Orbs Part 5: Camera Problems



Orbs Part 5: Camera Problems

Camera Problems are not always the fault of the hardware. Inexperience with photography and equipment can lead to a multitude of photographic problems. The best advice is to get to know your camera, warts and all, no matter how expensive your camera is it will still have quirks. This can range from dead and stuck pixels, to image sensor ghosting. The latter being responsible for some very spooky photographs. We have had this before an old camera in the past and had the image checked out by the “West Midlands Ghost Club,” [1] who we helped for a while. They said it is an uncommon defect of the sensors in Digital cameras.

Though this is not technically about Ghost Orbs, it deals with many of the issues mentioned in the previous sections and more problems you will encounter photographing your investigations.

“As Ansel Adams once famously said, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” There is no denying that quality camera gear can capture incredible photographs. But it’s the person behind the camera that truly makes or breaks what an image ultimately becomes.” – Savage Thrills, Stop blaming your gear for bad photography. [2]

Camera Problems: Image Ghosting Memory Effect
Image 1: Sensor Ghost

Image 1: Sensor Ghost

This is one of the rare but most significant of camera problems is Image Sensor Ghosting, as it creates a convincing ghost image. Also, a reason you need to be fully aware of your surroundings. The CMOS images sensor in some older cameras have a memory effect, [3] this can keep a short memory bright objects that it sees even before you hit the button. See Image 1.

This is problematic when a camera has red-eye reduction as this causes bright spots during those pre-flashes which can be remembered by the sensor. Someone moving around in the frame can create a transparent image, this can even happen on bright sunny days. This camera problem is not widely known about as its occurrence is not that common.

On the occasion when we had an Image Sensor Ghost it was in a night club. The old camera we had at the time would flash twice before taking an image with the third flash for the picture. This took about 2 seconds in total. And during that time someone walked through the frame, and their image was memorised by the sensor and appeared as a ghost on the final image. Sadly, that image is lost in time, and no matter how much we go through ‘Way Back Machine’ we cannot find it.

Thankfully with modern sensor technology, these Image Sensor Ghosts have become increasingly rare.

Camera Problems: Dead, Stuck, Hot Pixels
Image 2: Dead Pixel

Image 2: Dead Pixel

Hot or Stuck pixels are a big problem with modern cameras. The heat generated by the camera sensor causes some of the pixels on the sensor to get stuck on one state or not respond at all. In the case of this kind of pixel fault, they might disappear if you leave the camera switched off for about 30 minutes. If they do not, then you may have a Dead Pixel.

Hot and Stuck pixels can show up as white or usually one of the primary colours and may have a corona around them. See Image 2. If you want to be able to rule these out of your investigation take a picture with the lens cap on. Everything should be black, but a stuck pixel will usually show up in this black image. You can then use this un your preferred graphic program as a map to remove the artefacts of these hot and stuck pixels. [4]

If you have a Dead Pixel then your in for a lot of problems. You can never get rid of these. Some cameras can remap the pixel and recreate it using the surrounding pixels. Otherwise, you just have to live with and remember it’s there. This can happen with old camera’s and when this starts to appear you should start looking for a new camera as the sensor is reaching the end of its life.
Another cause of Dead Pixels is lasers. If you have any devices that use lasers to create a dot or a laser thermometer, never point it at your camera. Lasers will burn out multiple pixels, and if this happens you have turned your camera into a paperweight.

Camera Problems: Grain and Compression Artefacts
Image 3: ISO Grain

Image 3: ISO Grain

A big problem in low light photography is the grain, it not only makes your image look bad, but it can also create false positives through the phenomena of pareidolia. Your brain will pattern match the grain when it sees something it thinks could be a face.

More grain comes in when you bump up the ISO of your camera, anything above 800 ISO is going to start introducing problems. See Image 3. And the higher you go the more problems you will have. [5] In most cameras, especially mobile phones it defaults to automatic mode and you have no control over the ISO. You need to move it to “Pro” or manual mode so you can take control of the ISO and reduce grain. However, this can mean long exposure shots that introduce even more problems we will investigate later.

Grain is less of an issue if you can shoot RAW or DNG format images on your camera, as compression and bad image enhancement bring even more artefacts into low light photography. [6] When out on an investigation always try to shoot your images in RAW or DNG formats as this will eliminate compression problems and give you exactly what the sensor saw with no filters or in-camera manipulation.

Grain, Compression, and low light are a perfect storm for pareidolia, this will have you seeing faces everywhere. Which are almost always false positives and should be disregarded.

Camera Problems: Filters and Night Mode the BIG OOF

When you first get a camera, learn how to turn off all image enhancements, this includes night mode and HDR. Anything, where your camera fixes, alters or repairs an image, is prone to unpredictable results and many false positives.

