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How To Investigate - Tools & Techniques

How To Investigate - Tools & Techniques

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What tools do you need on a ghost hunt?

Some tools would be recommended for all investigations, others are needed according to the locations you are doing, the time of year and what the weather is like if it is outdoor.   An investigator really can do a vigil with a minimum amount of tools, just going with a simple voice recorder or MP3 player with record function, so he can make his observations.  Or he can even just take a notepad and in you go.   However if you want a more thorough record of your results we recommend the following list of items:

1. Tools

1. Warm Clothes in cold places.
If you are outdoors, or in a very cold place, or anywhere that could get cold you will need to wrap up warm, with a good coat and make it waterproof just in case it rains.  We have also found it can be a common phenomena that temperatures to appear to fluctuate in some so called haunted places, where investigators report feel cold or hot, so it is best to take warm clothing, whether that be caused by psychological or physical factors or not.

We find the best coat to use is one with lots of deep pockets, for carrying your torches and other equipment.

2. A small or light satchel or haversack bag - you'll need this for all your gear if you don't have many pockets and to take the more bulky items.  Something you can put over a shoulder or hip to carry easily

3. A good pocket torch, at least one per person.  Make it small so you can carry it easily without interfering with other equipment while you are holding it and easy to store in a pocket or bag.   We always take spares as sometimes batteries and electrical equipment has been known to fail for inexplicable reasons in such places.   Some folk use wind up torches, which are useful so you don't have to rely on batteries.   However some other members may complain at the noise these make, especially mediums or sensitives who sometimes get distracted by noise. You also have to realise you may well be winding them up every few minutes which can be an inconvenience, some wind up torches stay charged for just a few minutes.

4. Spare batteries: a must for all investigations, of the sizes of battery your equipment uses. AAAs for MP3 players and small devices or torches, AAs if you need them for other cameras and batteries. Don't ever assume because you have new or fully re-charged batteries that these will last on a ghost hunt, often this is the one thing that will tell you something unusual is going on at a ghost hunt: the batteries and equipment can fail whereas other times they don't! Again, I won't make any assumptions as to why this is!

5. If you have a digital camera, get yourself specifically good quality rechargeable camera batteries. Ones you buy in a proper camera shop that are much more powerful and hold more charge. Many times I have been on a ghost hunt and other members are complaining that their batteries have failed, no matter what make they have, and mine are still going from one investigation to another because I have proper Kodak batteries. Other brands are good too, but just look up the internet reviews on a type of battery to ensure they are good ones that will last on any camera.

And of course remember to charge them before you leave! A one-hour or rapid charger is best for a ghost hunter to have. And it's always worthwhile bringing this along too.

6. An MP3 player with a good voice recorder, or an all-in small voice recorder. Failing that a portable recorder like a dictaphone or small battery operated cassette recorder.

We have found this to be one of the most useful items to have on an investigation.   Different investigators use voice recording equipment for different reasons.  We have our MP3 recorder hanging around the neck of an investigator or a voice recorder switched on during the whole vigil, we just newly start the recording in different areas where we do each vigil at the location. We start the vigil with an intro saying where we are, the date and who is on the investigation with us, and the time the player starts.

We have found this invaluable for the following reasons:

(a) you then have an entire running record of the events of the whole vigil, what was said, the times and any knocks or feedback from other investigators. Often they will voice their experiences, and if something happens just get them to tell you straight away. You will know roughly when this happens and you can then scroll through the recording to find that part of the vigil and listen.

You will also find that after a vigil people forget the events, or memories change things. The MP3 recording doesn't forget, and will get everything accurately recorded and exactly what was said or happens. Speak into it and state what's happening if you see something and get others to do the same

(b) It's also a good thing to have if you are doing EVP testing. EVP is electronic voice phenomena. Some investigators believe a "spirit" can communicate by manipulating the sounds or white noise on the recording equipment, or produce sounds in answer to questions. You can ask questions during a vigil and ask the "spirit" to make a noise. Occasionally you could be surprised sometimes to find noises on the recorder at these times which were not heard at the time. I have also found that sometimes many members won't hear something, and one person will, - the voice recorder can pick up such sounds and determine if it was imagination or not.

In this case, again just scroll thru the recording to the time of that vigil and listen in.

If you are really keen, you may want to listen to the whole recording of the night to get every event that happened down cold, and you may also be surprised to find voices, whistles and noises on the recording, like we have on some vigils.

(c) EVP testing can also be done just by having the MP3 recorder or voice recorder recording for short times when you ask questions, to see if you get a response. That's if you don't have the patience to listen to the whole recording. Personally I find it useful to record the whole thing, and just fast forward to that section and listen in.

7. A good digital camera. Absolutely invaluable for taking shots when you think something may be happening, taking shots of "haunted" rooms occasionally produces inexplicable anomalies on the camera, and you never know, one day you may even capture an apparition on film. We take hundreds of photos during a vigil, we recommend you do to. Often you won't know what you've got till you go through them at the end at home on your computer, but it's fun to do so. It records the event, and you can always discard the shots that don't produce any results. Take lots of shots of each room during an event, and the people who are there.

