Presented by Troy Taylor, Author of the GHOST HUNTER'S GUIDEBOOK and President of the American Ghost Society

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This photo was taken during an investigation and managed to capture a ball of light that was still in motion while the shutter of the camera was open. The image can be seen on the right side of the photo.

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For More information on different types of "spirit photos" and how to tell genuine photos from false ones, see our section on   SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHS!

The camera has become one of the most important tools that a ghost hunter uses in every investigation. Many researchers have turned to the camera to provide proof that ghosts actually exist... and that they can be captured on film.
But how does this work when ghosts can't even be seen?

No one really knows for sure just how ghosts end up on film. I believe that it has something to do with the camera's ability to freeze a moment of time and space in a way that the human eye cannot do. Science tells us that the human eye does not see things as they really are.... it takes the brain to process the information gathered by the eye and then present it to out conscious minds in a way that we can understand. Perhaps the brain simply doesn't allow us to see ghosts. I believe that many sightings of ghosts are "accidental", when spirits somehow slip past the brain's screening process. But some people see ghosts.... perhaps if the human mind is like a radio receiver, then some people are simply tuned to the "right channel".

The camera's ability to freeze time may also combine with the intense energy pattern of the ghost, which somehow imprints itself on film. I also think that it may be likely that ghosts, or spirit energy, are made up of a different spectrum of light. A spectrum that the human eye cannot see and yet the camera manages to pick up, acting simply as a machine and not being fallible like the human mind and body is. The photos that researchers do manage to capture often show spirits in what I feel is their true form, as clouds of ectoplasm-like fog, mists, balls of glowing light and white shapes that sometimes appear to be human-like.

But how does it work? That's a tough one to answer.... there are countless theories as to why it works but no one seems to know how, they just know that it does. Most researchers simply find a method for producing ghost photos and then adapt it to work for them. Often though, ghosts are captured quite by accident, leaving no clues as to why that particular photo was successful.
Each photo that we take and display should be under intense scrutiny by the researcher before it is presented to the public. There are dozens (dare I say hundreds?) of terrible photos out there claiming to be authentic.... and many of them are not. This sort of shoddy ghost research is damaging to all of us because we are all under tremendous pressure to provide some kind of proof that ghosts exist.
Thanks to the fraud and trickery of the past, and to some of the so-called "ghost photos" of today, the public questions nearly every photo and investigation which is brought to light. This is where your knowledge of cameras, films and natural lens effects becomes so important. I encourage everyone who wants to be a legitimate ghost hunter to go out and purchase standard books on photography. Know your camera, your shutter speeds and what can happen with lens refraction’s and light reflections. By doing this, you have protected yourself from the arguments and barbs of the "skeptics". If you have already checked the sort of natural effects which they will suggest, then you can be confident about the photos you are taking.
Also, try experimenting with what fake photos look like. Try bouncing your flash off of a reflective surface and see if you can make "globes" appear; take photos in the rain; drop various things like dust, flour and water in front of the lens and see what effects you get; try photographing your camera strap.... and I think you will be amazed when you realize that you have debunked a lot of photos which you may have previously thought were real!

People often ask me to suggest cameras and films for ghost hunting, but there is no set answer about what equipment to use either. Everyone seems to have their own ideas about what works best but I recommend a good quality 35 mm camera with adjustable settings and Kodak brand film. I also usually recommend 400 ASA film as well.

Remember that trying to take photos of ghosts is not an easy process. Many investigators only use their camera when they encounter anomalous readings with their equipment and still others cover the alleged haunted location with their camera to document as much of it as they can. You just never know what might turn up on the developed film.
Do plan to use a lot of film when ghost hunting. It is a common fact that sometimes it takes dozens (or even hundreds) of snapshots to come up with even one paranormal photo that you can prove is genuine. There is no question though, if you are in the right place at the right time, you will get a ghost on film.

Here's a warning for you though: turning to the camera for proof that ghosts exist does not insure against mistakes and many people are fooled into believing that some erroneous photos are real.... don't let yourself fall into that category!

I have seen dozens of photos which supposedly show ghosts and spirit energy that really do not. These photos can severely damage the credibility of the photos that are genuine and I again urge all ghost hunters to look at their photos carefully before presenting them to the public. Everyone makes mistakes! Just make sure that you do your research and know how to tell "accidental" photos from the real thing!

Here are some things to be careful of when experimenting with ghost photographs:
1. Be careful that you have nothing protruding in front of the camera lens... like a finger.
2. Be sure that your lens is clean and covered when not in use.
3. Make sure that the weather is cooperating with your photographs. By this, I mean make sure that it is not raining or snowing. Round balls of glowing light that are photographed during a rain storm are not exactly overwhelming proof of the supernatural.
4. Make sure that conditions are not damp, promoting moisture on your camera lens.
5. Be sure to point the camera away from reflective surfaces when using a flash. Avoid mirrors and windows in a house and polished tombstones when shooting at night in a cemetery. The light from the flash bouncing off this surface can refract back onto your camera lens and create "orbs" that are not of paranormal origins.
6. Most important..... make sure you know where your camera strap is at all times!! Notice how many so-called "ghost photos" that you see look like camera straps? That's because most of them are! Notice how those "anomalous" images always come from the right side of the camera, where the strap is normally located?


Copyright 2004 by Troy Taylor, All Rights Reserved

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