Category Archives: GHI

How to Photograph a Ghost!

Photography Follow-Up:

Hey guys, I’m back with more vlogs! Sorry it was so long, my camera got stolen, and I got a new one, but then I was busy with summer work and getting the next book out. No excuses!

What I want to do is finish up on the photography topic that I was discussing before the break, and break down the different ways to photograph a potential spirit, and why some may be better than others.

So.

The setup: you’re in a very dark basement that’s said to be haunted, and there’s not much in the way of ambient light for any average camera to pick up at all. How do you best set up the situation to photograph a ghost?

The go-to camera of most experiential investigators?

Cell Phones.

Why they’re good? They’re portable, at-hand, and the images are easy to share and, these days, decent quality. Another less-known reason it’s good? Oftentimes, because the lenses are smaller and cheaper than your average point and shoot or SLR cameras, some cell phone cameras actually see a bit further into the UV light spectrum because they’re not as thoroughly filtered. Hence why lens flare is a little more wacky on a cell phone. If spirits do exist in this smaller, often unseen band, cell phones might be more likely to see them.

The problems with cell phones though, for one, is that they’re usually hand-held. Especially when so many ghost photos are examples of pareidolia, it’s important to take multiple photographs from the exact same position, to rule out anything environmental that you can later compare against. It’s also easier to recreate the shot later for further comparison.

They also need a flash in low-light conditions.

Flashes

And here’s the thing about flashes. The primary problem is that the intense burst of illumination, so close to the camera’s lens, illuminates tons of particulate matter right in your photograph (at odds to off-camera flashes or light sources). So if you have a finger, camera-strap, piece of dust, or bug hanging out in front of the lens, the flash is going to make it look like ectoplasm. Shooting without the flash removes something like 98% of variables otherwise thought to be spirit.

Photoluminescence

But the other problem is that the flash could be harmful to spirits. Photoluminescence is the process of a gas or substance absorbing photons of light and then re-emitting them. This process is a very specific scientific process, so I don’t want to go babbling about a process that could well be irrelevant (like those investigators who try to equate everything spirits do to quantum physics), but if this process happens, and a flash photograph illuminated a spirit, that substance could theoretically re-emit that light back toward the camera, giving you a strange photograph. That said, photoluminescence often fundamentally affects the structure of the substance, and carries the possibility that the spirit (or conscious substance) could be harmed by the emission, losing their substantial form after the photograph and photoluminescence.

UV Radiation

The same goes for exposure to ultra-violet radiation. One theory towards why spirits may be more active at night (as discussed in this vlog), is due to the UV radiation being harmful to a physical, manifested form. The same way that we get sunburned by UV light (our substantial structure is physically damaged by this radiation), perhaps ghosts too are broken down by such exposure. This may well apply to IR as well. We see shadowy figures more rarely walking directly through an IR beam, and more often they’re crouching behind objects, only peeking out.

IR Illumination

In order to penetrate deeply into the room with our night vision cameras, many investigators rig extremely bright IR illuminators beside their cameras. They seem dark to us because we can’t see them, but these lights are veritable spotlights blasting out these rooms. While IR is on the less-harmful end of the spectrum (the wavelengths are longer, and the same way red-light doesn’t hurt our night vision, IR is more gentle as well), in such incredibly bright doses, it still could be hurtful to spirits, or at the least, very intrusive to a spirit’s environment. If someone shone a couple car headlights into your room in the middle of the night, it’s altogether likely you’d duck out of the intensity too, regardless of it giving you a sunburn or not.

Visible Light

Given that the intensity of IR illuminators may be, after the fact, even brighter for the spirits than just keep the lights on, well, why not just keep the lights on? Certainly many investigators have their reasons for investigating in the dark, (which I still explore in this vlog), but it is a valid alternative for ghostly photography, and also minimizes low-light solutions which introduce too many false positives.

But there’s still arguments against such light. It’s very intrusive, often harsh, conflicts with investigators’ EMF equipment, their more subtle sensitivities, and potentially the spirits physical structure (as UV, photon emission, and IR may seem to do as well).

So. We’ve got issue with flash photography, IR illumination, visible lights, how are we supposed to photograph a spirit?

