While you won’t have to shell out cash for any kind of certificate or degree, you may have to spend a few dollars on equipment. If you plan on successful investigations, you should plan on investing in some quality equipment to record anything you see and hear.
First off, a video camera with night vision is ideal. Normally, you’ll be conducting these investigations at night or in the early hours of morning when it’s still dark out. Just a few things to remember about cameras: DVRs have the advantage of being able to have multiple cameras being used at once and you can control the settings and speed; IR (infra red) illuminators are (obviously) helpful for recording at night because they use LED’s (light emitting diodes) to conduct the light so images can be easily seen. Sony is an affordable brand, but Flir cameras, which are typically more expensive, can capture thermal images. Since these start out at $30,000 a camera, maybe start with a Sony and work your way up.
Secondly, your standard digital camera. It should hold a minimum of 300 pictures. The next thing to remember is to always make sure the speed and flash are on the correct settings because the wrong ones can cause things to appear in pictures that weren’t there before. In a field like this, where it’s easy to assume and speculate, any information and evidence gathered has to be 100% accurate and shouldn’t be left up to chance. Having the camera on its manual setting will give you more control over the focus and keep the camera shutters from being open longer than necessary. Cameras with SLR (single lens reflex) will allow you to set the aperture to let the maximum amount of light when there is dim lighting (a common occurrence on these late-night missions). ISO’s should be set between 400-800 and shutter speeds at about 1/60 seconds. Sony offers some great models at an affordable price.
The next tool is a digital recorder for audio. Not only will you be taking pictures, you’ll want to record any sound that may occur while you’re poking your nose into supernatural business. What you’re looking, or listening, for is called EVP or, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. The recorder should be placed in an open area so any voices or sounds come across easily. While investigating, any natural noises that occur should be noted so later when sifting through the audio you don’t mistake a natural sound for something paranormal. Afterwards, avoid doing anything to the audio besides slowing it down for clarifying purposes. Make sure anyone who is there with you listens to the audio later with no previous conceptions about what they might hear, i.e. don’t say what sounds you heard until after they’ve heard the recorded audio. This helps eliminate imagining sounds that aren’t actually there. Once again, Sony is your best bet here (anyone else noticing a pattern starting to emerge?).
Different types of audio include Class A’s, Class B’s, and Class C’s. A Class A audio recording would be something that can heard with no extra clarification (i.e. slowing down of audio or sharpening of sound). A Class B can be heard with some clarification, and a Class C is entirely unintelligible. Knowing the classes when listening to recorded audio can help when sorting through what’s usable and what’s not.
Moving on to the next one: an EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Meter. These are essential from distinguishing between man-made sources of electricity and natural sources of electricity. One great meter for this is called the Trifield meter, which can detect fields from microwave, magnetic, and electricity emissions. Bonus, it’s under $200. A higher-end meter known as the Mel-KII Hybrid meter includes a temperature sensor as well.
The last bit of technology you’ll need is a laser thermometers. These beat regular thermometers because they record all date logged and said data can be downloaded to a computer. You won’t have to worry about losing any temperature data which means you’ll have more brainpower to focus on the investigation at hand. Why do you need a thermometer? Commonly referred to as “cold spots,” these areas or rooms will have significantly lower temperature and are associated with paranormal activity.
We can’t forget about the basics, like notepads for taking notes during the investigation, flashlights for illuminating the darker areas, batteries (lots and lots of batteries) for all your battery-powered tools, and a first aid kit for any incidents that might happen.
One tip I’ve thought of as I write this: take a photography class. Take a multimedia class. Familiarize yourself with cameras, videography, and the software you’ll use to sift through all the date later. These classes will save you a lot of time, trouble, and money later. Besides, you’ll be gaining valuable, real-world skills while learning how to become a paranormal investigator.
Now, after spending all this money on equipment and all that time learning how to use it, the last thing you want is to break it while commuting to the investigation site. I ran into this issue after I noticed my equipment would slide around in the bed of my truck. I didn’t want to worry about finding my equipment broken in the bed of my truck once I got to a location. I did some searching, specifically “spray in bedliner Houston” in Google search engine, and found Hitch Pros Bed Liners & Truck Accessories. They were able to help me find exactly what I needed: a spray in bedliner. It shield my truck bed from damage while also creating a skid-resistant surface that keeps my precious cargo in place, no matter the bumps in the road.
Make sure your vehicle is outfitted to safely transport your equipment to and from any location, no matter how long, bumpy, or rough the drive may be. Just something else to consider as you purchase all the equipment needed to successfully collect data.