As the ghost-hunting shows currently airing on TV gain popularity in leaps and bounds, there’s no question that the mystery behind ghosts and paranormal activity is of interest to people. Whether it is out of sheer curiosity or caused by something deeper, the search for the existence of the afterlife suspended on earth is a phenomena taking today’s culture by storm. But what does it take to actually go on a real ghost hunt? What are the best tools to use, and what are those fearless individuals really looking for?
Ghost hunters can range from the purest of amateurs to full-fledged professionals with the difference possibly only being in the equipment the ‘hunters’ choose to use. In order to select and utilize the proper equipment, it is necessary to learn the terminology and what to search for.
The terms “EMF” and “EVP” are often discussed on ghost-hunting websites and shows. EMF refers to the electromagnetic field that is produced by electrically charged objects. It naturally exists everywhere. Ghosts, or spiritual energies, allegedly disturb this field. This disruption can be monitored on EMF metres.
EVP stands for electronic voice phenomena, which is defined as electronically created noises that resemble speech, but aren’t the result of intentional recordings. An example would be static played back on an audio recording that sounds like actual words. Ectoplasm, another term commonly used when ghost hunting, refers to mist characterized as spiritual energy taking substantial form.
Most amateur ghost hunters rely on a handful of fail-safe equipment such as:
35mm camera: As far as digital cameras have come today, old-school film is still the best at capturing paranormal images. Film speed between 400 and 800 is recommended, and black-and-white usually produces the best results.
Analog tape recorder: Again, despite the evolution of modern digital recorders, the older ones produce the best results and also serve as backup to the digital video recorders used. To stimulate any potential communication, hunters will compose a list of general and specific questions to ask. Responses may not be audible in the moment, but replayed recordings often reveal quite the opposite.
Digital video recorder: These are either handheld or set up on a tripod to monitor a specific area– it’s really the hunter’s preference.
Compass: Those with experience usually avoid the new electronic versions. Traditional compasses can react to changes in magnetic fields often caused by paranormal activity. Evidence of this would be when the needle has difficulty pointing in one direction. Glow-in-the-dark needles are especially effective.
Digital thermometre: The presence of ghosts is often coupled with drops in ambient temperature, or ‘cold spots.’
Wind chimes: While these may seem amateurish, wind chimes have actually been known to offer the first hint of paranormal activity. Hunters will find the lightest chimes available and suspend them from a stable source in the area of interest.
More advanced ghost hunters, like those on television, utilize equipment such as:
EMF metre and EVP recorder: These help detect EMF changes and EVPs.
White noise generator: These generators create a static-noise background and have been known to act as a catalyst for assisting spiritual entities make EVPs.
Night-vision equipment: Either goggles or camera attachments are effective; however, anyone using these should avoid the flash of a camera as the brightness of the flash can cause permanent eye damage.
Thermographic camera: This helps detect ‘cold spots’ in a room, which could indicate the presence of a ghost.
No matter what type of hunt – amateur or professional – absolute must-haves include a first-aid kit, walkie-talkies, flashlights, watches and journals in which to document the hunt. Documentation is extremely important for all group members in order to avoid confusion. Even if someone were to sneeze, it is documented, as someone elsewhere in the area could misinterpret the noise.
This is a basic insight into what the ghost hunters you see on television work with, how they acquire the material they do and how they use their findings to make believers out of skeptics.