Long Exposure Photography

The immediate alternative is to shoot with a long exposure. Long exposure is automatically applied on the “night-shot” setting of most cameras, and a manual adjustment on most DSLRs. The exposure is adjusted by keeping the shutter open for different amounts of times. If photography is simply burning light onto a sensitive plate, quick bursts of exposure (a fast shutter speed) will capture quick movement as still, but the longer you hold the lens open (slow shutter speeds) the more the image will blur before the photo is over. At night, this can be as long as seconds that the lens will be open, and if the camera is hand-held or if there’s movement in front of the camera, you get motion-blur (which can look like creepy trails of ectoplasm, where in reality the light source seems fixed).

This is how you make cool light-paintings. By running around with a flashlight while your lens is open, you can create cool streaks of light.

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The problem here is that, while you make cool streaks of light, it doesn’t also make streaks of shadow. Because the light is, in effect, burning into the sensitive plates, it masks any dark movement because that light is already burned in.

Think of giving yourself a sun-tan tattoo. If you were to drag a heart-shaped cutout across your skin at the beach, you don’t get any kind of design. But if you leave it in one place, you get your tattoo.

670px-Get-a-Tan-Tattoo-Step-6get-a-tattoo-by-just-tanning

Same goes for photography, as we’re also talking about light burning into a source. If you leave your shutter open for thirty seconds at a time and a shadow (or a non-illuminated person) were to walk across the frame, they won’t show up in your photo, the same way that the heart doesn’t show up on your skin if you’re moving it around.

Which is what makes THIS picture recorded by the Ghost Hunters International team at Port Arthur Penitentiary in Tasmania so strange. Shooting thirty-second exposures outside at night, they captured the image of a man walking across the hill. Why that’s weird? Because a silhouette of a person walking, for thirty seconds across a hill, shouldn’t show up at all — even if it were a living person. But the fact that this figure shows up as a perfect, non-transparent shadow, suggests that, though it appears to be striding, did not move for the entire thirty seconds.

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Though this was indeed captured by a team, it should be a pretty rare occurrence, because everything we know about spirits is that they appear to move at normal speeds, and for the most part, it’s very rare to see a spirit in one place for as long as thirty seconds. They often seem to be fleeting. And so, unless they’re bright or producing light, they’re not going to show up very well on a long exposure, even if it gives you a nice bright photo in the dark.

So if exposures and flash photos are out, how are we supposed to take photos? And if IR illumination is out, how do we shoot video?

Great questions.

Low-Lux Cameras

One alternative is to invest in Low-Lux camera equipment, or light-amplifying night vision. Most cheap night vision cameras are so today because they’re essentially using invisible flashlights to light up a room. It’s the expensive stuff that doesn’t illuminate a room, it amplifies what’s already there. Night vision goggles? There are no little IR illuminators on the sides, they’re amplifying the light that’s already there. Consider the difference between these two IR images.

night-vision-pt2-920-32 Ghost_Adventures_-_Season_7_Episode_30_-_Kings_Tavern

Light amplification is great, but it’s also expensive as shit.

Back-Lighting

Your other alternative is back-lighting. Rather than setting up your light right beside your camera, blasting out the room (and, potentially, the spirit), you instead set up your illumination along a back wall in your shot, so that you can see the back of the room, and you have a bright surface to differentiate a shadow or figure moving through your shot, without blasting that figure out with intense, possibly-harmful light.

And the best light to use? Investigators like Barry Fitzgerald suggest that red is the most welcoming for spirits. The same way photographers use red light in dark rooms, because it’s the least intense of the visible light wavelengths. Where UV is very harmful, red is as far as we can get, and doesn’t effect the photographic chemicals. Same goes for our night vision. Red doesn’t  burn into our eyes as badly.

The best way to capture a ghost? Red light, splashed up over a back wall, or light-amplifying equipment. No flash, shutter speeds that aren’t too long, and tripods.

Then, go ahead and see what you might get.

