ASSAP: Paranormal Research
ASSAP: Paranormal Education
Privacy and cookie information ASSAP mailing list

Maurice TownsendWelcome to the ASSAP paranormal blog! Though this blog is aimed at anyone interested in the paranormal, it will be of particular interest to the paranormal research community. Updated frequently, but not regularly (don't expect something new every day!), it covers any paranormal topic, as well as highlighting recent changes to the ASSAP website. You may not notice it but this site changes on an almost daily basis.

Whenever new information becomes available on a subject ASSAP covers, it is added to the relevant pages of the website straight away. So, just because you've read a page, don't assume it will still be exactly the same when you next look. That way the ASSAP website remains an up to date research resource.

The photo (above right, pic by Val Hope) is the ASSAP blogger himself, out looking for anomalies wherever they are to be found, so that you can read about them here. To contact the ASSAP blog, email here.

Important note: If anything in this blog does not make sense, try following the links in text! If it still doesn't make sense, that's probably my fault ...

Previous blog pages ... (including ghosts, UFOs, poltergeists, flying rods, miracles, orbs, hypnotic regression, big cats, vampires, near sleep experiences, premonitions, shadow ghosts, paranormal photos, auras, river monsters and dozens of other subjects)

ASSAP @ 30: A series of posts summarising what we have learned through thirty years of ASSAP, whose anniversary was 10 June 2011. See here!

NB: WDTHDWP = 'what does this have to do with the paranormal'

26 June: The mysterious hand in the tree

Giant hand apparentlyHow much do you remember about what was going on when you took any particular photo? When I first saw this photo (right) it was many days since I had taken it. It was different to the other photos just before and after it in the sequence and I struggled to recall what it might be. It appeared to show an arm and hand sticking out from a bush! It is a bit like a scene from a horror movie!

I don't recall taking any such a picture, so I had to work out what was going on mostly from the photo itself. It is easy to see how I might gave missed such a hand at the time of exposure. You simply don't expect to see someone's hand poking out of a bush. But then I noticed other odd stuff. In the top left of the photo there is the arch of a bridge! And well below the hand there is a path with a bench. You can't see it in this version of the photo as I had to crop it to fit. Otherwise, the photo is entirely unaltered.

So the hand, if that's what it is, must be inside a tree rather than a bush. The bridge gives some idea of scale so the hand now looks too large for a human, though not outrageously so. So maybe this is an animal hand or, given its appearance, possibly a claw!

Alpine swift Of course, to solve the mystery, all I had to do was zoom in on the 'claw'. Regular readers will be unsurprised to see that is a bird (right). I DO remember trying to get some shots of this bird in flight but I thought at the time that I'd failed to get it. And because I was following the bird in flight, I wasn't aware of the background at the time, which is why I didn't recognise the shot later. The position of the bird and the pattern of light and shade gave it a claw-like appearance when viewed without zoom. Many anomalous photos have low resolution so that zooming in on mystery objects doesn't help!

This incident illustrates how even the photographer cannot be relied on to remember all the details of how their own shot was taken. Though I admit my memory is worse than most people's, it is entirely possible for anyone to photograph things without even being aware of it. From my own experience, both in taking and examining anomalous photos, this is a quite common cause of unusual shots. When it comes to comparing photos with human memory, the photo is always going to be more reliable, unless it is a badly exposed shot. If a photographer says that there was no one there when a photo clearly shows a human figure, it is more likely to be case of fallible memory than a ghost.

25 June: Colourful linear anomalies

Water flying rodsMost flying rods have appendages, so those that don't are always worth a closer look. In the photo (right) there are some linear anomalies which certainly resemble flying rods but lack the typical appendages. They are also transparent, like tiny imperfect glass cylinders, which is also not typical of rods. The photo is a minute crop from a larger picture showing hundreds of similar objects. While these strange things are clearly in focus, the background, consisting largely of green vegetation, is not. The shutter speed, at 1/320s, is shorter than the 1/50s typical of flying rod photos. So what are they?

