Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The limits of my digital cameras are exposed. The filter is too strong to allow them to see through it at night. They do pick up an image when using an infrared light, but they'd need infrared floodlights to cover a whole room. I need to borrow some more sophisticated cameras, so I can decide whether it's worth investing in a better one.

Therefore, I continue to try to remove the IR-blocking filter from a camcorder. Without that, the CCD should be much more sensitive to infrared and might work with the filter in place.

The next challenge will be to do the same with a digital camera - although the small size of these won't make that easy!

I have not yet been back to re-photograph the old house because today is exceptionally wet and windy. On the full-size image, the 'hedge' is clear, with the wall embedded in it. However, I have to take pictures from several different angles to determine whether this was something worth investigating or just a trick of the light. If it doesn't appear again then I'll mark it 'artefact' and leave it at that.

With infrared, of course, it could be a trick of non-visible light.

I am in the process of butchering the Panasonic camcorder, but as I am expected to be sociable tonight I probably won't get the pictures up until tomorrow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Infrared tinkering.

I have shied away from infrared in the past because of the problems associated with it. Also, I have never obtained particularly convincing results with infrared photography, although others have. For me, the trouble and expense of infrared film far outweighed the flimsy results I obtained. I disposed of all that equipment years ago.

I still don't like infrared motion detectors or thermometers, I am still convinced these are a waste of money for paranormal investigation.

Infrared photography using film is still very expensive, but it seems the advent of the digital camera has changed things to an enormous extent. I hadn't realised quite to what extent until my new infrared filter arrived in the post today. This is not a 'red' filter. It's 3mm thick and completely opaque to visible light, but transparent to infrared in the range 720-1600 nm. In short, you can't see a thing through it, but any digital camera can.

So I did what any sensible scientist does when presented with a new piece of equipment. I went out to play with it.

The digital camera I used is not an expensive one. It has the 'night-shot' facility, but as today was sunny I didn't use that. I took pictures without the filter, then took the same picture with the filter held over the lens. No modifications or setting up with this camera. I wanted to see what it could do.

Here's a sample.

The house has been abandoned for many years. Behind it is a new office block, and they use this house for storage. I took this one, then immediately took the following using the filter:

I need to use this with a tripod. The image is a little blurred due to the increased exposure time. No visible light passes the filter: the image is composed entirely of infrared. The light circle in the middle is an artefact: it's in all the pictures I took today and it's a consequence of using a cheap camera to try this out. I also have to work out how to turn off that annoying date-stamp. However, it's an impressive image from a cheap digital camera.

The point here is that all you now need to add infrared photography to your array of equipment is a small digital camera and a filter. This combination is unlikely to work well at night (I'll try it later) but works well during the day. The filter isn't cheap at £18 (roughly 35 dollars, I think), but good filters aren't cheap, and if you're going to try this, get a good one.

There was something in this particular photo that caught my eye, something that means I'll be visiting this location again.

Now, it could be an artefact, but if so it's a big one. The infared image appears to show a neatly-clipped hedge where the wall should be, and it's twice the height of the wall.

The obvious thing to do here is to go back, in daylight, and repeat the photograph. I'll do that tomorrow - weather permitting - and see if I can get the same result. If I do, it'll be a night-visit for sure. Getting access to this place won't be easy, but it might well be worth a try.

The first victim...

First up for butchery is a Toshiba AI-420p, bought for £1.50 (about three dollars). It works, but does not record properly. It can still be used by putting its record signal out to a separate VCR, but is no use in its current state as a portable camera. I think the record heads are worn out.

Some superficial damage, but nothing serious. It's the least-likely of the three cameras I obtained to be returned to service, so I'll start with this one.

Using a miniature screwdriver and many bad words I eventually arrived at this point:

I still have a working camera, but I also have a problem. The optics are encased in metal shielding, which is soldered together. I'd have to cut or desolder to take it apart further, and reassembly would be extremely difficult. So I will put this one aside until I can get hold of a service manual. Otherwise I can still use it, although as a mains-only camera fitted to a VCR. That limits the locations it can be used in, but I'm not going to destroy it unless I have no other choice.

So, I'll move on to the next in line. A Panasonic NV-S20B. The butchery continues!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gadget time

I have acquired three old video cameras, of the VHS-C type. I intend to take them all to bits over the weekend and hope to put at least one back together.

These old cameras have some advantages over using modern digital devices for this experiment.

