Photo Reflections and Lens Flare

flareOne of the biggest issues I am seeing lately in paranormal photography is mistaken identity due to photo’s of reflective surfaces. Windows, water, mirrors, TV’s, cabinets etc can present all sorts of issues when being photographed, and those issues are then being misidentified as something paranormal. I have seen so many photos that are easily explained by actually looking at the photo and identifying all of the reflective surfaces in it, studying the angle of the shot and the lighting, and determining it is only lens flare from the surface.
Lets delve deeper into what is going on, and why, and how to alleviate as much as possible, some of these issues.
As I mentioned above, obvious surfaces to avoid in the shot would be anything made of glass, white or reflective walls, metallic objects, standing water, or other light sources (sun, lights etc). Obviously, with this many items to have to deal with when taking a photo, that leaves very little room to try to alleviate reflections and lens flare, hence, why I never recommend photo’s for anything paranormal. If you insist on it though, shoot these surfaces or light sources at a 45 degree angle, as this can alleviate some of the problems, but certainly not always. Also, a continuous light source as opposed to a flash can help but again, is not recommended. If you have a view finder on your camera, that will also help in seeing issues before you take the shot. This is another reason why cell phones should never be used, as there is no viewfinder to preview any light anomalies, as real time view will normally remove these sorts of anomalies.

Once you have tried to remove all of the above potential issues, we will now take a look at camera settings that can also help. If your camera has the ability to set some things manually, you can set your camera to aperture priority mode [AV] and choose a setting for the aperture. Try to get as much of the item in focus as possible, so an aperture of around f/8 to f/16 will work to get good depth of field. Also set the ISO to 100 – 400 for the best image quality. Once set, the camera will select an appropriate shutter speed for the exposure. This will depend on the power of your light source. But again, since most para shots are in low light, the camera will choose a slow shutter speed to compensate for the low light, which will then create blurring issues. And then, the camera will use the flash, which will mostly defeat the purpose of the manual settings mentioned and again present lens flare and reflection issues.

I hope that with all of the above mentioned issues being said, that those insisting on carrying around a camera on an investigation, and those just looking through random shots, will take a bit more time when reviewing and critiquing their photos, and realize and accept that there are so many things that can cause anomalies in a photo other than something paranormal. It’s never a bad thing to have others take a look at the photo as well, but now hopefully there can be a better understanding of why there will be explanations of reflections and lens flare, rather than…Oooohhh, it’s a ghost.

Al Schmidt

Al Schmidt

Hi, I'm Allan (Al) Schmidt. I'm 52 living in Colorado. I've been married for 27 years. I Retired form the Air Force in 2001 and have been working for the Government in Boulder ever since. I have many hobbies, mostly outdoor, hiking, camping hunting, fishing etc. The main thing that ties them all together is Photography. I've been into the paranormal basically all my life, as my late father was into basically everything paranormal, although he didn't really refer to it as paranormal. Bigfoot, Nessi, UFO's, Little People. He had books on all subjects which I read with a passion. I have been investigating for over 10 years now regularly, and have been all over the country doing so. Locally, have investigated many locations, both with others teams and as I like to do most of the time, by myself or with my wife. I'm very logical in my undertakings, and very skeptical by nature. If I have exhausted all resources and ideas as to how to debunk something, only then will I call it interesting and possibly paranormal. I have not really had any wow moments to speak of, but have had some interesting things happen, enough so to make me more curious.
Al Schmidt

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