This article is long overdue. I guess the saying "better late than never" really applies in this situation. In this article we are going to tackle a few different false positives that are captured during paranormal investigations. Some are common, others are not so common, but they are all explainable by rational and natural means. As we dig deeper into the false positives, we will dispel the notions that many of these anomalies are anything but paranormal in nature and help those of you in your field research to conduct your investigations with more control and to account for these variables as well.
error and camera settings. As you can see from the photo on the left (was also shown in a previous article), there are numerous light trails in the photograph. This photo was sent to us by someone claiming to have numerous spirits in them. With the information about the photo being in a moving vehicle, and the corroboration with the EXIF data, we were able to determine that the highest probable cause was by the cameras settings.I often come across photos with light trails in them. PSIRO even receives photos with these trails in them which are nothing more than user
So how are these light trails caused? Quite simply, they are caused by low shutter speed and movement. You will almost never see light streaks during the day. In fact, I dont think I have ever seen these types of photographs taken during the day? The reason why is the abundant source of lighting. Since most point and shoot cameras are set to "auto mode", the camera automatically will try and compensate for low lighting by keeping the shutter open a bit longer to gather light into the lens. Double that with movement from your shaky hands and if there are any reflections or lights, they will make moving streak pattern like you see here. Another great sign that the streaks were caused by movement is the multiple streaks showing the same patterns (again see left). This is caused by your moving and shaking hands. The slightest movement by your hands can cause these streaks.
There is also another cause for light trails in photographs that is not always accounted for. Typically the trails are caused by the movement of your hands, but other times there are other variables that cause these. They are insects. While the same principle applies to how they are created, the difference will be the use of the flash.Most light streaks are absent because of the flash being fired. This will help eliminate the majority, but of course, new false positives are possible. If the shutter remains open long enough after the flash is fired or the movement of the insect is fast enough, you will get a blurry trail, some longer than others depending on how long the shutter remains open and the speed of the insect.
Lately, the subject of rods have been making a resurgence into the paranormal. Perhaps it never left. It just seems that I am hearing more and more about rods as of late. Regardless, rods are completely explainable and seemingly nothing more than another false positive based on camera and even video settings. Rods have been talked about for quite some time, but never really fully understood. I have heard rods being discussed in both the ghost and even alien spectrum's of the paranormal field. Rods typically appear to be straight rod-like (hence the name) figures that sometimes have what appears to be wings or some other form of protrusion coming from the rod. Some believe them to be alien crafts, others believe them to be a yet to be discovered life form that lives on our planet, while some believe them to be spirits of some kind.
So what are rods really? Rods are a culmination of misunderstanding and lack of quality technology. Similar to light trails, rods are created from a slower shutter speed. The rods themselves are often times nothing more than insects. In the case of video evidence of rods, the frame rates are often to slow to successfully capture the actual insects in flight. If you have a camcorder capable of high speed filming, you will notice that the rods are actually just a flying insect the majority of the time.
So why do they look the way they do? Insects, such as moths, beat their wings roughly 10 times per second. A camera can take a photo within 1-3 seconds (or longer), depending on the settings of the camera. The rod appearance is actually the body of the insect while the wings create a motion blur that looks similar to a screw (see image on left). To avoid these types of false positives, your camera should be set to a higher shutter speed, which will ultimately reduce the amount of light being captured from the camera. Recognizing the false positive for what it really is will help better your use of capturing quality evidence while out in the field.
Remember, the best way to reduce false positives while taking photographs in the field is to generate a clear understanding of how your equipment works and what each setting does and how it effects the photos under various conditions while being taken. Can we eliminate every false positive from being captured? No, we can certainly reduce them, but we can also recognize and understand why they are being captured when we do. It is better to be knowledgeable about what is being captured than to assume we are capturing evidence of the afterlife or spirits.
Stay tuned for more articles on paranormal photography and false positives.
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