They are cheap, especially when advertised with dead rechargeable batteries. I will rig a power supply for them, and if they survive, I'll buy new batteries.

They are much bigger than modern cameras. This gives me a fighting chance of reassembling them.

Their battery chargers are separate units. My modern camera has to have the battery charged on the camera itself. So the camera is out of action when charging and I can't charge a second battery while using the camera. Please, manufacturers, go back to separate chargers.

I'll post photos of progress over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Idiot of the Week

An international idiot this week. The UK idiots have been quiet for a while, but I expect stupidity will surface here again soon.

This week's winner is poached from a link on Miss Snark's blog to this article.

And the winner is... Gerald Allen, a lawmaker in Alabama who wants to remove all books from circulation that are either written by gay authors or which include even the slightest hint of gayness.

I have no direct axe to grind here. I'm not gay. Never have been, never will be. I make no claim to having 'loads of gay friends'. I have no idea whether any of my friends or associates are gay. It's none of my business. I don't have a questionnaire for potential friends. I either like people or I don't. Mostly I don't.

This degree of censorship, and the paranoia of this lunatic, is what qualifies him as Idiot of the Week. Here's a quote:

"It's not healthy for America, it doesn't fit what we stand for," says Allen. "And they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal."

What on Earth is 'their goal'? What does this man think the world's gay people have in mind? An entirely gay world? Oh, sure, that's going to do well, isn't it?

As far as I can see, gay people care even less about me than I do about them. I am not remotely interested in 'converting' them to my way of life, and I do not for a moment believe they are interested in converting me to theirs.

If this floating detritus from the shallow end of the gene pool has his way, he will ban, among others, Clive Barker. One of my favourite authors. Where will he turn his attention next? Anyone who does not fit his denomination is going to be a target. Orson Scott Card was (is?) a Mormon, so he'll be on the list. Mickey Spillane, I recently learned, was a Jehovah's Witness. So wave goodbye to Sam Spade and all those Bogart movies. Give in to Allen on this point and eventually every library shelf in Alabama will be stocked with many, many copies of the Bible. Nothing else.

I know that both the Mormons and the Witnesses, and indeed almost all religious denominations, denounce homosexuality as 'against the way of God'. So they'll be in at least partial agreement with this part of Allen's scheme. I hope they will disagree with his implementation of his potential dictatorship.

It's the thin end of the wedge, guys. You'll be next.

When I read a book, I read it because it's a good book. I don't care if the author has deep religious feelings. I don't care if the author is gay. I don't care if the author is green and has two heads. I don't care if the author is a gay Buddhist fish from Pluto who dictates everything to a schizophrenic drug-addict Nazi armadillo who spends his weekends in a rubber suit slapping badgers because they can't make up their minds whether their faces are black or white.

I'm not likely to ever meet the author. I don't even want to meet the author. I just want to read the book. I do not want anyone telling me which books I can and cannot read.

Well... maybe I should admit I'm not entirely impartial here. If he can ban anyone whose work goes against his chosen way of life, then parapsychology is going to be pretty high on his list.

I suppose I'd better strike Alabama from my list of Places I Must Visit.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Watching movies.

I've been rummaging on the Internet again.

Over on YouTube, I ran a search for 'infrared ghost' and came up with quite a few results. Now, there's no way to check back on what YouTube put up, so I can't vouch for the authenticity of any of the images there.

Many were films of orbs, and as everyone knows, orbs filmed with infrared digital cameras are bunk. Ignore them all.

A few other 'light anomalies', which are bits of hair or dust.

Some obvious fakes, some clearly done for a laugh rather than to attempt any kind of deception.

Some not-so-obvious fakes, and some suspect ones. One in particular appears to show a partial apparition but they were filming a tree sticking out of the pavement. Why would anyone do that?

And among all this, as I hoped, there were a couple that looked genuine. The child at the top of the stairs was one such. It's obviously from an investigation somewhere.

Yes, it's possible to fake it, but if this one is a fake, it's a really, really good one.

A few days up North.

I like to visit Scotland, because they have a lot of these:

This one is difficult to photograph in its entirety. I did take a lot of photos with my 'normal' camera, which allows me to vary the focal length of the lens and so cover a wider-angle, but they're not processed yet. I hope to have a good one of the large recumbent in this circle.

