Samuel Sanfratello

My name is Samuel Sanfratello (Sam). I am a NY state dual-certified Mathematics and Special Education teacher and a nationally certified Consulting Hypnotist. I am also the proud owner and operator of two companies: Monroe Hypnosis and Rochester Analytics. I am a 2nd generation Spiritualist (American Spiritualism) and a certified Medium with the Plymouth Spiritualist Church (the mother church of modern spiritualism). I am an organizer of the Rochester Paranormal Researchers, founded in 2007 and a lead investigator for the Paranormal Science Institute’s F.R.I.N.G.E team. In my spare time, I give back to my community by doing volunteer work for my church and for my local chamber of commerce. I became interested in the paranormal when I spoke with a spirit in my grandmother’s house in the early 1980s. I enjoy reading publications and scientific articles about the fringe sciences and I enjoy sharing these understandings with others.

Author's posts

Digital Camera File Formats

11947485_10101450412947865_238763632262395855_nFile formats are simply the ways a digital camera stores information captured by a photo sensor. Digital cameras utilize sensors to store information on wavelengths of light that reach the sensor. Two primary formats used by digital cameras are JPEG and RAW.

JPEG is a compressed format (technically a compression more than a format). This means that it removes redundant data to make a file size smaller. The image is reconstructed when it is opened. The quality depends on the amount of compression. In a JPEG file, “areas of the same color will compress much better (and with equal quality) compared to another scene with lots of small detail” (Sheppard, 44).

RAW is “a file of unconstructed image data with minimal processing, and must be put into a special image converter to put it together as a photo” (Sheppard, 43).

Shooting in RAW and JPEG both have advantages.

JPEG Reasons:
1) Smaller file size allows you to take more pictures and store more pictures with few drives/cards.
2) “Camera manufacturers worked hard to create internal processing of JPEG files so it looks good” (Sheppard, 45).
3) 8-bit JPEG (common) allow for 256 tones in each color channel
4) Automatic processing of each picture after you shoot

RAW Reasons
1) Minimal processing of picture (is your ghost an artifact of compression and color guessing?)
2) More possibilities for adjusting picture
3) Easier to fix over-exposure & white balance issues
4) 12-bit 4000 tones per color channel 16-bit files allow for 65,000 tones per color channel
5) RAW gives more details for very dark and very light areas (since there is less compression / pixel approximation)

Ultimately, the choice for formats will be left up to the teams based on needs, economics, and personal preferences.

Works Cited

Sheppard, R. (2008). Kodak guide to digital photography. New York: Lark Books.

Site Access Agreement

b5NPS requires all members to follow our rules which are available online and in our facebook group. Rule #08 says, “Members will not be involved in any illegal activities or display unbecoming behavior that could directly or indirectly have an impact on NPS”.

Trespassing is a serious issues and can sometimes happen when there is a miscommunication between managers and owners of locations. To ensure that your team doesn’t run into trouble; I would highly recommend a “site access agreement”. This relatively simple document captures who you are working with, that they have permission to let you onto the site, and the date and time you will be there. This document should be kept on you during the investigation as well as having a copy where your team stores documents.

If you do not have a site agreement of your own, NPS has a site agreement available on our website that you can feel free to use:

Wise Digital Library

images_elibraryFor an item to be paranormal we have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not a normal phenomena. Being familiar with a variety of scientific fields is desirable but not always possible. Where do you turn when you need to look up a phenomena that you have little familiarity with? The National Paranormal Society utilizes the WISE (World Institute for Scientific Exploration) as research repository and provides links to them from our site:

WISE keeps a digital library of periodicals available for researchers at:…

The subcategories below have a number of journals (no longer current and current) in the following topic areas:

1. Biomedical Journals and Periodicals
2. Consciousness and Parapsychology Journals and Periodicals
3. Alternative and New Energy Journals and Periodicals
4. Scientific Anomalies and Unexplained Physical Phenomena Journals and Periodicals
5. Social Science Journals and Periodicals on Unexplained Phenomena and Events
6. Multiple Disciplinary Journals and Periodicals on Unexplained Phenomena
7. Skeptic Journals and Periodicals

Neither NPS nor myself can recommend every journal or every article in a journal; however, this is a great place to begin exploring for information that is relevant to your paranormal investigations.

While browsing through the journals I found a journal that studies electromagnetic fields. The articles were informative and they even had a store listing of different products used in scientific field (can present us with great information than the k2 meter). Their site is:

So take some time today to familiar yourself with WISE and read a new journal article on a topic that interests you!

