Understand Your Equipment

EMF Meter

I can’t stress enough the importance of researchers thoroughly understanding how the equipment they’re using operates – and especially a device’s limitations.  Despite what some may claim, there is no piece of equipment designed specifically to “detect ghosts.”  Instead, researchers use equipment designed for other purposes in hopes that equipment might, as a side benefit, have some capabilities to detect paranormal activity.  If you don’t understand how a piece of equipment is designed to normally operate, you will very likely consistently misinterpret its output when you use that device during an investigation.  I believe the two worst offenders when it comes to misuse and not understanding equipment are the EMF detector and digital cameras.

Researchers used to seem to have a pretty good handle on the use of EMF meters.  However, as more models appear, more and more people seem to think these devices are “ghost detectors” (I recently saw a TV program in which one so-called investigator use those exact words to describe an EMF detector).  EMF meters are not “ghost detectors.”  At least one manufacturer is cashing in and adding to the confusion by repackaging their “cell censor” (clearly and accurately described as an EMF meter) through removing its external sensor and calling it a “Ghost Meter.”

Cell Sensor

Flowing electricity creates an electric field and a magnetic field, known as an “electromagnetic field” or EMF.  The strength of this EMF varies with the output or current flow of the electrical circuit.  EMF meters are designed to detect the strength of this field and that’s all they’re designed to do.  To use it in any other way is to use it in a way for which it was not designed.

Additionally, electricity can be direct current (DC) like a flashlight or alternating current (AC) like the electricity coming from your household outlet.  AC is man-made and only came into existence in the later part of the 19th century.  The vast majority of EMF meters are designed to detect EMF generated by AC circuits.  This is an important concept as natural EMF is generated by DC.

The best use of an EMF meter is a “sweep” of a location to determine any areas of high EMF.  Very often poor wiring or poorly shielded electronic devices put out very high EMF fields.  For example, the face of a digital clock produces very high EMF.  What do most people have pointed at their heads all night as they sleep?

Ghost Meter? No!

Although still controversial, there is more and more evidence that repeated and prolonged exposure to high EMF is detrimental to health.  In addition, more and more evidence seems to indicate some people are more sensitive to EMF than others.  Results of EMF exposure produce results consistent with “hauntings” such as feelings of dread, feelings of being watched, feeling depressed and so forth.  Using an EMF meter properly might reveal the true source of a “haunting” as a high EMF field – which is much more dangerous than a real “ghost.”

I’m not saying an entity cannot somehow interact with an EMF meter.  I’ve seen firsthand some very interesting results with a K-II meter.  However, at the end of the day, it’s still only an EMF meter.  While there’s nothing wrong with experimenting using an EMF meter during investigations, you must understand what the meter is designed to detect and you must understand it’s not a “ghost detector.”

K-II Meter

Thanks to the wide availability of inexpensive digital cameras, I believe these have become the worst used device in paranormal investigations.  So many people blindly snap away with no clue as to the internal workings of their camera.  Consequently, they get numerous photos with easily explainable photographic artifacts.  Since they have no understanding of even basic photography, they claim these photos show “paranormal” activity.  I’ve already addressed “orbs” in my article on this blog.  Additionally, I commonly see two other anomalies, both of which are also associated with the limitations of the on-camera flash.

The output of any built-in, on-camera flash is very weak.  Consequently, when you take a photo only the objects closest to the lens will be illuminated (assuming they are within the flash range).  Anything outside of this range will appear dark.  I recently saw a photo taken in an indoors location with a group of people at a bar.  They were well illuminated by the on-camera flash.  However, a figure standing in the background near a doorway was dark (along with the entire doorway and background).  The person taking the photo thought the figure was a “ghost.”  It’s not a ghost; it’s someone standing in the background beyond the range of the flash output so the person, along with the entire background, is dark.

Digital Camera

Digital cameras, especially less expensive ones, have a lag between the time you push the shutter button and the time the shutter actually opens and closes.  This is called creatively enough “shutter lag” or “shutter delay.”  If you take a photo with one of these cameras and either you or your subject moves, even slightly, they will often appear slightly blurred especially in situations using the on-camera flash.  This blur is not “paranormal.”  Instead it comes as a result of poor camera operation due to not understanding the limitations of the device.

Know your equipment!  I don’t think I can make it any clearer.  Learn about EMF and how EMF meters operate.  If you aren’t already familiar with photographic theory and technique, learn about it before blindly snapping photos and claiming your results are “ghosts.”  Excellent books on digital photography are available at modest costs.  Likewise, free or inexpensive courses on digital photography are available from several sources online.  With all the resources available, there’s simply no excuse for not learning about how the equipment you plan to use actually operates.

One final piece of advice: don’t wait until an investigation to learn about your equipment.  You must familiarize yourself with its operation long before using it in the field.  It’s especially helpful to practice with your equipment in an area known to be devoid of paranormal activity.  This helps you learn the device’s normal operation.  If you are familiar with its normal operation, you will be better able to recognize if it produces any sort of unusual output during an actual investigation.

It all comes down to the most important piece of equipment you possess – the one between your ears!  Regularly exercising and engaging that device will pay great dividends.

Stay sharp and stay smart.

Any other thoughts?

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One Response to “Understand Your Equipment”

  1. […] Understand Your Equipment | The Ghost Writer https://spiritedwriter.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/understand-your-equipment/ Jan 13, 2010 … Eerie Outpost Unnerves US Marines with Strange Lights and Whispers in the Night · Ghost Lusters: If You Want to See a Specter Badly Enough, … […]

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