Photography and the Paranormal 101: Identifying False Positives Part 3
Courtesy of Topher Young (PSIRO)
After a long time away from writing these articles, I am back and will discuss common false positives mistaken for “vortexes”. So what is a vortex? In the lower levels of the paranormal research field, it is believed that is a portal to paranormal phenomena or a gate where paranormal activity flows in and out. Currently, there is no evidence that has suggested this to ever be true, unless of course you count the thousands of mistaken photos of common false positives. To help understand vortexes, here are a few common vortex photos that I will then explain as nothing more than a false positive.
They may look impressive, and to many people in the paranormal field, they ARE impressive. However, they are not paranormal. These photos above are far from it. The most common causes of vortexes are typically one of three variables.
Believe it or not, I see more camera strap photos being classifieds as paranormal vortexes than any other cause. One of the easiest identification markings for the camera strap is the recurring pattern of the weaving of the fabric. Almost all camera straps are tightly woven together using a nylon fabric of sorts. So how in the hell do people not notice a camera strap in front of the lens? Quite simply, given the conditions in which most of these photos are captured (aka the dark), most people are focused on what is going on past the camera, not what is happening with the camera themselves. Secondly, very few people actually bring their digital cameras to eye level anymore. With the implementation of point and shoot, investigators typically hold their camera around chest level or above head level, leaving their face completely available to notice anything else happening in the environment. Because of this, a camera strap moving in front of the camera if a quick snapshot is taken can easily be missed.
Camera straps are also fairly large in comparison the majority of point and shoot cameras, which is the most used tool in photographing claimed paranormal phenomena. If the strap is not secured or completely removed, within a fraction of a second and because of momentum from the movement of the camera, it can easily slip right in front of the lens and back out without ever being noticed. Here is an example of the size of the strap in comparison to a point and click camera. If you want to avoid this possible false positive altogether, remove the camera strap.
Hair and Threads
The second most common form of false positive mistaken for a vortex is that of hair and even thread (string). Unless you have been blessed with beautiful baldness like myself, you probably have hair on your head and in some cases all over your body. We all have hair. Some longer than others, and others are cleaner and more frequently washed. I will save sanitary habits for a completely different article however. Hair contributes to a great number of anomalies that are floating around the paranormal field. Surprisingly, many people still refuse to accept that hair was the culprit. Hair will often appear translucent and may even seem brighter and fade out and disappear on each end. This will depend on the angle of the hair in correspondence to the cameras flash.
In the example at the very top of this page (second image) you will notice the hair is not as transparent as the one above., except for the ends. Instead the middle is bright due to the location of the hair and the flash, which I suspect to be directly above the lens on that particular model camera. While you can avoid most false positives such as this by keep your hair pulled back, shaving your head, etc, but you can also pick up hair from other sources on your clothes which can still account for variables such as this (anyone with a significant other with long hair knows that you will find hair in the strangest of places). The best you can do is recognize the false positive and accept that it is more than likely explainable.
I hate thinking that there are spiders everywhere when I am doing research in the field due to my fear of them, however, it is impossible to ignore the potential of a spider being within close proximity. I have seen both videos and photos depicting spiderwebs that were misconstrued and confused as paranormal type phenomena. Spider webs can often look just like hair in terms of their reflection and transparency. However, if you happen to capture a larger part of the web that is out of focus rather than a single strand, it can start to look like a shape forming.
The photos above were taken from Malaysian Ghost Research who has taken some great examples of spider webs in two varying light conditions for comparison.
Avoiding spiderwebs may be something we all will do our best at, however, just like hair, cannot be completely avoided. It is better to recognize and deduce your evidence to an explainable nature, even the most probable one, than relying on assumption and wishful thinking to turn your evidence into a paranormal explanation when one is not warranted. Despite your experiences in the field, if a photo can be explained away easily, it must take the most probable explanation until sufficient evidence can support it otherwise. Paranormal research and photography is not just about capturing paranormal type phenomena. Know your equipment, know how to explain away your false positives, and accept that it can happen. Do you best to control your environment and leave no evidence available for argument. The moment you can provide clear cut evidence that something is not explainable and defies the laws of nature, that is the moment when you can label something paranormal.
*Reposted with permission from Topher Young