Demonology according to King James

For a historical perspective of demonology, I’m going to provide some summary points for a book King James I (who commissioned the King James Bible) commissioned in the late 1500s titled: “Daemonolgie”. At that time, the people of England and Scotland lived in fear of the devil and witchcraft. To this end, King James commissioned this book which is set into 3 parts: part one is scripture which he believes validates the existence of the devil, part two is on sorcery and witchcraft, and part three is on spirits that trouble humanity.

One of the theories based on 2. Cor. 11. 14. states that, “Diuel is permitted at som-times to put himself in the liknes of the Saintes, it is plaine in the Scriptures, where it is said, that Sathan can trans-forme himselfe into an Angell of light” (James, 4). The skill is equated to that of a modern day illusionist. “the Deuill may delude our senses, since we see by common proofe, that simple juglars will make an hundreth thinges seeme both to our eies and eares otherwaies then they are” (James, 24). To this end, there was a separation of magicians and necromancers from witches and sorcerers.

In Book 2, sorcery and witchcraft are defined as, “ I say, some of them rich and worldly-wise, some of them fatte or corpulent in their bodies, and most part of them altogether giuen ouer to the pleasures of the flesh, continual haunting of companie, and all kind of merrines, both lawfull and vnlawfull, which are thinges directly contrary to the symptomes of Melancholie, whereof I spake, and further experience daylie proues how loath they are to confesse without torture, which witnesseth their guiltines, where by the contrary, the Melancholicques neuer spares to bewray themselues, by their continuall discourses, feeding therby their humor in that which they thinke no crime” (James, 30). James claims that witches use their knowledge mostly from a desire for revenge, worldly riches, or to satisfy their cruel minds by hurting men (James, 35). To this end, witches were able to utilize the powers of the devil to punish people by: causing children to misbehave utilizing “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), make people sick, and haunt houses and the inhabitants of houses (James, 47).

Necromancers were said to share the ability of the Devil to possess dead bodies (James, 41). He also mentions that “the soule once parting from the bodie, cannot wander anie longer in the worlde, but to the owne resting place must it goe immediatlie, abiding the conjunction of the bodie againe, at the latter daie” (James, 41).

Amongst the more modern label of demons, Incubi and Sucubi are described in Book 3, Chapter 3, “The description of a particular sort of that kind of following spirites, called Incubi and Succubi: And what is the reason wherefore these kindes of spirites hauntes most the Northerne and barbarous partes of the world” (James 66). There are indepth references to people being physically violated by these spirits as well as those who, “while we are sleeping, intercludes so our vitall spirites, and takes all power from vs, as maks vs think that there were some vnnaturall burden or spirite, lying vpon vs and holding vs downe.“ (James, 69). This bares a startling resemblance to the scientific phenomena of “night terrors”.

Lastly, James references Matthew 12 and Mark 3 to describe how the “Dæmoniackes” possess humans and the effects of possession. In Matthew, the possessed became “blind and dumb”; however, the possessed were restored through Christ/God and prayer. James sites that for all of these cases, the way to rid spirits and works of the devil is to “The one is ardent prayer to God, both of these persones that are troubled with them, and of that Church whereof they are. The other is the purging of themselues by amende ment of life from such sinnes as haue procured that extraordinarie plague” (James, 60).


Dighton Rock

Dighton Rock 001The Dighton Rock is a 40 ton boulder first discovered in 1690 and located in Berkley Massachusetts (once named Dighton). According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, it is an eleven foot high “glacial erratic” boulder “covered with petroglyphs, carved designs of ancient and uncertain origin” ( The boulder was moved from the Taunton river and is currently located in the park adjacent to the river on Bay View Avenue.

A picture of the petroglyphs has been retrieved from Flikr and is noted as being from: page 564 of ‘Histoire des peuples du nord, et des Danois et des Normands. … Edition revue et augmentée par l’auteur, etc. traduit de l’anglais par P. Guillot’ by Author: WHEATON, Henry.  Contributor: GUILLOT, Paul – Avocat près la Cour Royale de Paris. Shelfmark: “British Library HMNTS 9425.d.12. Published in Paris 1844. Additionally, I’m providing a sharpened image from the photos taken by Delabarre.

There are many speculations about the meaning of the petroglyphs. Accounts vary on the depth of the markings; however, many agree that the markings are not deep and there appears to be little sign of weathering.

