The phenomena of ghosts and hauntings are very real experiences that more and more people are encountering every day. It is their true cause and nature that is the ongoing mystery. In Paranormal Investigations, author Chad Stambaugh discusses the process of trying to find that one piece of evidence that could prove, without a doubt, that ghosts are real.
Paranormal Investigations shows both the beginner and the professional when and how to correctly operate the different types of equipment integral to a paranormal investigation-cameras, camcorders, voice recorders, digital video recorders, EMF detectors, dowsing rods, pendulums, and more. In addition, Chad breaks down, step by step, the correct procedures for conducting both public and private investigations, including how to deal with clients, what to look for, how to look for it, and how to document an investigation.
Through this detailed guide, Chad works toward creating paranormal unity among those who research the events or phenomena that science can't or won't explain.
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Paranormal InvestigationsThe Proper Procedures and Protocols of Investigation for the Beginner to the Pro
By Chad Stambaugh
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Chad Stambaugh
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat Is a Ghost?
What are ghosts? I'll give you the answer straight out: no one knows for certain. There are, however, many theories to explain the thousands of experiences that people around the world have had. I think ghosts and spirits are a common part of the so-called human experience. There also appear to be several types of ghosts or hauntings, and more than one theory might be needed to explain them all.
The traditional view of a ghost is that it is the spirit of a dead person who for some reason is stuck between this world and the next, often as a result of some tragedy or trauma. I believe that some of these earthbound spirits don't know they are dead. Others know they are dead but remain because they are attached to someone, something, or some place. These ghosts/spirits are what I believe to be an "intelligent haunt." These ghosts exist in a kind of limbo state in which they haunt the scenes of their deaths or locations that were pleasant to them in life. I often think that these types of ghosts are able to interact with the living, and on occasion they can even materialize. As an investigator, I try to communicate with them in hopes of a response.
On the other hand, some ghosts appear to be mere recordings on the environment in which they once existed: A soldier is seen on repeated occasions staring out a window where he once stood watch. A child's laughter is heard in a hallway where the child once played. There are even cases of ghost trains that can still be heard and sometimes seen, even though the tracks they ran on are long gone. These types of ghosts do not interact with or seem to be aware of the living as much as an intelligent ghost. Their appearance and actions seem to always be the same. To me it's like a spirit-level recording, or residual energy, which replays over and over again, as if in a loop. We call these "residual" ghosts/spirits.
One of my theories concerning a residual haunt is that these entities are actually what have been called a "thought form." I think that some of the most famous ghosts are commonly referred to as residual hauntings and are suspected to be a "thought-form" ghost. These ghosts were created by some sort of emotional disturbance, such as a suicide, a war, or even a natural death, and grew through the energy of people believing in them and adding their thoughts and energy, which in turn provide an ongoing source of power for them. When such hauntings occur, is there a way to find out if the ghost is a thought form? I think one way of finding out is to do some research. While researching the location, if you find out that nothing has been documented to support the claims but the story of the ghost has been passed down through the generations, then you may have a thought-form entity. As paranormal investigators, these are conclusions that we try to reach.
Are there such things as ghosts? The phenomena of ghosts and hauntings are very real experiences that more and more people are experiencing every day. It is their true cause and nature that is the ongoing mystery. This is what keeps me and many others investigating more and more places: trying to find that one piece of evidence that will finally prove, without any doubt, that ghosts are real.
Okay, let's finally begin our education into the world of investigating. The first thing we are going to look at is what we need to actually do an investigation. The next chapter starts out with the basics, and we'll build from there.
Chapter TwoBasic Tools: Pen, Paper, Flashlight, Watch, and You
Most ghost hunters think you need a lot of cool tools and gadgets to get started in the field of paranormal investigating, but that is simply not true. The most important tools to have with you on an investigation are a pen, some paper, a flashlight, a watch, and your own eyes and ears. You might be saying to yourself, "How can that be?" Well, let me break it down for you. During an investigation, you should keep a log of everything. This is where the pen, paper, and watch come in. These logs should include investigation, time, weather, any experiences that you might have, photos, EMF/temperature baselines (if you have the necessary tools), and anything else you think is relevant. A description of a few of those logs is as follows:
Investigation (timetable) is used to document things such as what time you arrived at the location, what time you started investigating, who investigated and where (and at what times), where each investigator was constantly, what equipment you used, etc. This log will help you keep track of the investigation and assist with review process.
Weather is used to document the weather conditions at the time of the investigation. We also recommend you check the moon cycles. We use this information to track weather conditions on the day of an investigation if data is captured so we can compare it to other similar events in other cases. It will also help you during the review process in case you discover lots of orbs (could be rain) or mists (could be an investigator's breath).
