Strangography; a combination of two words that best describe two areas of interest - photography and strange photographs. My love of photography took a very intriguing turn for me just a few years ago when strange things started showing up in my photographs - usually when I went to places that are thought to be haunted.
This blog isn’t to debate the issue of orbs, spheres and circles being dust, moisture, spirit or energy, it’s just to share some unusual photographs and tell their stories. I am beginning with photos from a fascinating place and will later on add stories and photos from other places too. These photographs make for interesting conversations for the open minded and curious hearted.
I am sure that many orb, ghost and mysterious photos are due to are dust, moisture or reflections. There are many great informative sites and debates about this all over the internet and I have learned much from them.
But I don’t think they ALL are from dust, reflections or moisture…..
Let’s start off with a visit to the Shanghai Tunnels of Portland, OR. Being interested in both the paranormal and photography, I was just fine with going along on a field trip with my daughter’s high school class. Couldn’t wait in fact, especially since I had a mysterious photo that I might have a chance to show the guide. Would there be any interest shown from someone who knew a lot more then I did about the paranormal?
(More about that photograph later)
Prior to going through the tunnels I had used my camera - a Sony f717 – in many dark and dusty locations (old bunkers, forgotten attics, dark basements and under a dusty bed to get a shot of a hiding cat) and I never saw anything mysterious in those images.
The tour began in a restaurant located above the tunnels. Our guide first gave us some background information about the tunnels, how they were used and why he had become deeply involved in working on them for restoration purposes. We started to feel the weight of the words we were hearing - realizing the way of life that hundreds of unsuspecting victems ended up in. Our group became a little more quiet as we filed outside to descend the flight of steps that would take us into the tunnels.
Once inside the tunnels the first thing we saw was an old high chair – for the babies born there. What? Babies? Detailed descriptions of various events followed. Ghosts that had been seen both upstairs in the restaurant and downstairs in the tunnels. The story of a wooden Indian we would pass by and how even he had been sold to a gullible captain and was later thrown overboard. He eventually washed up on the shores of Astoria, OR. and was then returned to his “home” at the tunnels. We heard about incidents of people in the tunnels feeling like they had been touched or of smelling odd odors that no one else on the tour had noticed. Doors opened by themselves. Mysterious voices. The opium den. And about a woman who had tried to escape and was thrown down an old elevator shaft to her death because of it.
Her name was Nina.
We were instructed to stay together, keep our eyes and ears open and if anyone had second thoughts about not going - they should speak up now.
From 1850 all the way up to 1941, men and women were routinely kidnapped. Thousands of them. They were drugged and forced into small holding cells. Then they were taken to the coast through the tunnels to be sold to ship captains for slavery. Sometimes when rations were low on the ships, they were even cannibalized. They were considered to be the lowest of the low and treated that way. Hundreds of men – women too – who were never seen or heard from again.
In an instant destinies were brutishly changed as theyviolently pitched downward through hidden trap doors they had been standing on - located in various Portland bars. Some bars had as many as 12 “deadfalls”.
Portland became known as the “Unheavenly City”.
Stop and think about this a moment – can you seriously imagine this happening? Try to picture this; You are lined up at the bar, having a drink with your best buddy or maybe a girlfriend, perhaps on leave or just out on the town in the city. Spirits are high. It’s crowded, noisy, smoky and maybe your first night out in a long time. One moment your raising your glass for a drink or a toast, possibly your leaning across the bar to order another, then suddenly your crashing downward - embarking upon a horrendous journey to a cruel life. Can you imagine the heart stopping, gut wrenching fear? And that’s just the beginning.
You’ve been shanghaied and didn’t even see it coming.
Eventually there were rumors and warnings – “Be careful in the bars, people had disappeared” – had they been ignored? Tragically yes. Many didn’t believe the stories going around because things like that didn’t actually happen. Not here, not to them.
It was just stuff tall tales were made of.
Let me fill you in – this goes beyond scary, it’s downright chilling. Standing in the bar, hearing about these events - going outside and down the flight of stairs to the dark, silent and eerie tunnels – made my throat dry, my stomach churn and all my senses go on alert. I clicked my camera on.
Then for some reason I suddenly felt very calm. This was unusual because I am easily scared. And I strongly felt that I was supposed to stand in the back of the group to photograph behind us.
So I did just that.
The photographs below are listed in order:
The entrance; Doorway to the holding cells; The high chair (considerate huh?) provided for the babies of kidnapped women who were sold into prostitution; (Some of the actual shoes they were wearing when they were shanghaied (broken glass was littered all around to discourage anyone from running off); Wider shot of the shoes and one very bright orb; One of the many tunnels with some orbs; The soft place to land that they were so nice to provide when the trap door opened and dropped them down – sometimes two at a time or more; The small closet they kept women in until they were properly brainwashed – and sometimes that took days; A window to a small room called the holding cell with an orb in front of the window; The Indian; The opium den (the window seen is the opening to the shaft that Nina was thrown down); A photograph of a ghostly face in a bunker that has it’s own story to tell. And some more photos after that….
Ghost Face in Old Bunker.
This photograph was taken in an old underground bunker. A group of us were on a hike in the woods near an old military post. We walked inside an underground bunker and down through a dark hallway to discover this small room. It felt like a creepy place to me so after a few moments of feeling that way I said, “Let’s go”. My daughter had just stepped in and so she turned around to come out. I lifted my camera to compose a shot because I was really drawn to the natural light rays coming in from an opening above – creepy feeling or not!
