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.


Anonymous said...

It would be an interesting experiment to take multiple cameras types, perhaps in sets of three and position them in a room known to be haunted. You could have the cameras snap photos in unison every 30 seconds. It would be wildly expense, but interesting if you were fortunate enough to catch an image to see which camera/film set-up(s) caught it, which didn't, and the comparative quality of the photos.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I would think after the first flash went off, the ghost would skedaddle. I know I would.

I'm going to try this, Rom. I'm going to have to recruit some help, and obtain some unmentionable item I'll need, but I'm going to do it. Probably not before the end of the month, though. Not for Halloween. I'm thinking the first week in November might be good, but I'll have to check my chart. If I catch one, you'll be first to know. Thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Oh, yeah ... 30 seconds is forever to the shutter!

Anonymous said...

Why do you assume ghosts are detered by human noise or light?

I know as children we think light will keep the bad things away, but what is the evidence that that is true?

Ghosts may well be there whether the room is crowded or empty and not care much either way. It may simply be that when a room is crowded humans are too distracted to notice the subtle signs that the ghost is present.

I base my notion that light and noise may not bother ghosts on my own experience. One of my clearest sightings happened outdoors in broad daylight while I was operating noisy equipment.

Romulus Crowe said...

Ghosts are people, remember. Some will be fascinated by new technology, others will be frightened by it.

A sudden, unexpected flash could frighten anyone--but I wouldn't use flash for such an experiment.

It could be made possible with more time between shots, and long exposures. The room would need to be locked and a video camera running to be sure nobody entered.

I'd use a cable-release based mechanism to be sure all the cameras fired at the same time. Individual timers might 'drift'.

Each camera would need an autowind.

It would be expensive: it is cheaper to set up digital cameras, which is why they are so commonly used to monitor an area. Unfortunately, that goes right back to the problems of the wide response range and the focus issues.

It would not be too expensive to run such an experiment manually. All you need are cable-release links for the shutters so you can set off all the cameras at once.

Certainly worth considering.

SW- I'll be interested to know what you find, and I'm fascinated by this 'unmentionable item!'

Anonymous said...

Anon, all I meant is that ghosts appear (no pun intended) to be rather camera shy. And we are paparazzi.

Rom, I don't have all that equipment. All I have is motivation, opportunity, and a friend willing to help (waves to Leary ... waves to Elaine, too), I'll have to catch as catch can. I'm excited about trying.

Romulus Crowe said...

Paparazzi - I hadn't thought of it like that, but in a sense it's true.

Don't worry about the equipment - the essential is the camera (with film, of course). I've accumulated more camera equipment than I can physically carry. I can't seem to part with any of it, even though most of it is just gathering dust.

Southern Writer said...

That stuff is heavy, too, isn't it? I used to lug it around, and saw in a hurry why photographers liked having an assistant.

Anonymous said...

"we are paparazzi." :)

Good point. Maybe we should be looking for Hollywood Hauntings. Those ghosts might be more inclined to pose.

Romulus Crowe said...

Tripods are the worst. There's no easy way to carry them, and lighter ones aren't steady enough.

There was a show called, I think, 'Dead Famous', where they tried to contact the spirits of dead celebrities. I only saw a couple of shows, but I don't recall them having any success.

Then again, celebrities are well practised at dodging the paparazzi, so they'd naturally be the hardest to find.

Lola said...

Maybe the answer is to ask relatives to submit the names of their beloved departed who were the most narcissistic. Try contacting those people. They might enjoy posing.

Romulus Crowe said...

Certainly worth a try, but it might fall foul of the 'don't speak ill of the dead' taboo. So it might be difficult to get someone to tell you who their most narcissistic ancestors were.

There are a lot of ghosts in photos of family and other groups, so it's definitely an idea worth considering.

Southern Writer said...

There are a lot of ghosts in photos of family and other groups, so it's definitely an idea worth considering.

Which makes me of the opinion that all our houses are haunted at one time or another. I think they're with us whenever they want to be, but we fail to see the signs.

Romulus Crowe said...

many peole claim that ghosts are trapped in a particular place. I don't think that's so. I think some stay in a particular place because they're confused and afraid to leave familiar surroundings. Effectively, that's the same as being trapped, but there's no 'barrier' at the walls of the building.

Any ghost can wander the world once they have confidence in their new form. That's just an opinion, of course.

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