The Investigative Side of Taking Pictures

The Investigative Side of Taking Pictures

We enjoy seeing our members share their pictures on the NPS page and ask for input from fellow members and the NPS Photography Team as to what may have been captured in their picture. However, the NPS Photography Team has started to notice that when we ask for additional information, the person who shared the picture may not always have it. In order to help educate our members on how to be prepared with this information we have decided to provide some steps to assist with taking your pictures. We hope this helps you when you are taking your pictures to maintain an objective viewpoint when it comes to debunking your pictures as you are taking them.

TAKE THREE! If you have followed the NPS page for a while now you know that we always recommend taking three pictures back to back. The reason we recommend this is so that you can compare the three side by side and determine if the anomaly in question appears in all three. It also allows you to rule out logical explanations such as if your finger was in the way of the flash and caused a black area; if there was a lot of environmental contamination in the area that caused dust orbs to appear; if there was a light reflected off of a reflective surface such as a window or mirror in the area; if your hair or the camera strap was in front of the lens; if there was someone else who walked into the frame unexpectedly; etc.

REVIEW COMPLETELY! Once you have taken all your pictures, upload them to your computer and take a detailed look at them. Some of us on the Photo Team use Photoshop to review pictures. This program allows us to lighten pictures that were taken in the dark to get a better look at the anomaly in question as well as at times convert a color picture to black and white to determine if the anomaly adjusts with the color change. While Photoshop can be an expensive program to use, you might look into other photo adjustment programs or see what’s available for free online. The important thing is to really question your picture and see what you find by adjusting these types of things prior to sharing with us on the page. Remember it IS a requirement of Rule 15 to include what YOU have to try and debunk your picture prior to sharing it with us.

WRITE DOWN DETAILS! Remember to write down the time and date of your picture – most digital cameras have this option on them. You will also want to include what the weather was like when you took the picture. If you forget this information, hop over to Weather Underground and type in the zip code for the area along with the date to obtain this information. When the Photo Team asks you for the zip (also another requirement of Rule 15) we are asking for it to check out the weather in the area to see if moisture, humidity, cold, rain, etc. could have played a factor in the anomaly presented. You can find Weather Underground via this link:

KNOW YOUR CAMERA! Long time members know we frown upon the use of cell phone cameras for investigation purposes. Check out our department on the NPS website for more information behind this. If you are using a digital camera you should be able to properly adjust the settings on it for your environment (ISO, aperture, f-stop, etc.) so that you are using the appropriate settings for your location. If you are using the manual mode you can pull the EXIF data from the picture to see what the settings were for the picture. Be familiar with your camera so you can take the best possible pictures.

WHAT IS EXIF DATA? The reason we ask for the photo ORIGINAL to be emailed to us is so that we can view the EXIF data from the picture. This data tells us how the camera behaved when it snapped the picture and will give us clues into what the anomaly could be and why it happened.

WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S PARANORMAL? One of the other requirements of Rule 15 is telling us why you think your picture is paranormal. After you have reviewed your picture, done some research into the anomaly, and asked and answered all logical explanations, why is it you still think your picture is possibly paranormal? Tell us so we know how you are viewing your picture. Once we have reviewed the steps you took to debunk your picture we will have a better understanding of why you think it’s paranormal by providing this explanation.

Taking a look at the investigative side of taking pictures gives us an insight to why the NPS Photography Team as well as NPS members ask the questions they do of pictures. We are all looking for that Holy Grail of paranormal pictures that has yet to be captured – let’s be smart in our review of the potentials so that the one that does pass all scrutiny here will also pass all scrutiny in the scientific community.

You may always email your original pictures to the NPS Photography Team at any time for review. Our email address is

Weather Underground provides local & long range Weather Forecast, weather reports, maps & tropical weather conditions for locations worldwide.
Sheri Collins

Sheri Collins

Assistant Executive Director Department Chair Investigation & Research Education Resource Photography & NPS Photography Team at NPS of Texas
Sheri has always had an interest in the paranormal – from watching different paranormal shows over the years to having déjà-vu experiences throughout all her life that she has tried to put an explanation to. When her dad passed away in March 2010she began her journey into the paranormal. She has had several encounters over the years since starting in the field & takes more of an “old school” approach to her research in the paranormal. She is a supporter of today’s modern technology being used on investigations & encourages the use of various tools on investigations. She is always looking for a new ‘old school’ method to try on investigations & employs the use of trigger objects in an effort to get a response. She became fascinated with the pendulum after using a set of original jailer’s keys as a trigger object on an investigation at a local historic jail & they began to sway in response to questions.She is a huge proponent of education in the paranormal field choosing to debunk things immediately by trying to recreate situations & experiment to find logical answers to things that have happened or been captured in photographs or on video in an effort to prove or disprove paranormal activity. She & her team focus on private residential cases as well as educating the public on paranormal investigation & research. You will often find them assisting & consulting with other teams on theircases. Sheri is a certified paralegal and Notary Public for the State of Texas. Her professional background includes working in the legal field, sports marketing, event coordination & business management. She serves as Assistant Executive Director of NPS and the Department Chair overseeing Photography and the NPS Photography Team. Sheri leads the Investigation & Research Education Resources for NPS which provides information, links, & articles surrounding education in the paranormal field. She also writes articles periodically for the NPS’ website that are tied to photography & education. She is one of the founders of NPS of Texas, a paranormal research & investigative team based out of Dallas, Texas.
Sheri Collins