Since switching to digital photography years ago, I never worry anymore about how many photos I take – so I remember being very surprised with myself by suddenly thinking, “Oh never mind – I don’t see anything that I want”. But as I started to bring the camera down from my eye, I must have hit the shutter button because I heard the camera go off. That surprised me too.
I couldn’t resist saying,“Well I guess it wanted a picture taken”.
I forgot about it until later on that day. I was reviewing my photos when I came across it and showed everyone that had been on the hike with me. We all noticed the same thing - there appeared to be a man with long hair.
Not a happy face we agreed.
Most of the face we see, is inside of the wire. The tip of my daughter’s elbow (her arm is bent) is just above the right eyebrow and eye socket. That leads into a long nose which goes down to the other side of the “V” inside the wire. Both eyes can be seen, its not a profile. The forehead is just under the light coming in. There is a vague outline of white hair. Some people even see an open mouth with a few teeth.
Hmmm…..do you see him – or not? You decide!
We find it pretty interesting.
So did the tour guide. He took one look at the photograph I showed him and immediately asked if he could possibly have it as he knew someone who would be very interested in seeing it. He was a member of a paranormal research team.
That was an easy yes!
Foggy Room; I had heard this place was haunted. It’s an old hotel – although not used as one anymore. I went to visit a friend and brought along my camera because I had been wanting to photograph inside for some time as I liked the architectural aspects of many of the rooms. While standing upstairs in the balcony I took some shots looking downward. The others came out clear but this one had quite alot of “fog” . Or something else…..
Bright Orb in Cemetery; This is a very old cemetery with lots of history. I sometimes walk through and read about those who have passed on. Actually the only time I feel nervous is when I think of the possibility of bears wandering through. It’s in a secluded area and usually no one else is around. (well not that we can see anyway). There are some people, like me, who come to study the headstones and wonder about the lives of those within the ground. And some of the headstones provide small clues; Sailors with no names listed. Pioneers. Children. Headstones with toys next to them, or faded flags.
This time I had a friend with me and we were both standing on a small road deciding which way to go. It was dusk. I remember both of us looking down the road for a moment – nothing there - and then I took a picture. This is the only photograph I have that has an object this bright. It’s not a reflection because there wasn’t anything on the road that a camera flash could bounce off of.
What is it then?
Back to the Shanghai Tunnels for a 2nd time.
Once again I had a chance to go on a field trip to the Shanghai Tunnels. I wasn’t about to turn that down! Once again, circles/orbs/spheres/dust appeared – although not in every shot. Some other stuff appeared as well. These first two photos were taken at the end of the tour. We were retracing our steps back to the entrance. I continued to be sure that I was behind everyone - aside from the tour guide who made sure he was behind all of us – yet stepped aside for me when I would take photos. (It’s him that you can partly see below.) We had all just single filed back through a doorway that you can see on the right. After I stepped through I suddenly felt like someone quite larger then me was just behind me - so close that I quickly tensed up as it seemed like they were close enough to lean forward over my shoulder as if to say something to and I actually cringed away, a little startled as I moved over to give them more space. I was surprised because I knew only the guide was behind me and I was sure he wouldn’t be following me right on my heels as he always stayed back to better observe everyone for safety reasons. I had the quick random thought, “They are way too close to me”, and looked up and over my shoulder to see who it was. But no one was there. I glanced over to my right, searching around and feeling puzzled - for some reason not remembering that sometimes here people have sensed things like that in the tunnels. Then I made eye contact with the guide who was about 8 feet away and standing behind everyone else. He looked back at me and his expression became concerned and questioning, then he glanced over at the door, came over to close it and then went back to where he was standing. I guess he thought by my looking at him, then over my shoulder at the door – that I was thinking he should close it. Then I focused on the chairs by the wall – remembering that I had taken some shots of these chairs in my first visit and had seen a very bright orb. I mentally switched tracks to my “photo mode” - waiting until he moved forward so I wouldn’t blind him with my flash and then took a picture. Waited another minute and grabbed another shot – just because.
When I was looking at these at home - at first I didn’t even notice the black shape because I was looking at the chairs so closely. When I suddenly noticed it and remembered that I had though someone was behind me I was really taken aback. My first thought was could it be my strap? But even as that thought crossed my mind, I knew it wasn’t because I had my strap securely wrapped twice around my arm like I always do. The camera also has a long lens on it, well I have never before photographed my strap and I move around alot. Remember he had already closed the door so it wasn’t that and I watched until he moved back into the line -seeing nothing but the chairs lined up.
I viewed the next photo I had taken and there were no black shapes this time.
Kinda creepy huh?
Here is another shot from trip number two. When I was reviewing my pictures at home looking at an orb near a pipe at when my husband came in. He thought he saw some faces behind the pipe. I didn’t see them until I looked away and back. Still not sure. Then my daughter came in - and shes skeptical about things like this, I was surprised when she said, “Oh yeah, I see her and she is wearing a choker”. The next day my other daughter, even more of a skeptic came in and saw them as well. I still am not sure - you can decide. He is looking straight on and she has her head slightly turned and has her hair up. They are on the back wall behind the pipe. Sorta like finding cool shapes in clouds.
Or maybe not….
thinking of the feeling I had of someone close behind me and then wondering what Nina actually looked like…
My recent visit to the Oysterville Cemetery.
It was late afternoon, not really near sunset and the lighting was still a little bright. Usually things show up more at dusk. This object showed up – very bright, glowing, not unlike the last one taken from my previous visit. What is more unusual is that it appears to be moving around. For the sake of seeing if something else is there, I tried a photoshop effect on it. It showed an interesting shape when I did that.
Here they are:
~ More to come as soon as I can~