Karl Pfeiffer won the first season of Ghost Hunters Academy and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team. He now leads the weekend public ghost hunts at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, he travels the nation lecturing, and he writes for the TAPS Paramagazine and the Paranormal Pop Culture Blog. He’s the author of the novel Hallowtide and the book Into a Sky Below, Forever. He’s also a portrait and landscape photographer based of Fort Collins. More can be found at www.KarlPfeiffer.com

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UV Light and Spirit Photography (Feat. Barry Fitzgerald)

You’ve done a lot of work with full spectrum photography. A lot of teams are trying to do the same. What are some of the nuances of this kind of photography?

You have to understand that what we’re trying to do is to film into those light frequencies without projecting unnecessary light into those frequencies. So these lights–full spectrum floodlights–they really go against what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to observe phenomena that occurs within those frequencies. So producing UV light starts to break down the manifestation of spirit as it starts to come into this form that we understand. So that light starts to hinder on both sides of what we appreciate as the visual spectrum.

What would you suggest then as an alternative for the floodlights?

The alternative that we’ve been using that’s shown to be successful is a low lux full spectrum video camera. This is something that’s like a security camera, but it runs at sixteen frames per second, so it gets much more light into it and you’re able to see those breakdowns of energy as they collapse in on themselves, and we’ve been able to see some amazing stuff in that low lux range.

Spirit find it easier to manifest in RED light…

So a small amount of red and with a low lux camera capturing a wider range of the EMF spectrum yields greater success in capturing something that truly is of the supernatural realm.

So for folks at home, with money worries, are there any more manageable options available? 

There are alternatives on eBay but you want to make sure you’re going for a generation 3 or 4. They will run you around 300 dollars. Compared to what we have on the market at the moment, which are claiming to be full spectrum, they don’t actually film in low light conditions. You have to use extraneous light, lighting these places up, trying to capture something that will not appear because of the light being used. 16 frames per second can really go down into those low lux areas. When you have a hand held camera converted to full spectrum, it shoots in 35 frames per second, and it needs a lot more light, which doesn’t work in the field.

So in terms of flash photography versus long exposures, pros and cons to both?

You do have pros and cons to both. It’s one of those things, the flash itself can present–if there’s no filter on the flash–it can present the UV that can illuminate the manifestation and bounce back the light to the camera, but of course when that happens, the materialization pulls back altogether and you get a one shot deal. The open shutter uses existing light already there, not being blasted with other light sources, but of course you have the problem as well that on a thirty second exposure, you have something that walks straight through your shot, leaving a blur, so you have no idea what it was. Or you could be lucky enough to get that one solid shot, but those are rare deals.

You’ve only had it happen the one time?

One time.

With the flash, if the physical form is broken down, can they not affect the world? Or only not materialize visually again?

Understanding that materialization and the structures required for a spirit to materialize, you’re able to understand what they can interfere with and at one time. They can pull back in a fully lighted environment but still have the ability to influence. That’s something I wrote about in my book, The Influence. That in itself can be quite a dangerous little subject on its own.

But really it’s practice and getting a good knowledge base behind you and understanding what you’re dealing with.

Karl Pfeiffer won the first season of Ghost Hunters Academy and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team. He’s the author of the novel Hallowtide, works with investigative teams across Colorado, lectures across America, and leads the public ghost hunts at the Stanley Hotel. More can be found at www.KarlPfeiffer.com

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Let’s Talk Provoking

I want to talk to you guys today about provoking spirits on a ghost hunt.

This always seems to be a popular topic to be asked about up at the Stanley on our ghost hunts and so I want to clarify it for many of the rest of you too:

Firstly, what is provocation?

Provocation is antagonizing a spirit on a ghost hunt in order to illicit an emotional reaction from them in a way that might manifest something happening. Technically speaking, it’s an incentive for the spirit to do something, albeit a not very nice one.

Most investigators will throw around insults in order to stir up such a reaction.

Usually the reaction is violent. It always makes me laugh on ghost hunts when someone gets super pissed off when a spirit attacks them after provocation.

Some investigators will draw lines about this. TAPS used the framework that they only provoke if it’s a negative entity with a history of attacking people

Provocation usually successfully brings such an entity out… but the results are usually less conclusive in seeing what the true nature of the spirit is. If you want to see if a spirit is violent and malevolent by nature, don’t insult it first. I can think of a number of living people not malevolent in nature who would react violently to such antagonism.

