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I've received a lot of questions about how to photograph ghosts and several people have asked me for camera recommendations. Ray writes, "What is the best camera to use to capture a ghost?"
Waide has a similar question. He asks, "What are the best types of cameras to catch good evidence and how are they used most effectively?"
I recommend using a digital camera with 5 or more megapixels. I have a personal preference for Sony—however, Canon and Kodak also make good, reliable cameras. If you're not comfortable with digital cameras, you can always use a regular 35 mm camera. If you decide to use a 35 mm camera, be sure to purchase film that is 400 speed or higher. If possible, buy a camera that has Nightshot (for infrared photos). Many of the Sony Cybershot cameras have nightshot (also called "night vision" or "infrared illuminator"), which will allow you to capture clear photos in dark or dim lighting.
Do you own a camera that you would recommend for ghost hunting? If so, feel free to leave a comment below. I will be writing more about using cameras in the field.
In the video below, you can clearly see orbs captured on tape—as well as some very interesting footage from the Black Forest haunting in Colorado. The Black Forest orb is one of the largest orbs I have seen. This video footage was captured from a TV segment that aired on the TV channel "Bravo." Please note: This is NOT my video. Someone sent me a link to the Black Forest video, and suggested I write about it.
I will write more about the Black Forest haunting, which is one of the most inexplicable hauntings. Interestingly, Steve Lee and his family refuse to leave their home in the Black Forest despite the strong paranormal activity. To date, the Lee family has called in 30+ different specialists—including paranormal researchers, private investigators, psychics, and quantum physicists. Several of the scientists have stated that the lightforms captured on film (orbs) do not behave according to accepted laws of physics.
Several people have asked me about protection when ghost hunting, so today I'm going to tackle this somewhat controversial subject.
Let's look at a couple of questions I received on this subject…
"Do I need protection when ghost hunting? Will I run into evil spirits?"
Unfortunately, people tend to fear what they don’t understand.Hollywood portrays ghosts as negative, harmful creatures—and this causes people to develop irrational fears.The fact is, most ghosts are completely harmless.
It has been my experience that we attract what we focus on.So, if we are excessively fearful, and dwelling on “evil spirits,” then this is what we tend to attract.People who are exceedingly fearful/paranoid/angry tend to attract other like-minded spirits.So, don’t dwell on negative thoughts!Say a short prayer or affirmation if it makes you feel comfortable (It certainly can’t hurt), and then start your investigation. 95% of ghost hunters never run into any problems.
And the 5% who do?Well, these people tend to be mentally or emotionally unstable and often have a history of abuse or addiction (substance abuse or addiction). Others have purposely invited an inhuman spirit to interact with them. My advice?Say a short prayer or affirmation for protection (if you feel comfortable with this), remain positive and you should get great results. The chance of encountering anything negative is very, very small (unless you are purposely looking for it).
If I Capture EVP Recordings Will I Attract Negative Spirits?
Christine asks a similar question. She writes:
"I have just started my research into EVP. I want to know if I should be concerned about [the] dangers of doing this by attracting negative spirits?"
As long as you are mentally and emotionally stable, the chance of encountering negative spirits is very, very small. Capturing EVP recordings is virtually 100% safe.
Of course, you should realize that most ghosts were previously living people. Therefore, ghosts reflect human personalities. If a ghost was friendly and warm when he was alive, he will probably be likewise in death. However, if someone was reclusive and angry during life—it is very likely that his spirit (ghost) will reflect these same qualities.
It's possible that a reclusive or angry ghost could say mean things (i.e. "Go Away") on your EVP recordings. This is rare—but it's certainly possible. Human beings are diverse — likewise their spirits are too. There's no guarantee what type of message you will find when capturing EVP.
Protection Prayers or Affirmations for Ghost Hunters?
Christine also asks:
Can you give me some examples of a prayer [or affirmation] to use?
Not everyone is comfortable with prayers or affirmations—so if this describes you, then you can skip this section.However, if you ARE comfortable with prayers and affirmations, here are several you can use.
I am sealed from all imperfect energies.
I am divinely protected and guided. Any spirits that I encounter will remain bound to the confines of the cemetery/house/location.
Saint Michael's Prayer. This is commonly used among many paranormal investigation groups.
May all that is not in accordance with the highest will of God, within and without my entire being, be immediately transformed into divine light.
In the name of God, please protect and guide me as I investigate [insert your location here].
If you decide to use a prayer, it's important that the prayer/affirmation has meaning to you and that you feel comfortable using it.
As I mentioned earlier, this topic is somewhat controversial, since different people have different belief systems. Some ghost hunters recite a prayer before they investigate—others don't. It depends on what you feel comfortable with.
Thank you to Melissa, Christine, and everyone else who sent me similar questions on this topic.
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to The Bentonville Battlefield in Four Oaks, NC.