What's interesting with this particular circle, and is not mentioned in any of the literature available, is the small stone set in the middle of this picture, on the far side of the circle. It looks out of place. It's a lot smaller than the other stones and its spacing is wrong. The large stones are evenly spaced: this small one looks like an afterthought, added between two originals.

Could be just a piece of junk, of course, but there's a reason I don't think it is. Within this circle (unfortunately not clear in this photo) is a small, square slab, about a foot to a side. It looks like a marker, somewhere a priest might stand to watch the moon rise over the recumbent. The trouble is, it's offset from the centre of the circle.

The slab, the small rock and the peak of the distant mountain in the background are in perfect alignment.

Now I wonder, was this an original alignment or some later addition? The main stone, the recumbent, is certainly aligned to moonrise. Yet this small rock aligns with the mountain. Two sects, perhaps, one of moon worship and one of mountain worship? Perhaps the moon-worship religion was overtaken later by mountain-worship? Maybe we'll never know. It's always good to find things like this that aren't in the literature though. Perhaps I'll write it up one day. It's not really my field, just an interest, but what the hell.

While engrossed in this circle, I just happened to turn around.

The circle is on a hilltop above the town I stayed in. When I drove out of town that morning, it was very foggy. I was relieved to find the fog cleared before I reached the circle.

It hadn't cleared. I had driven out of it. What I saw when I looked back over the valley was this:

This is another digital-camera pic, and it's not a particularly expensive digital camera. Just one I carry as a backup. I hope the real-film ones come out better than this but I was shooting straight into the sun so I can't be sure.

Somewhere down there is a medium-sized town. It's no more than 100 metres above sea level. I just hope my film-photos can do better justice to this view.

It's easy to see why ancient people chose this place for their worship circle. It has an ethereal quality, even now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An infrared camcorder

There are a few camcorders out there that have an infrared facility, but it's never perfect. Leaving the detector open to infrared all the time causes blurring of the image because the IR image overlays the visible image and it's out of focus.

I came across a site describing how to convert a digital camcorder to run as a purely infrared-sensitive camera. You need an IR filter for the lens, and you have to remove the blue-green filter in the camera optics, which means you need to disassemble the camera.

This is not a trivial modification. There is a better than average chance of starting with a working camera and ending up with a pile of worthless junk.

If you get it right, the camcorder becomes a pure-infrared device, that is, it only reacts to infrared light. Note that changing it back to a visible-light camera involves taking it all to bits again. It's a permanent modification so don't do it to your only camera!

The author of this modification describes using the camera in daylight, but it should also work at night with IR illumination or perhaps without the IR filter over the lens.

I intend to try, as soon as I can locate a cheap, but working, second-hand camera.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Could it be...

I have just deleted a spam mail entitled 'Urine remover'.

Then I wondered--has someone actually invented a device for taking the piss?

Perhaps I should have opened that one.

Fiction inspires science?

It seems we are eventually to divide into two genetic groups of humans.

According to Dr. Oliver Curry, we will form two races: one of tall, slender giants and another of squat, ugly goblins. I don't think we get to choose.

That's nothing to worry about just yet, it's 100,000 years in the future, after we've been wiped out by the global warming many people think isn't already happening, or the nuclear war we are constantly assured will never start.

It puts me in mind of H.G. Wells' old story, 'The Time Machine'. The hero travels into the far distant future, where humanity has split into two distinct subspecies, the Eloi and the Morlock.

The Eloi are tall, slender, gentle and innocent. The Morlock are hideous goblins who live underground - and eat the Eloi. So turning out as one of the good-looking species isn't necessarily a great move.

Science has inspired science fiction many times, but here the fiction predates the science by many decades.

I wonder if Dr. Curry ever read that book?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Oh no, not again.

Back to less politically sensitive subjects, but continuing the theme of scientifically highly contentious subjects...

The essential idea behind reincarnation is that when you die, you are reborn in a new body. it's not quite that simple, but that's the basic premise.

Some people think it's an immediate thing: you die, then you immediately move into a new home. Others think you might hang around a while until a suitable new body comes up. It's clear that some wait around for a very long time, if they ever get reincarnated at all.

The old British religions were based on a serial transition. First life (a soul) is created, then it goes to Earth and is born in a physical body. If that soul does everything right, it moves on to Heaven.

If not, it has to come back, be reborn, and try again.

However, the soul has no memory of its previous life. This is why I am convinced the Old British god was a woman.