Dustin Pari for example, you might remember him provoking the elemental at Leap Castle in Ireland. He was picked up and thrown down for his verbal assault and he never provoked again.

Ghost Adventures uses the philosophy of putting as much energy as they can into the environment around them and, being as they’re often in dark places with dark histories, they often provoke these seemingly violent negative figures.

Does provoking work?

Yes. Fifty percent of the time. It usually stirs up spirits who are happy to fight. And annoys the ones who don’t want your bullshit.

Problems with provocation:

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen with provocation is this sense of entitlement from people. They pay to go on a ghost hunt, or they visit a haunted place and go out of their way to have an experience, and then they think that means they deserve it. News flash: ghosts are people too. And most spirits aren’t on the payroll for a location. They’re there for personal reasons. You treating them like shit because you think you deserve an experience really poorly reflects on your sense of place in the world.

Another problem is that you don’t know who you’re talking to. Just because reports might have a violent encounter or an ugly history doesn’t mean the spirit is evil or negative. Violent spirits often are violent for a reason. Go figure. If you listen to what they have to say, you’re often going to be surprised. How many living people do you know who had a sad, decidedly human story at the heart of their anger?

Problem three is that good spirits are often provoked. Like our spirit Lucy at the Stanley, who died young when she ran away from home. Provoking her would earn you the status of biggest douchebag ever. And would get you very little activity. She hangs out with us because she enjoys it.

Conclusion:

Give spirits as much respect as you think they deserve, and then be prepared for the consequences.

Many people believe that everyone deserves equal amounts of respect, no matter what their history. Loving everyone because hate is bad, no matter who you’re hating. Other people believe that there are some darker spirits out there, you don’t treat them well, and you might get some good results…. and entertaining television anyway.

Just be prepared when you get a smack to the face.

But that’s all I’ve got this week. 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

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Ghost Hunters Academy DVD Release and FAQ

If you didn’t already know, the Syfy spinoff Ghost Hunters Academy DVD hits shelves today, a couple years after the last episode aired in the second of its two six-episode seasons.

The show was the second spinoff of the pioneering success Ghost Hunters, and focused on training young, college-aged students in the art of the hunt. Though met with mixed Critical reviews, it went on to produce a second six-episode season before it finally stalled out and met with unofficial cancellation.

But it’s near and dear to my heart because I was on it. And I won the first season of it.

So if you’ve found my blog because you already follow me, because you were running a search about the show, or you tripped through a strange interwebz warp and found yourself lost, dazed, and mildly confused in this stark blogosphere landscape, I’ve written up a quick FAQ about the show to honor its release.

GhostHuntersAcademyWhat did you get for winning?

This sweet sweatshirt.

I was given a chance to work with the Ghost Hunters International team along with the other winner, Susan Slaughter. I appeared on one episode in the summer of 2010 and was given the runaround by producers after that. Though I still don’t know what happened, I’m thinking they had too many cast members and didn’t like the idea of having two winners from their spinoff show. Anticipating the coming loss of their two female leads, I think they chose Susan over me.

What are you doing now?

I came back to Colorado, finished college with my degree in Creative Writing and a focus on Religious Studies. I worked with a few local teams here and there before I wound up regularly attending the Stanley Hotel’s weekend public ghost hunts. A few months later I began working there officially, and I’ve been there ever since. That’s been about two and a half years ago now. I also lectured around the nation for a short while about the varying philosophies and approaches to ghost hunting. And just this last October, I released my first novel, Hallowtide. It’s not about ghosts or the supernatural in any of the traditional senses, but it does have a psychological and mystical component. It’s about a young man who begins having nightmares of a journey into Hell. More can be found about it here.