Their transparency is, perhaps, the biggest clue. The objects are water droplets. They appear elongated because of their rapid movement while the camera shutter is open. They are not raindrops, however, but spray from an irrigation sprinkler system. Many of the droplets in this section of the photo are near the apex of their trajectory, which is why some are moving almost horizontally. Raindrops would, obviously, tend to have a more vertical trajectory.

So, while these anomalies are not like typical flying rods, they might be mistaken for them. In a photo (below right) taken at the same place around 90s later, the same 'water rods' have taken on an even more unlikely appearance. They are now brightly coloured!

Water rods colourThis colourful effect is caused by sunlight being refracted and internally reflected within the water droplet (see here for a diagram and fuller explanation). The shutter speed this time was 1/250s which, coupled with the more vertical trajectory, probably explains the greater length (compared to the width) of these 'water rods'.

It's possible to see how this anomaly could be viewed as unexplained if the photographer didn't notice the sprinkler at the time of exposure. Indeed, the spray was not that obvious when these particular photos were taken. Of course, a photo covered in such anomalies may suggest rain or a sprinkler. However, if the water droplets only cover a small part of the frame, they might well appear more mysterious.

I've never seen an anomalous photo showing objects like these. But I have often photographed strange things (with known natural explanations) that I've never seen in anomalous photos before. And, in just about every case, I've subsequently seen anomalous photos that matched those I'd taken earlier! So I won't be surprised to come across anomalous photos like these in future.

24 June: Strange pattern on a dragonfly

Dragonfly with apparent faceI have often seen photos of insects with false eyes, and even faces, on them. I say false because the 'faces' were not on the animal's head! I have never been lucky enough to photograph one for myself, until now (pic right). This is a Golden Ringed Dragonfly. Towards the top of the insect there is what looks like a face with bright yellow eyes, a tiny 'nose', and a two yellow 'teeth'. The 'face' has an angry look to it, to me anyway! Indeed, it looks more like an 'angry mask' than any real face.

The 'face' only appears obvious when the insect is in one position, like that in the photo. From other angles you don't really notice it. I took the photo when the dragonfly landed right in front of me. I only noticed the 'face' after I'd taken several shots. This might explain why the 'face' is not mentioned in a casual search of the web, unlike unusual patterns on some other insects.

I'm not sure if this face pattern has any purpose to the animal, like the eyespots you seen in some butterfly species. So it may only appear like a face to humans! Some people may feel there is a significance to that fact but I see it as a coincidence, barring other evidence to the contrary. But coincidences are, of course, a rich source of anomalous reports (see here).

12 June: White alien?

White ghostI wasn't sure exactly what I'd seen, at first, but it certainly caught my attention. I could best describe it as a diminutive white figure with a strangely elongated head behind some tall grass. I didn't get the impression that it was a real human figure (or ghost) of the type I sometimes misperceive. It definitely looked odd!

I took photos of the 'figure' - there is one here (right). The impression of a diminutive figure only lasted for a second or two until I got a better look. I would have had trouble describing the 'figure' from that brief view, apart from saying it was strange!

A careful inspection revealed the 'figure' to be a plant of some sort. I'm not sure what type as I was not able to approach it any more closely. Had I only noticed this object for the first time when I looked at the photo, I'm not sure what I would have made of it. Someone else taking the same photo might have seen it as a white alien or diminutive ghost!

Many photographic anomalies are only noticed when the picture is examined after the event. So I try to do it the other way round. Whenever I have a camera handy, I deliberately look around for anything that might look odd. Then I take its photo, despite knowing exactly what it really is. If others did that I suspect there would be rather fewer anomalous photos reported.

5 June: Blurry flying object

BlobHere's a strange photo to contemplate. It shows some sort of blurry object, grey overall but with hints of other colours. Behind it there is a green background with white specks. It might just be a UFO against coloured clouds but the ripples in the background suggest water. The object does not appear to be in contact with the water.

The white specks are clearly behind the blurry object and appear to be floating on the water. It is difficult to decide what this object might be as there is no easy way of judging scale. The photo is heavily cropped. Anomalous photos are sometimes cropped in this way to direct the attention of the viewer solely towards the anomaly.

