Ch…Ch…Changes

press releaseIn case anyone was wondering, Asylum Paranormal is still an active blog.  The reason for my absence is due to the fact that I have been busy working on several new projects.  My main focus has been on establishing myself as a published writer which has been both an arduous and successful journey.  I am now a contributing writer for Paranormal Underground Magazine with my first article published in the November 2013 Issue.  I also have another article ready for publishing which will come out in the December 2013 Issue as well.  Click on the link in the sidebar to read the article and publication.  I am also in the process of co-authoring a book with Kasey Clark, owner of Haunted Houston Tours and Haunted Lafayette Tours, which will be available for purchase early in 2014.  And, this is not all.  Beginning in 2014, Asylum Paranormal will be expanding its platform to provide readers and followers with more options and have more functionality.  Asylum Paranormal will also be getting a new face lift as well.  Stay tuned to this blog to witness all of the upcoming changes.

 

© J.F. Dietz 2013

Do Ghost Hunting Apps Really Work?

ghost hunting app

With the “Information Age” came radical and progressive technological advancements.  For instance, computers no longer required an entire room.  Home computers no longer weigh 50 pounds and can be carried around either in the palm of your hand or backpack.  Video games and movie graphics are now more realistic and, you never have to stay at home waiting for an important telephone call.

However, these technological advancements do not stop here.  I have noticed them showing up on some of the ghost tours and ghost hunts I hand the honor to conduct as well.  They appear in the form of Apps, “Ghost Hunting Apps” to be more specific.  At first, I thought it was a novel idea to be able to just punch one button on your smart phone and “ta da” your smart phone is magically transformed into an operative investigative tool.  I did not put too much more thought into it farther than the end of the tour.  Then, I noticed more and more of our guests attending our ghost hunts and haunted walking tours with using these Apps on their handheld devices.  Now, this once novel idea moved into a totally new category.  I noticed that our guests were actually relying on these “Ghost Hunting Apps” more than their cameras, K2 meters, and digital recorders.  The most alarming thing I found was that they were absolutely convinced that these Apps were accurate for no other reason than the marketing hype.

While it’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Apps whether it be for a computer, smart-phone, or otherwise I am not some dinosaur with an aversion to technology. I do embrace some technology while abandoning others.  For me, the determining factor is twofold.  First, whether it is an App or piece of equipment, it needs to be reliable with a proven track record.  And, second, it must be user friendly.

So, I decided to perform a little experiment.  I actually downloaded a couple of these Apps on my smart phone and tested them at different locations along our tour route which are known to be “hot spots.”  The initial results were quite disappointing.  I received positive results at locations not known for paranormal activity and no results at known paranormal “hot spots.”  In an effort to be fair, I performed a second test.  This time results appeared to be more inline with data gathered prior to my little experiment using the “Ghost Hunting” Apps.  After performing two tests, and receiving contradictory results, I still did not feel comfortable rendering a conclusion as to whether or not these Apps actually worked in the field or not.  I felt that a third and final test was in order.  During this third test of these “Ghost Hunting” Apps, I received a better response but, this time I noticed something more sinister correlation.  The seemingly random and erratic responses were more inline with responses you would get using a “Magic 8 Ball.”  I found this to be most disappointing.  My final conclusion as to whether or not “Ghost Hunting” Apps actually work in the field and are a reliable scientific source for detecting actual paranormal activity is ABSOLUTELY NO.  However, I do have to give these Apps points for being a fantastic source of entertainment.     In performing my experiment, I was both entertained and amused by these gadgets.

As a paranormal investigator, I think I will stick with my old reliable equipment for now when performing investigations or field work. But, who knows, you may find me using an app of some kind sometime in the future once this technology has been perfected and becomes a reliable tool.

