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Entries in ghost stories (6)


Spirit Photography and Spirit Videography


Now I'm not about to give you a huge history lesson here on Spirit Photography and Spirit Videography but some backstory is needed here, so bear with me. 
     Spirit Photography originated with the popularity of the camera and cameras became popular at a time when the spiritualism movement was beginning to take off, so it was only natural that photographers wanted to use them to 'capture' ghosts.  At it's core Spirit Photography was the act of capturing a 'spirit' in a photograph and in many instances photographers saw the opportunity to cash in on the public's lack of understanding and created fraudulent 'Spirit Photographs'. These original photos usually consisted of having a person or object move through the photo while it was taken, or in some very lackluster methods, tacking other photos into the developing print and passing it off to the customer as the spirits of their family, even if the image looked more like Abraham Lincoln than Uncle John.
     While fraudulent 'Spirit Photos' were becoming popular, a number of skeptics decided to examine these, and took it upon themselves to learn everything about photograpy just to explain how these photos could be produced. These investigators included the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and even Harry Houdini. These first skeptics that took this route are now regarded as the first true paranormal investgators simply becaus they refused to accept these 'phenomena' at face value, and had questions.


     The next step in true spirit photography did not come until cameras were more portable and equipment could be used to authenticate any suspicious phographs. While there were many gradual developments in Spirit Photography it was not until the late 1960s- mid-1970s that Spirit Photography found a new milestone. Scientists and skeptics were using a variety of environmental equipment to identify the 'causes' of paranormal phenomena and, of course, ghosts. Through their work they required cameras, now including video, to document their work. Through legitimate scientific methods they managed to actually capture ghosts and other paranormal phenomena on film, and in a few rare instances on video.

     So this leads us to where we are now with Spirit Photography and Spirit Videography. The most important piece of equipment that an investigator can have is a camera. Everyone wants to capture a ghost in photos and even more so when it comes to video, yet the public still remains unknowing of how cameras work. This leaves us with the 50,000+ photos on the web and 8,000+ videos on Youtube of 'Ghostly Activity' that look very suspicious to everyone. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of legitimate videos and photos mixed in, but it really hurts everyone when there are faked videos or even clumsy photos that are subject to poor conditions.  Now I'm not about to rant about incompetent investigators or fame hungry individuals but I am going to go over a few points regarding how Spirit Photography and Videography come together.

    Primarily, the point of taking a camera on an investigation is NOT to capture ghosts, orbs, or any other form of paranormal activity. The point of cameras in an investigation is to document the investigation and any anomalies that your equipment happen to locate. More often than not you'll be photographing and filming empty space rather than anything supernatural. Capturing paranormal activity is the by-product of documenting the entire investigation and site.  Your equipment indicates an anomaly so you attempt to doccument the anomaly by shooting photos video and even audio.  Always keep landmarks in your documentation, for photos make sure you shoot so that you can gauge where the anomaly is in the environment if you're reviewing the documentation later, for video same goes keep wide angle shots so you're focused on the environment, audio documentation works the same.  Starting each recording with investigators x and y here in location A and such n such time.  Remember the point is for authentication and documentation of anomalies it won't do you any good to have an awesome photo with your keys in it or an EVP with a passing car in the background.

     Spirit Photography is currently sub-divided into digital and film, and phenomena are categorized into 'orb' spirit and mist. Each type of photography has its benefits and faults, while each category can be somewhat tricky.

     Digital spirit photography is the most questionable, as it is the format that is most easily manipulated. Another issue with digital is the fact that even now digital cameras can fall prey to user error. Digital cameras have a CCD (Charged Couple Device) that transmits the image through the lens into a digital image on the electroplate in the circuits. The image formed is the one that you can then view on the screen of the camera. The issue is that under certain conditions, mostly low light, the CCD can produce error in the image because the lighting was not sufficient. This results in 'spots' on the image. Low lighting is when most paranormal photographs are taken. This processing error can account for close to 50% of all orb photos. Digital is quicker, cheaper, and some newer cameras (or modified ones) will allow you to take Infrared photos.

     Film spirit photography is more reliable because of the film 'hardcopy' produced, but is also prey to user error. In this medium, you have to worry about properly loading film and making sure the film is good. Then you still have to worry about development errors. A plus is that you can branch out into thermal photography using Infrared film, and I've found that most apparitions appear on film over digital. Film takes in more spectrums of light, so it's possible that film is closer to the right light range for ghosts and paranormal activity.

     The categories for photograph classification are a little unique. The most common category is an 'orb', and while many will phtograph orbs of dust, debris and other artifacts, there are also real paranormal 'orb' photographs. These are NOT spirits, ghosts or anything else of that nature. A real orb is actually a photograph of Ionized Air. While these are not ghosts, they are indicators of paranormal activity. Think of these as 'spin off' from ghosts and such. Our research has found that if you capture an orb heading left in your image, for example, if you were to turn right and take another picture, you have a good chance of catching a picture of something slightly more substantial, or at least the tail end of one. Orbs are perfectly circular with a slightly opaque outer edge, and are self luminescent, the brighness indicating voltage level. Ball lightning is the extreme form of these phenomena. A quick test to see if the orb you find in your photo is dust or something a bit more paranormal is to walk around, trying to stir up any residual dust. Take a photo, and compare the two.

  The next category is self explanatory. Capturing a spirit on film is just as it sounds; it's the image of an apparition. These photos can show anything from ghostly dogs to people to gravestones. Do NOT go looking in glass or patterns in the environment for the ghost. That method equates to nothing more than seeing shapes in clouds. Any apparition you catch will be fairly visible and stand out from the image.


     The final category are mists. Breath, cigarette smoke and moisture account for the majority of these paranormal phenomena, but like orbs, there are real images as well. Just like orbs, mists consist of ionized air. In fact, you're likely to capture a picture of a mist soon after you've photograped a genuine orb. Some mists appear to be made up of tons of small orbs. Essentially you're looking at an apparition without defined shape. These are easy to recognize if you look close, they look just like a normal grey-white mist or fog but they have defined edges. If it has sharp edges when it should be just a cloud then you've found one.

     Our final topic here is Spirit Videography, the act of filming paranormal activity or spitis. The catch is that video cameras have always utilized a CCD processor even when recording to tape. As a result, these behave a lot like digital cameras. With a wide variety of recording options it's hard to know where to begin finding the right cameras. It's important to choose a camcorder that has high quality night vision optics, and can provide a good quality hard copy.

     If you're using the camera properly, you will document anything you come across. Most phenomena show up as shadows moving separate from the environment. Additionally, stationary cameras provide more perspectives on the site, and free up your hands. Remember, the point is to document the investigation, but the by-product is capturing the paranormal...