Experience is used to document all personal experiences (or equipment malfunctions) during an investigation. Make sure to document everything you can remember about each experience so you have the information for future reference. During an investigation, you should make safety your first priority. To assist with that, always have a flashlight on you. The use of a flashlight is important, especially on stairs or in a room you aren't familiar with. However, it is best to keep the usage to a minimum. Your eyes will adjust to the dark, and you'll be able to observe more activity with the naked eye. We use flashlights with red lenses so that our eyes aren't affected by the light. While you are investigating, use your eyes and ears to take in everything around you and be observant. Sometimes it is best to just sit quietly and observe the space around you. This will help to debunk situations that occur as well as observe any activity that may exist. This doesn't mean you have to be silent 100 percent of the time, but silence is a friend to investigators. As you are observing, make sure to never lose the skeptic in you. Whenever a potential paranormal experience occurs, try to debunk it. Check for natural causes, such as wind, rain, etc. Check to see if someone or something else was in the area at the time. Check for something in the space that could cause the noise, such as a furnace, dripping faucet, window, door, etc. Also, try to rule out the obvious before assuming its proof of paranormal activity.
As you can see, you can do a lot with those simple tools and for little money. Once you get these techniques down, then you are ready to move onto the other tools, such as a digital recorder, digital camera, EMF detector, thermometer, or video camera.
Before we can even get into the procedures and protocols regarding how a paranormal investigation should be run, we need to talk about the equipment. I don't know how many times I've gone on an investigation, whether it is a fun investigation or a private investigation, with other investigators. The most common problem I see is that a lot of people go out and buy all the great different pieces of equipment that can be used in an investigation, but they don't know how to properly use them. If you're going to use a piece of equipment, you need to know not only what it's used for, but also the proper way of using it. I don't blame anyone for not using a piece of equipment properly unless he or she is part of a team. The fact is that some of the directions you get with these pieces of equipment are so technical that unless you're a tech genius, you have no idea what they mean.
Also, because some of these pieces of equipment actually have other purposes for which they were invented, they don't even have directions on how to use them in a paranormal setting. So an individual might not know or have access to knowledge on how to use a certain piece of equipment properly. Unfortunately, that's also the problem with some teamsno one on the team knows how to use the equipment properly, so the whole team ends up not properly trained. Thus, this results in there being a lot of people in the field who don't know how to use their equipment properly.
I haven't been to a lot of Para conferences, because I don't feel like paying for all the hype. The ones I've been to, though, have been great. No big celebrity names; just real, down-home investigators that want to share their knowledge. I've been to enough conferences to notice one thing: the one thing I've never seen taught at a conference is how to properly use the equipment that investigators use. Why is that? Where are people to learn how to use the different types of equipment out there? So that's where we're going to start. I feel that this book will be the first of its kind to actually help you, the investigator, know what you're doing. So when someone challenges your evidence, you can say, "I used that piece of equipment properly, so I know what I got is valid evidence."
Chapter FourThe Camera
The first piece of equipment we are going to look at is the camera. With the explosion of digital photography over the last few years, and with more and more paranormal investigators using digital cameras instead of traditional film cameras today, I thought I'd like to talk about them first. Digital cameras do have the advantage of being cheaper and, in some ways, more durable and usable than your normal film camera. They're also cheaper to use since you don't have to buy any film. Your pictures are ready right awayno film to develop. Also, most digital cameras today have A/V cables that you can connect to a TV or laptop for instant viewing.
Digital cameras, by their nature, provide an easier and quicker way than film cameras to transfer pictures from the camera to a PC for editing, enhancement, and, most importantly, analysis. Also, with memory chips or cards, you can store a lot of images. They can hold hundreds, or even thousands, of photos. Furthermore, since the card is reusable an infinite number of times, you can take as many pictures as you need to take. There should be no excuse for not being able to take enough pictures during an investigation.
Most newer digital cameras have some built-in sensitivity to infrared light. Other models can be modified for infrared (IR) photography. (Note: Such modifications will probably void your warranty.) Almost all investigators believe paranormal phenomena are more easily photographed using IR light than normal visible light because that is the spectrum in which investigators believe ghosts are visible. Finally, the cameras themselves keep improving in quality and features. Some cameras are as small and slim as a shirt pocket. Many are now also weatherproof, which helps with the outdoor investigations. Others are still full-size and professional grade. All are loaded with a wide range of features and other tools to help with your photography under a variety of conditions.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to digital cameras as well. The biggest is the technology itself. Digital cameras are marvels of technology and software. When you push the shutter button, a complex optical enhancement of the image of the object you're pointing at is made. The optical enhancement algorithms scrub the image to enhance clarity; thus, any undue movement or shaking is negated and your shot is made the best it can be. The bottom line on all this technical speak is that the image produced by a digital camera isn't the real image; it's the camera's interpretation of what it sees.
That's great for regular photography; however, for the paranormal investigator, it can be a hindrance. The very software that is designed to enhance and improve your picture-taking ability can also over enhance the picture. The camera can enhance what might only be a pinpoint of light to such a degree that it appears to be an orb.
Digital cameras rely entirely on their battery to operate. It is important to have a ready supply of fresh batteries on hand, especially during an investigation. (This theme will be brought up several times during this book.) A digital camera can really suck up battery power when hundreds of pictures are being taken, especially with a flash. Also, batteries have been known to be drained by paranormal activity.