8. a Night Vision camcorder & a tripod. Make sure it is well charged before you leave, that you bring the charger with you in case it runs out of juice (and again, this happens to all electrical equipment on occasion at these events), and plenty of empty cartridges or disks for your recordings. Learn how to use this equipment well before you go, practice using it in the dark. There is nothing quite so good as having evidence on camera of something you just can't explain, whether it be shadows or light anomalies. Again, you never know you may just capture an "apparition" one day.

9. An infra red light & extension arm bracket for your night vision camcorder: this has proven to be a make or break for our vigils on getting good recordings of light anomalies and odd phenomena.  This is a device that screws into the top of your camcorder, and giving off an infrared beam it extends the reach of your camcorder even up to 50 feet. Absolutely a must if you already have a camcorder and a worthwhile investment.   Even a good night vision camcorder usually has a small fraction of the power of these infra red exdenders, and often will only illuminate to a distance of 7 feet or so, & then only around a small area of the room.   The extender will light up the whole room almost as if the light is on.   However, you will need to purchase several of these, as the ones we have only last around 45 minutes and can take up to 3 hours to charge!   If you can find one that takes a AAA battery this would be best

10. At least one EMF meter. We recommend you take several  that you can place around a room in different locations.  We use the KII meter that has a light display to show if any surges in electro magnetic fields are occurring, and we also use a Guass meter which uses sounds and fluctuations in sound to indicate changes in the fields.  We also have other more basic EMF meters that we also place around an area.   Several types of K2 EMF meter are available, several are illustrated here.

We suggest you get the type of EMF meter that has a switch and doesn't require a thumb to be permanently pressed on the button to make it work. You may get good results, but you could  be accused of moving your thumb to make the meter react! At least you will be able to rule this out if it is the kind of meter, such as the later editions of the KII, which has a switch mechanism to make them stay operating. Failing that, you can securely hold the thumb button down by using a piece of paper or card inserted into the button to hold it down.  Don't just hold it down with your thumb as it is sensitive and even slight muscular movements can make it react.

On the right, and below are some of the EMF meters we have used. The one above right is a K2 meter operated by the thumb push-button.  These are OK to use, but it is better to jam something in the switch to keep the button held down rather than using it manually.   Some K2s that look like this have a switch mechanism in the button so they can be turned on and off without having to keep the thumb pressed down, these are better as they can be left on a surface without the investigator holding it, and so we can be sure the person isn't influencing it.   The other K2 below has a switch by which it can be turned on, and can also be used manually with the thumb button, so we prefer this one for vigils.   The white E.L.F-Zone meter pictured right is one we also use for more general EMF detection in an area and is good economical meter but this one isn't so sensitive so you will definitely need another to back it up, however we have found it useful for placing these in various remote areas of a room during a vigil.

The Guass meter is illustrated below right.  This is an EMF meter that will display the results of EMF using a needle on dial mechanism, and also using variations of sounds. The more EMF registered the higher pitched and louder the sound, low EMF register a few clicks whereas high registration will sound like a police siren, so guard your ears!

These can be used by pressing the side button to let the Gauss meter register higher range of EMF from 1mg to 10mg in milligauss, and thus the meter can be left in a location. However it is also a very useful meter for recording very low levels of EMF, as using the push button the meter will register EMF fields in the general background area that range from 0.1mg to 1mg. Hence, it is vastly more sensitive, and has proven useful to detect very fine levels of electro magnetism, which is useful if you are investigating the theory that spirits or ghosts can emit such fine levels, or affect areas of EMF in any way. All these meters are also very useful in detecting EMF fields which could otherwise explain phenomena that are naturally caused by electrical or magnetic fields from electrical devices or circuits, & not by ghosts.  Other investigators consider that spirits may be able to influence energy fields in a room and thus make the EMF meter read to communicate with those on a vigil & respond to questions or statements.  Hence the theor that the EMF meters, if sensitive enough, may be able to act as a medium for communications.   In our experience we have found strong evidence in support of this and have used the meters either to excellent results for apparent communication with spirits, - or else we have had some remarkable coincidences in getting accurate information about the history of a place from such readings of unexplainable EMF obtained while questioning and calling out to whatever spirits may be present.

In addition to the K-2 and the Gauss styles, there is also the Tri-field Natural EMF meter, pictured right, which can measure magnetic, electronic and radio/microwave fields, and is not influenced by electrics such as light sockets and electric cables,etc. This is a more pricey unit, but worth the money. 

Another good meter is the Lutron 822-A,which measures both in Tesla Units and Milligaus and is popular with many paranormal investigators who have given it very good reviews, and we have found it to be very sensitive and it also correlates with other meters such as the K2, so can be used simultaneously with these.   It is also simple to use as it has one button and two functions and is pocket sized.

11. Some investigators also use devices previously used by old time Spiritualists such as planchettes and do table tipping, or use pendulums and dowsing rods, and we have used these a few times.  We do have these to hand if needed for investigations as some members like to use them, however others of our team say the same about pendulums and divination glasses as they do of the push-button K2 meters: that these are also very susceptable to human influence and possibly even fraud, so tend not use them.   This is because the body can react to mental suggestions and commands even subconsciously and you could be accused of either knowingly & fraudulently, or unknowingly & subconsciously moving these items by tiny muscular movements.  We know from experimentation many people can "will" a pendulum to move the way they want it to, and even if there is absolutely no visible sign that the person is moving their hand this can be made to occur through minute movements of the hand and arm muscles. You may get good results with a pendulum or glass, but you will never convince any sceptics or those with a scientific outlook as you cannot rule out & disprove these possibilities of slight muscular movements, or even fraud if one of your members is pushing a glass.   You may trust your members implicitly, but you will not be able to convince others should you wish to, and you will not be able to rule out subconscious influence of the glass or pendulum even among yourselves.    