You live your life with no clue as to what 'getting it right' means. You die, you are told you didn't get it right and you have to go back and do it all again. At this point you'd expect to be told what you did wrong the first time.

Not only are you not told what you did wrong, your memory of what you did last time is removed. So you're doomed to run through life at random, hoping you've done what you're supposed to do but knowing that, as long as the rules aren't defined, they can change.

That's definitely the creation of a female mind. It's an unbeatable system.

I have no indication that I was ever reincarnated. By that I mean I have no memory of any previous lives, but since we're not supposed to, that proves nothing.

Sometimes people recount memories of past experience and sometimes they can be tested. The Society for Scientific Exploration have reported many studies suggesting that there is something worth looking at in the reincarnation issue, and Fortean Times this month carries the story of a woman who claims to be Marylin Monroe reborn. It's not a subject that can be easily dismissed.

I hear sceptics say things like 'Ah, but these people always claim to have been someone famous in a previous life. There must be fifty Napoleons walking the Earth at any one time.'

Sure, not all accounts are true. Many are the ravings of the deranged. A few can be shown to have some actual evidence behind them, though.

In fact, most credible reports do not involve a famous past life. Those that do, make it into the national press. Everyone wants to read about a reincarnation of Marylin Monroe. Nobody wants to read about a reincarnation of Joe Bloggs, a fat, string-vested fish packer from Hull who died when a crate of spaghetti fell on him.

Claims of fame make the tabloids. The reports in the Society's journal do not involve famous people. They are reincarnation claims made by ordinary people, who claim to have been ordinary people in their previous lives.

That's what makes them convincing. It's easy to research the lives of the dead famous and come up with a plausible story to say you're that person reborn. It's much more difficult to give family details of an everyday person, who has never made that information public.

The religions that are based on reincarnation usually have no Hell for sinners. Sinners just get sent back here. I'm not sure there's really a difference.

Maybe that's why there are so many people these days.

Idiots en masse.

I usually stay away from political issues since any attempt to discuss them meets with hysteria.

However, the lunacy has reached a level that is, frankly, dangerous.

So, this weeks Idiots of the Week are the entire politically correct brigade. All of them. No exceptions. Every one of those addle-brained morons who scream 'racist', 'fascist', etc at anyone who so much as looks at them the wrong way.

And guess what? They're all middle-class white people.

All of the problems related to race issues in this country can be traced to pompous, over-excited white people who spend every waking minute trying to fix a problem that wasn't there until they decided to do something about it.

The British population includes people of all religions and all races. So it should. It proves we're not a racist, discriminatory nation. If we were, we'd be a single-race, single-religion country. We have Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Druids and many flavours of Christians. Many more religions I can't name because I don't know them all. Oh yes, we even have Satanists. Some people don't like that but it's in the nature of the country that they are entitled to practise their religion here without being persecuted for it. Everyone is entitled to do that, as long as they break no laws.

None of these groups have ever voiced a complaint about the British Christian celebration of Christmas, yet an increasing number of towns are now putting up 'Winter Lights' and refusing to use the word 'Christmas' in case it offends people of other religions.

Who decided this? White, middle-aged, halfwitted, hysterical morons.

The non-Christian religions look on in bemusement at the antics of these idiots, but later it's the non-Christians who bear the backlash from the politically correct, IQ-challenged agitators' actions.

The average Christian is not aware that there has been no complaint, no attempt by any religious group to remove their festive season. They blame their neighbours, who, they are told, are offended. They don't know that the offence is imaginary, that it has been dreamed up by some hyperactive left-wing lunatic who has no idea of the damage they are doing to their community, nor of how patronising their attitude is to the non-Christian.

Policies like this are a root cause of inter-religious strife. They are in no way a solution.

So why, you are wondering, have I decided to rant about this now? There have been many ridiculous actions perpetrated by our increasingly unstable left-wing, tweed-clad lunatic fringe, but today's news has reached a point I never thought to see.

A ten-year-old boy has been arrested and taken to court for calling another boy names in a playground. Seriously. Ten years old. Arrested for calling someone a name. What is he going to grow into now? What have our politically correct madmen just created within this young boy's mind, I wonder?

A girl was arrested for racism because she asked to be moved to another group in her science class. Was she calling them racist names? Did she object to their religious affiliation?