Aside from Native American inscription, one possibility suggested by Ezra Stiles in “The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor” is that the petroglyphs are written in Ancient Phoenician (Stiles 17). The Phoenicians are a subgroup of Canaanites that are largely credited for influencing early Greeks. A reference for the Phoenician alphabet can be found at:

A second possible theory was that there was a Norse influence; however, in comparison to the Runic alphabet, I see very few similarities aside from the symbol “X”, meaning “gift” in Elder Futhark. It is worth noting that in the same time frame the Viking discovery of America was very popular in America and the chief evidence of Viking Exploration, the Kensington Stone, and according to the National Museum of Natural History it “has judged the Kensington Stone to be a nineteenth-century creation” (vikinganswerlady) . Very few other petroglyphs (to me) appear to resemble the Runic alphabet. A reference for the several Runic Alphabets can be found here:

Dighton Rock 002A third possibility is suggested by Edmund Delabarre that the Dighton Rock was carved by Miguel Cortereal in 1511 and contains a message of his ultimate fate. (Delabarre, 170). Cortereal was a Portuguese ship captain that explored the coast of Labrador and was believed to have been lost at sea in 1501. Delabarre provides photograph evidence in Figure 27 (with overlays) demonstrating areas where he believes he sees the name “Miguel Cortereal”. Interestingly, “Delabarre managed to photograph it in different degrees of light until he was able to make out the date of 1511 which had been obscured by Indian markings of a later time. His investigations led to the the discovery of two Portuguese brothers, Gaspar Cortereal, who explored the coast of Newfoundland in 1501 and did not return to Portugal, and his brother Miguel Cortereal, who set out the next year to search for him and also did not return. Further study of the photographs revealed a clear M followed by the less distinct letters IGU, and more letters from which he pieced together an inscription which read “Miguel Cortereal 1511 V Dei hic dux ind.” and translated this abbreviated Latin message, “by the will of God leader of the Indians. This supported an Indian tradition recorded by Reverend John Danforth in 1680 that men from a strange land had come up the river at an earlier time and had slain their sachem. A shield-like marking on the rock was interpreted as the insignia of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal.” (Mitchell).

In the end, no one can say for certain who placed the petroglyphs of Dighton Rock or what they mean. The mystery of the rock has existed for hundreds of years and has inspired many different people to search out their own personal truth as to the meanings and origins of these mysterious markings.

Works Cited:
Debunking the Kensington Stone. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2015, from

Delabarre, E. (1928). Dighton rock; a study of the written rocks of New England,. New York: W. Neale. Available

Dighton Rock State Park. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from…/region-s…/dighton-rock-state-park.html

Mitchell, M. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Brunoniana | Delabarre, Edmund B. Retrieved June 10, 2015, from…/N…/Databases/Encyclopedia/search.php…

Stiles, E. (1783). The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor (1783). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from

Spirit Plates

Spirit Plates Many Americans can trace their Spirit Investigation roots back to the early Spiritualists of the mid to late 1800s. Although reports of Spirits (in Western cultures) date back to Ancient Greece and writings from Pompeii, much of our modern methodology stems from the work of early Spiritualists in America. Some techniques that are still used include asking for knocks/raps/touch and use of devices such as talking boards.

Although many low-tech methods are still in use today, the Spiritualists of the time did use their knowledge of engineering and industrialization to design faster, more machine friendly ways to communicate with the deceased. Many inventors and Spiritualists designed technological solutions to communicate with the dead that enjoyed popularity; however, are no longer in use.

One such device is the “Spirit Dial” or “Dial Plate”. Spiritualists utilized dial plate telegraph technology as the template for a new, mechanical means of connecting to the deceased. “In 1853, a Thompsonville, Connecticut spiritualist, Isaac T. Pease, called his invention, suitably enough, the “Spiritual Telegraph Dial.” Just a dial with letters arranged around the circumference and a message needle to point to them were necessary. There was no need for messy wires or electricity.” (Orlando). The religious backlash to the device and the Spiritualist movement was severe, many accused the early Spiritualists of being Necromancer and Witches (jcs-group); however, many scientifically minded individuals set out to use the tools of science to disprove the movement.

One such individual was Robert Hare, M.D. He was an emeritus professor of chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania and alumnus of both Yale College and Harvard University (Orlando) and author of over 150 scientific papers. In 1855, he wrote a book “Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations” in which he used Pease’s plates with a pulley system. The pulley system lessened a medium’s ability to consciously control an outcome. He named the modified invention, a “spiritoscope” and began to test the device and mediumship to his satisfaction (Hare).

