Sunday, May 9, 2010

This last weekend was an incredibly interesting one.

It started off great with an Investigation at a local Business.

What made this investigation more interesting than normal is I got to use a new piece of equipment. An IR (Infrared) DSLR camera with a combination of an IR Filtered Speedlight.

Neither of these are new technologies, and certainly many investigation groups use IR cameras, regardless I felt lucky to use such Unique equipment in the form of a Professional level DSLR and Speedlight.

A colleague of mine let me borrow his Nikon D1X that he had modified to become an InfraRed. Now, believe it or not almost all Digital cameras are sensitive to the IR spectrum, all it takes is the removal of an IR filter over the imaging sensor; which is a complicated but fascinating process. (Without a doubt I would NOT recommend you try this yourself, many places will do this for FAR LESS than the cost of a new DSLR, which is mostly likely what you will need if you try this without expertise.)

You can see the differences between the modified D1X and stock Canon 5D.


Now switching to IR doesn't automatically allow you to see in the dark, all the rules of exposure still apply, it just allows you see a lower (less visible) spectrum. The same way a dog can hear sounds inaudible to humans.

To compliment this great piece of technology, I was able to modify a Speedlight with an IR filter, leaving me with a nearly invisible flash. I am completely impressed, it all functions the exact same, TTL even worked! Most important is I was able to almost perfectly Autofocus in the pitch dark thanks to the Speedlight's AF matrix.

Without a doubt this is the most effective tool for low/no light photography.

Making this filter was surprisingly easy. I started off with a roll of unexposed then developed 120 E6 film. If you do this, don't use 35mm, 120 is definitely the way to go as the 6X7 ratio almost perfectly matches the size of modern flash lenses. From there I sandwiched two pieces of film together, and then secured them to a housing with cardboard. A roll of electrical tape later and I had a slick filter.

You'll notice the filter is visually opaque, this is good. It is only allowing the lowest spectrums of light to pass through, so what's left is a dim red burst when the flash gets fired. WAY better than the blinding strobe that normally is used in the dark.

Now to the Field test!

The investigation was at a location that is beyond belief. It huge 5 story building that has had many different inhabitants but is currently a business. The majority of its life was as a Masonic Hall, though other businesses utilized different floors simultaneously. At different times they had a concert hall, theatre, department store, and the basement acted as a Morgue at least for a short time. Much of the Masonic ornamentation and decorations are left intact.

The Paranormal accounts surrounding the place range from Footsteps, Apparitions, Music, Movement, and more.

This is our second time there and we were very happy to be asked back. The IR camera allowed me a discreetness never before available.

Before you look be aware that the images have a strange hue because of the camera and speedlight. The ones with a red hue were generally made without a flash or when the light source overpowered the strobe.

Main Hall

Ceiling of Main Hall

Funny decoration found on a balcony over looking the Main Hall

Light Pod above "Crystal Room"

Old Elevator Motor

At the entrance to the tunnel they transported bodies through (now cemented up)

Elevator Interior

No matter what floor we were on the elevator seemed to follow us. We'd be sitting in silence and hear the familiar "ding" followed by the doors creaking open. What is strange is how sporadic it was, it wasn't happening at intervals or cycling through the floors. It was like someone having fun pushing buttons.

For this shot I happened to be right around the corner so ran towards the opening doors snapping my camera. Unfortunately, no one was there to greet me...that I could see.

A few minutes later it happened again, and so I had the idea to jump in and see where it would go. Thankfully two team members got in with me, but the elevator wouldn't move.

I'd like to try that again though.

Tablet inside the "Casket Room"

Another incredible find. This is a room off of a library about as big as a closet, covered in faux rock texture. I am no expert on Masonic ritual but I do know it can involve a lot of symbolic references to death. This was the room where we believe a Candidate would sit to contemplate the commandments, and at some point a Casket containing a Skeleton (real or fake) would be lowered from a trap door above ready to greet the poor man once his eyes acclimated.

In the floor above, the trap door is still visible. The spot is covered with newer floor tiles.

All in all...a Great weekend.

If you're curious to see some "Correct" images of the location, several can be found in a post made about a year ago.

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