Tag: photography basics

The Investigative Side of Taking Pictures

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

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:https://www.wunderground.com/history/

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 npsphotosubmission@gmail.com

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

Light Painting – The Art of Long Exposure

Andrew Alvarez

Andrew Alvarez

Representative - Division 3 at National Paranormal Society
Hello I'm Andrew Alvarez. I'm 34 years old. My interest in the paranormal started at about 8 years old after an experience that happened when my grandfather passed away. I'm a founder and director of the Paranormal Organization of South TX POST. We formed 7 years ago and have been serving the South Texas area since. I am an ordained Christian Minister and am studying demonology and theology. I also plan on learning the art of exorcism. I have a background in website administration, music performance and production (pre and post), web graphics, and some video production. I look forward to working with NPS in contributing my talents and learning from other's talents.
Andrew Alvarez

Light painting is the art of using customizable shutter speeds to create masterpieces using light emitting objects such as flashlights, glow sticks, even cell phones, and a slow shutter speed. Objects can be illuminated, shapes and designs can be created and light can be shown towards the camera for more effects.

11059479_10153084147798962_5030557103739466996_oPainting with light and long camera exposure dates back to 1889, and was used in Frank Gilbreth’s work with his wife Lillian Moller Gilbreth in 1914, when they used small lights and the open shutter of a camera to track the motion of manufacturing and clerical workers. One method of light painting is for the artist / photographer to set their camera at a shutter speed of around 20 seconds with the timer set. For this method, a tripod is mandatory. They then walk to the focal point with a hand held light or glow stick. When the shutter opens, they spin the light around them to create balls of light.

So how does this tie to the paranormal? Many anomalous photos show the same effect as light painting. Instead of a light emitting object, we often look at a light reflecting object. Shutter speeds are generally slower than daytime photos but more along the lines of 1/15 or 1/30 of a second. Now these speeds may not seem long, but when you look at action photos using a speed of 1/500th of a second. 1/15 of a sec takes about as long as saying the word “one” when saying “One Mississippi” That leaves time for a light streak to appear from a reflective surface as it moves across the focal point of a camera. Generally, paranormal investigators hold their cameras and don’t use a tripod which allows more movement to make a more extreme effect.

The photos show examples of light painting and the possible effects in paranormal photography.

Andrew Alvarez

Andrew Alvarez

Representative - Division 3 at National Paranormal Society
Hello I'm Andrew Alvarez. I'm 34 years old. My interest in the paranormal started at about 8 years old after an experience that happened when my grandfather passed away. I'm a founder and director of the Paranormal Organization of South TX POST. We formed 7 years ago and have been serving the South Texas area since. I am an ordained Christian Minister and am studying demonology and theology. I also plan on learning the art of exorcism. I have a background in website administration, music performance and production (pre and post), web graphics, and some video production. I look forward to working with NPS in contributing my talents and learning from other's talents.
Andrew Alvarez

Cambridge In Colour

Latest posts by Stephanie Morris (see all)

Hi I’m a new member of the Photography Team. I believe ALL Investigators or anyone holding a camera should know the Basics. Of course more is expected of the Photo Team but I simply wanted to give the group a good reference page for Photography. It has free tutorials and many good articles on things such as “circles of confusion” and other Depth of Field topics and DOF is very important in Spirit Photography (or any photography) and is simply one example of what this page has to offer.

www.cambridgeincolour.com/

Latest posts by Stephanie Morris (see all)

Day 1 – Photography Basics for an Investigation

Photo-1-300x300

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.