Category Archives: International

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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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.

Striking the Natural

Over the last few months I’ve been growing discouraged about the paranormal. I found myself in doubt about one of my greatest passions I carry, and the two fronts that I’ve been a part of have been on the Ghost Hunters franchise and with my local group.

Paranormal television is entertainment. The shows exist to show people in supernatural situations, and people enjoy reacting to these things that are frightening along with the members on the television screen. At the end of the day the shows are always about entertainment and not the future of paranormal research. In many ways these television series have garnered and increased an interest in the field, and while this is not necessarily a good nor bad thing fully, the debate does rage about their effect.

On the other hand I’ve been witness and a part of the local front – As someone with a passion, encouraged by ghost hunting groups in popular media, I found a team locally and began work with them. Cases are small. The group began as a collection of people with different experience, levels of expertise, backgrounds, equipment, techniques and approaches. Since, in waves that ebb and flow but, I think at this point, are generally forward-moving, the group has come together and tried to solidify. But cases still are not in abundance. Residential emergencies are few, and in many cases succeed only in reassuring the homeowner that what they’re experiencing is in fact quite natural and that there is a normal explanation to the experience.

I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing – these people are very scared and they do need help, and helping people in paranormal situations (potential as alike and important as a genuine happening) is one of the greatest things we as investigators are supposed to do.

But it’s not our only goal. Especially for a person like me. Where I see that there are two types of paranormal investigator, those looking for answers and those looking for verification. Most in the field are those who experienced something and want answers. It’s these people who also feel the drive most clearly to help others because of that kinship felt in shared history of need. The other group are the faithful, the ones drawn to the field, reasons unknown, searching for experience, drawn toward that dark. It resonates in most of us – 2.5 million people just watched the season premiere of Ghost Hunters, hundreds of thousands, millions even, turn out for horror movies in the theaters, they attend “haunted houses” when the leaves turn dark and fall from the trees, they ride roller coasters and drive fast, seeking thrills. And there is a thrill in the darkness, but where most are , thrilled, others are drawn. I’m one of these latter types, who are drawn without experience. From the start, it’s not the drive to forward the field – not from the very beginning, but to become a part of it, to experience, to validate that faith. Ant that’s where I am. Perhaps no longer an amateur of investigation, but certainly still an amateur of the dark.

So I’ve become discouraged. Local groups are pulling in cases to help people and are slogging their way to the more notorious haunted locations, gathering evidence with cheap equipment. Some groups pull down better and more frequent cases than others, some investigators have a larger budget to spend on better equipment, most following what they see on TV, fewer still going to conferences and learning what’s happening on the rest of the front, very few left with the creativity and accessibility to adapt and refine equipment to make better progress.

With this in mind, I wrote about what I knew. I tried to synthesize my information. The results, I decided, told that we were at a breaking point, a crossroads even. We are at a point where the field is almost at point of saturation, where our technology has reached a point that should be giving better results, and either will or won’t – the public will either have their eyes opened, or they’ll lose interest altogether and the field will fall back again into obscurity. (For the full article, see here.)

But this international travel and opportunity of a lifetime has paid off, even in the slightest, and it’s sparked realization that I haven’t been looking in quite the right direction. I’ve been studying it from the pop culture angle, and the public reaction to the entertainment. I haven’t seen what’s really been going on – I haven’t been privy to the real progress.

I’ve been so lucky to carry on an extensive conversation across a few hours with Barry Fitzgerald, who’s made investigating mysterious happenings a lifelong search. His stories and experience astounded me. I realized that there is a lot happening. Native to Europe, a full resume` across the world, evidence at hand, Barry opened to me that there are mysterious workings here more than doors closing, inaudible voices on recorders and bangs in the dark. Sometimes tables do life above your heads, sometimes spiritual workers in South America lay hands and work in the miraculous. He showed me evidence he’s gathered, shared stories about haunted locations, touched on theories and spoke of the world. We talked technology and details about equipment, focused investigation and study rather than satisfaction with popular tools. There’s a future here, I’ve seen. Our technology is not failing us. We’re not lighting up a hallway further down to see that there’s nothing there, we’re looking at what we’re using and how it effects the environment. We’re searching at the fringes to find ranges, to weed out what’s known. Instead of looking for the supernatural, we’re striking the natural to truly find the super. We are at a crossroads, not of debatable results or total failure, but at a fringe level of science between what is known and unknown, of furthering and breakthrough.

I’m still an amateur of experience, no ghost has made effort to say hello as yet. My beliefs have not been validated. But they’ve become encouraged again. The world is laid out before me and however fragile, offered to me, potential abound, progress made, the field has taken on new light and life for me and this is only the beginning. Barry shared his stories and struck up new light inside, but it’s time to find it for myself, it’s time to join in the fray, to catch up and chase down the breakthroughs, to see what’s next.

Come along?