I took this digital photograph in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 2006. I didn't look at the photo right then and there. It was later that night when I went through the day's pics. At first glance I thought I had moved the camera, creating the blur, but then I took a closer look. Everything in the background is in focus, only the light in the foreground and the anomaly "flying" in from the from the right are blurred. This prompted the thought, "Did I just capture something?"
When I returned home I put the photo through every test at my disposal. There had to be another answer to what I was seeing here. After exhausting my bag of logic, science and common sense I still wasn't satisfied. I sent the photo to people I respect in the paranormal field for their expert and unbiased opinion. I included all the information and details I remembered from the moment I took the photo, down to the temperature and presence of (or lack of) pigeons. After a couple weeks all came back with their thoughts and ideas, but none of them had a definitive answer. To each and everyone, based on the information they were given, this could be actual evidence of the paranormal.
And then it happened.
I was on vacation in Africa. I was setting up to take a picture of a bull elephant, but the sun was blinding. So I took my sunglasses off and put them over the lens of the camera. I snapped the picture, took a look, and saw I had the answer to a 3 year old mystery.
When I took this picture in New Orleans I had done the exact same thing with my brown tinted sunglasses. I just forgot that I did it when I was reviewing the pictures hours later.
From that day I've asked myself these 3 questions whenever I'm presented with claims:
In this case I made it happen, but it would have been really easy for me to post this pic on every social media page and website, claiming that I had photographic proof of ghosts in New Orleans. I could have argued with every negative comment and blocked “Haters." My story could have been picked up by news organizations all over the world, and for 15 minutes people would know my name. But that is not why I and many of you investigate paranormal claims. For us this is a personal quest for answers to a deeply moving experience, and seeing easily dismissible "evidence" posted on webpages is a scar on our field of research.
The message here: Dust floats, its every action dictated by the wind. It ultimately settles, remaining still until wiped away and discarded. Don't be dust. Be the wind. Become that force with the ability to move ideas and research in the paranormal field forward.
Patrick H.T. Doyle
Being out in the middle of nowhere for an extended amount of time gives me time to think. My mind wanders, jumping from thoughts about current theories in the paranormal to new ideas in the hopes of discovering the truth about what we're encountering. These are some of those ideas.