The rule we have is, if people with us on investigations want to use these tools or do other similar actions such as table tipping, using a planchette or glass, then of course we don't object and let them do it, as some people get a lot of satisfaction and fun out of such techniques and they produce some fascinating results especially when later we find there is historical or other data to confirm findings.   Many groups we have joined in vigils have successfully used these techniques for their own purposes, and we respect their use of them.   However for our own part our team don't use them, and where the physical investigation is concerned prefer other methods using instruments that can't be influenced by subconscious thought or tiny hand movements or outright fraud, or we try to minimize this if it is possible.   We do encourage our members to voice any mental impressions or sensations and perceptions they seem to be getting from an area, but we find this more convinicing if questioning, statements about such apparent psychic or mental perceptions are also coinciding with electrical, audio or other phenomena recorded on instruments and if the information received by the sensitives is later investigated and in some way found to be accurate.

12. Flour or talc and a trigger object.  Some investigators use this in places that are "locked off". These will be the places where supposed poltergeist phenomena has been reported, or objects have been moved. Put an object in place in the location (typically one which is related to the kind of place it is, or the kind of object the supposed "ghost" may be attracted to - a monastery could use a cross for example). Sprinkle flour around and underneath the object so you will see if it has been disturbed later on, or place it on paper and draw around it so you record its position.   Take photos of this set up to record what it was like when you left it, then lock the location so no one can access it. Several hours later go back and see if there are any changes. Even better, leave a night vision or other camcorder recording the set, so if anything is moved you will capture this on film. That would be a prize piece of footage!

Techniques & Procedure - Conducting a Ghost Hunt

13. A good static thermometer that you can see in the dark, and which will display the temperature in a location well. We find the best static thermometer to have an illuminator to be seen in the dark, which also displays the time.  There are more advanced thermometers which mke a recording of the temperature changes and times over a duration, which are even better if they can be afforded.   Also it is good to have at least one "lazer" thermometer.  These are both illustrated right and below right, one of these also registers humidity levels which may be useful as some reports of paranormal activity give accounts of steam or high humidity areas occuring spontaneously. Lazer thermometers can be temperamental, but they are useful if the temperature seems to drop or increase suddenly in a particular location, as with these you can point them at that location and determine the temperature in seconds using a lazer sensor. Lazer thermometers should be tested prior to your vigil, but are excellent if they are working well, as they are very portable and can be used in the dark as they often have a digital display with a light.

14. Motion Sensors.   Motion sensors(and barrier beams) are devices that create an infra red beam between two positions, which if interrupted will trigger an alarm or sounding mechanism to alert investigators that the beam has been crossed by movement.   These can be placed in a location of the vigil that may be locked off.(a stairway,the entrance to a room,etc).   They are useful in doing vigils in an area where an apparition is reported to regularly move, such as in a haunted corridor or stairwell area, and so the investigators attempt to record any unusual movement or unexplained traffic in these areas when they are locked off.   They must be locked off to prevent people from wandering into the locked off area and triggering the beam, either by accident or through wanting to fraudulently create "paranormal" phenomena. Before using them,get the Ok from the owners and make sure that there are no pets, staff or other people that could have access and wander into the area and set off the sensors.  For any investigation done with any locked off areas it is also a good idea to maintain control and knowledge of where all team members are & they are paired up, so you have evidencethat absolutely no one could have triggered off the objects or motion detectors.  

It also suggested to bring some sealing or duct tape if you are going to seal off an area, even marking the outside so you can see if it has been tampered with, if you want to be very thorough and prove no one has tampered with the doors.

We have two types which we use, one sets off a light when activated (the blue & white ones in the photo) and the black and silver ones sound a very loud alarm.  These last detectors are more useful if you are doing a vigil where the locked off area is more distant, so you can hear them from whereever you are.   Portable motion detectors can be purchased online or from an electrical store fairly cheaply.

15. Walkie Talkies.   These are useful to maintain communication and security if you are doing a large area where your team split into several groups, or where someone is doing a solo vigil.  If you have a large area or building, and you are in a vigil and hear a noise above, you can quickly communicate with the other group to ensure they have not just moved into the room above you, and to aid in investigating the noise you heard to see if there is a natural explanation.  For solo vigils, the investigator can have a walkie talkie so he can communicate with his team if he becomes scared or needs help, or to verify any noises he hears or phenomena is not being created from outside the room, above him etc.   They are also useful if you are doing an outside vigil and you need to make sure no one gets lost and you get your people back safely! Mobile phones are not useful on a vigil and should be excluded, as they have been known to emit EMF signals that can disrupt your readings, and also they are unreliable where there are no signals in an area.

