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How To Photograph Ghosts

Great, convincing ghost photos are very rare. Here's how we might succeed

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GHOST STORIES can be frightening... ghost voices in EVPs can be intriguing… but what people really want in the way of haunting evidence are photographs. Photos and videos of ghosts provide the most dramatic evidence for the existence of the spirit world, providing we can be certain that they have not been Photoshopped or otherwise hoaxed. That's why so many ghost hunting groups are so eager to point to the orbs and "ecto" in their photos - they desperately want that hard evidence. Unfortunately, orbs and "ecto", in my opinion, stand as rather poor evidence for ghostly activity since so many other things, such as dust and water vapor, can account for them.

So how can we succeed at photographing ghosts? Here are some ideas.

GO WHERE THE GHOSTS ARE

This seems like an obvious point, but how do we know where the ghosts are? Well, at any given moment, we don't, really. They could be all around us, for all we know. But our best bet is to go to locations where ghost activity has been reported.

Many ghost hunting groups like to hang out in cemeteries with their cameras and recorders. Although I've heard some very good EVP from cemeteries, I haven't seen many convincing photos or video taken there. Just because people are buried there, why should ghosts linger in cemeteries any more than in other locations? (I think the ghost hunting groups just like the spooky atmosphere.)

A better bet would be houses, buildings and other locations where people have actually experienced ghost activity - better yet, where ghostly apparitions have actually been seen.

EQUIPMENT

The type and quality of the photo equipment you use can be important. Most people are using digital cameras these days, and although you don't need an expensive model, the higher the resolution the better. Cameras of low resolution can produce images with a lot of digital artifacts, especially in low light situations. This artifacting can produce elements in photos that might look paranormal, but aren't. (Even if they are paranormal, the blocky resolution makes them more difficult to confirm.)

Use cameras of at least 5 megapixels of resolution.

WHAT TO SHOOT

Fortunately, large-capacity memory cards for digital cameras have become quite affordable, allowing us to take lots and lots of photographs, even with high-resolution cameras, before they have to be emptied. So take lots and lots of photos, especially in the areas where ghost activity and apparitions have been reported.

HOW TO SHOOT

Set up your camcorder on a tripod and let them run unattended. You can also try this method with still cameras equipped with a function of snapping a picture on its own every few seconds. Make sure your fellow ghost hunters aren't creeping around this area very much.

WATCH WHAT YOU SHOOT

Avoid shooting into mirrors or other reflective surfaces, especially with a flash. Flash reflections can result in too many questionable images that can be caused by smudges and dust on the reflective surface.

Some researchers believe that ghost images are more readily caught in a reflective medium like a mirror. (In fact, the ghost research group I belong to got one of its best images this way.) But if you do want to shoot into a mirror, do not use a flash. If there's not enough light available, put the camera on a tripod or other stable surface to avoid blurring.

DAY OR NIGHT?

Here's something that occurred to me as I was considering this article. Should we use flashes at all? (It's the flash that produces those questionable orbs and ecto.)

Should we even be doing this research at night in the dark? This is when most ghost hunting groups conduct their research, but why? Watch any episode of Ghost Hunters and they not only conduct their research at night, but also switch off all the lights. Again, why? Because it's spookier? Is there any evidence or research to show that we are more likely to capture ghost photos, video or EVP in the dark than in the middle of the day?

In fact, the opposite might be true. Take a look through this site's gallery of The Best Ghost Photographs Ever Taken. What's one thing they most have in common? Most were taken during the day or in normal light conditions.

So, ghost hunters, why don't we try that as well?

BE LUCKY

The one other thing the photographs in that gallery have in common is this: they happened by chance (with only one or two exceptions, I think). The photographers were not out trying to photograph ghosts. They were just taking pictures for some other purpose, and the ghosts happened to show up in the photos. In fact, that's how most great ghost experiences occur - when we least expect them and on their terms.

Ghost phenomena are fleeting and mercurial. We cannot control when they will happen or how. By definition, we cannot control our luck in capturing a ghost on camera or video. The best we can do is go where the ghosts are, be patient and be persistent. We may never get a photo of an apparition, but if we do, the effort will have been worthwhile.

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