In Hare’s summary he notes, “It is surprising with what readiness a spirit, even when unused to the apparatus, will, by moving the lever, actuate the index, causing it to point to the letters, words, or figures distributed on the face of the disk, as above mentioned” (Hare, pdf pg 11). While using his spiritoscope, he noted that, “Agreeably to my experience in a multitude of cases, spirits have reported themselves who were wholly unexpected, and when others were expected. When I was expecting my sister in Boston, my brother reported himself. Lately, when expecting her, Cadwalader was spelt out, being the name of an old friend, who forthwith gave me a test, proving his identity. As this spirit had never visited my disk before, I had not the smallest expectation of his coming” (Hare, 33). Hare references a medium named Mrs Gourlay who was able to articulate a response to Hare after he read the Sicilian Mariner’s Hymn and replaced a few of the Latin words. In response to this chant, a reply was given through the spiritoscope, ” Dear Brother :—I answer your prayer by saying I do watch over you, and pray for your welfare. I am grateful for your remembrance, and shall strive to deserve it. O ! brother, our cause is a common one, and we feel the same interest in its promulgation. I am daily striving to disseminate its truths, but can make little progress, having so much ignorance to contend against. I know that the truths of progression, with the help of a good and wise God, will ultimately prevail over all the land ; but when that happy time comes to earth, your freed spirit will rove the endless fields of immortality with those loved friends who have gone a little while before. Then will we revel in delights which, in comparison with earth’s joys, are far more beautiful and sublime. I wish you could look with the eye of prescience, and see that glorious time, when all nations shall become as a band of brothers” (Hare, 55).

Hare was not the only person to have positive experiences with dial plates and similar spirit devices. In England, another dial plate was patented and in France, spiritist Allan Kardec published a book “Le Livre des Mediums”. His book supported Spiritualism and referenced several events that he found to be beyond the explanation of Science and Psychology and mentions his own experiences with dial plates. (Kardec).

Works Cited
Church Leaders Associated Spiritualism With Witchcraft. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2015, from

Hare, R. (1855). Experimental investigation of the spirit manifestations: Demonstrating the existence of spirits and their communion with mortals : Doctrine of the spirit world respecting heaven, hell, morality, and God : Also, the influence of Scripture on the morals of. New York: Partridge & Brittan (available:

Kardec, A. (n.d.). Spiritualist philosophy: The spirits’ book. New York. Available:

Orlando, E. (n.d.). The Museum of Talking Boards: The Dial Plate Talking Boards. Retrieved June 18, 2015, from

Digital Upsampling & Interpolation

What are digital upsampling and interpolation?

According to dspGuru: “ Upsampling is the process of inserting zero-valued samples between original samples to increase the sampling rate. (This is called “zero-stuffing”.) Upsampling adds to the original signal undesired spectral images which are centered on multiples of the original sampling rate. “Interpolation”, in the DSP sense, is the process of upsampling followed by filtering. (The filtering removes the undesired spectral images.) As a linear process, the DSP sense of interpolation is somewhat different from the “math” sense of interpolation, but the result is conceptually similar: to create “in-between” samples from the original samples. The result is as if you had just originally sampled your signal at the higher rate.” (dspguru).

When does it occur?
It occurs at some point in almost every digital photo. Interpolation occurs, “anytime you resize or remap (distort) your image from one pixel grid to another. Image resizing is necessary when you need to increase or decrease the total number of pixels, whereas remapping can occur under a wider variety of scenarios: correcting for lens distortion, changing perspective, and rotating an image” (Cambridge).

When people edit a photo to enlarge a picture the following artifacts can occur:
Aliasing, Blurring, and Edge Halo artifact examples can be found on the lightning bolt photos on the following page…/image-interpolation.htm.



Notes on Digital vs Optical Zooms:
Most digital cameras come with both an optical zoom and a digital zoom. Cellular phone cameras come with just a digital zoom. Optical zooms use principles of light and optics to magnify the light prior to reaching the sensor on the camera. Digital zooms simply, “degrades quality by simply interpolating the image — after it has been acquired at the sensor“ (Cambridge)


Works Cited
DIGITAL IMAGE INTERPOLATION. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2015, from…/image-interpolation.htm

Interpolation. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2015, from

MP3 audio and how settings affect your audio recordings

mp3Do you have a digital audio recorder? Are you looking to capture electronic voice phenomena? Before you do you, let’s sit down and discuss how a digital audio recorder works and some basics about the MP3 format and generic recorder settings:

Bit Rate:
How many kilobits the file uses per second. With low bit rates, there are compression artifacts such as ringing or pre-echo are usually heard. This is particularly noticeable when a recording has lots of random changes. 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 80, 96, 112, 128, 144, 160 (Supurovic) being the most common. I often describe lower bit-rates as being more “tinny”. For a good example, listen to white, pink and brown noise uncompressed and then compressed to 8-bit sound here:…/yntht-there-are-ghosts-in-your-mp3s

Sampling Frequencies:
Due to the Nyquist/Shannon Theorem, a rate of 2x your hearing range is ideal. (44khz for most humans). This bitrate is the most common as it is tied to CD Audio conversions. Think of sampling frequency as having more “slices” of sound allowing it have a more rounded sound. For those math people, digital audio is a square wave but we hear in analog, the more squares waves you have (shorter slices) the closer you can approximate the analog wave.