What was your hardest challenge on GHA? -@DimitriNesbitt

There were many. The show was boot camp for ghost hunters, not so much a classroom. And in order to get as much drama from us, we were often left in the dark. For example, the first episode, we tour Fort Mifflin, and then they say, “Alright. Go get the equipment.” We glance at each other, confused, questions on our lips before deciding to turn back to the RV and explore the nooks and crannies for the Pelican cases. Sometimes the hardest challenge was putting up with team members that you found yourself butting heads with, sometimes it was trying to feel confident about doing something you’d had no training in, but could be kicked off at any moment because you weren’t doing it right. In a lot of ways, making it through and winning. That said, though these were challenges and stressful, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Greatest idiot moment? -@GAC_Ninja

There were plenty of those! With cameras on you and a million people watching at home, any error feels like the biggest idiot moment. From the one time I felt the gaze of every single viewer when Jane called me out for being inconsiderate at Buffalo Central, and I knew immediately that that moment would make the episode, to the time I forgot a voice recorder in a room we were investigating at Fort Mifflin, to the time in Eastern State when I forgot to log a tape with crew and Steve chewed me out for ten minutes. You always feel like an idiot when you’re under the gun and inexperienced.

What do you think would have saved it from cancellation? -Evie Warner

I think so long as the show was such that one winner was promised a slot on the TAPS or GHI teams, it was destined to end. They have only so many open slots that they need to fill at any one time, having too many seasons would stack up winners.

People love Ghost Hunters because of the characters and the ghosts.

The formula for Academy was essentially the same framework as Ghost; Race through the setup, get down to the investigation. Here I think their meat and potatoes was in turning the lens inward toward character interaction and behind the scenes, which was what established Ghost Hunters in the first place, and was emphasized in the Academy idea of the premise. This show needed emphasis on characters and ghost hunting. I think the competition side was important for getting return viewers, but the opportunity that was lost was in the education, the down and dirty, the running back and forth between buildings at Essex County in the pouring rain and yelling down from a busted out window three stories up that you’re going to toss cable down.

What really goes bump in the night? How have your experiences on the show changed the way you think about unexplained events in real life? What location was freakiest? -Mandy Rose

What really goes bump? Mostly people’s imaginations. The show taught me that most of the locations we went to, some of the most haunted in America, can have quiet nights. Working at the Stanley since then, I’ve seen how easily people scare themselves and how badly they want to believe. As far as what we’re actually dealing with when something does come through? The list is long; human souls, angels, demons, elementals, inter-dimensional beings, animals, time slips, energetic echoes, extra-terrestrials. Which are genuine and which aren’t? I’ve yet to know.

I grew up three years in the two months it took to film the show. I learned how to live life on the road, how to put my problems second to those people I cared about, how to put my head down and get a job done no matter what, how to stay humble, how to present myself to people, how to perform, and how to be a good critical thinking ghost hunter.

Essex County Sanitarium was by far the eeriest of the places. Though the activity wasn’t the strongest, being there in the epitome of fall, the last week before Halloween, where the weather alternated between glowing orange leaves and drizzling rain, the place had power; Run down, decrepit, and creaking with sighs and sounds of what could have been supernatural. Maybe it was lying in the body slabs at the morgue that finally did it, but there was no place I’d rather have been.

You can buy Ghost Hunters Academy, the complete series, at Amazon.com or in stores starting today, January 15.

GHI Gets Controversial

Got around to watching the controversial GHI episode a bit earlier tonight, and despite the late hour, felt the need to chime in.

If you didn’t see the episode, the team went to investigate some Mayan ruins in Belize. Due to reports of activity escalating after a bloodletting ritual (the site was a place of ancient human sacrifice thousands of years prior), the team decided to repeat the ritual to see if that activity would increase the way it did in the reports. The ritual involved cutting the volunteer, Susan, with an obsidian blade on her forearm to draw a bit of blood that was then mixed in an incense bowl and lit aflame.

When the episode aired, Twitter blew up. Concerned parents expressed their distaste, Kris Williams spoke out about her thoughts and people supported and rebutted and the team seemed divided and general drama ran downhill.

But it’s never so simple. Here’s my breakdown on what needs to be considered:

Cultural Differences.

This is an international team of Ghost Hunters studying different cultures, ancient history, and various supernatural occurrences.

