TRICKS OF THE TRADE
We get a lot of people sending and showing us their photos which they believe have something paranormal in them. While we love to get them, it sometimes becomes hard to see what they have found because most do not have the training or experience in photography or investigation. This doesn't mean that they don't have real evidence, but usually it's too hard to be sure of what they may have really caught. To help all of you "soon to be paranormal investigators" we thought that we would share some tips of the trade to help you out a bit.
Things to remember when taking photos...
1. Always use a real camera! Cellphone cameras are great to get a fast pic, but they lack quality once you’ve uploaded them to most editing software. Today more companies are putting in better cameras, but when you go and try to edit or upload them they still can become too pixelated to see any real detail in them. A real camera is your best option however, digital and film cameras have their downside as well. They do give you a better-quality picture and most can be adjusted to take photos in different lighting situations, big plus’s. Knowing your equipment is important too, being able to adjust the ISO or shutter speed can be quite helpful. Also, you need to be able to understand how much things like reflections and moisture can affect your photos. When it comes to those old film cameras you can have problems with film age, improper developing and lighting is a big problem when it comes to false positive evidence. Then there is cost to consider. Film can be expensive to buy and develop, on an average investigation we can take over 200 photos. Still many experts disagree on the new-age of the digital camera as well. Some believe that the “digital noise” produced by them can also provide false positive evidence. Ideally you need to consider cost over quality, or vice versa, and choose what will work for you. The one thing that screams to me is that you try to use both digital and film when investigating, you may just find better evidence. If that same little flaw just happens to appear in photos from both devices in the same area, well, that would be hard to debunk!
2. Take 3 BEFORE you move! Taking at least 3 pictures in a row before moving your camera gives you the opportunity to compare your images of the exact same spot to each other. This allows you to better define reflections or other things that may be causing a false positive in your photo. We have also found that when we take several photos in one spot we can easily catch something that we may have missed in one shot. However, the biggest reason to practice this is that if you do capture something in 1 or 2 pics, having the before and after photos that were taken of the same spot & at the same at the time helps to strengthen your evidence.
3. Holding your camera! A lot of people will capture unusual mists in their photos and think they have something paranormal. The fact is that your breath can cause these mists, sometimes even at room temperature. By holding your camera straight out and at chest height you can avoid this problem. Remembering to hold your breath when you snap the pictures is also a good practice to get in to especially for photos taken outdoors. It is possible to capture a mist that is paranormal, but if you have bad camera position, you will not be able to call it real evidence.
4. NO SMOKING / VAPING! This is a big NO-NO! Cigarette smoke hangs in the air longer than you think, and any breeze will move it around into a photo or video field. Vaping does not linger as long, but it does and moisture to the air and that can cause you to capture a false orb. If you need to do either of these, you should have a designated area well away from the investigation area.
Things to remember when you are recording EVP's (Electronic Voice Phenomena) ...
1. Tag It! Tagging is one of those things that most forget to do or they do it so often that they "tag" right over any possible evidence they are trying to catch. Tagging is the act of identifying the sounds that you hear during a recording or EVP session which can be explained, so the person listening to the recording knows what sounds to ignore. It does take some practice to figure out just when and what you should announce when tagging.
2. No whispering! Whispering is probably the most common explanations for a false EVP’s. People get it in their heads that a recorder is on so they should be quiet, and that just creates problems for the people listening to the recorder. Always remember to speak in a normal voice and be aware of where your recorders are placed as speaking at angles to the recorder can have the same effect as whispering does, creating crappy evidence.
3. Who's who! Get into the practice of having each person in your group say their names at the start of the recording. This gives anyone listening to the recording an idea of the voices they can expect to find and the ones they want to find.
4. What was that! We get a lot of recordings sent to us with every inaudible sound marked as a ghostly or demonic voice. This just isn't the case normally. You wouldn't believe how many times we have found an EVP, only to discover later that the "mystical sentence " we were trying to decipher was actually someone walking across a squeaky hardwood floor. You really must develop what we call your "EVP ears" and this just takes a little practice. This is where it’s important to be that open-minded skeptic. You really need to know where the recorder was during this time frame, then you need to visualize that area or reference other recordings or videos to try to find something or someone that may have created this sound before assuming its paranormal.
Other important things you should remember…
1. Safety, safety, safety! If you’re going out to investigate the local cemetery, abandoned building or other creepy spot always remember that there is safety in numbers. NEVER INVESTIGATE ALONE! Having a couple of friends along to watch your back is a smart idea just in case you do happen into some kind of trouble. It also helps to have a couple of witnesses should you actually have an experience or paranormal event, making for much better evidence.
2. Let us not trespass! Some people tend to forget that these creepy cemeteries and spooky old houses are still someone else's private property. In most cities, it is okay to go into the cemetery during normal business hours, but going after dark can result in you and your group getting a fine or worse. Trespass in someone’s old abandon house and you could get a free ride complete with handcuffs. As a rule, G.R.A.S.P.P. will not go into any structure without written permission from the owner. If you’re up front with them it usually isn’t that hard to get that permission. With us, going into the cemetery, we will file for a permit from the city or township. We have also learned that when the cops show up on your cemetery investigation don’t run! If you try to get away it makes them think that you’re guilty of something and then when they catch you, well, busted. If you tell them what you’re actually doing, most often they will just say “you’re not supposed to be here, go away”. Heck depending on the city and the officer, they may just say behave and don’t stay long. Some districts don’t mind if you are there, it can give them some extra eyes to keep a look out for vandal’s. Others don’t want you there and they will not be lenient.
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