Beauty filters are quite common in selfies, and people leave them turned on all the time. Beauty filters look for something it thinks is a face and enhances it to try and make it look better. Note the words looks like a face, it can enhance patterns in curtains or anything that it thinks is the right configuration. This can make mundane things look even more like faces. So, turn off the Beauty Filters.

Night Mode or whatever the camera manufacture calls it and HDR mode are unreliable for any kind of paranormal investigation. Turn them off! The way these modes work is they take multiple images at different exposures and kind of mash them together. This brings in problems as anything moving through the frame quickly can create a ghost image or series of ghost images. So be safe never use these modes for an investigation.

Many cameras and phone cameras have hidden filters, “Yes you Apple!” which are image enhancement to make up for poor sensor performance and resolution. The results usually being unpredictable. You can never be sure if why you have captured is an artefact of this manipulation or not. If your camera or phone camera can soot in a RAW or DNG format use this as it bypasses any of the filters the manufacturer puts in there. If you have an iPhone do not use it at all for ghost investigations, it is well known for image manipulation and it cannot shoot RAW or DNG images. Buy the cheapest camera you can that does this.

Photographer Problems: Slow Shutter Speed
Image 4: Slow Shutter Speed

Image 4: Slow Shutter Speed

One of the biggest problems with taking pictures in low light is motion blur or streamers from bright lights. This is not a fault with the camera, it usually because your running in some form of automatic mode, and the camera sets the shutter speed too slow. If you are not expecting this, you will end up moving the camera before it has finished taking the photograph, this results in streamers. See Image 4. If your setting are really messed up it might trigger the flash as well leaving ghostly images and double exposures. See Image 5. If you can, never use auto mode, always set your camera to full manual. It might take a little more time to get used to it, but the end result will be predictable and not a hot mess.

Image 5: Slow Shutter and Flash

Image 5: Slow Shutter and Flash

A shutter speed of 1/60th and a steady hand should be the minimum unless you are on a tripod. Then anything about 1/10th is going to have serious motion blur on anything that moves. You need to balance shutter speed with ISO to get good low light images. However, you are battling two problems, motion blur and grain issues. There is no best solution to this, even the best cameras in the world run into this issue eventually. You can get a dual native ISO camera these days which will work much better for low light shots and reduce the grain in your images. Pushing these to their limits will still result in problems.

Photographer Problems: Pepper’s Ghost
Image 6: Reflection in Glass

Image 6: Reflection in Glass

This is simple, do not shoot through a window, glass, or mirror. You will inevitably get reflections from these surfaces, of yourself and anything around you. See Image 6. If you want to shoot what is on the other side of a window, open it or go outside.

This comes into the territory of Pepper’s Ghost [7] whereby glass and bright lights are used to project an illusion of a ghost on stage. Though shocking in the 1860s, today it is just bad photography and should be avoided at all costs.

What can you do?

The best advice we can give you is to join a local photography club and ask questions, some of these clubs offer short courses for beginners. You can also enquire at any local college to see if they do a short photography course. These should give you an understanding of the basics of camera operation and photography and will improve your ghost hunting photography a lot. We would rather see 1 good ghost photo every 6 months that 600 ghost photos a week.

Below are more images, of Camera Problems:

Example 1: Streamer due to Slow Shutter100% Proof of the ParanormalExample 2: Pepper's Ghost100% Proof of the ParanormalExample 3 Laser created dead pixels100% Proof of the ParanormalExample 4: Slow Shutter Speed and dancing lights100% Proof of the ParanormalExample 5: Slow Shutter and Streamers100% Proof of the ParanormalExample 6: Slow Shutter and moving person,

[1]West Midlands Ghost Club – https://westmidlandsghostclub.blogspot.com
[2] Savage Thrills, Stop blaming your gear for bad photography https://savagethrills.com/artdesign/10-talented-photographers-who-use-crappy-cameras/
[3] Vladimir Koifman, Omnivision Explains Image Ghosting Causes http://image-sensors-world.blogspot.com/2014/05/omnivision-explains-image-ghosting.html
[4] Jason Fitzpatrick, How to Identify Stuck Pixels and Remove Them from Your Digital Photos https://www.howtogeek.com/194866/how-to-identify-stuck-pixels-and-remove-them-from-your-digital-photos/
[5] Attila Kun, ISO Sensitivity https://www.exposureguide.com/iso-sensitivity/
[6] John Urban, Understanding Video Compression Artifact https://blog.biamp.com/understanding-video-compression-artifacts/
[7] Brianne Christopher, Explaining the Pepper’s Ghost Illusion with Ray Optics https://uk.comsol.com/blogs/explaining-the-peppers-ghost-illusion-with-ray-optics/

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