16.  For cold places or long all-night vigils, a flask with a hot drink, and some refreshments to eat if it's a long vigil.   Sometimes these events can be quite draining both physically and emotionally, and remember they are often conducted at night when people tend to be less naturally energized, so it is best to organise breaks and refreshments at least once.  Occasionally people can find them stressful or psychologically taxing if they prove to be the sensitive or emotional sort (and you may not know this till the time, so be prepared).  Have food and drink around to keep people well fed and upbeat and energized.  If it's really cold, take an extra blanket along too. Have a break in the middle of the longer vigils to give your team a re-charge. Lack of sleep or food can make people "see and hear" all sorts of things in the dark or get emotional when in fact nothing paranormal is occurring at all.

17. Thermol Imagine equipment.  If you can afford this, it is a luxury to any paranormal investigator and a valuable piece of equipment.  These detect changes and differences in temperature in an area and display the results as an image using camera equipment.  The different temperatures display as colours to distinguish hot and cold spots. Somtetimes in haunted locations "cold spots" or "hot spots" are reported by those present, which sometimes cannot easily be explained, especially when they occur suddenly or in response to questioning or other phenomena.  The thermal imaging equipment has been known to show these spots and areas and record very interesting and possibly paranormal phenemena where such temperature spots and fluctuations can't be explained, and they provide an excellent record of such activity. However be warned that these are very expensive devices, you may want insurance and to monitor who is controlling them.

Others go with an impartial and open minded approach and pride themselves in being objective and scientific in their approach, simply to see what is there and experience the moment, whether they are generally believers or not.   So, between these various extremes you will find the whole gamut of ghost hunters, their attitudes and practices making every event a different night out.

We can only say that we are a mixed bunch, probably mainly consisting of a few open minded sceptics, with the rest being predominently believers who have had their own particular paranormal experiences and even sightings of apparitions & claim to have had communications with such that are very real to them, but who are sceptical of much phenomena until reasonable natural explanations have been eliminated.  Indeed we would say a large percentage of phenomena can be explained in natural terms or with logic, and we have often witnessed individuals scream their heads off at a creaky floorboard, shadow cast by a bird or animal or even a mobile phone sounding mid a vigil.   

Regardless of our beliefs, we try our best to be objective & logical and look at phenomena and try to rule out any and all possible natural explanations, but we are always excited and fascinated when we are unable to do so within the bounds of a reasonable level of probability and logic.  Just as the screamers will jump at anything and believe it is "paranormal", so we have seen some sceptics announce, very unscientifically, that a chair must have moved because a car passed by, or whatever else they dream up to explain away something they can't understand & are probably afraid of, or just sticking their head in the sand.   We also do not rule out phenomena such as photographic "orbs" captured in particular circumstances and are particularly interested if knocks, bangs, lights, "orbs" or sudden temperature drops occur coincidentally seemingly in response to direct questioning or together with EMF readings that are otherwise uncharacteristic of an area.   Sometimes these would defy the mathematic probability that they are pure chance, especially when repeated over some duration or when subsequent research reveals history to back up any result or apparent communication.   

 So, in summary we do our best to capture any such phenomena of interest and even better record or experience an actual apparition, verify that it is not naturally explained & attempt simulation to repeat any unusual occurance, and later research history to determine if the sensitives among us had any accurate perceptions of a place, or if the phenomena we recorded shows any possibility that we are "hot" on the trail of factual events or "cold" as a no goer.  However we are not out to prove anything to anybody, and do this mainly for our own fascination and interest, of which others may wish to share.

We have our own pattern of how to conduct a ghost hunt, successful actions and ones we have found unsuccessful, some of which you may find useful.  Often a vigil will take its own form and we cannot say there is a definite procedure for doing the vigil, but we tend to try to follow this basic procedure.  We have divided the procedure into 3 sections of the preliminary setups, the investigation itself, and the after-event research and collation of data:




A. Preliminary Set Ups
B. Conducting the Investigation

1. Choose your location.  You may want to do a particular place as you have heard it is haunted, had it recommended to you, or may need to search for an appropriate venue.  If you are doing a search, we recommend you find out how long ago phenomena occurred in the area, as an apparition or hauntings may only occur once every 20 years, which would make it quite unlikely to be active on your night.  Try to find places that have been active recently or that have had many reports of experiences. Go for places where many individuals have reported phenomena and who have not known each other, such as guests at an hotel who have repeatedly had similar experiences in a particular room.   Also, just because it has been on a popular TV show or had many paranormal investigators visit it already, don't assume it is haunted.  Quite often these places will produce the least active phenomena, and are all about hype and publicity.   Some investigators would say the more a place is visited and the spirits are communicated to, the less likely they are to stick around in any traumatic incidents associated with the place, or they will go on the theory that any residual energies could be discharged.

We would also say watch out for venues that actively promote their pub or hotel as haunted for commercial reasons "the most haunted pub" "more ghosts than any other castle" are often PR stunts to get more guests and business.   We have found the most genuinely haunted places often have managers or owners who are reticent to discuss their ghosts, frightened of the active pheneomena occurring, and wary that their ghosts may scare business away.

2.  Pick your location based on who you know will be there and the weather. No good doing a ghost hunt in an outdoor area if it is too wet or cold, or indeed dangerous to walk around at night with lots of mud or ice. Some of your investigators will be fit and tough, but others may be frail or disabled. Pick venues that will suit your team.

