Photographing The Paranormal. Tools of The Trade & Techniques
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Tips on photographing paranormal activity
Ghosts are not difficult to photograph however they are unpredictable, often appearing unexpectedly. I hope to supply you with the basics to help improve your chances of capturing your own great ghost photos. Trust me once you get that first one you won’t want to stop.
A ghost can appear any where at any time. Your best chance of photographing one is to visit a place where ghosts are known to regularly appear. Cemeteries, old houses, battlegrounds and places where other people have witnessed activity are always a good place to start since the leg work has already been done for you. You are probably not going to run into an evil spirit but on the very off chance you think you have leave immediately. Do not hunt for, challenge or dare them simply leave quickly.
Paranormal activity is reported as much during the day time as it is during the night time. You should do some research on your location and find out when the paranormal activity is at its best and that is when you want to be there. This isn’t to say that you won’t or can’t capture ghost in the day time however day time photos are a bigger challenge to the paranormal Photographer. I would stick with night time and very low light conditions until you become more proficient.
You will hear time and time again that you shouldn’t start taking pictures right away. You should walk around the location and get a feel for it and let it get a feel for you. It is best to wait at least 15 minutes maybe even half an hour at times. If you feel a drop in temperature, chills, hairs standing up or any thing unusual start snapping pictures. Use you gut instinct of where to point and shoot. Remember you may not be able to see the ghost with your naked eye but the camera might capture the image or you may see something that the camera won’t capture. Please don’t wait to see a ghost before you start to shoot or you may never take a picture. If your gut tells you to take a picture of something then do it whether you can see something or not.
Try talking to the ghost. Introduce yourself and or your team. Explain you are only there to take some pictures and you will be leaving soon. Tell them that you mean them no harm and wish not to disturb them but only to take some pictures and you would love for them to be in the pictures if they want to. By making ghosts feel welcome and non-threatened they are more likely to show themselves to you and your team, thereby making good photographs more likely. When you are ready to leave let them know you are leaving but you will take just a few more quick snapshots. Suggest that if they wish to be in the pictures, now is the time to appear before you leave. Take your last few then thank them for tolerating you and your group and leave.
When it comes to cameras I would take at least two. If possible, bring one film and one digital camera. When using a digital camera I would try to stay with at least a 5 megapixels (mp) camera since most of your pictures will be in low light conditions and the higher resolution cameras will give you a better night image. Most digital cameras have the ability to view your pictures on the back which allows you to see your results right away. This also makes it easier to track and photo ghosts as they move around. The use of regular film cameras will provide something that a digital can not, a negative. A negative can be very useful in proving your ghost photo authentic and not enhanced. Film cameras also have less chance of capturing false alarms that get many amateurs falsely excited. On the other hand digital cameras will capture things that a film camera can not due to its sensitive nature. Orbs and spheres will appear more easily on digital. When using a film keep around 400 film speed, which will be good for any condition you may come across. The best time of the year for capturing ghost images on film are in the colder months when electrostatic energy is at its highest. So for most of us when Halloween gets here get hunting!
No matter what camera you will be using always use your flash. Remember that an on camera flash has a limit of about 15 feet. So if your subject is farther away than 15 feet, your subject may appear dark in your photo. If you are to close you subject will be washed out from the flash. So you must know your flash limits and ranges. Keep in mind that a flash will produce false images from dust, pollen and other particles in the air, so be aware of what is in the air. It is a good idea to set off the flash while you look in the air as it is lit by the flash you will be able to see the particles with your naked eye. If you see them either move to a less polluted area or know that they will appear in your photos creating a false anomaly or orb. Try to use a flash during the day time too it will fill in dark areas where shadows normally appear. Be careful taking pictures indoors with a flash, there are tons of things that will reflect and create a false anomaly.
Try to always have a background or something in the photo this creates depth and improves the overall look of your photo. Be carful of shine from a glossy tombstone, glass, a can hiding in grass etc. They can cause anomalies that can appear to look like ghost & orbs. Never take photos through a glass window.
Ghost hunting is inherently frightening to most of us. Take a friend, or group of friends with you. This will make you feel more secure and may increase your chances of capturing a ghost since they are usually attracted to people. Ghosts are quite often attracted to people and will follow them around. So include people in the photos you take. Make sure to leave enough room on the side for them to appear in your photos. Another trick I learned form another site is to put the camera over your shoulder while walking around and snap a picture behind you as you go.
If at all possible completely avoid taking photos on days when it’s windy, foggy, rainy, dusty or snowing. Always make sure that your camera lens is clean of dust and fingerprints, always! Never take a picture in the direction of the sun or direct light. This will create an effect known as lens flair which can be mistaken for something else. Always keep your light source behind you.
Be mindful and keep your fingers away from the camera lens when taking photos. Fingers in a photo often look like ghost. The same goes for camera straps, put it around your neck. I would not recommend taking the strap off. Most of your photography will be done at night or in low light condition so keep the strap around your neck in case of trips or falls. Cameras are too expensive to drop. Women, keep your long hair tied back.
Breathing in cold weather can cause a fog in front of the camera, which may create strange images that may be mistaken for ghosts. Be mindful of your breathing or hold your breath when taking a photo in cold conditions.
You may or may not get pictures of anything your first few times out, but you can not be discouraged. Fortitude and luck will enable you to capture that shot you are looking for in due time. Take lots and lots of photos every time out!!!! Even if you don’t get a ghost you will end up with some really good pictures. These are my basic recommendations and tips keep them as a guide and enjoy the great hobby of photography and ghost hunting. Good luck in your endeavors. If you have a specific question you would like to ask, or photo you would like me to evaluate please ask and I will do my best to resolve your issue.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Tom Faucheux / U-SPI