Blob with duckHere is a larger crop of the same picture. The duck floating on the water gives some clue to the scale of the blurry object, which is clearly not large. In fact, it is known to be a Swallow, flying low and fast over the water. The colours are wrong because they are motion-blurred. The white specs are probably down feathers as there were a lot of young birds around at the time of exposure.

Even when anomalous photos are not cropped, viewers' attention is often directed to the anomaly, either verbally or by a helpful ring drawn ring around it. Either way, it is always important to consider the whole of the photo when analyzing such photos. In fact, there may be things completely outside the frame of the photo that are also important in interpreting it. These might be shown in other photos taken at the same time or they may be visible to someone visiting the site later. It may be counter-intuitive but concentrating solely on the anomaly in a photo can be unhelpful in deciding what it really is.

For a review of paranormal research in the noughties, see here.

Last month's (May) website figures are an average of 12098 hits per day. This is significantly up on the previous month's 10470 daily average.


Previous blog pages ...

  • May 2014 (including single witness UFOs, ghosts vanishing, anomalies seen through gaps, rock face, creeping doppelgangers)
  • Apr 2014 (including unrecognized ghosts, odd UFO photo, do short-sighted people see ghosts, man with no face)
  • Mar 2014 (including unusual shaped UFO, ghost on a train, ghost presence, vampires, ghost calling)
  • Feb 2014 (including confusion, daylight orbs, haunted milk bottle, ghost on a bridge, too obvious explantations)
  • Jan 2014 (including colliding orbs, ball lightning, de-orbing, ghost mouse, mysterious flashes, ghost misidentification)
  • Dec 2013 (including popping orbs, new shadow ghost, ignoring a ghostly hand, dust turning into orbs videoed)
  • Nov 2013 (including hearing voices, blurry ghosts, mirrors and ghosts, coincidences, UFOs near airports)
  • Oct 2013 (including fairy photo, mist ghost, yeti, premonitions, orbs are NOT dust, how hauntings start)
  • Sep 2013 (including moving sticks, targets affecting odds in psi tests, shape shifting, not photographing ghosts)
  • Aug 2013 (including ghosts in plain view, mystery photo, seeing faces, ear pointing, shadow presence, time distortion)
  • July 2013 (including floating ghosts, on being a ghost, ghost ducks, follow that ghost - yes, ghosts galore)
  • June 2013 (including transparent ghosts, distance of UFOs, other stuff going on while witnessing anomalous phenomena)
  • May 2013 (including ghost seen AND photographed, time distortion, reproducing anomalous phenomena)
  • Apr 2013 (including door ghost moving, UFOs from a train, missing time, reality glitches, EVP without E, weird photos)
  • Mar 2013 (including witness credibility, distraction to see ghosts, movie in real life, photo or witness)
  • Feb 2013 (including possible orb comeback, OBEs go mainstream, walking ghost, feelings without touch, object movement)
  • Jan 2013 (including a big problem with ghost vigils, time distortions, cryptids, snow ghosts and rods, causes of hauntings)
  • Dec 2012 (including mysterious injuries, ghosts versus people, voice from nowhere, experimenting with a ghost)
  • Nov 2012 (including reflected ghost, isolated EVPs, ghosts talking to each other, invisible presences)
  • Oct 2012 (including ghostly presence, shadow ghost, strange pigeons, window ghosts, hallucinations)
  • Sep 2012 (including yellow grass, weird waterfalls, vanishing buzzard, ghost vigils, slowing down time)
  • Aug 2012 (including seeing unknown animals, glowing lampposts, EMF meters as an accident of history)
  • July 2012 (including turning rods into orbs, psychic insight, making insects spell, glowing eyes, haunting hot spots)
  • June 2012 (including doppelganger mystery, not expecting ghosts, anecdotal evidence, credible witnesses)
  • May 2012 (including lenticular cloud, ghost encounter, ghost train, weird stuff in a tree, van Gogh, resolution)
  • Apr 2012 (including naturalists and ghosts, odd feelings during OBE, wrong kind of sound, voice from nowhere)