For now, I will let you be the judge.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

Basics of Photo Authentication

Photo Authentication“A picture is worth a thousand words”, is a phrase coined by Frederick R. Barnard is no less true today than it was when it was first spoken.  Ever since the invention of “Still Photography” by Louis Daguerre in 1838, people are captivated by photographs.  Now that we have moved into the 21st Century, photographs still carry a great amount of weight whether it is used to express ourselves, art, or as evidence to prove or disprove something.

No matter how you look at it, pardon the pun, a certain amount of controversy has cast a shadow over photographs.  It didn’t take long for some unscrupulous photographers to discover that photographs could be manipulated yielding very shocking results.  However, these early faked photographs could be easily identified by a very keen eye because of the poor quality of equipment and materials.

Over time, the quality of faked photographs improved as did equipment and materials making it more difficult to determine whether or not a photograph is authentic or a fake. This is especially true now that we have entered the “information age” with an abundance of high-tech digital cameras and computer software just a click away.  Now, a really good “faked” photograph could easily seem authentic to an untrained eye.

As a result, I have altered my authentication techniques and take a more guarded approach when authenticating photographs and think you should too.  Everything is not always as it seems at first glance.  Some of the key items you should look for are “pixilation”.  All digital images are made up of pixels and you need to inspect each of the key elements of an image to determine if the pixels match.  A “Tell Tale” sign of a fake image is the presence of any pixel distortion, pixel discoloration, or other pixel noise in the photographic image.  This becomes very evident once you enlarge the photo.  You should also check to see if the photo has more than one layer.  This can be done through computer software that allows you inspect the elements of the photo.  If the photo does in fact contain more than one layer or the key elements can be separated revealing another image underneath then the photo has been photo shopped provide you with evidence that the photo is fake.  Lastly, you should look at the image as a whole to make sure that all of the key elements are in proportion with each other.

Most people who attempt to pass off altered or fake photographs or images as authentic usually fail in one or all of these areas.  They are more interested in the “shock” value and publicity that their images will receive.  This is why you should take a more guarded approach when authenticating photographs.  By performing these simple tasks while authenticating photos you can greatly reduce the chance of authenticating a fake photo as authentic.

As technology and the skills of digital media artists improve, you will likewise have to improve your skills of authentication adding new techniques to your arsenal just to stay one step ahead of counterfeiters.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

Night Vision “On The Cheap”

IdeaAs Ghost Hunters, we are always searching for ways to improve our ability to capture paranormal activity.  One of the main challenges we face each time we perform an investigation is very limited or no external lighting.  Although one of the positive sides to this issue is that it heightens our awareness however, the negative side is safety issues.  The solution to this problem is purchasing night vision equipment which can be very expensive and out of the price range of most people especially those on a limited budget or just entering the field for the first time.  This does not go without saying that I’m cheap and operate off of a very tight budget when it comes to my ghost hunting endeavors.  I’m also a true believer that top of the line equipment does not make anyone a good or great Ghost Hunter.  The only thing it will accomplish is tapping you out financially and high blood pressure.

As a follow-up to my first article Ghost Hunting On A Budget, I’m going to let you on a little secret of just how you can create your own night vision device for just pennies on the dollar.  You will need three inexpensive items: (1) a flashlight or hunting spotlight, (2) a red transparency sheet, and (3) a blue transparency sheet.  Once you acquire these items, the rest is very simple.  You will take your flashlight and unscrew the lens on the front.  Next, trace out the shape of your flashlight lens on a piece of paper.  Then, you will take one of your colored transparency sheets and place the drawing you made onto it.  Now, begin cutting out the shape of your flashlight lens from both.  After you do this, take your colored cut-outs and place them inside the part containing the flashlight lens.  If you have done this correctly, the flashlight lens will be completely covered.  Next, screw the flashlight lens back onto the body of the flashlight.  Finally, turn your flashlight “ON” and test out your handiwork in the dark.  Your flashlight should emit a greenish soft light instead of the harsh white light.  Voila!!  You now have instant night vision.