3.   Speak to the owner and get permission, act in accordance with them, and do a "recce" or a preliminary visit so you know exactly where you will be allowed to do vigils, and find out what the rules are.   Will they let you bring a kettle for refreshments and let you use the power they have, or do they only want you to use their own facilities?   Do they want you to stop the investigation by a particular time of night?   If it is an inn or hotel, are there areas where guests are sleeping that you need to avoid?   Will the pub be open very late and will a live band or disco, wedding party be playing loud music near your vigil area that could disrupt your evening?   Book the date that will be the quietest for you and the location.   We recommend you do get permission, as this means you are more likely to be invited back.  Owners often are very interested to know what you find.   If it is a hotel or ancient monument, be aware there are rules and laws about damaging such and don't let your team climb over the walls or features.  Maintain as good a PR and diplomacy as you can.

4.  Book well in advance, and give a reminder to the owner or management before you get there, just in case they forget and double book you!  Ensure everyone knows well in advance so they can get the funds together & book their diary, and that they know where to go, and what clothes and footwear to bring.  We also recommend you collect your deposit from each member before the event and don't give freebies, even when tempted.  If someone doesn't pay, they often are not as keen as other members and you only want people there who are serious about the event and who won't let you down. You also will find arranging a ghost hunt a very expensive business if folk don't turn up, as you will still have to pay the whole cost to the establishment.

5. Get your equipment ready. Ensure you have a checklist of all that you will need and tick this off as you go. Get all your cameras, batteries, camcorders charged.  Get a supply of spare 9v, AA and AAA batteries in case these discharge during the evening. Charge up any other equipment such as infra red lights and torches.   Ensure each person knows what to bring, don't assume they will bring all you expect them to and check before hand. It's easy to assume Jim will bring the camcorder, when Jim thinks Bob is bringing it!   Also ensure that each member brings what he needs to such as appropriate bags, clothes, and ensuring each brings a small non-wind up torch, as wind up torches need winding every few minutes and create noise during the vigils.

6. Arrive a bit ahead of time, meet the owner or management and get your equipment set up in a central area you can use as a "hub" or base. Then have one of your team conduct the "baseline tests", checking the areas you will investigate for any unusual EMF fields, any natural EMF surges such as you will find near electrical rooms or boxes, light and elecrical devices, or near power cables. Make a note of all of these areas before your vigil.  Make a note of flying insects in any areas where you will conduct vigils, and ask the owner if you can eliminate these if possible.  This is easy for a small room, but a larger room with lots of furnishings or fabrics may be more difficult as insects can be in folds of curtains or crevices.  It is important to eliminate insects if possible as these can cause lights or orbs to seem to occur on film or in flash photography.   Although we do note with experience they have a particular pattern of movement on film, it is still best to eliminate the possibility of them being mistaken as paranormal lights.

7. Obey all the rules about what areas can be visited. If possible, find out what areas are the most affected in paranormal terms, and concentrate the tests in those areas. EMF meters and laser therms will figure large here, so be sure to carefully record all figures, perferably on an a recording device and on paper. If told footsteps have been heard in particular areas, check for loose or creaking floorboards, water or heating pipes that may expand wood to create cracks and knocks,etc . If told an area has a lot of cold spots, check for drafts, loose window and door fittings.  Decide which areas will need locked off cameras, and find out if the owners will allow that those areas be sealed off for a certain time for locked off filming. Get permission to use motion sensors and barrier beams, as these can be very noisy and might disturb other patrons.  Look for the best spots to do solo vigils, if any are planned. Get as many photos of the site as possible, check for orbs, mists and other anomalies that seem to be heavy in any particular area. Make certain of the location of emergency exits, lavatories,and areas that might be problematic at night (little or no lighting, steep stairs, etc)

Also find out from the owner which areas are the most currently active and where they recommend a vigil should occur, but ask them not to tell you the history or details of the ghosts that have been seen until after your vigil

8. Also don't tell any of your team the history of the venue, and tell them not to research it.  Of course you cannot rule out that they won't, and some degree of knowledge is inevitable or you wouldn't have known it was haunted in the first place, but we find it is best to go in "blind" as much as possible. There are various theories that if group members know the history of an area then of course they are open to suggestion to experience phenemana in accordance with this.  That includes mental and emotional reactions.   It is also a test of any mediumistic or psychic abilities to see if people can detect mental impressions or psychic ideas about a place, and very interesting if these bear out with any actual history of a place.  Sometimes information is not on the internet or in books so this is the most fascinating to find after your event if someone has picked up on a particular story or says they see an apparition which matches a verified historical character connected with the place.  

If possible it is best that absolutely no one knows the history of a venue before you go, not even your "non psychic" people or "historians" or "researchers" if you assign such hats to a team member. The reason for this is one particular theory that psychic impressions about a place may not come from ghosts or residual energy in a building but from inter-telepathic connections between your team members or group rapport, so if one person knows then others could pick up on thoughts, or even covert suggestions and hints from that person, or more overtly he could be accused of telling them!   Just lessen the probability of any such factors by having no one know at all until after the event.  We have had vigils ruined by members doing history tours directly before a vigil, as then any mental impressions cannot ever be veritied as psychic, and are very likely to have been the result of pre-suggestion.