No. The other students in the group did not speak English and she couldn't understand them. The teacher took this to mean that she refused to work with people of another race and became, predictably, hysterical. The girl had made no objection on the grounds of race or religion. She had made the entirely reasonable point that she could not work effectively in a group who spoke a language she could not speak.

The other students in the group had made no complaint about the girl at all. Could that be because she had done nothing to offend them?

The girl was released without charge, but only after spending several hours in a police cell and now carries the social stigma of being branded 'racist' by these PC harpies.

In the case of the boy, the judge he was brought to face pointed out the stupidity of the charges. As a result of that statement he was "...fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders for "feeding a pernicious agenda" that aided the BNP."

(For those who don't know, the BNP is an extreme right-wing party in the UK, who are just as nuts as the extreme Left and should be shipped out on the same leaking boat.)

I disagree. The judge's comments promote a reasonable attitude. Children calling each other names in the playground should not be an arrestable offence. It's utterly stupid.

As for aiding the BNP, well, they are getting all the support they could wish for from the actions of the Politically Correct, who are doing more to divide those of different races and religions in the UK than the BNP could ever hope to achieve on their own.

If you are one of these highly-strung cretins, I hope reading the above has caused you to burst several important blood vessels. No doubt you will be chanting your 'Racist' mantra under your breath. Am I racist?

If the characteristics 'White, middle-class, hysterical, stupid, politically correct' can be said to constitute a race, then you can call me racist, because I hate those people with a passion.

We would have far fewer race-related or religion-related problems in this country (and others) if the politically correct were told to shut up and just let us all get along. Yes, we will argue sometimes. Yes, we will disagree sometimes. Yes, we will call each other names sometimes. Yes, we will fight sometimes. People do that when they first meet. Race and religion are not relevant.

If you leave us alone, we'll work it out.

If you constantly interfere, you're going to make things an awful lot worse.


I won't make a habit of bringing up political points. This isn't going to become a political blog. It's just that I wanted to point out something important here.

The psychological impact these people have on the children of the UK is profound. Imagine being arrested and taken to court for name-calling at ten years old. Imagine being told that you are a fascist and a racist at that age. Apply ten-year-old reasoning to the events happening to you, and see where it gets you. Imagine how you would develop, starting from that point.

Unless they are stopped, they are likely to create the next Hitler.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Debunking the debunkers

I find it comical that some of those who deny psychic activity use psychic explanations to deny the findings.

There have been several who have claimed that what appears to be mediumship could be explained by telepathy.

Um... I thought you people didn't believe in psychic ability? How can you use one type of ability to deny another, when you don't believe in either? I don't consider that a scientific approach.

The Society for Scientific Exploration has been putting a lot of its older issues online, free to everyone. Here's a particularly good article on the subject.

If you can't get that directly, start here and click on 'Communicating with the dead', then on the full-text link. It's a PDF file so you'll need the Adobe Acrobat reader.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Holding on to power.

I bought one of those GPS devices for my car. It took a while to work out how to turn off the female voice that told me where to turn, and which became intolerably smug when I missed a turn. It's silent now. A moving map. That's what I wanted. If I wanted someone to tell me what to do, I'd get married.

The thing runs on an internal rechargeable battery, which reminded me of something I've never mentioned.

Rechargeable batteries are the most infuriating power source ever invented.

Charge them up and put them aside. You know they're fully charged, but if you don't use them they leak power. Where it goes, I have no idea, but the damn things die all on their own.

I have the same problem with my video camera, for which I always have two batteries. The charge doesn't stay. They have to both be charged no more than a day before use, and it takes hours.

So if you charged your camera batteries last week, don't be surprised when your 'fully-charged' battery dies in the middle of an investigation. It's not necessarily ghostly action. It could just be the batteries and their malicious self-draining circuitry.

Whatever happened to clockwork mechanisms?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Stay still and be photographed!

So how would you suggest I go about it? Shoot during the day, or at night? What type and which speed of film should I use for either lighting situation?

Ghosts are notoriously camera shy. I have seen apparitions when I have had no camera (and worse, when I had a camera that wasn't primed and ready to shoot). More than once I have pointed a camera at an apparition and found nothing on the film.

There are those who suggest that the apparition is projected directly into the mind of the observer and therefore will not show on film because it's not physically there. While this is a good explanation of why vampires don't show up in mirrors, it does not explain those photos where people appear when they weren't visible at the time of the photo. There are many, many such photos. Validated ones, I mean. There are thousands of fakes.

