Night Vision vs. Full Spectrum

You may have heard the term ‘full spectrum’ with regard to ghost hunting cameras and video much the last few years. But you’ve had your night vision camera by your side for many years and don’t see a need to switch up. It gets a good picture and that’s all that matters, right. Well, sort of.

What is the difference? Let’s talk about what night vision is…

Night vision, in basic terms, means it sees infrared light (or IR). If you have a camera from years ago with ‘night vision’ or ‘night shot’ it may have a small infrared light on the from of it that allows you to see a few feet in the dark. You may not even see the IR light on the front because it’s invisible to the naked eye. Night vision is cool. It allows you to see in total darkness. But what are you actually seeing? Answer: infrared. That’s it. Only infrared. Most off-the-shelf infrared cams filter out all light so that it can focus on the IR light. So that’s all your getting. It’s akin to putting blinders on a horse. Though it gives you a way to see IR int he dark, it removes the ability to see other light. You do not actually see (most) visible light or ultraviolet. Heck, some night vision cameras even use such a short band of IR that you’re only seeing just a small portion of IR. Yeah, it can get confusing. But, with this, we can suffice to say that IR is very limited in your ability to document light anomalies on an investigation.

Enter: Full Spectrum

Now on to full spectrum. In simple terms, full spectrum refers to the concept of being able to see more than we can see with our naked eye. This means being able to see visible light, infrared and ultraviolet. On one end of the spectrum is Infrared (or IR). On the other side we have Ultraviolet (UV). Cameras can be modified through adjusting or removing filters to see deeper into either end of the spectrum. This conversion, allowing us to see deeper into both IR and UV, is referred to as Full Spectrum.

Camcorder-DXG-FullSpectrum-View4There are different methodologies as to what constitutes good Full Spectrum. In some cases the filter is removed entirely thus allowing all light in. Other methods involve replacing the filter with something that will see IR and UV but filter out visible. I consider the latter (where visible light is blocked) as a multi-spectrum modification, not Full Spectrum. As the term suggests, while you are allowing light outside of visible in, it is not a full spectrum if you’re filling out any potential existing light. It’s like taking off a horse’s blinders so he can see better only to replace them with another pair that blinds differently. Hope that makes sense. I like analogies. While this method may be practical for daylight uses where bright visible light can overpower the IR and UV this is not an issue when conducting low light paranormal investigations in the dark. Since ghost hunting and paranormal investigating is typically done in the dark, you need all the light you can get.

Flexibility of Full Spectrum

Here’s my favorite parts of using a full spectrum camera: you can use any light. Since a night vision camera cuts out anything other than IR the only light source you can use with that type of camera is infrared. That’s it.

With full spectrum, it sees (just about) everything. So, if you want to be covert and use infrared only. Go for it. If you want to use a bright white light. Pop it on. You’ll blind all your fellow investigators and they may unfriend you on Facebook, but it would work. Use an ultraviolet light. It’ll work too. But if you want to take full advantage of a full spectrum cam, use a light that has a full range of infrared, ultraviolet and visible light. One that switches between IR only and full spectrum is perfect so you can use what you need as you need it without swapping out lights.

Sure, there is much more to the science of light and the spectrum in which it resides. But I hope this helps illustrate what the difference is between night vision and full spectrum and how full spectrum is a far better solution for your investigations.

 

– Shawn Porter
More info on Shawn at www.Shawn-Porter.com

EVP Waveform

Electronic Voice Phenomena

Any seasoned ghost hunter will have plenty of stories about odd equipment malfunctions, but EVP Recordings fall into an unusual category.

EVP (Electronic voice phenomena) are electronically captured sounds that seem to resemble human speech, but occur in parts of a recording where no human speech should exist. Usually, EVP sounds are short, only a word or two, but longer EVPs have been recorded in recent years.

Earlier generations of ghost hunters simply ignored the “static and background noise” and usually assumed that the more obvious EVP were caused by equipment malfunctions.  However, better microphones and digital recording equipment and digital editing programs, such as Pro Tools and Final Cut Pro, have made it possible for ghost hunters to more closely examine these sounds and have opened up the world of EVP recording to serious ghost hunters.

Most paranormal investigators assume that EVPs are a form of communication from ghosts or other entities existing beyond the physical realm of existence, usually as a form of post death communication.  However, sometimes, particularly in the case of shadow men and demons these EVP recordings are not so friendly.

Some people claim there are natural explanations for EVP recordings such as apophenia (finding significance in insignificant phenomena), auditory pareidolia (interpreting random sounds as voices in their own language), equipment artifacts, and simple hoaxes.

Recordings of electronic voice phenomena are often created from background sound by increasing the gain (i.e. sensitvity) of the recording equipment.  Seeking out EVP recordings is probably the most technically challenging area of ghost hunting, because many, perhaps most, EVPs are recorded when the investigators heard and saw nothing out of the ordinary.  Your equipment needs to be good quality and you need to really understand you equipments strengths and weaknesses to get good results.  Also, it really takes patience.

A Short History of EVP

EVP’s were know to sound engineers from the earliest days of recorded sound, but they were generally ignored as mistakes or anomalies. Some paranormal experts were curious about the unexplained sounds and during the early 1900’s many scientists and researchers, including luminaries such as Thomas Edison, attempted to build devices that would capture spirit impressions electronically, with much difficulty and disappointing results.

However, it was not until 1959 that Friedrich Jurgenson, a Swedish film producer and artist, began to seriously investigate EVP as a unique and separate phenomenon. Jurgenson was tape-recording bird songs in the countryside, when on playback, he heard a voice discuss “nocturnal bird songs.” The voice was male and the language was Norwegian, and at first he thought it was interference from a radio broadcast.

Nonetheless, Jurgenson made other recordings to see if the same thing happened again and this time he heard numerous voices when listened to his recordings. The voices shocked him, some gave personal information about Jurgenson, plus instructions on how to better record EVPs.

At first, word of Jurgenson’s discoveries did not have a major impact, but as the price of electronic recording equipment fell and the reliability and capability of the equipment increased many paranormal investigators began to examine EVPs.

Many of the early researchers were engineers and electronics experts who devised sophisticated experimental equipment for capturing the voices, but what makes EVPs so fascinating for modern part-time ghost hunters is that today anyone can buy much more sophisticated and reliable equipment than the early researchers had for less than $100.

EVP Rating System

In 1982, Sarah Estep developed a rating system for EVPs: Class C are the faintest recordings, sometimes indecipherable; Class B voices are louder, clearer, and make more sense; and Class A voices are clear, can be heard without headphones and can even be duplicated onto other tapes. This system gives a new researcher a way to describe the EVPs he discovers to others in terms they will understand.

EVP’s are one of the easiest and most exciting phenomena for any beginning paranormal investigator to examine. With the right equipment and a little patience you should not have any problem recording unexplained sounds and noise.