9.  Before you start the investigation, and preferably before you even arrive for your baseline tests, write & print out a time table of roughly where you will conduct your investigations, each room, any solo vigils and who will be in each area.  Place a large group into smaller teams and have one person responsible for controlling that vigil or group.   Make sure there is some order in the group, and organization to each vigil, including enough equipment for different areas.   This will also include ensuring that each member brings what he needs to such as appropriate bags, clothes, and ensuring each person brings a small non-wind up torch.    You should provide copies of your print out time table for each group or set of people doing the investigations so they are coordinated at the location & don't wind up interrupting each other.

1.  Just before you start your vigils, set up any locked off cameras & trigger objects in their locked rooms, and ensure no one has a key other than your trusted (preferably sceptic) monitor with at least one witness who can see how the room was left on leaving it, similarly you should have your motion sensors set before now.  Take pictures of the trigger objects or areas before you leave, and ensure your camcorder is set up so it can see the trigger object and the majority of the locked off area.   Then take your people to their areas to do their investigations.

2.  Once you have your team(s) get them to their locations as per your time table. On arriving first have one person who is more familiar with technical equipment and who knows how to use it go around and take another baseline reading of all EMF areas, temperature recorded in each part of the room, and note any areas with squeaky floorboards, and ensure windows are closed or locate any other source of draughts. Make a note if there is any electrical device or other mechanism which will activate at any set time (such as urinals that trigger every so often, fans or central heating devices).

3. Another immediate pre-vigil action is to ensure there are no insects flying around the room. This should have been done in the preliminary set ups, but check again before you start the vigil in case insects have entered the room in the interrim.   These may cause "orb" or light phenomena on film or with flash cameras, and be confused as paranormal, although experienced investigators will be able to recognise the movement of insects and such lights it is still best to eliminate them as a cause.

4. Ensure your person in charge knows exactly where other vigils are taking place, if there are any other people or animals present in the building and where they are. Know facts such as if anyone is upstairs or in adjoining rooms where noises can come from and otherwise may appear paranormal when they are not. If you are doing vigils in several areas at once, and especially in remote areas or outdoors then each team leader should take a tested walkie talkie and understand that they don't use it without very good reason so as not to disrupt other vigils.

5. Seat each person down or place them at different areas of the room.  Have people assigned to take temperatures mid vigil as needed, take photos, operate any EMF and a good cameraman on the night vision camcorder.   Place your EMF meters in varied areas around the room and so they are visible to those present. Make sure you do not put the EMF meters near any electrical devices or areas where EMF fields are likely to interfere naturally. Put them somewhere isolated from any wires and somewhere that your baseline tests have shown no EMF readings.

6. Have any mobile phones turned completely off, as these can generate EMF when they "report" and link up with their service providers.

7. Start your audio equipment, and announce to the recorder the venue location, the room you are in, date, time, who is present. Similarly ensure this is recorded when you have your camcorders started. This will be invaluable later when you are viewing your footage or audio recordings to look for your results & compile reports.

8. Have someone experienced who is basically in charge of the vigil simply because they will be calling out or asking others to do so, or conducting when the photos are to be taken. This doesn't have to be an autocrat or dominant person, it's just someone to monitor things and put in some basic level of control to avoid confusion during the vigil and to maintain some structure so people don't talk over the top of each other, "Too many chefs spoil the broth" is a good maxim for a vigil.  This person or his deputy should also be in general control of equipment such as torches, - each person should have a small torch for security purposes, but have it agreed that person in charge be the one who says when they get switched on during the vigil in normal circumstances.  You can announce these rules, and also tell anyone present if they feel scared or distressed to make it known so they can be assisted.

9. We recommend any pictures are taken before you start, let people settle into the room and familiarise themselves with it. Then put in a strict rule that during the vigil your camera operators and lazer therm users do not activate these devices without being asked and without warning. Otherwise, just as you are getting a result and seem to be possibly "linked" with a spirit as can happen, or your sensitives are coming up with something, you will find people start taking photos and flashing their lazer therms and this can totally disrupt the communication you may seem to have.  Ensure your "In Charge" sets these rules for the vigil at the start.

10. Some investigators and ghost hunters do "protection" rituals, and if you want to do this then do it at this time at the beginning of a vigil, or at the start of the whole investigation.   Not every group does this and it is entirely up to the belief of those present. The protection actions are usually conducted by psychics, Spiritualists or others who believe those present can become susceptable to negative spirits, entities or energies if the vigils are not done with such protection in place. Sometimes a prayer is said, or runes and crystals are used, or other mental visualisation activities.  They would say that by conducting vigils or seances in a haunted area where vulnerable people are dabbling in the paranormal, lower order entities or spirits with negative intent or energies may latch onto sensitive people, or affect them mentally, or in extremes even follow them home and continue to affect their lives possibly even making them ill.   Others who do not have such beliefs may do this protection action simply because it will give those present a psychological boost and confidence, and may regard such rituals as a form of positive thought suggestion that can assist to make the vigil a positive experience. Still others don't do it at all.   Some people also wear talismans, crystals or runic symbols.  With our own vigils we simply allow people to do what they feel they should do or protection may occur if those present wish it, as it is all down to religious belief.   Some of our members wear crystals or runic items, but usually we do not tend to do these procedures ourselves as a group and have not encountered any problems from our investigations regardless of the religious beliefs of the members, so long as there is a positive attitude involved.

