It’s investigation day and you arrive on-site excited and ready to go; what do you do first? Take a deep breath, relax and focus. You need to gather your things, decide what you need immediately and what you can come back for later, or take to a safe room if one is available, and what you will want on hand while investigating. Most locations, including private residences, you will have someone greet you. You will receive information on where to stay out of, where you can use electrical outlets, where you can set your stuff, etc. Generally you can expect to receive a tour of the location once you get there and get settled with your things. Don’t forget to ask questions during the tour as well as do the one most important pre-investigation task you can do: take your walk-through pictures! These pictures will be vital to your review process once you get home so that you can compare back to them when you think you may have caught something. This is an important step in debunking.
When an investigator is documenting with pictures, always remember the 1, 2, 3 rule – take three pictures in row when you are taking pictures of the location. This gives you a chance of showing movement as well as a sudden appearance or even disappearance in the picture. Be sure you watch where your fingers are on the camera – keep them away from the lens itself as well as preventing them from blocking your flash. You would be surprised how many people think they have caught a shadow figure in a picture only to realize it was the tip of their finger blocking the flash. Be aware of what you are wearing – caps and bulky clothing can sometimes cast shadows. Tuck away any camera cords, neck straps or the like to prevent them from swaying or swinging into the picture. If you have long hair or wear bangs, make sure your hair is pulled back away from the flash and camera lens so as not to give a false positive. Don’t worry about reviewing the pictures as you go unless you saw something with your own eyes; otherwise you might lose the opportunity to snap activity around you.
A few tips to keep in mind while you are taking pictures and shooting video:
- Avoid taking pictures or video during any kind of weather conditions or where smoke is visible. This can contaminate your findings.
- Hold your breath when taking pictures on a cold night.
- Hold the camera still as movement will distort the photo. Invest in a tripod for your camera or even a monopod.
- Never take photos of shiny or reflective items. These will always produce some type of false positive.
- Learn and know what your equipment can and cannot do. Test it out before going on an investigation.
- Never take a photo or video towards a light. It will create a glare and destroy any possible evidence you may or may not have.