Following last week’s blog about Orbs and photography, I want to use this week to talk some about other issues in photography, primarily camera flares, mists, and the importance of paying attention.
So what is a lens flare?
Most of you guys are familiar with lens flares if you’ve seen the movie Star Trek by JJ Abrams. It’s called “anamorphic lens flare” because it’s a lens flare on an anamorphic wide screen lens, so it’s very wide and very dramatic. He uses it because he loves this idea of the future being so bright that the light can’t be contained outside of the lens.
Lens flare though is when your camera is set up and you have a really bright light source either in the shot, or just outside of it. The light then strikes your camera lens and it’s redirected into your camera, giving you glare and often illuminating odd-looking artifacts.
You might sometimes get dusty looking elements, a washed out effect, and sometimes a mirroring of the lens, in which you see curves and orb-like shapes.
The first thing you want to do then if you get one of these bright glowing oddly-shaped objects, is to look for bright objects just off to the side of the shot. Lens flare is not always a crazy disruptive streak of light. Sometimes it’s only a haze, bad contrast, or strange orb anomalies.
What else shows up in pictures aside from flares?
Mists. And the easiest way to experience a false mist is to be taking pictures outside in the winter. You’ll be holding your camera in front of your face, or near your face, and your breath is illuminated in the flash.
Most people claim to not remember seeing their breath while taking pictures. Which can be true. Normally we don’t look immediately in front of our cameras when using a flash, and the flash can sometimes illuminate vapors more brightly than whatever ambient lighting is around at the time (the way that afternoon sun illuminates the dust floating through your living room).
It’s important to also remember that seeing your breath does not necessarily only occur in freezing temperatures. Sometimes, with the help of additional environmental factors, it can appear on a humid day with temperatures as high as forty or fifty degrees. Cold is important because what you’re seeing is condensation of water vapor as you breathe out. If it’s cold enough, it turns the vapor into a more dense form, and you see breath.
But this segues into the third part, which is observation.
This is a hard topic to discuss with people who are enthusiastic about their ghost photo. Why?
Because everyone thinks that they’re very observant.
I see a fair amount of photos that people have taken with figures in the background. Oftentimes this is from my stomping grounds, the Stanley Hotel, in which folks on a tour will capture of a photo of something eerie.
My problem is that I wasn’t there, so I don’t know how controlled the situation was. I don’t know for sure if that room was indeed locked down and if the photographer was as alone as they thought they were. Without a video setup or having been there myself, it’s too hard to make that call.
Oftentimes though this is seen in reflections. Most people will be taking a picture of a shiny surface and later find a figure in the background of the reflection. What’s challenging here is that most times, you don’t pay attention to what’s in the reflection itself. You pay attention to what’s in the space between you and the reflecting surface.
But think too about the time it takes to snap three photos, the delay between each photo, and then the time it takes before you study the photo. By the time most people have found a strange figure, zoomed in, and realized it is significant, when they look up again, if that person who was in the photo was on the move, often times they’re gone. Mysteriously vanishing.
And further still, we think observation and experience is the best form of evidence. However, what’s interesting is that it’s actually not.
I worked for the cops for a couple years in their explorer program, and we studied this idea about the unreliability of witness testimony. In fact, if you want to run the same experiment that we did, put a bunch of friends in a room together. Have one person walk into your group and say something to you briefly. Then, after they go, give a few minutes delay, and ask everyone in the room to (first without talking) record what they remember the person to be wearing and what the person looked like. Emphasis on colors of clothes, hair cut, types of clothes.
It’s incredible the amount of radically different answers you will get.
In fact, it’s interesting to consider how unreliable this testimony is in court, despite how high we hold it qualitatively.
Look even at some of your childhood memories. Compare them to old photos.
So be as observant as possible if you’re trying to actually capture a ghost. Such “evidence” should not be presented lightly. And it shouldn’t be acquired lightly either.
That’s all I got this week! Thoughts? Leave them in the comments down below, AND, as always,
My name is Karl Pfeiffer. I’m a writer, ghost hunter, and blogger/vlogger. I won the first season of the pilot reality series Ghost Hunters Academy, and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team on the same network. Since then I’ve lead the weekend ghost hunts at the Stanley Hotel, studied religion and writing at Colorado State University, and published my first novel, Hallowtide, in October of 2012. More can be found at www.KarlPfeiffer.com