We in the West have this inherent popular notion that we know better, that our science is more accurate, and that other cultural customs are barbaric and uncivilized, by our own lenses and standards in how we view the world. (It’s this kind of thinking, I might add, that leads to the eradication of culture in western colonialization of such continents as Africa and Australia and the Americas.) But there’s more than one way to make an omelette. And some seem pretty strange to us, yet may well be no less valid.

We cannot call unfamiliar thinking ridiculous or inappropriate simply because we do not understand it.

So when you take a team of western investigators and look into different cultural traditions and beliefs, we have to considers them as valid as our own. We have to consider that indeed, we may well (in fact, do not at all) know everything. (In fact, what we know as science will be turned on its head in another hundred to five hundred years. Already Newtonian mechanics and Euclidian geometry have been radically modified by the work of mathematicians like Albert Einstein).

The team even stated that they intended to compare the different ways, the modern versus the more ancient, and see which got more activity. This is the work that needs to be done, especially as it applies abroad.

We also have to consider the efforts of teams to recreate circumstances of eyewitness experiences. Where the event happened, what time of day, who was present, what was happening. Here, a ritual was taking place that might well have drawn the activity, if it’s harmless, why not recreate it?

Which leads to my next point,

Was it harmless? 

Physically, for Susan, it was only a small cut. They weren’t sacrificing the poor girl.

Is conducting cultural occult rituals that we don’t know much about possibly dangerous? Quite likely. But such is the risk you run not only as an international investigator, but a ghost hunter in general. You are absorbed in a world quite possibly very dangerous to yourself and your family. This fact has been exploited by many shows and popular representations of the field, but just the same, taking personal protective precautions are always important, and mindset and intention are key when exploring unknown territory.

And I happen to know personally that Barry is a very aware and safe investigator when it comes to darker forces in the field, and is someone I feel very comfortable with standing over my shoulder.

But what about the children? 

Many parents expressed objections that such a ritual was shown on a family television show. Also valid.

Teenagers are likely enough to hurt themselves, one twitterer said, why give them another reason?

The sorry fact of teenagers hurting themselves these days has little to do with the occult and more to do with acceptance, community, self-image, respect, and mental disorder. Watching a ritual for bloodletting on GHI won’t effect that.

If your children now decide to hurt themselves to call upon spirits, well, that’s certainly very dangerous and likely situationally inappropriate. But this is really not so different from any other part of a ghost hunting program. Controversial techniques are often used. Provoking being one of them. Opening one’s self up to possession or other various forms of witchcraft or occult methods that might make appearances can lead to harmful consequences.

The consequences that come from (your children, or even you yourself) doing these actions at home (or anywhere else for that matter that is not safe), come not from the awareness of these actions happening on their television sets, but from the misunderstanding of their purpose.

If your children watch this episode and think that cutting themselves is a great way to contact their great uncle, then they probably shouldn’t be watching the show in the first place.

But harming yourself is stupid.

Indeed it can be. Blood is gross and makes many people very uncomfortable, and if they want nothing to do with being a part of, or being around, such a ritual, that’s of course fine.

But that’s a big difference from objecting to it on principle. The principle of it is a very layered debate that can take a deeper form in any of the categories I listed above.

I beg you think though, that if it’s only the fact of a bit of blood for an otherwise good cause (granted, debatable on the spiritual safety, yes), then what’s so bad about that? We give blood by day in the west to save people after various tragedies and accidents. If you’re not into blood, fine, but don’t condemn the act.

Because then people get upset

If people want to express their opinion over it all on twitter or facebook, that’s also fine. It’s just a shame when it gets personal and people feel attacked or thrown under busses or whatnot,

but as with everything, there are deeper reasons, deeper considerations begging to be mentioned, and it’s never as simple or as personal as it might look.

But those are just my thoughts.

Think I’m off base on any one of my points? Sound off in the comments down below.

Watching Me

We watched you last night, they said.

I said, wait what?

My roommates said, on Ghost Hunters.

Last night I was writing until three in the morning at that place with paintings on the ceiling and where they serve coffee and stay open all night. At home, we don’t have cable, nor were there reruns of old GHI episodes on a Tuesday night. On YouTube then? My roommates? Who care as little about ghost hunting as my couch does? Going out of their way to watch me, their moody, socially uncomfortable friend who lives in the basement, on TV?