Why use MP3:
MP3 compresses sound information to store in a more space efficient method than raw audio information. This compression does come at the price of “quality” as some information is lost in order to fit into a smaller space. The question becomes what is “lost” in your recording. Many people view modern encoders as being similar (Amorim). I leave this to your own personal preference and storage space constraints. I personally prefer the FLAC and OGG formats; however, many digital records do not natively record in this format.

Works Cited
Amorim, R. (n.d.). Results of 128kbit/s Extension Listening Test. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from…/128kbps_Extension_publ…

Sony IC Recorder Operating Instructions ICD-PX312. (n.d.). Sony.

Supurovic., P. (1999, December 22). MPEG Audio Compression Basics. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from

Wilkinson, D. (2015, March 18). Meet the Musical Clairvoyant Who Finds Ghosts In Your MP3s. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from…/yntht-there-are-ghosts-in-your-mp3s


Lake Worth Monster

lwmDuring the summer of 1969 a goatlike headed creature was sighted on Greer Island new Lake Worth in Texas. “ A local reporter, Jim Marrs broke the story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on July 10th. It ran on Page 2 with the headline Fishy Man-Goat Terrifies Couples Parked at Lake Worth” (Bourgeois).

Author Sallie Ann Clarke reports it “was not bobcat nor was it a sheep skin. It wasn’t a person dressed in a Halloween costume. It was really the terrorizing monster. It stood on its hind feet and ran like a man. It had white hair over most of its body and scales, too. It was a goat-fish-man. I’m sure it stood about six feet and nine inches tall and was undressed… it looked like it weighed 250 or 260 pounds” (Bourgeois).

During a keg party in a nearby parking lot, the creature appeared and “started yelling and threw tires like Frisbees… it was total panic and everybody was running into each other and burning rubber to get out of there” (Bourgeois). This account was later reported by a local Fox affiliate to be the work of a man named “Vinzens” who was in a gorilla suit as a high school prank (cryptidz.wikia).

Further adding to the burden of proof, the photographer of the picture provided, Allen Plaster, is now convinced it was a prank saying, “Looking back, I realize that when we drove by it stood up…Whatever it was, it wanted to be seen. That was a prank. That was somebody out there waiting for people to drive by. I don’t think an animal would have acted that way” (

Of course, there are still those that claim the sighting was that of a monster. Author Sallie Ann Clarke, claims she saw the monster 3 more times after she published the book. Had she published later, her writing style would have changed from semi-fiction to a documentary ( Clarke even posted a $5000 reward for anyone who could pass a polygraph test confirming that they were responsible for the hoax and no one ever claimed the reward. (

What do all of you think? If this was a real being, why has there been no body located? If this was a prank, why has no one shown up and claimed the reward money by passing the polygraph test?

Bigfoot Evidence: What Happened to the Lake Worth Monster? The Summer of the Goat-Man. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from…/what-happened-to-lake…

Bourgeois, P. (n.d.). 32 years ago, a strange whatever terrorized Lake Worth. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from

Lake Worth Monster – A.K.A. The Goat Man. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from…/

Lake Worth Monster. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from

Orbs, shutter speed, and dust

dubgAs an amateur digital photographer, putting a camera onto “Automatic” and just pressing the button is an amazing experience. With this little piece of technology, we can save all of the lights and colors that make up our visual experience of that moment and put it on to our computer to hold for virtually forever without needing to be a photographer or engineer to understand how a picture is taken. The problem is, every once in a while, something strange “comes up” in a photo and we are left to wonder why it happened. Photos with orbs, light rays, and blur, often show up on our facebook site and people often ask us, “Is this paranormal”?

As amateur photographers, it is important to know about three main settings that affect how a digital camera captures a picture. The three main settings are: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. In this week’s segment, I want to focus specifically on shutter speed.