Ghosts can be photographed. It can be done, but it seems it's more down to luck than anything else. You don't need infrared film. It produces impressive results, but it costs a fortune to get just one or two worthwhile shots.

First you need to find somewhere you expect a ghost to be. That's the easy part.

The difficult part would appear to be--deciding where to aim your camera.

There's something about cameras that most people don't realise. Cameras sometimes see things the human eye does not, but cameras, both film and digital, are far less sensitive to light than the human eye.

It's easy to prove this. Go somewhere dark, wait until your eyes become accustomed, then take a photo with no flash.

Your photo will be blank, or at least a faint and disappointing image. The camera does not see what you see.

An apparition might be visible to you, but produce too little light to show up on a camera. On the other hand, ghosts can appear on film if they want to, or if they are caught unawares. They have appeared in daylight and night time photos, with all types of camera and all speeds of film. If they want to show themselves, it doesn't matter which film you use. Likewise if they don't want to be photographed.

Catching them unawares is not so easy. Long exposures will catch faint light, but that relies on the ghost staying still for the duration of the shot. You might get a vagely-human blur.

Thirty seconds doesn't sound like a long time. Try this; stand where you can see a clock with a second hand, and remain absolutely motionless for thirty seconds.

It's longer than you think. Why would anyone, alive or dead, stay still that long?

If you do get a humanoid shape, you've most likely found one (as long as you're sure nobody walked across the camera's field of view). The sceptics have an easy time wiith blurred images though.

Use whatever camera you feel comfortable with. I have used film from 100 ASA to 1600 ASA, depending on the conditions. If you capture a full apparition and you know there was nobody in shot, you've convinced yourself.

If you get a blur and you know nobody moved in shot, then you've convinced yourself.

You won't convince the sceptics, whatever you do. I've stopped trying.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

More Infrared

I am not totally opposed to the use of the infrared end of the spectrum. My tirades are confined to the use of digital cameras and their sensitivity to infrared.

It's rare to see someone use infrared film, because it's difficult to use. Used correctly, it can produce impressive results.

This is not the same as using a camera sensitive to infrared, and does not involve any form of lighting. None. Photos taken using infrared film do not show orbs. They appear only on infrared-sensitive digital cameras.

What's the difference, you ask?

Digital cameras are sensitive to a wide spectrum, from ultraviolet to infrared. There is no way to differentiate what that camera sees. The outer edges of that spectrum do not pass through the lens in the same way as visible light, and the camera cannot compensate for that.

Infrared film is not (should not be) exposed to visible light. This involves placing a filter over the lens. This filter appears opaque--it blocks all visible light--so it's impossible to focus a camera with the filter in place.

The best way to use this film is to have two cameras attached together so that they will each photograph the same scene. One camera has infrared film, the other a visible-light film. This also allows a comparison: if someone appears on the infrared film but not on the visible-light film, then you have an interesting result.

Set up the focus with your visible light camera. Adjust your infrared camera to the same focal setting. Almost.

You will notice, on the focal ring of a standard camera lens, a line indicating the distance setting. Next to this line, a little to the left, is a dot. Usually it's a red dot.

Infrared does not focus in the same way as visible light. To place the infrared version of the scene in focus, you set the distance to the dot, not the line. Otherwise, the infrared light is not in focus--and if it's not in focus, you can get blurry orbs.

Digital cameras cannot compensate for the focal difference required in infrared photography. They are designed to focus visible light. They are not a substitute for real infrared photography.

There are some impressive infrared photographs taken in this way on this site. These show what appear to be full manifestations. No orbs.

Infrared film is difficult to use, expensive to buy and to develop. However, if you're determined to see into the infrared, it's the only reliable way.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Firefox News

I have broken with my normally secretive nature and accepted an invitation for an interview.

The interview, and a new review of 'Ghost hunting for the Sensible Investigator' (both by Southern Writer) are now on Firefox News. Scroll down the list at the left.

While you're there, they have some fascinating true haunting accounts, including two by Southern Writer herself.

They also have a review of a book I once thought nobody had heard of but me.

Under Reviews, you will find 'The Gods Themselves'. An Isaac Asimov book that accurately describes the machinations of the academic world. In the book, a self-absorbed scientist refuses to accept that his actions will cause considerable damage. Because he has achieved celebrity status, his opponents are shouted down. A theme that will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced academia from the inside. It is, incidentally, an excellent science fiction novel also.