Bentonville is a national historic landmark and the site of the last major Confederate offensive of the U.S. Civil War. Eighty-thousand soldiers fought on 6,000 acres of land, and more than 4,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing during the 3-day battle. The battlefield is reportedly haunted and people have heard cannon fire, rifles, shouts, and seen phantom fires and apparitions. The smell of gun smoke, and decaying human flesh has also been reported.
But that's not all.
Perhaps the strangest element of the Bentonville Battlefield is the reported paranormal activity at The Harper House.
The Harper House & Paranormal Activity
In March 1865, the Harper House was seized by the Union army, and turned into a field hospital for wounded soldiers.
The home owners, John and Amy Harper, were Southern farmers and owned over 825 acres of land (wealthy by 1865 standards). Needless to say, John and Amy Harper were not very happy to have their home turned into a hospital with blood, guts, amputations, and wounded Union soldiers. However, they did the best they could. The Harpers (and their 6 children) retreated to the top level of the house, while the field hospital operated on the bottom floor. Both Union and Confederate soldiers were treated in the makeshift "field hospital." The front yard and surrounding grounds served as a triage area for the incoming wounded soldiers.
So, what kind of paranormal activity has been reported in the Harper House?
Visitors have reported seeing John Harper in the house, and on the grounds. Strange lights and cold spots have also been reported. According to one witness, there are 6 Union soldiers who hang-out around the Harper House and the Visitors Center. Despite reports of strange activity at Bentonville, management tries to "downplay" these events. I was told by one employee (at the Visitors Center) that he was instructed NOT to talk about what he's seen. Luckily, I found 3 people who were willing to talk to me.
You can watch two witness interviews below. Both witnesses are historic re-enactors, so they are dressed in 1800's clothing with artifacts from the Civil War era (looms, knitting needles, spinning wheels, etc.). Historic re-enactment is a hobby in which participants re-create certain aspects of a historical event or period.
And, here's what's amazing about historic re-enactors…they tend to see a LOT of paranormal activity.
Re-creating historical events seems to draw spirits from that particular time period. Go talk to anyone who re-enacts historical events, and I bet they've witnessed something unusual.
The videos below were filmed with a small, handheld camera (no tripod) to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. So, the camera does move around a bit. :-)
Video # 1 – Bentonville Witness Interview with Brenda – Paranormal Activity on the Grounds of the Harper House
In the video below, Brenda describes something very strange that she experienced on the grounds of the Harper House at night.
Video # 2 – Bentonville Witness Interview with Linda - Residual Paranormal Activity & Intelligent Spirits
In the video below, Linda describes the intelligent spirits she has encountered, and some of the strange residual activity on the grounds of the Harper House. Linda also describes Bentonville as "one of the most consistently haunted places" she has visited. Compared to most witnesses I've interviewed, Linda was very educated and aware, and I really enjoyed talking to her. She knew the difference between a residual haunting, and an intelligent haunting—and she has visited some very interesting places.
I like to ask witnesses why they think paranormal activity is occurring in a particular place. I have learned a lot just by listening to the answers I'm given in response to this question. Try it for yourself, and see if you learn anything new about your target location. You may be surprised at what people tell you. Bentonville Part Two – Upcoming Videos & Photos
Coming soon, I will have 2 more videos for you, and some photos. You'll get to see the Harper House, the mass grave, and watch a video of us exploring the Union trenches (in the woods). There's also a fun story about a cold spot we found at the back of the Harper House.
Thanks for being patient with me as I worked out the technical details of putting videos online. I'm glad to put videos online for you guys—although, it's not as easy as it looks!
Looking for haunted locations to explore? Well, depending on where you live, you may find plenty of paranormal activity at your local library.
In an earlier post, I included a list of haunted libraries that Encyclopedia Britannica had compiled. Encyclopedia Britannica has now published four additional lists of haunted libraries for people who live in the U.S., Canada, and international countries.
I received an interesting email from one of my subscribers. Geoffrey writes:
Three years ago my nephew & I witnessed dozens of orbs in Joshua Tree, CA. They were up to 5 feet from us, circled us and we saw them come out of the ground and rocks. At times they were flying into each other. When we tried to capture them on film, the second we would lift the camera, they would fade out. I spoke with 2 physicists about this and they both said that from my description of events, that they defied natural physics; they couldn't be electric plasma.
There are old pioneer and Indian accounts of this in that area. Anyway, we watched for 4 hours. At first, it scared the bujesus out of us. I've been there at least 60 or 70 times and never saw this before, and the time this happened it was only my nephew and me in the entire campground. Of course there is a lot more I can describe to you about that night but I'll get to my question—what the *!#% do you think it was we saw?
Unfortunately, I don't have any hard answers as to what caused the orbs—your guess is as good as mine. I wish I could have been there to see it, since it definitely sounds paranormal. :-)
Maybe that particular area has a lot of electromagnetic energy. It seems odd that the orbs did not want to be captured on film, and would retreat when you brought out the camera. This makes me think that the orbs were intelligent spirits since they seemed to be aware of the camera (and perhaps Geoffrey's thoughts).
