Is it paranormal or is it just slow shutter speed?

Are blurry apparitions really ghosts or is it really a slow shutter speed?
Sarah Chumacero
2nd April 2017.
General, Stuff paranormal investigators need to know.
527 page views.

Most people that are investigating or attending ghost tours or even just at an alleged ‘haunted’ location just for kicks are probably doing it at night time. This however can cause all sorts of problems if you are planning on shooting photos. Do you find that when you are taking photos in the dark or low light without a flash your camera struggles to focus? Are a lot of your images blurry? This because your camera is operating at what is called a slow shutter speed.

What is a shutter and why does it’s speed matter? First let’s talk about actual cameras a DSLR which are all the rage now. Think of the shutter as a little curtain that sits in front of the lens of your camera. The curtain opens and closes and decides how much light you let into your shot. The longer the curtain is open, the more light it lets in. One can easily assume that when it is daytime for example and there is lots of light outside, the curtain doesn’t need to be open for long to let in enough light. If it is dark, the curtain will need to be opened longer so that there is enough light in the shot. This brings us to what we call ‘shutter speed’. This relates to the amount of time that the curtain is open. When it is open for a fraction of a second, it is considered to be very fast and takes a very fast snapshot of what is happening. A fast shutter speed is excellent for taking shots of fast moving objects like a car moving or a person running. Because it is only open for a fraction of a second, even though your object is moving, it will appear to be sharp and will not be blurry. A lot of people have their own opinions on what they consider to be a ‘safe’ shutter speed where things will not be blurry, however I am going to go by the speed taught to me in my photography course. This is 1/60. Anything slower than this, means that if the person you are taking a photo moves slightly, the shutter is open long enough that they can come out looking blurry. Obviously the longer the shutter is open, the more likely it is for this to happen and the more noticeable the blur is. It is also recommended that if you take a photo using a shutter speed of 1/60 or slower, that you use a tripod, as the person taking the photo can cause what we call ‘camera shake’. You can also shake the tripod as well unless you have invested in a really expensive stable tripod so we go even further to say turn use a lens with an image stabiliser and use a remote to fire the shutter or a timer on the camera. This is the only way to be sure there is no camera shake (unless there is a perfectly timed earthquake but what are the chances?). In a nutshell if the camera is not completely still when the photo is taken, again your subject could end up on the blurry side.

Smart phones are also a really popular tool for photos and almost everyone brings one to a location to snap a few shots. It brings a whole new complicated element to the table that can be difficult to understand as it doesn’t have a shutter as such. A phone camera doesn’t have moving parts like a DSLR has. It has an image sensor instead. This image sensor activates for a certain amount of time, which determines how much light these sensors turn on for. It is the same concept as above, just works a little differently. If it is dark, the sensor will need to be activated longer so that there is enough light in the shot. Some phones do allow you to adjust the shutter speed, some you have to get apps for, but most people using a mobile phone, will not be adjusting their shutter speed (I know I sure don’t). You can get really technical if you want to, but you are probably already aware from personal experience, in low light, these do not function well at all. They find it difficult to focus and sometimes it seems to take a couple of seconds for the phone to take the photo after you press the button. This means it is using a very slow shutter speed and the subject is usually pretty blurry (even though the flash will still fire if it is set to on or auto). The other problem with mobile phones is that unless you hold them completely still, you will get the ‘camera shake’ element. How many times have you had to retake that selfie because it was blurry or someone in the shot has moved? Another thing that can happen is that there can be a build up on phone lenses. Front facing lenses are the worst for collecting oils from your skin or make up. Do you notice that you are cleaning your lens because things are coming up a bit blurry? Think about a combination of all of these things too. There is a lot to consider.

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