You'll need to set aside a little time to visit Firefox. Once you're there, you'll find it difficult to leave.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A culture shock

When I have work to do, I like to find ways to procrastinate. Lately, this takes the form of hitting the 'next blog' button at the top of the page, and following links to other blogs through the responses here.

The 'next blog' button goes to some bizarre places. What some people choose to share with the world amazes me. In some cases, it worries me. A few of the things I've seen can't be legal.

The links through responses follow a much more logical pattern. My own forays into the internet have suggested it is a generally impersonal place, but following these links reveals whole communities that often centre on one, or a few, well-visited individuals.

Tracking back through Southern Writer, for example, leads to a group of people whose common thread is Miss Snark, a literary agent who dispenses free advice and who has an impressive grasp of the use of sarcasm. Worth a look, even if you're not planning to be an author.

Unfortunately, as with many of the blogs I've visited, there are snipers who hide behind the universal title 'anonymous'. Now, I have received several anonymous comments, but none of them have been in any way insulting. That may be because this is not one of the more popular blogs. It seems popularity attracts snipers.

I admit to being largely ignorant of the world of computers, internet and HTML. I leave all that to Elaine. I know enough to understand that, unless you have a 'blogger' account, you are saddled with the title 'anonymous'. That is not a problem; as I said, all of my anonymous comments have so far been polite.

There are those, however, who hide behind the anonymous post in order to deliver vitriolic attacks on blog writers. This is cowardly, and somewhat pathetic. There have been some perfect examples of this cowardice on Miss Snark's recent posts.

Blogs are not democratic institutions. Nobody votes for blog writers. Each blog is a miniature dictatorship, with one difference only from the real-life version. You don't have to stay. There are thousands, perhaps millions of blogs out there. If you're reading one you don't like, move on.

I have never posted as 'anonymous' and never will. If I feel strongly enough about a subject to comment, I'll want you to know it was me who said it. Criticism with no source isn't criticism. It's an insult shouted from a moving vehicle, the sort of thing children do. It should be treated with disdain.

It came as no surprise to find that there are a lot of worthless, small-minded, ignorant cowards on the internet who are willing to hurl abuse from the safety of the anonymity-screen. There are just as many in real life. It made me realise how fortunate I have been thus far, in that these snipers have not arrived here.

That was my culture shock. I'm over it now. Should this blog ever reach a level where it attracts the snipers, I'll be ready. There is one point that should maybe be made clear at the outset.

Tolerance is not one of my strong points.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Lights that aren’t camera artefacts.

The orbs recorded by digital cameras are false. They are a consequence of the camera’s electronics and should be ignored.

This does not mean that I believe all ghost-light phenomena to be false. Far from it. I consider the digital-camera orbs to be a distraction, an easily-debunked misinterpretation that serves only to provide the fundamentalist sceptic with a target. Sceptics can focus on these orb photos and divert attention from any other evidence they can’t explain.

There are many reports of ghostly lights, dating back to well before the invention of any camera, much less the modern digital variety. These come in a variety of forms, some of which can be attributed to natural phenomena, some of which cannot.

‘Corpse candles’ is a term used in the UK, particularly in Wales and the Northern Counties. In Ireland and in other parts of the UK, these phenomena are referred to as ‘fetch lights’ or ‘fetch candles’. They are supposed to precede a death: they appear at or near the site of a disaster, or they might be seen travelling a route from a house to a churchyard—a route that is later followed by a funeral procession. They might appear at a site where a body will later be found, or between someone’s home and the place they will later be buried.

If they appear over marshy ground they might well be will-o-the-wisp lights, nothing more than ignited marsh gas. Walking through marshy woods at night can be an unnerving experience, particularly when those woods are well away from any form of street or building lights. In those circumstances, marsh lights will appear bright. Their sudden, silent appearance can be startling.

However, these corpse candles can also appear indoors. They are reported to look exactly like a candle flame with no candle below it. Marsh gas looks like a flicker of light along the ground, it does not resemble a coherent flame.

They have been seen travelling along roads, which marsh gas cannot do. They have been reported long before the invention of the automobile, so they cannot be attributed to reflections of headlight beams.

Unfortunately they are impossible to study because they only appear once in a particular location. They foretell death, and once it has occurred the candle is not seen again. Unless we can predict who will die and when, we cannot lie in wait for corpse candles. If they are ever captured on film it will be by pure luck.

