Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Decided to Become a Paranormal Investigator, Now What? Part II

By Scott Wolf

Let’s re-cap a bit from Part I. You now know that being a paranormal investigator can be very time consuming. You also know that it is a good idea to talk to your family and significant others about your choice to become a paranormal investigator. Next, I discussed not investigating in your own home and how it’s not safe to rush and investigate on your own. Finally, I talked about how important it is to educate yourself in all things paranormal before you meet your first team. Now, let’s talk about one of my favorite things, equipment.

If you do a search, on the internet, for paranormal equipment or ghost hunting equipment, you’re going to come up with all kinds of results from eBay, amazon, online paranormal stores, and even individual groups that sell equipment. 

You will find every type of equipment imaginable. From the basic K2 to thermal (FLIR) cameras that cost thousands of dollars. While a thermal camera is very cool and many investigators would love to have one, you’re new to all of this so, let’s start out with the basics.

Before I go into the “basics,” let me tell a little story why it is important to start here. A while back our team went to an event that allowed new investigators and experienced investigators to investigate in one incredibly historic location. Everyone was broken up into groups. Our group consisted of our entire team as well as some new to investigating. When we arrived at our second location we were all forced to stay in a relatively small area. I noticed one of the less experienced investigators with us had a relatively advanced piece of equipment. It was obvious to us that the person wasn't exactly sure how to use this equipment. At one point one of our team members had to explain to them why it was doing what it was doing. At another point an alarm on the device began to go off and this person had no idea how to turn it off. It was very distracting to the rest of us and, I am not sure if the person knew it or not, but it was taking away from their own experience. That's why it is better to start out with the basics.

I understood why this person bought this device. It was cool and we all want to show up for an investigation with a cool piece of equipment. I was the same way when I first started. Lucky for me, I couldn’t afford much so I was forced to start out with the basics. What I didn’t know at the time was that was the best thing I could have done for myself.

So, what are the basics? Our group asks all our investigators to start out with a minimum of four pieces of equipment. We ask that they have a flashlight, a digital voice recorder, a digital camera, and some sort of EMF (electro-magnetic Field) detector. 

The flashlight doesn’t need to be anything special. I would suggest that you find one that has white, red, and or blue light. Red or blue light is easier on the eyes when the lights are out. You can buy a handheld version or one like I carry that has a strap that fits around your head. It is one less thing you need to carry.

Just about any handheld voice recorder will work. There are a lot of companies that make them. Just make sure that you can connect it to a computer so that you can download your audio files. A recorder that has the capacity to record 1GB of audio would be more than enough space for any investigation. Just as long as you delete the audio off your recorder after you download it to your computer.

If you own a professional camera set-up, by all means, bring it with you on an investigation, so as long as you know how to use it and it won’t disrupt your ability to investigate. If you don’t, a normal digital camera will do just fine. I would suggest doing some research about settings and taking pictures during an investigation. I would also suggest that you learn some of the conditions that can cause your photos to contain what you may think is something paranormal when actually it is something normal like reflection, refraction, dust, or improper settings causing anomalies in your pictures. 

Finally, we have the EMF detector. You can spend anywhere from $25-$200. I wouldn’t suggest the $25 model. It is very limited in detecting EMF. I also wouldn’t suggest spending $200. That is overkill for a new investigator. Your best bet would be to start out with a K2 meter, which costs about $60-$65. If you’re able to spend a little more money, I would highly suggest you purchase a MEL Meter. The basic MEL-8704R measures EMF and temperature. It is highly accurate and will filter out a lot of the natural sources of EMF. It will run you about $100. This device takes a little time to get used to so, you will want to mess around with it before you use it on an investigation. It’s really not that difficult to use. It is one of my favorite devices because it is so accurate and it was built specifically for paranormal investigations.
K2 Meter

MEL 8704R Meter

Once you get all of your equipment, learn how to use it! Don’t go out on your first investigation and fumble around with your equipment. Your first priority should be learning how to investigate. You can’t do that if you are spending 20 minutes worrying about how to turn your voice recorder on. Now that you have your equipment, it’s time for the most important step to becoming a paranormal investigator, finding a group.

Finding a group, in your area, that you would like to join may be one of the most important things you do on your journey. At this point you need to ask yourself what kind of group you want to join? In my opinion, there are two basic types of groups that would take on brand new investigators. 

One group investigates the paranormal in order to have experiences and capture evidence. This group will typically investigate places like hotels, businesses, and other public places. They may occasionally investigate residents, but that isn’t necessarily the primary goal. 

The other group is primarily concerned about investigating residents and helping people. This group will also investigate hotels and businesses, but this isn’t the primary goal. Our team would be in this category. We focus on helping people first, but we do enjoy going out and having the experience to be able to investigate some of the more well-known locations.

Once you have an idea about what kind of group you would be interested in joining, do a search, on the internet or Facebook, of paranormal groups in your area. Read their pages over and find out what their mission statement is. If there is a section with details about their investigators, you may want to read it to get an idea what the members are like. Another thing you may want to look at his how often the page is updated. If it hasn’t been updated for two years, they probably aren’t a very active group.

Once you find a group that interests you, look for contact information. If there is an e-mail address on the page, send them an e-mail and tell them that you are looking for a group to join. Let them know that you don’t have experience, but also let them know that you have some knowledge of the paranormal and that you own your own equipment. This will show you’re dedicated and despite your lack of experience, you will be willing to learn and do the work needed to become an investigator.

Another place to look for local teams, and this may seem strange, is Craigslist. Both of the teams I have been a part of have advertised on Craigslist and this is where we found a majority of our investigators. Look under “Groups” or “General” and you may find a group in your area that is looking for new members.

As I said before, this isn’t the end all be all for becoming an investigator but, I am very confident that if you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to becoming a great investigator. The rest just takes time, learning, and getting some investigations under your belt. 

So, you decided to become a paranormal investigator, now you know what to do. The rest is all up to you!

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