11.   Ask those present to speak up if they see, hear or smell and sense anything during the vigil. However if they see an apparition ask them to just say they saw something, and if anyone else saw it at the same time then ask them to write down what they saw so you can compare the reports without them having conversed and come to an agreement of the event. This is invaluable in getting evidence and eliminating group-suggestion and shared memory.   It is worth having your notebook to hand with the team leader for accounts to be written if this should occur.   It can be useful for each member to have a small pocket notebook & pen for this purpose.

12.  Once everyone is settled, we turn the lights out and usually have about 10 minutes or so of absolute silence, and the members are encouraged to use whatever senses they have to perceive the room and what is in it.   Sensitive people or those who seem to be psychic may perceive things that others don't.   After this time period we ask each member to report what they have perceived, and it may also be useful to have them write their experiences in their notebook beforehand.  This is interesting to get each member's experience of the room or area, its atmosphere or any perceptions of the history they may sense or pick up about the room, which can be verified later on during research or with the owners if they are the only ones who know.   During the vigil we encourage all members present to keep all their senses tuned and just attempt to perceive anything that is in the room or area, noting any sights sounds or smells, and to tell the person in charge or announce it to the group should they sense anything like this.

13. The person in charge, or someone he assigns is then asked to "call out".   Sometimes this person calling out can change, as occasionally any phenomena will seem to occur in response to a particular member more than others.  Start out with one person doing it and circulate around the other members to find out if this occurs.  Otherwise, have someone experienced to call out, or someone willing as not everyone likes to do it.   The calling out is along the likes of "if there is a spirit presence here, please can you give us a sign or communication that you are present" or "can you make a knock, or a bang, or a sound if you can hear or see us here?" or " can you try to let us know you are here in other ways, if you are able to then show us a light, a shadow, move something or make the temperature drop".   If you seem to get a response, keep on with it, using whatever medium the spirit or phenomena seems to respond to - ask for more knocks or bangs or lights to appear if that is what has started happening.  It is very very important not to change anything once it seems you have a link, as of course it may be difficult to establish it again if you break the link by changing something.  Once you have this link, also make sure your group members are as silent as possible and don't turn on their cameras to distract things.   Have your audio equipment placed near the caller to record all questions and any responses, as well as audio recorders elsewhere in the room.

14. Those organising the vigil and the person in charge should make sure all participants have something to do if they wish to. Don't force any member into doing anything they are not comfortable with (solo vigils,etc) and don't take them to task for refusing. Some people just want to sit in the dark and say or do nothing but watch and make note of the events.  Others will be bored and want to be more actively involved.  With people who want to be involved, you can assign different members to operate equipment such as one can be in charge of temperature readings, one can be standing and assigned to the doors to check corridors should sounds be heard and if the person in charge asks for an area to be investigated for noise or people present.  Another can be doing the camcorder filming.   Others can have cameras and be asked to take photos at set times or when asked by the person in charge. All members should be encouraged to participate in whatever way they feel they can or are willing to. Make sure they understand that if someone is talking or calling out, they should wait until that person is finished before speaking up,as too many voices at once create confusion. Let each member who wishes have a turn at using the equipment(EMF meters,etc)

15. Verfiy any phenomena that is occuring is not naturally caused. If you hear footsteps outside the door, have someone check to ensure someone isn't walking around. Use the person nearest to check it out, or a person brave enough and experienced to go and check all areas.  Ensure any lights are not caused by car headlights coming into the room, sparks from a fire, smoke alarms, electrical devices or other instruments.   If you hear knocks or bangs, ensure it's not just coming from pipes or heaters expanding wood.   If it is these things, you will generally not find your questioning to produce sounds coincident with the questions, as these sounds will be occurring randomly, but check the sources anyway as much as you can.   Verification may also involve contacting the other teams conducting vigils in the building to ensure it is not them causing any lights or sounds.

16.  As part of calling out, you can also tell any "spirits" what an EMF meter is, and encourage them to come close to such devices and see if they can influence them with any attention they can give it, ask them to make the "boxes" light up or sound that are placed round the room.  We have had remarkable results from this in areas we consider genuinely haunted, or at least have had many EMF meters reading in areas where no electrical equipment is present and no logical reason can be found for EMF readings that appear to happen in response to such questions.

Ask them to show themselves as a light if you take a photo of a particular area. At this point you can ask your people to take photos of the room, see if there are any "orbs" present.   However, you must assume these can be caused by dust or moisture, so continue to ask questions to see if these orbs can be consistent, - ask them to come and appear around a particular person, or area. Take the shots and see what you get.  We have been interested to take dozens of pictures with no orbs at all, then start taking them after asking these questions and have found them to appear on request, to such an extent to defy the laws of probability that these are caused purely by random coindental dust particles, so we have made note of such orbs in our reports.

17.   If someone says they feel cold (and you may get this if you ask the spirit to go near a person, or to make the temperature drop) have someone to hand to record the temperature. Static thermometers are useful so use these, they are very reliable and temperature should be noted regularly. Otherwise with particular people feeling colder or hotter, have your lazer thermometer operator take readings of such areas. Preferably you have taken enough readings to know what the temperature was before the vigil and before questions were asked.    However, beware that your lazer therm operator announces aloud exactly where he is pointing the lazer, and when he does this, as otherwise it may look like you have random lights appearing on your camcorders or photos that are just lazer lights.