Digital photos have a little more of a credibility gap since they can more easily be manipulated and touched up than a film picture. And digital cameras, because of the ongoing advancement of technology, can quickly become obsolete. This applies not just to the cameras but also to the memory cards they use and the software and systems for moving images from the camera to the PC.
Traditional film-style cameras still have a strong presence in the paranormal field. Typically, 35mm cameras using film with a speed between ISO 400 and ISO 800 are most common for the paranormal field. They don't have to be large, expensive, fancy cameras. Even a disposable camera is a highly effective tool. Film has the advantage of producing a negative that can be analyzed and enhanced. The credibility of film images is higher than that of digital images since the negative can be analyzed for hoax or fraud. And with a negative, enlargements are easier to produce and result in a clearer image.
The film camera itself is more "objective" than the digital camera. There is no software to enhance a film image. The film medium simply captures the light that comes in through the lens. A dot is a dot; a bright light is a bright light. It just records what is there. Therefore, it is hard to dismiss a possible paranormal image taken with a film camera as simply the result of technology. Film cameras can also use infrared film to capture images in the IR spectrum. IR photography is, however, much more expensive, as it requires IR-capable cameras, special film, and special developing.
As with digital cameras, film cameras also have their drawbacks. Film itself can be damaged by mishandling and exposure to heat or radiation. And while uncommon, damage can result from the film development process. Similarly, any unusual or potentially paranormal images captured might be the result of a fault in the development process. Sometimes film is improperly loaded into a camera and the mistake isn't noticed until after the pictures are developed. It is entirely possible to run out of film during an investigation. The camera itself can cause a false image if there is a crack in the lens or body that lets even the slightest amount of light ineven in the dark with a flash. Finally, film pictures have to be scanned in order to be loaded onto a PC for enhancement and analysis. While scanners today are significantly better than in years past, some loss of quality is inevitable, as is contamination from dust and fingerprints.
Because of the advancement of technology, a brand-new tool has seen an increase in popularity in the field of paranormal investigating. This is the full-spectrum camera. This camera can film in the entire light spectrum, from ultraviolet (UV) to IR. Normally these cameras are in the form of a camcorder, which we will discuss later. Before I talk about the camera itself, let's take a look at the different light sources that are out there. All three are important to a paranormal investigator. UV means ultraviolet, or "beyond violet," and is not visible with the naked eye. It is found in sunlight and is what causes health issues like sunburn and certain types of cancer. Another name for UV light is black light.
IR means infrared or "below red," and again, it is not visible with the naked eye. Another name for IR is night vision. IR technology has been used in the movie industry. It's also used in the military for night-vision goggles. The light that we humans can see is called white light. This is the stuff we see with our own eyes and is only a fraction of the entire light spectrum.
These full-spectrum cameras are a very important tool. They block out the white light and only film in the UV and IR spectra. The images from a full-spectrum camera appear in "purple screen," looking like a night shot with a purplish tint. It's thought that ghosts or spirits reside in either the UV or IR spectrum, so this kind of camera can really enhance your evidence gathering. As of right now, I don't know of any downside except maybe cost with a full-spectrum camera.
As for taking an actual picture, make sure to avoid shiny surfaces when taking your photos. The shine from a glossy tombstone or pane of glass can cause anomalies that appear to look like a ghost mist, fog, or orb shapes. Never try taking photos through a glass window. It's just as easy to create shapes that aren't really there. Make sure your camera lens is clean at all times. Again, this can cause an anomalous type of image to appear. If the lens has a smudge, it can look like an anomaly. So look for that sign; try to keep your lens spotless.
Excerpted from Paranormal Investigations by Chad Stambaugh Copyright © 2013 by Chad Stambaugh. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 What Is a Ghost?....................1
Chapter 2 Basic Tools: Pen, Paper, Flashlight, Watch, and You....................3
Chapter 3 Equipment....................5
Chapter 4 The Camera....................9
Chapter 5 The Camcorder....................17
Chapter 6 Dowsing Rods and Pendulums....................21
Chapter 7 The EMF Detector....................25
Chapter 8 Digital Video Recorder (DVR) System....................31
Chapter 9 The Famous EVP....................35
Chapter 10 EM Pump....................41
Chapter 11 Thermometers....................43
Chapter 12 The Ovilus....................47
Chapter 13 Trigger Objects: A Valid Investigation Technique?....................49
Chapter 14 Types of Spirits....................51
Chapter 15 ITC, or Instrumental Transcommunication....................57
Chapter 16 Your Basic Investigation....................61
Chapter 17 Paranormal Activity Level....................65
Chapter 18 Initial Contact....................69
Chapter 19 Preliminary Interview....................73
Chapter 20 The Actual Investigation....................77
Chapter 21 Using a Medium....................83
Chapter 22 Historical Site Research....................89
Chapter 23 The Evidence Review....................93
Chapter 24 A Client's Point of View....................97
Chapter 25 Closing Remarks....................101