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Rather than let the joke go on too long, I just went Scooby Doo crazy with pictures like above. As silly as they appear, some still didn't get the joke and felt they were seeing something special. Really, my Photoshop skills are awful. I also don't think an admission was needed to explain that elephants wandering our deserts are not real.
Some of you may remember when this site had a forum. It was only when someone asked directly if I was altering pictures that it became a discussion. Some found the humor in the more obvious alterations, but still hoped some of the less obvious images were real. Some were genuinely disappointed they were not.
Just to be clear, with the exception of resizing images to increase download speeds, most images are presented exactly as they were captured without alteration or filtering. Those that have been altered should be obvious to most. To those that did believe, it was never my intention to deceive. Honestly, I'm a little surprised some fell for it.
The closest we've come to believing something strange was happening was deep underground. We kept hearing light tapping getting closer, then further. Closer, then further. Almost as if we were surrounded by something we couldn't see. Looking up, we barely caught a glimpse of it. A bat flying back and forth above us. They are normally silent in flight. The tapping was its wings touching as it changed direction. If we were believers and seeking something paranormal, that story would be told completely different.
We've been in plenty of mines. In the thousands of times we've been underground, not once have we ever experienced anything remotely paranormal. Sometimes, we'll hear something that we can't explain. Just because we can't source a sound, doesn't mean it's a spirit. I believe that sometimes, things just go bump.
If you have nothing better to do. There are over 100 images hidden throughout the images galleries. Here's an easy one to get you started. "I am Groot."
That elephant, dinosaur, and bigfoot went unnoticed in their galleries for many years. They were added to the weekly updates and not snuck in afterwards, so I was sure they'd be noticed. Weeks and months go by and none are spotted. I felt those were obvious, but obviously, not obvious enough. Since I knew there were many paranormal believers who follow the site, I wanted to slip a few ghosts in the galleries.
Aside from complaints, some of the most common topics in emails are regarding paranormal activity. Most who know me know I'm not a believer in anything paranormal. I believe most unknown things can be explained scientifically or naturally. Even instances without a ready explanation may just be unexplained. There is a lot of space between unexplained and paranormal.
I never fully understood why believers in paranormal activities were drawn to mines. Perhaps it's just the allure of hardship or because ghost towns have "ghost" in the description. Their chances of locating a random mine where a death occurred is very slim. Historic mining was dangerous work, but there were surprisingly few deaths. By volume, there were more deaths building railroads than there were in hard rock mining. It lacks the romance, but if you want to guarantee being around death, hang out in a hospital.
The most commonly reported sightings in our images are orbs, which are circular artifacts of flash photography. Some will argue that sometimes, orbs are spirits. I will argue that since there's a proven, rational, and repeatable explanation, it's more likely they are spirits none of the time.
Since I thought I was mostly alone on the site, I got bored and started hiding things in the pictures. First, it was little things that were noticeable, but well camouflaged. Things easy to miss, but once you know about them, you can't unsee.
The most complete guide to Southern Nevada's mining history.
These were less obvious than the previous ones, but still comical to me. Oddly enough, those were noticed and the believers started sending emails. Most emails began with, "I know you're not a believer, but if you look at your picture...". Depending on my mood, I'd either tell them it was for entertainment or if I felt like entertaining myself further, I'd suggest to them that it's just a case of pareidolia. Meaning, the mind looks for familiar patterns in unfamiliar objects.