18.  If someone says they feel something near them, see a shadow or perceive attention from an area of the room, take photos, train your camcorders in the area, and call out asking for more phenomena in that area.  

Our rule is to assume any such perceptions may be purely psychosomatic, or from suggestion, but we are always very interested if such perceptions are backed up and accompanied by other phenomena that can be scientifically recorded such as temperature drops and cold spots, photos, sounds or EMF readings.  Also ask if anyone else has seen or felt the same.

19.  If after eliminating any and all possible natural explanations for phenomena such as sounds, lights, smells, temperature drops or EMF readings, you appear to have established a link to what appears may be a spirit or ghost, continue doing whatever it is that started this, whatever questioning or medium you used.   Ask further questions that may establish the identity of the spirit, what it did in life, why it is here or how it died.   If your link continues, you may be fortunate to find a particular story or set of information to form, which you may later be able to verify through research of the building's history.   

20. If during the vigil any person gets scared, distressed or overly nervous, do not make them continue the vigil and allow them to leave and accompany them if necessary.  You may have to end your vigil should this occur, but for the sake of safety this has to be allowed to happen.  Just take them to a different area where they feel comfortable and let them calm down.  If they experienced what may seem to be paranormal activity, once they are calm get them to give a report on your audio equipment of exactly what they perceived.  It is very likely what happened was psychological, in our experience 90% of such reactions are just this, but on odd occasions they may just come out with a story or perception of something which is alarmingly similar to the history of the building or events that have occurred therein, so it is always worth recording all such experiences, especially if you find that no records exist of such history online or accessible to the person concerned.  

Similarly, if someone is hurt or slips or has an accident in the dark, have someone to hand who knows basic first aid and can administer this in an emergency. Hopefully you will have eliminated any chance of accidents by removing obstacles that can be tripped over in the dark, and making sure people have torches in use if they are moving about, and good shoes in wet or frosty weather.

21. If activity seems to be happening, continue with your vigil as long as you are able and willing!  Just ensure you have your spare batteries to hand or camcorder tapes & disks so they last long enough.  If not, you may want to move to a different area or continue with your schedule as laid out at the beginning.    You will normally tend to "wind down" and feel when a vigil has concluded, either activity seems to go "flat" or in some way there is closure on this particular investigation.

22. Before you leave make a final note and baseline test of temperature readings and EMF around the room for your records.

23.   Move on to different areas of your investigation if you are organising it in teams.

24.  If you have a long night of vigils, have a break for all teams at a set time so you can refresh, have a drink and warm up.  It's important to do this for everyone on the investigation so people on a break don't make noises or lights that otherwise may seem paranormal to those still on a vigil.

C. Investigation Follow Up

1. At the end of the investigation and once all vigils have ended, have all teams meet up again in the "hub" or meeting place. Gather any further experiences, impressions or reports than anyone has to give, especially if they are only coming on the investigation as a one-off or you are not likely to meet them again. Compare addresses or email in case anyone winds up with unusual or unexplainable photographic records or audio. Once records are made, it is a good thing for group rapport and morale to discuss the night and share experiences.

2. After the night, it is best for members to write their more complete reports and experiences as soon as possible. It is amazing how much people forget after a vigil, and we have experience in most of our investigations that many more experiences and parts of the event are recorded on tape or camcorder than people ever remember following the night. Despite your recordings, ask your members to give a full report of their own, they may even have their own equipment and if you have a forum then ask them to upload any footage or account they have as a report to this. If you do an overall report, ask them to send in their contributions to this to the person compiling it.

3. Those with the main equipment, camcorders and audio should ideally go through each recording or video and make a full note of every event, any sounds that are recorded, lights shown or orbs or indeed even any ghosts you film!   This will be very time consuming and probably mostly boring, but you never know what you may find when you go through such footage that may make this action all worth it!.   Then, the report can be compiled of actual evidence and records of the night, and this can be presented in whatever form you wish, and published to your members or sent to the owner of the property should you desire. You may determine from this that you need or wish to do more investigations at this venue, expecially if something seemed inconclusive or interesting enough. By now you will also have your conclusion, and maybe even some real results or evidence of ghosts from your night's work!

Anyone with other suggestions to add of how to conduct an investigation is welcome to add these to our Forum thread on How to Conduct an Investigation.

There are probably as many ways to conduct a ghost hunt as there are ghost hunting groups which are legion, and we have found every team to do them differently.   These also differ according to the personalities concerned and what they want to achieve from such an event.  Some do it purely for fun to get a thrill, much as you would go to the Haunted House or Ghost Train at a fairground.  

More serious investigators try their best to connect with a place that is supposedly haunted, attempt to get whatever evidence of the paranormal they can at the time, and make a more concerted effort to verify the source of any unusual phenomena to ensure it is really not naturally explained.  They technically record phenomena on reliable equipment if possible, & ultimately attempt to determine if any ghosts or spirits do exist at the location and establish communication if so.   Some investigators are utter believers and go to contact the dead or even to help them move on from whatever trauma they perceive is holding such spirits earthbound.   The most sceptical types are very scathing of all ghostly phenomena, are on a mission to disprove such and simply go to see if they can debunk any and all claims of the paranormal, regardless of any evidence found.