Paranormal Investigators - "Did you hear that?"
With the variety of paranormal shows being broadcast today, it’s difficult to choose a favorite. From A Haunting to Ghost Hunters, or from Ghost Adventures to Unexplained Mysteries, the interest in the paranormal is increasing rapidly.
Since childhood, I have been interested in the paranormal, and that interest was piqued in 1973 when I was just 22 years old. This is when I was introduced to the Dandy family who was plagued with activity in their country farmhouse. You will find further reference to this matter in one of my other hubs; You Know They’re Here - A True Ghost Story.
I watch little television, but when I do, I will occasionally watch one of the many shows available on the topic of ghost investigations. One show in particular, Ghost Adventures, is the show I found to be most interesting. The lead investigator on the show, Zak, with his hyper personality always at the ready to challenge whatever entity he and his crew might cross paths with, is quite interesting. I label myself as an amateur paranormal investigator, and my and my ‘crew’s’ main place to investigate is the Dandy House mentioned above, which by the way, is known as one of the most haunted locations in Western New York.
I purchased an entire season of Ghost Adventures on DVD. This allows me the opportunity to play a show in slow motion to get a better glimpse of what Zak is conveying to the watching audience what just happened during a segment of recording. Comparing the Dandy House with any one investigation they conduct makes me believe the spirits in this infamous haunted location aren’t as cooperative as those that Zak and his crew meet up with. Not one show in the entire season I purchased does Zak and his crew record any less that three clearly heard understood EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) sessions.
Now, I am not saying I believe or disbelieve what they are capturing on their devices, nor am I knit picking this one show. I only reference Ghost Adventures because I have it readily available for comparison measures only. I have watched as many episodes of Ghost Hunters, Ghost Lab, Paranormal State, as well as other over the years, but it does seem to me, Ghost Adventures accumulates more activity than the other teams who investigate in very much the same manner.
For the skeptic, I’m sure it’s not difficult to debunk most everything the crews of these productions acquire, but even some believers are now questioning the veracity of the findings with ex-crew members coming forward telling of some incidents being faked. If these accusations are true, what would be the purpose of a production staff footing the bill to air these programs? Surely if these antics are happening it would be to raise the ratings of the show, or to sensationalize an otherwise mundane and boring investigation any serious and dedicated investigator has experienced more than once.
Now, let’s talk about some of the equipment used during these investigations. When I was plunged headlong into the paranormal decades ago, we didn’t have the sophisticated gadgets of today. We didn’t have digital cameras and recorders, or infrared cameras. Surely, we didn’t have access to thermal imaging devices, or laser grids; we used Polaroid cameras and tape recorders, and you couldn’t tamper with a photo taken with a Polaroid. What you saw was what you got! Not only do we have advanced electronics to make the job of capturing an entity both photographically as well as audibly, but now we have ways of ’creating’ something that wasn’t there with digital editing software such as Adobe PhotoShop. Of course, no one in the paranormal field would do such a thing, would they? No…..
One of the most interesting devices used in ghost hunting today is the ‘Frank Box.’ This gadget was designed by Frank Sumption. Simply, the device uses a white noise generator which is fed through a random voltage circuit. The random voltage is then linked to an AM radio receiver which will react to the voltage by tuning to a specific broadcast frequency on the dial. Various radio stations are tuned in for a split second with regular static. This allows the spirits to interact with the device and ‘create’ their own voices allowing them to ‘talk’ through the device. The latest version of this device uses the sweep method which scans the entire AM band rather than remain stationary on one frequency. An interesting concept, wouldn’t you agree?
There are so many variables in the field of ghost hunting, and just and many rules to follow. It certainly has been one of the largest growing fields for the amateur as well as the professional, but I must stress, even hardcore professionals don’t follow all the rules. Something else I can’t stress enough is, “Not to want something to happen so badly that you’ll accept the slightest noise to be paranormal.”
Here are a few rules to follow for a safe, effective ghost hunt.
1) Never, ever go alone, and always let someone know where you’re going to be. Give a physical address if possible, and an approximate time when you’re going to return.
2) Get permission if you’re going on someone’s property even if it happens to be an open field. Trespassing is trespassing!
3) If you’re investigating a large area or building and need to break up into pairs, carry cell phones or walkie-talkies. You must have communication with one another, not just with the spirits!
4) Please, no drugs or alcohol, and if you bring drinks or snacks, be sure you clean up after yourselves.
5) Never smoke in an area indoors or out where you will be taking pictures. Believe me, I have seen where swirling smoke can create something that looks like a body, head, face, or animal. Smoke against various backgrounds can really create some amazing shapes.
6) When using digital recorders, try not to move about too much, talk, or even whisper unless you are conducting a question/answer segment. Even then, try to allow only one person to ask the questions. Many times when playing back the recordings, one might hear something that might sound like an answer from a spirit when in fact, someone was whispering to another crewmember.
7) When using an EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency) meter, do a survey, and check for areas that might produce fluctuations in electronic readings such as appliances, and electrical outlets. Anything electrical that comes too close to the meter will cause a change in the readings.
8) This probably should have been rule #1, but be prepared to be patient! Patience is most important in a controlled ghost hunt, and you may want to dedicate several hours to your hunt.
9) Anything loose such as long hair, camera straps, hoodie strings, and the like, should be tied down. If these things fall in front of a camera lens they can be mistaken for an entity.
10) If you’re going to be conducting your ghost hunt in the evening, make it a point to go to the location during the day and survey the entire area. You don’t want to be walking in and out of rooms or an outside area you’re not familiar and injure yourself!
11 ) When reviewing your recordings, photos, and videos, be objective. It isn’t likely you will always get proof of spiritual energy every time you go on a ghost hunt. Please, don’t want it so bad that every orb, sound, or bug flying in front of your camera lens is paranormal in nature. Above all, be safe!
This is a list of the typical equipment you will need for a successful hunt.
1) Flashlights and plenty of batteries.
2) Audio recorder – digital is best and can record for a very long periods of time. A digital recorder equipped with a usb port is even better. This way you’ll be able to transfer your recordings to a computer and listen to them in a good audio editing program.
3) A notebook is a good idea to log any strange events such as doors opening or closing, unexplained bangs or knockings, odd lights, etc. Assign one person to see to this task and make it a point to jot down who was involved, time, any changes in temperature or weather, and the duration of incident.
4) An EMF (electromagnetic field) meter. Again, be sure you survey the area for all electrical sources; appliances fuse boxes, outlets, etc.
5) Cameras – digital preferably, but 35mm is good too. Have plenty of fresh rolls of high-speed film. 400 speed or higher will yield the best results. If using a digital camera, use the highest resolution and carry extra memory cards, as high-resolution pictures are large in size.
6) A video camera, and preferably a videodisc is best. If the camera is going to be place in a designated room, use a tripod for stability.
7) Don’t forget your snacks. On my first ‘nightly’ ghost hunt, we ate sub sandwiches almost every night! Remember, clean up your messes!
8) Remember to bring your ID just in case you’re seen in an area and the police are called!
Great equipment suggestions for your ghost hunt!
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