Saturday, February 5, 2011

Paranormal Photography 101

Easily one of the most misunderstood and often misinterpreted aspects of paranormal research is paranormal photography.

While it is important to utilize a still frame camera in a paranormal investigation, it is also easy to misuse it or misinterpret the images it captures. In spite of this, the camera is a valuable piece of equipment for the paranormal investigator for documenting the investigation or possibly capturing an excellent paranormal image.

Cameras come in different types with lots of different features. There is the conventional film camera which uses film requiring processing and the digital camera which places a digital image stored on a memory card for viewing on a computer or directly from the camera. The advantage of the film camera is that while the pictures are superior and it provides a negative which can be used to determine the authenticity of the image, the processing of film can be very expensive. Digital cameras have become more popular in the paranormal field but because of the availability of photo imaging software such as Photoshop and others, manipulating images is far too easy and it is because of that the investigator's pictures will always be brought into question using a digital camera. So as you can see, the paranormal investigator has to decide what is important in choosing a camera.

Shooting pictures during a paranormal investigation is important and should be common practice for any good paranormal team. Sadly though, a search on the internet for paranormal websites will reveal numerous websites filled with images of supposed paranormal activity. What many of these paranormal investigators fail to understand is that due to the complexities and inner workings of a camera it is easy to take a an image that is misinterpreted for paranormal activity. It may be something as simple as lighting, photographer error, shutter speed, or some natural occurrence like dust, moisture in the air, or something blocking the lens like a strap or the even photographer's finger that was captured. Too little light, too much light, a slow shutter speed, improper camera settings, bugs flying by the camera, a camera strap in the lens, cigarette smoke, or dust and rain drops can all produce what appears to be a paranormal anomaly. It happens all too frequently.

Taking good pictures is a skill that takes time to acquire. Some paranormal investigators have even taken photography classes at their local community college to improve their photography skills. This can be very helpful in becoming a better paranormal investigator and photographer.

In spite of the dilemmas of photography, it is still possible to capture a very good paranormal image, but the paranormal research team should be cautious in deciding which pictures actually show something paranormal and not be quick to present it to others as such unless absolutely sure it is worthy of being presented. Pictures of orbs should especially be scrutinized because of the numerous causes of orbs in pictures such as dust and moisture in the air.

It may a good idea to get several opinions or even seek the assistance of an experienced photographer or another paranormal investigator to get a second opinion. The other option is to present it and let the viewer decide for themselves if it is paranormal; as long as you tell the viewer that prior to showing it to them.

For more information on paranormal photography, the author recommends the book "Picture Yourself Capturing Ghosts on Film" by Christopher Balzano. This well-written book provides step-by-step instructions on documenting the paranormal with photography and video and is an excellent beginner's guide to securing photo evidence of the paranormal. It also includes interviews with experts in the field, a "how to" DVD, and provides information on choosing the right camera. This book is an excellent resource for any paranormal investigator and a great addition to their library.
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