What is a shutter? A shutter is a device that blocks light from the sensor when closed and move out of the way to let light accumulate on the sensor while open. In some cameras, this is a mechanical device, in others, it is an electronic device (Chaney, 2014). How a shutter functions depends on the type of sensor your phone or camera has. Modern progressive CCD sensors use a mechanical shutter and “after exposure, all of the pixels are shifted to out of the sensor by being passed in a bucked brigade fashion from pixel to pixel. Thus, it is essential that while shifting the image out of the sensor, one must put the sensor in the dark so as to not confuse the image” (Caspe, 2014). For CMOS sensors, like the Iphone, use the following, “each column of pixels can be independently reset to zero and allowed, after the reset, to integrate the light hitting it. As well, each column can be instantaneously read out, effectively ending the exposure time for that column. The method used for controlling the exposure is to reset a column, and then to wait the exposure time and finally to read out the accumulated values of that column.” (Caspe, 2014).

Before we fast-forward to paranormal, let’s look at a daylight-nature scene. The following two pictures are provided in the article, Simple solutions to master your new DSLR. The author gives the following practical advice and two example photos. If you want to freeze subjects in motion, such as sports or wildlife, set a fast shutter speed (eg 1/500 sec or 1/1000 sec). If you want to capture motion over time, you would set a slow shutter speed (Meyer, 2014). You can see the effects of slow and fast shutter speeds on the movement of the water and clouds.

Now let’s apply this knowledge to paranormal investigations. Typically these photos want a somewhat wide field of view (a whole room as opposed to a single object) and are shot at night or in dark rooms with a flash. In this case, dust, bugs, and other objects with physical qualities that may not be visible due to their size are captured by the camera sensor as light from the flash hits them. Dust and bugs are in constant motion and do not stay still, thus, our shutter speed can change how the image of them is stored. A typical orb can be created with a fast shutter speed that quickly catches the light bouncing off of the object and a slow shutter speed will capture a longer streak of light tracing the motion of the object through the picture. The myth about “clean edges” or wobbly edges most likely has to do with shutter speed creating blur.

For other non-orb effects, here are some final thoughts from Caspe about effects of shutter speed: in a normally lit picture, a slow shutter speed can cause, “distortion of the image in the form of either a wave or elongation of the object” and images being shot with a flash, a shutter speed that is too fast will cause a blurred secondary Image. (Caspe, 2014). This explanation can describe various streaks of light and blurred objects in paranormal photos.

Here is a picture that I took at Rolling Hills in East Bethany, NY. Do you think I took this picture using a fast shutter speed or a slow shutter speed? How do you think the blur of light may have been created?

Works Cited
Caspe, B. (n.d.). How an electronic shutter works in a CMOS camera. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from an electronic shutter works in a CMOS camera.pdf

Chaney, M. (n.d.). Why Digital Cameras Have Mechanical Shutters. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from

Meyer, J. (n.d.). First camera crash course: Simple solutions to master your new DSLR. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from

The Illusion of Motion – Dust and Bug Tails

One of the questions that is brought up in paranormal circles is, “If this picture is a bug/dust why does it have a tail?” To answer that question I’m going to describe two scientific phenomena that occur in video and in still photography (as they are related).

A while back, I wrote an article on still photography and shutter speed (…/nationalparanormalsocie…/search/…, shutter speed, and dust Sanfratello). To capture the illusion of motion in photography, we utilize a slow shutter speed (typically between 1s to 1/15 of a second) to capture the illusion of motion by creating “blur”. The waterfall gif (…/File:Shutter_speed_waterfall.gif) shows water moving over a small waterfall and indicates the shutter speed used in the lower right hand corner. Notice thatd1 as the value gets closer to 1 second (1/800, then 1/200, then 1/30 then ⅓ then 1 from fastest to slowest), you can see fewer individual drops and the water drops appear to become a solid sheet. In fact, the waterfall volume/rate did not change. The light sensor on the camera is simply capturing more more light as it is staying open longer (think about playing peekaboo with a kid and opening and closing your hands fast versus slow, the slower you close them, the more you see).

In your basic camera/phone, “automatic” settings will use a slower shutter speed in low-light situation (so that the camera can capture more light and show more in a dark shot). In the case of our dust orb in motion, if the dust is close to the lens, it will appear to be a larger streak moving across most of the picture. Further from the lens, you will see a shorter line. The following two photos of a purple light were taken in a “haunted” park near Rochester, NY. Both photos were taken by the same person (a member of my team) seconds after each other. What do you think this strange bar of purple light is? I will give you a hint, it is not paranormal.

Now that you have seen how slow shutter speeds can create the illusion of motion on a still photo, let’s examine d2the science behind video capture and motion. Remember that I said they are related!

Video (film and digital) is created by stringing together a series of still pictures. In the early days of film, filmmakers created film at 24 frames per second. Video games run typically between 30 and 60 frames per second, but why does our brain perceive motion if in fact, all we are seeing are a number of still pictures?

