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Did I photograph a ghost? What’s really up the Taroona Shot Tower

I love a good mystery. Bring on the stories of UFOs, government conspiracies, and paranormal occurrences.

It’s not that I’m a firm believer in all these supernatural stories, it’s just that they intrigue me. The fact that some things don’t have a direct answer ignites my curiosity.

Ghosts in particular I’ve always found interesting. I haven’t had an experience with ghosts before except for one time on a ghost tour when I heard some footsteps in a corridor with no one in it. Without any personal experience or proof, I can’t say that I either do or don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m open to the idea that they could possibly exist.

So when I took a photo that might fit into the unanswerable category, I jumped at the chance to investigate!

Shot Tower, Taroona

the story

Last weekend I visited the Shot Tower in Taroona. It was built in 1870 by a guy named Joseph Moir who used it to create shots by dropping molten liquid from the top to fall into a bucket of cool water at the bottom.

These days it’s a small museum. The building is heritage listed and you can walk the 300-ish creaky and uneven wooden steps to the top of the tower for some great views.

I did some photography for the current owners during my visit, including some photos from both inside and outside of the tower. When I transferred my snaps to my laptop later that night, I saw that the two photos I’d taken inside the tower looking up through the centre had some weird blue orbs floating a few levels above. What the flip were these floating blue orbs!

Shot Tower, Taroona

Shot Tower, Taroona

The haunted history

I opened Google and typed in a few different search terms to see if anyone else had captured anything like this in the Shot Tower. While the internet is abundant with photos similar to the ones I took, none display the blue orbs.

Curious to see whether the blue orbs might have had any sort of connection with a haunting, I did some online research and found two accounts of the Shot Tower being haunted (found here and here). People have seen lights atop the tower late at night when there would definitely be no-one up there, and the owners have noticed that a heavy metal door to the factory at the bottom of the tower opens itself, despite being locked. One visitor also spent two hours in the tower and told the owner afterwards that there were some spirits hanging out there.

The story is that Joseph Moir haunts the tower. He lived in the house he built beside the Shot Tower (seen in the pic below), and died suddenly from illness 4 years after the tower was completed.

Shot Tower, Taroona

The photography

Without any solid proof on whether my photo was of Joseph Moir’s ghost, I decided to check what the chances were of photography errors. I read through this article on what might cause these kinds of anomalies in ‘ghost’ photos including the possibility of lens flares and camera errors, but couldn’t really find anything that matched up with the situation of my photos.

I use a Canon 600D (Rebel T3i) DSLR and had a 15-85mm lens, which was zoomed out to 15mm at the time of the photo. Many orbs in photos are due to reflections on surfaces when using the flash, but I was not using the flash! The orbs were also in different positions for each photo, which makes reflections seem unlikely.

Lens flares are also a possible explanation because of the bright lights in the tower, and my husband seemed to be convinced that this was the one and only answer. I still wasn’t entirely convinced. It could be a lens flare, but in the three years I’ve had this camera I’ve never had any that look blue and misty like this.

The public opinion

With still no definite explanation for the blue orbs, I decided to put it to the public and ask Reddit – a dangerous game as Redditers are often skeptics and can tear you apart if they think you’re wrong, but I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and posted the photo in r/ghosts.

Apparently many Redditers consider themselves experts on photography and can immediately determine that a lens flare is the exact cause of the blue orbs. I was hoping for a more balanced argument with someone arguing the other side of the story, but no such luck. I did manage to get a few people asking questions about the situation and telling me their stories of catching strange orbs on camera though.

Shot Tower, Taroona

So, did I photograph a ghost or not?

My husband thinks no. My friends are mixed. Reddit thinks no. And me? I don’t know. I’ll probably never know, but it was fun doing some research to find out!

I don’t have any firm belief that the photos I took is a ghostly presence, but in my opinion, a little mystery is good for the soul. As much as we humans like to know everything and to jump to conclusions whenever we can, there are some things we just don’t know and might never know. Why not leave it that way?

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6 Responses to “Did I photograph a ghost? What’s really up the Taroona Shot Tower”

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That would definitely be an interesting experiment! I was sort of hoping for someone to pipe up with some expert tips in the Reddit post, but no such luck. Will have to search further afield!

  1. Cathy

    Either way it is a great photo and fun story. I love when interesting stories come out when exploring, with a curious mind stories are often found.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Cathy! That was my thought process exactly – the challenge of researching it is what makes it exciting!

  2. Talia's Travels

    Creepy, but fascinating! I am forever a skeptic on these kind of things but the stories behind them are always so interesting, what a gorgeous photo regardless!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Talia! I don’t often lean to the side of skeptic or believer, but I love discovering the stories behind it all 😀


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