On Netflix, my roommates said.

On Netflix, I repeated. Old GHIs are on Netflix?

Indeed they said. And we watched.

So, it seems, can you. Like me. Every day, should I have only a mirror. And an England to wander about in.

Where’s Karl?

So I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while now, but I thought this was a fine time to catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life and where I stand with the paranormal.


GHI and GHA were two of the greatest experiences of my life. For various reasons, some good, some bad, I’ve done more growing up in the last year than I have most years of my life. In fact, I didn’t know how much I’d learned about stress management until these last three weeks when I was working seven to midnight both being a camp counselor at a university and teaching a class about thematic and emotional significance in art. I handled it, and impressively enough, I handled it all with a smile. In years past where just being a counselor to these kids was too much stress for me, this year was easy. It revealed to me that I’ve grown in ways that I don’t even know yet.

But the experience has at least for now been cut short. It’s no secret that the only episode I filmed for GHI has aired and the rest of the season will be minus this GHA grad. It wasn’t my decision, it’s the calls that producers have to make in LA as to what they think will be best for the show. I don’t know why. I’m a good investigator, I like to think I look decent on the tube! Maybe I was just one too many and not priority. Maybe they’ll have me back, maybe I’ll get a call in a week, maybe not. They have other people. But the experience was wonderful, I’m still on great terms with the team, if I’m ever offered a chance to go back, I’ll go back with a smile. Thanks to Ghost Hunters for opportunity and thanks to you guys, the fans, for making me feel like I’m something more special than your average nerdy college kid!

But then on top of that, in the last week, my paranormal team fractures and breaks up with more drama than a middle school dance. Barry holds a theory that because of the nature of our work, delving into a darkness, teams with more than five or six close members, it’s easier for negative forces to get inside and break up teams. Perhaps. Perhaps it’s just the personalities clashing of those people who like to run around in the dark looking for spirits, and the wide varieties of ignorance about how to approach investigations. Without a strong leader and a core group of people understanding each other, I think any group is doomed.

So, as it seems, in the last four or five months, I went from being on the absolute top of my paranormal passion, to being on the bottom. It’s been an odd trip.

Which is a bummer. But I’m not planning on shriveling up and going away. If you’d still like to follow, I’ll be back chasing the ghosts shortly. Perhaps I’ll even build my own team. Until then I’ll be reading as much as possible, keeping up to date with the newest theories, and watching for exciting developments.

And writing. Of course I’ll be writing. Stay tuned for that 😉 Exciting things on the way!

So I don’t think this is goodbye. You can interpret it that way if you like. But I’ll still be here. You’ll still be here. I’m still a little awesome. You’re still very awesome. Sometimes I tweet things worth reading. Just won’t be on your TVs for a little while. Maybe.




That Bastion of Calm –

So I’m finally home after two weeks on the road – half of which I feel like was getting back from England.


I can’t speak much about the details of working with GHI, you guys will just have to wait until round about June to catch it on the tv, and keep your eyes peeled for some little tidbits between now and then over at syfy.com. But what I can say was that it was truly a brilliant experience. The case was fantastic, the team was fantastic, the crew was fantastic, England was fantastic – the whole thing.

The entire experience has been a humbling one. I like to believe there’s Reasons for everything, and from day one when I sent in my email and picture and heard back with a request for a video, the process went out of my hands and beyond me. Out of some six thousand applicants during that first round, I was so lucky to have been picked. To have made it through the process to finally get the go-ahead phone call was a near-spiritual experience. Never moreso in my life have I so fully given myself up to exactly where I was supposed to go –

And now on the road, I’m doing my best to be aware of the why. Why me? Why here? Why now? Why has my life been propelled in this extreme direction? I’ve met some truly amazing people on the road, some of the finest people I’ve known. Some of which I’ve connected with on a deep, reverberating level that I don’t understand. Be they just very like souls or be there something deeper, something that speaks to past-lives, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your individual spiritual sensibilities. But something’s happening here. And not only was it interesting to watch and pay attention specifically to, but to embrace experience and new friends as fully as I could. Realization or not, that alone elevated the experience to something magical.