According to Paul Bakaus (Google Developer), there are two reasons why our brain perceives motion from still photos. Persistence of vision is a phenomena where our retina retains part of a visual image (for approximately 40 ms) and reduces our perception of “flicker” between switching stills; however, the Phi Phenomena allows our brain to “fill-in-the-gaps” and perceive stills that capture motion as motion when displayed at a high enough frame rate (Bakaus, 2014).

Observe the following video showing frame rates of 24 fps and 60fps.…/uploads/2014/…/60vs24fps.mp4 Do you see a difference in motion between these two frame rates? Does the lower frame rate of 24fps appear to have a slight tail?

Would would the effect be if the object in motion was close to the lens? What would the visual effect be if the object was moving faster or slower?

Works Cited

Bakaus, P. (2014, May 21). The Illusion of Motion. Retrieved November 9, 2014, from…/performance/the-illusion-of-motion/

Sanfratello, S. (2014, October 20). Orbs, shutter speed, and dusts. Retrieved November 9, 2014, from…/nationalparanormalsocie…/search/…, shutter speed, and dust.

What is an aperture setting and what does it do?


In my previous article, dust, shutter speeds, and orbs, I talked about the function of the shutter. The aperture is simply an opening in the lens that gives you a different way to control how much light hits the sensor. In a camera, “When you hit the shutter release button of your camera a hole opens up that allows your cameras image sensor to catch a glimpse of the scene you’re wanting to capture. The aperture that you set impacts the size of that hole. The larger the hole the more light that gets in – the smaller the hole the less light.” (Rowse).



Wow, that is pretty abstract what does that mean for an amateur or paranormal photographer? Aperture affects the depth of field (how much of the shot is in focus). A “large depth of field means that most of your image will be in focus whether it’s close to your camera or far away” (Rowse). The picture of the flowers with the clear, crisp green fern in the background utilizes an f/22 setting. In contrast, “Small or shallow depth of field means that only part of the image will be in focus and the rest will be fuzzy” (Rowse). The second picture of the flower where it is hard to discern what is in the background uses an f/2.8 setting.

Remember that a digital camera works by exposing light to the camera’s sensor. The following table shows you how aperture and shutter speed values can differ to allow the same amount of exposure (McHugh):


Why are lenses and apertures important to know about? Simply put, “ While zoom lenses give you the flexibility to zoom in and out (most point and shoot cameras have zoom lenses) without having to move closer or away from the subject, fixed or prime lenses only have one focal length…. many of the consumer lenses have variable apertures. What it means, is that when you are fully zoomed out, the aperture is one number, while zooming in will increase the f-number to a higher number… The heavy, professional zoom lenses, on the other hand, typically have fixed apertures… “ (Mansurov, 2009).

In short, when taking photographs, decide what is important to capture. Are you looking to capture motion (crisp versus blurry think shutter speed), are you looking to capture a lot close and distant detail (think deep depth of field, small aperture f/11, f16, f22) , or are you looking to capture a small close up in detail and blur the background (f/2.8, f4, f5.6) or are you looking to capture a balanced depth of field?

The attached quick aperture reference guide is courtesy of JMeyer @…/free-f-stop-chart-mast…/

Works Cited
Mansurov, N. (2009, December 19). Understanding Aperture – A Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved December 9, 2014, from

Meyer, J. (2012, March 17). Free f-stop chart: Master your aperture | Digital Camera World. Retrieved December 9, 2014, from…/free-f-stop-chart-mast…/

McHugh, S. (n.d.). CAMERA EXPOSURE. Retrieved December 9, 2014, from…/camera-exposure.htm

Rowse, D. (n.d.). Introduction to Aperture – Digital Photography School. Retrieved December 9, 2014, from

ISO and what does it mean for cameras?


What exactly is ISO and why is it important in photography? ISO is an “indication of how sensitive a film was to light. It was measured in numbers (you’ve probably seen them on films – 100, 200, 400, 800 etc). The lower the number the lower the sensitivity of the film and the finer the grain in the shots you’re taking” (Rowse). The numbers themselves are also significant. Each time you double the ISO number, you need 1/2 as much light (assuming the same aperture/shutter speeds). The Nikon (camera manufacturer) website provides the following example: “So if you had a shutter speed of 1/250 at 200 ISO, going to 400 ISO would let you get the same exposure at 1/500 second (providing the aperture remains unchanged). This is why high ISOs are so often used indoors, especially at sporting events. Needing a fast shutter speed to stop action, photographers regularly choose ISO 1600 or above” (Nikon).

Rowse provides 2 example photos of the same object at 100 and 3200 ISO settings. I have modified these pictures to create a side-by-side comparison with the ISO speeds in white text.