Have you experienced something similar? Do you have a theory about what Geoffrey saw? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Would you like to test a house for paranormal activity? Today's subscriber question covers testing for paranormal activity.
Can you tell me how to test how paranormally active a house (or location) may be?
This is a great question, although to fully answer it, I would need to write several hundred pages. :-) In fact, entire books have been written on this subject—so it's tough to give you a short answer. However, here are some basic tips to get you started…
Interview Witnesses & Research the History of Your Location First
Before you begin testing for activity, I suggest interviewing witnesses. Find out if there have been reports of strange activity, what types of strange activity, and where the sightings/activity took place. Interviewing witnesses will give you a good starting point, and provide clues about whether you're dealing with a residual haunting, an intelligent haunting – or no haunting at all. Be careful, though. Don't believe everything you're told (stories are often exaggerated) — just listen with an open mind.
Other ways to research the history of a location include searching for information online, talking to past property owners, calling the local police (I'm always surprised at how much information the local police can tell you about a property — they really are great sources of information), or chatting with the neighbors.
Video Tape the Area
If apparitions (ghosts) have been sighted, set up a video camera (on a tripod) to document the strange activity. Doors that open and shut by themselves can usually be captured on video tape. Other strange visual activity (such as faucets and TV sets that turn on-and-off by themselves) can also be captured on film. A digital infrared camera can be used to capture images that are invisible to the human eye.
Check for Extremes in Temperature
Unexplained cold spots are classic haunting symptoms. If you discover cold spots (or hot spots), a thermal scanner can be used to prove that cold/hot spots are real (and how much they differ from the surrounding temperature). A thermal scanner (pictured at left) uses infrared technology to instantly detect temperature differences at a distance. It can tell you the exact temperature, and in what direction the cold spot moved.
If apparitions (ghosts) are reported in a certain area, take photos of the area. You may find orbs or apparitions in your photos. CAUTION: Sometimes orbs can be caused by dust or light reflecting off the camera lens or flash. Be sure to account for natural, man-made causes before automatically assuming that all orbs are paranormal.
Capture EVP Audio Recordings
You can test for paranormal activity by capturing EVP audio recordings. Start recording, ask questions, and see if you hear voices during playback. You may not need a separate voice recorder if you are using a video camera. The video camera will record EVP. However, it certainly doesn't hurt to use a voice recorder along with your video camera.
Use an EMF Meter to Check for Moving Fields & Unusual Readings
Areas with high paranormal activity generally have strong electromagnetic fields. Use an EMF meter to measure the electromagnetic fields at your target location. EMF's that move (through walls, around a room, or up-and-down stairs) are very good indicators of paranormal activity. You may also discover EMF's that appear, and then disappear randomly. This is very unusual, and can be a good indicator of paranormal activity.
Monitor Movement With a Motion Detector
Motion detectors can alert you to movement in an area where there should be none. An entire room or hallway can be easily monitored with just one device.
These are just a few ways to test for paranormal activity—but they should get you started. Have fun, and thanks for the great question, Mike.
Geoffrey submitted an interesting question about EVP's. He writes…
"How come when I see EVP tapings on TV they are scratchy, [and] muffled sounding. I got 2 in a cabin in Lucerne Valley. Both were clear as a bell, loud and obscene. Calling me a $@#%! freak, then made growling sounds. After the first one, I slept on my girlfriend's living room floor for a week. Again, why would these ones record so clear—they sounded as if this guy was directly behind me."
Most EVP recordings are scratchy and muffled-sounding. Geoffrey was lucky to capture a very clear EVP (although the spirit he encountered was not very friendly).
No one knows for sure. However, there are a couple of theories. Some people believe that clarity is influenced by the energy level of the spirit. The more energy a spirit has, the stronger and clearer the EVP recording will be. Another group of researchers believe that clarity is strongly influenced by the amount of white noise in the background.
The answer could be a combination of these two ideas. Perhaps there was a lot of white noise in the background, and this particular spirit had a very strong presence/energy.
"How do you get ghosts on camera? Can they be captured on a digital camera?"
Yes, ghosts can be captured on both digital cameras and 35 mm cameras. You can capture orbs, as well as fully-body apparitions. One of the most famous ghost photos is the photo of The Brown Lady, a ghost who reportedly haunts Raynham Hall in England.
Photograph your target location, and you may see orbs, apparitions or shadow-like figures in your photos. It's important to understand that ghost phenomena does not always show up on film, even when ghosts are present. So, don't get discouraged if you photograph an area, and nothing shows up. Keep taking photos and you will eventually capture evidence. Usually it's better to take photos at night with a flash (or in an area with subdued lighting) for the best possible chance of capturing paranormal images. Capturing ghosts during the day is often more difficult than capturing ghosts during night-time. If you are using a 35 mm camera, be sure to use film speed 400 or higher.
Want to see some of the world's best ghost photos? Someone on YouTube has created a video that displays the world's best ghost photos. Please note: This is not my video – however it's a pretty good assortment of different ghost photos.