all.
So.... what's the answer here?

 I don't see any reason to suspect ghost. Photo manipulation, the person who took the image has form after all, an actual person in period dress or some trick of the light and our own inbuilt tendency to make sense from random data. I can't conclusively rule out any of these naturalistic explanations, and there are lot's of  other rational possibilities left to be dismissed, of course, this isn't how the tabloids work.

One interesting thing to note is that the tabloids that feature the story all refer to the ghost as a little girl at some point, and as Catherine Howard at others. Howard, who is alleged to haunt Queen's staircase, was 21 when she died. Hardly a little girl. When it comes to ghost stories, consistency has never really concerned the tabloid media. 

If anyone can crack this I'd love to hear from you. 

Personally, I think it's the ghost of Twiki from Buck Rodgers. There's quite a similarity and he is about the right height....