Getting home was not such a magical experience. When I wasn’t exhausted and longing for a bed, I surprised myself by staying in a decent mood. Anticipating the six to seven hour flight from England, I stayed up all night before (no difficult task, a last night in town, goodbyes to new friends and conversation until the dawn, I was scrambling to shower and pack by the time I hit the lobby to catch my ride). Three hour car ride and Heathrow like an ant colony, I managed to catch the flight just fine and we got off in time.

New York was experiencing wet weather. Thick clouds, strong wind, and heavy rain made the approach miserable. I felt like Jack Ryan trying to catch the USS Dallas. Next time I shoulda just sent a freakin’ memo. As soon as we broke into our descent the plane started hopping and rocking. One dip lasted about twice as long as expected and elicited some yelps from the passengers. Sitting in the furthest back row I knew we were in for it when the attendant grabbed the sides of his seat and said, “This is going to be a rough one.”

But I managed to smile through it. Perhaps some blend of sleepiness and a touch of Irish music a few tracks before, and I enjoyed the bumps, taking confidence that that day would not be my day, and if it was, well, that’d have been random.

Upon passing customs and immigration at JFK, my duffel in hand, I went to check in for my connecting to catch the suggestion that it was cancelled, only to wind up at a closed terminal, crossing the street in gusting wind that had me pressing down on my cap and bent 45 degrees. If that wasn’t enough indication, I hit terminal two, stood in line for thirty minutes, and got final confirmation that indeed my trip to Denver was cancelled, no, I said, I had no one to stay with in the New York area, and the soonest flight was Monday – nope, actually, Sunday has a connecting through Minneapolis. Book it, I said, and wandered into the grimy terminal to curl up on my bag and get some rest. Around eleven I stood in a much shorter line, made sure to smile and ask if the workers were rested and doing okay (they weren’t on both counts, but I made an effort to be easy and sympathetic – I thought I hated bitchy customers at a movie rental store, I could never do their job), got the okay and wandered through security to sleep at a gate. Woke up to bustling crowds and airport food too expensive for my hunger.

I finished the Sweedish novel Let the Right One In (a wonderful and brilliant novel. Everything I wanted it to be, and better than the film – which is fantastic in and of itself – it truly does the work of real horror literature, studying childhood, love, coming of age, playing with themes of light before a deep, rich darkness. I highly recommend it).

Twenty minutes before the flight I found I was at Gate 20, not B20, and ran for the shuttle to terminal 4, only to discover Delta had botched the seating assignments and had people just sit wherever. They wouldn’t check my bag and I had to stow it, the whole while waiting for a petite and perky woman with sticks in her hair to ask me to check it from my kung fu grip. Another half hour waiting on the tarmac, we finally hit the sky. Minneapolis was quiet and pleasant after the bustle of JFK, and after only two hours took off for a remarkably bump-less flight into Denver, where it was snowing thick flakes. But the landing was smooth (I recommend snowstorms to rainstorms tenfold). I managed to collect my bag at the claim (which I fully expected to be lost, considering all else that had happened, as the icing on the cake), spun through the doors and caught my lovely girlfriend, and we drove off into the snowy night.

A hottub and a full night’s rest on an actual bed again, and I’m human once again!

Edit to add: I should mention I flew Virgin Atlantic from England. They have a very pleasant way about them that I can’t complain about. The entrance was just bumpy as hell due to the weather. They were fine. It was as soon as I hit Delta for the connecting that I ran into my little problems…

Is there advice here? Yes, I think so. No, it’s not to avoid Delta at all costs (just rainstorms). Even if you’ve spent forty eight hours traveling home, it makes for a good story and odds are your fit at the people trying to rebook and reorganize is just one of thirty, and you’ll likely feel better to take it slow and be polite. Maybe I’m odd, but I like spreading a little peace and being the calm guy while around me the world spins in chaos.

Also, go with where you feel like you should be. Pay attention to what life has for you. It’s fun and enriching, and I can guarantee, no matter how rich and colorful already, will make the world around you even more so, perhaps adding even a touch of sparkle, like that sunlight on fresh snow as it melts on a spring Monday morning.
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