Notice how the 3200 ISO has an increased “grainy” quality and that it appears to be brighter than the 100 ISO equivalent. The increased sensitivity to light on automatic settings will allow for recalculations on aperture and shutter speed. According to Rowse, “When you do override your camera and choose a specific ISO you’ll notice that it impacts the aperture and shutter speed needed for a well exposed shot. For example – if you bumped your ISO up from 100 to 400 you’ll notice that you can shoot at higher shutter speeds and/or smaller apertures” (Rowse).

As a general rule of thumb, ISO is one of the last things you will want to adjust when taking pictures. Think of a film camera, the photographer wouldn’t change out rolls of film with every shot! When we use our digital camera, we need to keep in mind: “When you increase the ISO setting, you’re not really making it more sensitive to light, you’re simply amplifying the light values it’s managed to capture…Usually, you don’t see it because it’s faint compared to the light falling on the sensor, but when you increase the ISO, you amplify it, and it shows up as a kind of random speckling. The higher the ISO, the worse the noise” (Meyer). A good rule of thumb is to try different aperture settings and shutter speed settings before adjusting your ISO sensitivity.

Works Cited
Meyer, J. (2014, February 18). What is ISO: Camera sensitivity settings (and the best ways to use them) | Digital Camera World. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from

Nikon. Understanding ISO Sensitivity. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2015, from

Rowse, D. (n.d.). ISO Settings in Digital Photography. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from

Rowse, D. ISO Settings in Digital Photography. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from


Fuji MX-2700

fujiCamera : Fuji MX-2700
Manufacturer : Fuji
Date : 1999
IMAGE SIZE: 2.3 MegaPixel 6”x4” @ 300dpi
STANDARD LENSES/SHUTTERS: 35MM equivalent @ f3.2/8

The Fuji MX-2700 was the first 2.3 MegaPixel digital camera and what made it unique was it’s relatively small form-factor. This camera featured a number of advanced technologies including 2 RISC processors to process and store digital images. Cameras in this range were capable of producing photographic or near photographic quality at 300 dpi. The following are specs provided by the manufacturer’s brochure (and is available for download @

CCD sensor 1/1.7-inch CCD with 2.3 million square pixels
Resolution 1,800 × 1,200 / 640 × 480 pixels
File format JPEG (Exif) Storage media SmartMedia™ Card MG-4S, MG-8S, MG-16S, MG-32S Data compression JPEG standard (Exif)
Lens focal length Equivalent to 35 mm on a 35 mm camera
Focus distance 9 cm (3.5 in.) to infinity
Aperture 2 steps (F3.2/8)
Exposure control Programmed AE White balance Automatic/Manual (5 modes)
Flash Built-in Auto Flash with range of approx. 2.5 m/8.2 ft.
Digital interface RS-232C Video output NTSC/PAL
LCD monitor 2-inch LCD monitor made of low-temperature polysilicon
Power source Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Dimensions 80 (W) × 97.6 (H) × 33 (D) mm / 3.1 (W) × 3.8 (H) × 1.3 (D) in. Weight 240 g / 8.5 oz. (excluding battery)


rollCamera : Rolleiflex
Manufacturer : Franke & Heidecke
Date : 1929-1932
PLACE MANUFACTURED: Germany, Braunschweig
FILM TYPE: 117 rollfilm
IMAGE SIZE: 2¼ x 2¼in.
ORIGINAL PRICE: $75.00 ($75 in 1930 is $1,023.88 in 2015)
75mm Zeiss Tessar f/3.8
75mm Zeiss Tessar f/4.5

In 1889 Thomas Edison, while working on equipment that might be used to photograph moving pictures, approached George Eastman for some of his new flexible film. The 2 3/4 inches (70 mm) wide Kodak roll-film was slit down the middle, making it 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) and sprocket holes were punched down each side for film transportation through the movie camera. By the First World War this film had become the standard for movie pictures. Several camera manufacturers attempted to use this readily available film stock but the cameras were not of a high enough quality to satisfactorily record images on this small film size.

Works Cited

Nikon L135AF

nikCamera : Nikon L135AF
Manufacturer : Nikon
Date : 1984-?
FILM TYPE: 35MM – strips 34.98 ±0.03 mm (1.377 ±0.001 inches) wide
LS camera with 35mm f/3.5 lens and a built-in barrier-type lens cap

The Nikon L135AF was the second mass production Nikon compact model and had auto-focus capability. The lens that came with the camera was a fixed type Nikon 35mm f/3.5. It had a manual flash with an override for turning the flash to off. This camera flash is powered by AA batteries and was in an affordable price range when it was released.