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Have you ever felt the presence of a ghost? Nearly one in five American adults say they have, Pew Research says. Perhaps for that reason we’ve seen a spike in paranormal TV shows and movies. Knowing this, it shouldn’t be surprising that paranormal research is one of the most popular applications of night vision security cameras, Markets and Markets reports. But while today’s technology has made paranormal photography more accessible, catching a spirit on camera isn’t usually easy. If ghost hunting is a pastime of yours, here are four tips to help you capture paranormal activity on video.
Select a Suitable Spot
Your chances of shooting a good paranormal picture depend heavily on choosing a suitable spot. Cemeteries, especially old ones are a natural choice. For instance, the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery, is reported to host many ghosts, including the famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau.
Old houses, castles, churches, hospitals, schools and hotels also have a reputation for being haunted. The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is probably the most famous haunted hotel, thanks to Stephen King’s novel “The Shining,” but other hotels such as Chicago’s Congress Plaza Hotel have even more reported paranormal activity.
OnlyInYourState.com provides a state-by-state guide to some of America’s most haunted spots. Some heavily frequented locations may have rules governing which hours you can visit them, so make sure you check ahead of time.
Choose the Right Equipment
Once you’ve selected your spot, you need to bring the right equipment. Traditional ghost hunters often use 35mm film because it produces higher resolution than digital cameras, allows for a wider range of equipment and includes negatives you can use for photo verification, says Michigan paranormal investigator Chris Bailey. Its drawbacks include longer processing time and a higher cost. Instant cameras such as Polaroids process more quickly, but are also relatively expensive and allow little control over camera settings. Digital cameras are the least expensive option.
Some digital cameras can shoot in infrared, which is a good way to photograph thermal phenomena that sometimes accompany paranormal activity. Night vision security cameras also allow you to shoot in infrared, and have the advantage of letting you shoot continuously for prolonged periods of time with minimal supervision required. This makes for great supplemental footage.
When shooting paranormal film, carry a flashlight and smartphone, as many places where paranormal activity occurs are poorly lit and potentially hazardous.
Consider Your Composition
As with any photograph, composition is key to a successful paranormal picture. Make sure you’ve set your camera up to take a picture of something interesting in the background.
One reason the photo of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall has become the world’s most famous ghost picture is because it was shot by photographers who were focused on getting a good picture of Raynham Hall’s historic interior. Another example of a famous ghost photo with an interesting background is the footage of the haunted Toys “R” Us in Sunnyvale, California, first popularized by the TV show “That’s Incredible.”
When setting up your composition, remember to use the rule of thirds. Imagine your scene is divided into nine equal parts that mark off three rows and three columns; most digital cameras include a grid feature that allows you to see these divisions. Arrange your composition so that your primary background subject falls at one of the intersections of the lines marked off by your grid, rather than in the exact center of your shot.
Back Up Your Film
To shoot a successful paranormal picture, you will usually need to shoot many times before something interesting enters your lens. To preserve your footage and prevent it from being lost, it’s prudent to back up your shots. One of the most efficient ways to back up your footage is to use an automated cloud backup service.