  • Mar 2012 (including jogging and ghosts, misty ghosts, image noise, full spectrum photography, EVP of machines)
  • Feb 2012 (including ghost car, analyzing anomalous photos, ghost at rock concert, OBEs and motion sickness)
  • Jan 2012 (including stopping flying rods, photographing fairies, time warp, a ghost tie, ghostly fingers, New Year UFOs)
  • Dec 2011 (including missing time, improving ghost vigils, anomalous photos, ghostly faces, seeing fiction)
  • Nov 2011 (including OBE video games, EVP and VLF, whatshisname, paranormal misconceptions, invisible ghosts)
  • Oct 2011 (including smartphone ghosts, similacrum, smell of ghosts, morphing UFOs, slowing time)
  • Sep 2011 (including tidy ghost, MADS, transparent ghost, big announcement, ghost fox, not alone)
  • Aug 2011 (including cold spots, spectral hound, triangular UFO, ghost photos, rushing air and being dragged)
  • July 2011 (including Hilary Evans, Harry Potter, witness investment, bias in paranormal research, TV detectives)
  • June 2011 (including ASSAP @ 30, detecting lies, hyper-vigilence, strange thunder)
  • May 2011 (including ASSAP @ 30, lone shoes, flying rods, bias, early memories, strange floating object)
  • Apr 2011 (including royal wedding, mirror touch synaesthesia, sleep disorders, new ghost sighting)
  • Mar 2011 (including roof heron, Atlantis, first time witnesses, comparing film to digital paranormal photos)
  • Feb 2011 (including predicting the future, ghost bird, time slip, weird floor, what do we really know about paranormal)
  • Jan 2011 (including the ghost hunting boom, orange UFO, EVP experiment, extreme normality)
  • Dec 2010 (including microsleeps and road ghosts, shadow ghost in snow, lack of ghosts in photos, anthropomorphism)
  • Nov 2010 (including EMF meters, auras, evidence for precognition, sensitisation, the ghost hunting boom)
  • Oct 2010 (including black orbs, UnConvention, mirror visions, levitation, flying rods and orbs)
  • Sep 2010 (including a ring tone from the roof, shadow ghost video, time slip explanation, daylight orb video)
  • Aug 2010 (including Parisian UFO, sense of presence, SLI, consulting experts, misperception)
  • Jul 2010 (including Sherlock Holmes as a paranormal investigator, haunting sounds, what ARE hallucinations)
  • Jun 2010 (including the Loch Ness Monster, gorilla video, getting ghost stories the wrong way round)
  • May 2010 (including ball lightning, Wem ghost photo, waking up twice, eyewitnesses, Robin Hood)
  • Apr 2010 (including causes of road ghosts, new orb evidence, bird UFOs, UFO photo, not quite seeing is believing)
  • Mar 2010 (including experiencing hypnagogia, consciousness, belief, prolonged misperception, doppelganger)
  • Feb 2010 (including visual continuity errors - AKA ghosts, near sleep experiences on trains, spontaneous OOBEs)
  • Jan 2010 (including intelligent oil, SLI, inducing OOBEs, orange UFOs, the bleak midwinter)
  • Dec 2009 (including review of research in the noughties, pretty orbs, imperceptions, river monster)
  • Nov 2009 (including EVP without a recorder, demons and entities, why only some people see ghosts)
  • Oct 2009 (including grey ghost, near sleep experiences, a triangular UFO and seeing David Beckham)
  • Sep 2009 (including latent memory, Tufted Puffin, Bermuda Triangle and garden poltergeist)
  • Aug 2009 (including official UFO files, partial ghosts, flying rods and miracles)
  • Jul 2009 (including garden poltergeist, big cat video, orbs and hypnotic regression)
  • Jun 2009 (including thoughts from nowhere, shadow ghosts, premonitions and metallic UFO)
  • May 2009 (including analysing paranormal photos, making ghosts and ghost lore)
  • Apr 2009 (including phantom bird, choice blindness and grass that gets up and walks away)
  • Mar 2009 (including deja vu, ghostly mists, weird UFO photo, white ghosts)
  • Feb 2009 (including hidden memories, coincidences, auras and window UFOs)
  • Jan 2009 (including animals sensing ghosts, vampires, flying rod season and a haunted path)
  • Dec 2008
  • Nov 2008
  • Oct 2008
  • Sep 2008
  • Aug 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • Even older

© Maurice Townsend 2014