Tips for the Weekend Ghosthunter from Helen Pattskyn
Professional ghosthunters, like the folks from Motor City Ghost Hunters, use some pretty sophisticated—and expensive—equipment. Chances are, that’s more of an investment than the average person wants to make. The good news is that the weekend ghosthunter can get by—and still get good results—with just a few ghosthunting tools.
A good-quality digital camera is an absolute must, and the greater the resolution (the more pixels) the better. I use the camera that I bought a couple of years ago for vacations. It has the added bonus of being small enough to fit easily in my purse. I use rechargeable batteries—but always carry a backup set (except for that one time at the Baldwin Theatre, the one time I needed them!). It is commonly reported that batteries die and electronics stop working in haunted places.
A second indispensable piece of equipment, according to everyone I spoke to, is a digital recorder. Most digital recorders are small and inexpensive. All of the ones I looked at had a record time of several hours.
Digital recorders are used to pick up EVPs, or electronic voice phenomena. Paranormal investigators frequently seem to record sounds and even voices on electronic devices, even when no sounds or voices were heard by the team members themselves during the investigation. Many paranormal teams post these recordings on their websites, allowing visitors to decide for themselves whether the “voices” caught on tape are real or just white noise.
A digital camera and digital recorder were the only pieces of equipment I took with me on my adventures around the state, and I really only used my digital recorder a few times. I left it on all night when I stayed at the Blue Pelican—but if anyone was there, they didn’t feel like talking to me.
About the EMF Device
Probably the next most popular ghosthunting device is an EMF detector, which is used to detect electromagnetic fields. The theory is that, where there are ghosts, the electromagnetic fields “spike.” Other things can cause electromagnetic fields to jump, too, such as outlets and major appliances. So you need to have an idea of what’s in the area before jumping to conclusions. Natural and man-made (not paranormal) electromagnetic fields can cause people to have that same “eerie feeling” so many people get when they believe there are spirits nearby. Bearing in mind that you get what you pay for, weekend ghosthunters can purchase a decent EMF meter for $30–$50 from most larger hardware stores. More expensive models start at $100.
A couple of the paranormal investigators I spoke to recommend using a 35mm camera, preferably loaded with black-and-white film, as a secondary source for ghostly images. If you’re going out with a friend, it might be interesting to compare images taken with a digital camera and the good old-fashioned way with film.
If you’re more serious—or as you become more serious—you can purchase additional equipment for your ghosthunting arsenal. Full-spectrum digital video cameras are popular, as are night vision or infrared camcorders.
It has been suggested to also document your adventures with pen and paper—or maybe start a ghosthunting journal or blog.
Helen Pattskyn is the author of Ghosthunting Michigan.