Tag Archive: Photography Team

Aug 05

SNAPCHAT FILTERS

April Abercrombie

April Abercrombie

I was Case Manager for Denver Paranormal Research Society for nearly 4 years. While on the team, I primarily conducted investigations for clients of their private residences. I have since left Denver Paranormal to pursue my own research and conduct investigations of haunted locations. I now focus mostly on historical places.
April Abercrombie

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SNAPCHAT FILTERS
By: April Abercrombie

Lately people have been submitting photos (screenshots) containing weird faces from their Snapchat apps, which they are concerned may be paranormal in nature.

The Snapchat app has a facial recognition feature built into it that allows the app to map your face, creating a mask. This allows the user to add various silly faces and effects to their image. These masks are completely animated, and will move and react with your facial expressions. It is just for fun, but the technology really is quite remarkable.

How the filters work:

The facial recognition software uses your device’s camera to scan for your face, looking for contrast areas (areas that are lighter or darker in color tone), which tells it where to place a series of points. Once it places these points, it matches them up to its pre-programmed facial features, adjusting them where necessary to match your own unique facial features as closely as possible. It then creates a mask based on this data, which is fully animated and can move, and in some cases, emote with you.

It is not perfect. In all of that mapping and image comparing, it doesn’t always work as expected. You might get a mask that doesn’t fit quite right. Also, it can only find your face straight on front view. If you turn too far to the side or tilt the camera too far, it will lose sight of your face. Lighting is also a factor. Because it is looking for high contrast areas, if your image is too bright or too dark, it will have problems locating your face.

When the software loses track of your face, it tries to relocate it, and then redraws the mask. The problem is, it doesn’t always relocate your face. It can locate another object in view, and be tricked into thinking that is your face.

In other words, just like the human brain, it can experience cases of pareidolia. It may map a face on a ceiling, furniture, a light fixture, etc.

There are a series of different face masks you can choose, one in particular allows you to pick another person’s face out of your existing photos and it will place that face over your own. This can appear very creepy if it manages to map the face where you wouldn’t expect it.

I am including a sample screenshot taken from my phone where the face mask mapped onto a lamp behind me, when I panned the camera too far.

Could this Snapchat filter phenomena ever be considered paranormal?

The reality of it is, most likely not.

Firstly because there have never been any confirmed photos of ghosts. It may not even be possible to catch a ghost in a photo, even if they do exist.

Secondly, there are far too many variables involved with the facial recognition technology employed by Snapchat, not to mention all the variables that go into photography itself, to ever say for certain that your Snapchat filter has found a ghost.

So in closing… even with it being as creepy as it sometimes can be, weird snapchat filter images are completely normal and explainable.

No automatic alt text available.

Jun 01

WHY THERE ARE NO AUTHENTIC GHOST PHOTOS

April Abercrombie

April Abercrombie

I was Case Manager for Denver Paranormal Research Society for nearly 4 years. While on the team, I primarily conducted investigations for clients of their private residences. I have since left Denver Paranormal to pursue my own research and conduct investigations of haunted locations. I now focus mostly on historical places.
April Abercrombie

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By: April Abercrombie

This question comes up quite often – Do we have any authentic photos of ghosts that we can show? The answer is unfortunately no.

For the following reasons, no matter what any expert has said, there are no authenticated ghost photos in existence:

FIRST – Ghosts are not proven to exist. It is impossible to say there is definitely a ghost in a photo if we are not even sure they exist. Until we have proven scientifically that ghosts exist, we can’t say there is one in a photo.

If we ever do get that scientific proof, it is ONLY then that we might be able to photograph a ghost, which would give us an authenticated ghost photo with which to compare.

SECOND – It is impossible to say for sure that a supposed photo of a ghost is genuine and unaltered. There are tell-tale signs of a fake, but if those signs are absent, we still can’t be sure. With the quality of the softwares and talented graphic artists we have today, there can be some really convincing fakes. If only they would use their powers for good! 🙂

THIRD – Even if there is a strange image in a photo that we can’t explain and we are sure the photo is not fake, we STILL cannot say it is anything paranormal. There are so many variables that go into still photography of which we have little control, such as light values, angles, motion, air particulates and other environmental factors, etc. Due to these variables, sometimes we will get weird images in photos – weird, but completely normal images. This is especially true of cell, computer and tablet cameras, which are even more notorious for creating weird images.

We hear it quite often – someone will say they had their photo authenticated by a photo expert.

Well…what does that really mean? – No expert of any kind can do this. No seasoned investigators and not even a professional photographer can do it.

What can they do then? – Experts do have knowledge of known factors that create certain anomalies in photos. They do have softwares to use that can scan a photo for irregularities and they can look at the EXIF info of the photo. All of these methods CAN give some clues as to the authenticity of a photo, but these methods are not fool proof by any means.

The most any expert can say is that a photo does not appear to have been manipulated. In that statement, there is quite a bit of wiggle room.

Any person that calls themselves an expert and then tells you your photo definitely has a ghost in it is not really an expert. Any person who has real, extensive knowledge of photography and photographic softwares would NEVER tell you this.

Apr 08

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.

Mar 30

LIGHT STREAKS

April Abercrombie

April Abercrombie

I was Case Manager for Denver Paranormal Research Society for nearly 4 years. While on the team, I primarily conducted investigations for clients of their private residences. I have since left Denver Paranormal to pursue my own research and conduct investigations of haunted locations. I now focus mostly on historical places.
April Abercrombie

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NPS PHOTOGRAPHY TEAM ARTICLE
LIGHT STREAKS

By: April Abercrombie

The purpose of this demonstration is to show how you can get streaking in your photos, even if you are using your flash. You do not need a long exposure to have this happen.

The photos provided are a couple of shots I took with my iPhone 5s. I have included screen shots of the EXIF data from both photos. Notice how the exposure time is the same for both photos.

With the first photo, I held the phone as still as possible. In the photo with the streaks, I moved the phone slightly as I took the photo. It takes only a very light movement to cause streaking from any light sources in the distance.

If you are walking around outside at night snapping photos here and there, it is very easy to unintentionally have your camera in movement as you take a photo.

April Abercrombie's photo.
April Abercrombie's photo.

 

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