There are more regular appearances of other forms of ghost light. Again, some can be explained—or potentially explained—by natural phenomena. The Australian Min-min lights might be a mirage caused by the headlights of a distant car. They might not, but the explanation is plausible. Many forms of earth-lights can be attributed to reactions in the atmosphere caused by geological activity. Whether this is true or not is uncertain, but at least they are being studied. The frequent reoccurrence of anomalous lights in the Hessdalen Valley in Norway has prompted considerable research and many theories. The origin of these lights remains a mystery for now, but they have been photographed. They look nothing like 'orbs'.

On Brown Mountain, in North Carolina, scientists tested the theory that the lights seen there had a seismic origin by setting off explosive charges. No lights were detected. While this does not completely rule out a seismic connection, it certainly does not support that theory.

Similar lights have been reported all over the world. Few of them are seen over marshland, many over rocky ground where no marsh-gas explanation will suffice. Some areas have frequent reports: the UK’s Peak District, Marfa in Texas, Joplin and Hornet in Missouri, and many other places. Despite some serious attempts to find natural explanations for the lights, no theory has yet been derived to explain them all.

The mystery of these lights remains, and a paranormal explanation cannot be ruled out. The lights of Silver Cliff, Colorado, appear in a miner’s cemetery and have been reported for many years. The sceptic’s explanation that they are reflections from street lamps does not explain how the lights move, nor does it explain how they can have been seen before streetlights were installed.

There are real, unexplained lights out there. Many forms of them. Some, no doubt, will have a natural explanation but for now, very few do. Those ‘explanations’ that exist, while sometimes convincing, are not proven. These lights are visible to the naked eye and can be photographed. It’s very difficult for a sceptic to debunk these lights.

It’s very easy for them to debunk digital-camera orbs, and easier still for them to pretend photographs of real lights are the same thing. This is why I am so opposed to the publication of ‘orb’ photos. They are a distraction and provide the sceptic with an excuse to dismiss real findings.

Ghost lights are real. Orbs are not. If you can’t see it except through a digital camera, then it’s not a real light.

Don’t publish it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Orbmaker

Here's that picture again:

The orb, and the flare of reflected light at the bottom left, were not visible to the naked eye. They are composed of infrared light which the human eye cannot see.

This is an infrared lamp. A small one. It's designed to fit on top of a digital camera. It produces all of two watts of light power. Not particularly powerful, I think you'll agree.

It's switched off in this photo. When you switch it on, it looks pretty much the same. There's a faint red glow from the infrared LED's but even that's hard to see unless you're looking directly at the front of the lamp. Human eyes can't see infrared.

Digital cameras can. Here's what a digital camera sees when that lamp is on.

The camera thinks you're shining a flashlight directly into the lens. The infrared is clearly visible to the camera as a powerful light source.

The circle of light is a consequence of infrared having different refractive properties to visible light. In a camera sold for domestic use, the lens is optimised for visible light. An expensive lens is better optimised for visible light. Infrared doesn't follow the same path through the lens. It's concentrated into a circle. An orb.

This is only one example of why I no longer rely on infrared lighting. This kind of lens flare occurs with both direct and reflected infrared light, as these pictures show. That 'orb' is a consequence of the infrared light catching the lens. I will personally guarantee that my wall-mounted bottle opener is not, in any way, haunted.

Infrared reflections can account for orb photos, whether it's a reflection from a surface or from floating dust. You might not have an infrared light. You might not be the one producing infrared in the location you're photographing.

It doesn't matter. Infrared can be produced by other sources, and your digital camera will see it anyway.

This is a lamp I've had for a long time, and no longer use for anything other than demonstrating why they are a bad combination with a digital camera. I know some people say 'Oh, but how can you dismiss infrared equipment when you say you don't use it?'

I did use it. I don't now. This is why.

Don't get distracted by orbs. If you can only see them with a digital camera, they aren't real. Corpse candles and other forms of ghost lights are visible to the naked eye. Those are worth investigating.

Orbs are not.

You want orbs?

I'll give you orbs...

Have a look at this. It's a photo of a stainless-steel wall-mounted bottle opener, taken with a digital camera. Note the perfectly complete orb. No fuzzy edges. Solid and complete.

Now, how did I do that?

I'll give you a clue. I didn't use any kind of flashgun. Nor did I enhance or adjust the picture in any way. This is straight from the camera.