Detecting ghosts using Picasa

The family home having been put on the market all the children have taken their burden of the artefacts that filled our parents’ lives. As the parents were in competition with the British Museum to pillage the planet for statues, carvings, parts of UFOs and weapons of mass destruction, I haven’t been able to fit much share in my little house. What I have taken on is the media including photographs that go back to the late 1800’s. I have catalogued and scanned about 4,200 so far. I think there are a few thousand more to go.

Each photo is scanned and added into Picasa, where I add tags and comments that e.g. ‘the baby in this shot went on to World War One and then must have survived because he’s the fat man holding another baby sometime later’. I turned on face recognition which was annoying at the start, but soon proved useful when it recognised Uncle Something Or Other over the decades. What I didn’t expect was that Picasa is determined to find every person in the shot no matter how bleary and distant they may be. I was deleting them when I noticed that Picasa was finding ghosts.

Here’s a typical Picasa face:

Nothing weird going on here. Ancient Ellard relative with beer.

Here Picasa insists that a face is somewhat to the left of what you or I might expect. But look again.

I am aged 8 and sitting on a couch. Picasa is much more interested in whatever is looking in the window. I can’t see it but then again Google is better at searching.

Quite typically our first real ghost is holding a ghostly beer. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

It’s the Invisible Man!

It’s not easy being green. That’s probably why he looks so down.

Keep in mind that all these showed up with face detection set to high confidence / low errors. I’m going to back up the database and then do another search with lower confidence – that’s going to really flush out all these spirits!

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