This is one of the first of my re-issued Hollow Hill podcasts.
In this 16-minute podcast from November 2009, I talked about using your five (or six) senses to investigate haunted places. I also shared other ghost hunting tips.
Some things have changed in the eight years since I recorded this. (Okay, a lot has changed, but the info in this podcast is still valid, with a few notable exceptions.)
For example, as of 2017, the K-II isn’t the only good EMF meter.
In fact, right now (late 2017) I like the Ghost Meter better than the K-II. (Also, the Ghost Meter costs about half as much as a K-II meter.) In “seance mode,” the Ghost Meter been surprisingly accurate for yes/no responses.
(That’s one in a photo on the right. Mine has a clear case, not black. And yes, it is an “as seen on TV” product. Despite that, it seems to work as a real-time communication device. I’d trust it far more than, say, a loosened flashlight/torch.)
Also, the Ovilus is available again. It’s far more sophisticated than it was in 2009. As of 2017, I’m testing its accuracy in a variety of on-site and remote experiments. So far, I can confirm that the Ovilus III can work remotely, with about 30% accuracy.
Other than that, most of this 2009 recording is still good information.
Yes, I still experience frustration when people miss seeing apparitions and other ghostly phenomena. But, since 2009, I’ve learned to accept that some researchers are going to hyper-focus on their ghost hunting equipment… and miss real hauntings.
First, I talked about the importance of looking around and listening. I described the kinds of evidence you might see and hear.
Then, I shared an easy way to make your hands more sensitive to “cold spots” and exactly how to find them.
I also described the best ways to use dowsing rods, and whether or not you should investigate “lights out” at indoor locations. (In most cases, there’s not much reason to work in the dark, but there are exceptions.)
This week, I was charmed by a CBS video about informal, modern-day archaeology.
Then I realized we could do this in many haunted locations, especially private homes and businesses, where the owners ask, “Who is that ghost?”
The video is less than three minutes long. I think it’s worth viewing if you’re actively involved in private investigations.
Though this kind of dig may not confirm anything, it might give you more clues about the history of the site. That could suggest a context for the haunting.
As I see it, this is a fresh research approach. It uses a little “informal archaeology” and it’s something almost anyone can do. You can include the site owners in this project, as well. (It might mean a lot to them, even more than it does to you.)
Since this kind of research is limited to areas like closets, it won’t disfigure the more visible parts of the home or business. That’s important.
I’ve enlarged some of the orbs to show what might be an anomaly — also called a “ghost orb” — and what’s probably a glitch in the photo.
First, an obvious glitch. In the photo above, the following area is in the lower right part of the picture, to the left of the white writing.
That photo was processed in a lab. Chemical splashes and spatters could happen. That’s the most likely explanation for those irregular, somewhat circular areas.
Even in the 1990s, when I was taking film photos at haunted sites, I still had to examine the negatives for splashes and lab errors.
False Orbs – Dust and Insects
The next enlargement shows what could be pollen and insects, as well as some possible anomalies. In the original photo, this area is in the lower half of the picture, and just left of the center.
Orb #1 includes a clear dot. In a color photo, it might be yellow or orange. When it is, the orb is almost always caused by pollen.
But, I see other similar, small dots nearby. So, the orb might be real and the dots might be a glitch from the developing or printing process, or damage to the print during storage.
Solution: When you’re taking photos, ask a friend to stand to one side and in front of you. He or she can tell you if anything in the air looked highlighted by your flash.
Orb #2 is an odd shape, and part of it is more solid looking. That’s often a flying insect.
Solution: When you’re ghost hunting outdoors, regularly look up at streetlights, or have a friend leave a flashlight on for several minutes. Many insects are attracted to light.
If you see bugs flying in front of a light, keep them in mind when you’re analyzing your photos, later.
The next enlargement is from the sky area in the Custer photo. It’s near the top and to the right of the middle.
Irregular shape #1 is probably damage to the print or something that spilled on the negative.
Shape #2 could be almost anything, including an insect or two, or a printing glitch.
Possible Ghost Orbs
After ruling out things that look like false anomalies, I still see several orbs I can’t explain. Not entirely, anyway. (I am mindful that sunlight may have been streaming directly towards the camera.)
I’ve indicated a few possible orbs from the sky area of the photo. But, a closer examination of the original photo may reveal more.
Of course, they could be processing errors from the darkroom. They could be insects or pollen, or something else that’s perfectly normal.
I have no idea and, frankly, no one can be sure whether anything I’ve said is accurate about this photo.
We’d need to test the camera the photographer used.
That’s my point.
For the past several years, I routinely test every new camera. I want to see how dust, pollen, moisture, breath, smoke, and other issues may affect my photos.
It’s a semi-scientific approach to ghost photography. More importantly, testing each camera is the only way we can tell whether our photos include possible anomalies… or probable dust, insects, and so on.
This is important, as well: Even after those tests, we’ll have unanswered questions.
Never to assume that the logical, normal explanation is the only explanation. Something that “looks like dust” could still be an anomaly.
And, even if it is dust, you may have another mystery: What causes dust in that area, but nowhere else at that location or nearby?
In other words, the orb may not be the anomaly. Maybe the weird dust is.
Many researchers prefer to investigate after dark.
Are ghosts more active at night? I’m not sure. Maybe the darkness makes it easier for us to notice them. After all, in the dark, we have fewer visual distractions.
For me, it’s more important to investigate at anniversaries. They’re the dates when someone at that site died, or married, or something significant happened. (Birthdays can be surprisingly good days for ghost hunting, too.)
This video shares more about the best times — days and hours — for ghost hunting.
Of course, your results may be different. If you have suggestions, I hope you’ll share them with Hollow Hill readers. Leave your comments (and questions) at this site.
I’ve created a When to Go Ghost Hunting Worksheet, as well as an instruction sheet for using it.
The worksheet includes more than just times and days. I’ve also added lines for possible triggers that may improve your research results.
The worksheet instructions feature even more suggestions related to research, era cues, and other ways to enhance your investigations, specific to each location.
If you ever meet people who think ghost hunting is a “weird” hobby, this photo of a gravedigger may change their perspective.
It’s a 1944 photo from the (U.S.) Library of Congress.
Yes, it’s a little old woman, wearing a dress, a hat, and an apron.
And she’s a gravedigger.
The notes with this photo say, “Meet Mrs. Josephine Smith, aged 84, whose hobby is digging graves. She lives in Drouin, a typical little farming town (1100 people), in southern Australia, 60 miles out of the Victorian capital, Melbourne. …”
Maybe I’ve lived an insulated life, but in all my decades of trekking around haunted cemeteries, I’ve never met anyone digging a grave “for fun.”