This “old school” neat little trick will not only save you tons of money but, will give you confidence but, bragging rights when your friends are still trying to master their high tech equipment in the field.  Another bonus is that you don’t lose the functionality of your flashlight.  You just have to do is remove the colored transparencies and your night vision will turn back into a useful flashlight.

You should already have all of these items on-hand with exception of the colored transparencies unless you or your child is dyslexic.  Don’t worry too much though because you can pick up the colored transparencies at any office or art supply store for under $1 each.

Did I mention that I’m cheap?  Your homemade night vision equipment may not have the appeal of top notch high tech equipment nor will it be the best quality night vision.  However, for the price, you simply cannot beat it plus it provides decent night vision at those dark locations.  You will be out working while your friends are still trying to figure out how to turn their fancy equipment “ON”.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

Ghost Dog

Ramona DeGraw May 19 2013 HHT Guest

In addition to being a Paranormal Investigator and Office Manager of 2 Historical Ghost Tour Companies, I’m also a pet parent to 3 dogs.  Needless to say, the thought of “ghost dogs” or other “ghost animals” never entered my mind at all until, I moved into a house where one existed. It was a “ghost dog” and there were many nights that I was awakened to hear a dog’s bark coming from the living room area.  At first, I thought it was one of my dogs but, when I checked, they were fast asleep in my bed.  Then, my paranormal investigator side kicked in and I tried to rationalize the occurrence away by thinking maybe I was just dreaming or it was the result of an overactive imagination.  When I got up the next morning, I completely put the events of the night out of my mind and continued on with my day as usual.  Several days passed and I didn’t think of that event at all.  Then, again, I was woken up by the sound of a dog running around on the hardwood floor in the dining room.  Once again, I checked, and all of my dogs were fast asleep in my bed.  I got up and walked out into the hall and was surprised to find one of their balls, which are kept in the living room, rolling down the hall towards me.  I was both shocked and amazed.  I bent down and picked up the ball and then rolled it back down the hall towards the dining room and heard the pattering of dog paws on the hardwood floor once again.  I then took one step forward and the ball came rolling back down the hall towards me a second time.  At this point, I switched on the hall lights and proceeded cautiously down the hall towards the dining room.  I then switched on the light for both the kitchen and dining room and continued to walk throughout my house switching on the lights in every room.  I also checked all the doors and windows and everything was secure with no evidence of anyone being in my house other than myself and my 3 dogs.  I even went out into the garage and retrieved a level and checked every room including the hallway to see if, maybe, just maybe, the house had settled and was off level.  To my amazement, everything was fine.  I turned off all of the lights and went back to my bedroom.  As soon as I closed my bedroom door, I heard a dog’s bark coming from the living room.  Again, I checked and my fur babies were fast asleep in my bed.

Then, one day, about a year after my personal experience with a “ghost dog”, a photograph crossed my desk for authentication.  At first glance, it was a picture of one of our tour guides sitting on a bench surrounded with unexplained light streams in the background.  I figured that this was going to be a routine and that the unexplained light streaks could be debunked as flash flare.  However, upon closer examination, something else caught my eye completely isolated from the original question about the lights.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing yet, there it was plain as day.  Lying in my tour guide’s lap was an apparition of a dog.  Finally, I was holding in my hands hard evidence of a “ghost dog”.

After these two experiences, my style of paranormal investigation was forever changed.  I soon began thinking about the very real possibility of the existence of “ghost dogs” and/or other “ghost animals”.  I found that this experience was leading me down a path into uncharted territory with a plethora of new questions which are unique in one way but somewhat familiar in another such as, “Why are they here?”, “What are they attached to?”, “Did they just fail to cross-over?”, “Do they really exist?”, “How many documented cases exist?”, “Is there more evidence?”  Needless to say, I have quite a bit of research to do before reaching a definitive answer to these questions.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

 

Haunted Lafayette Tours Featured on KATC 3 “Good Morning Acadiana”

press releaseThe “Ghost Lady” and I were just featured this morning on KATC 3 “Good Morning Acadiana” in a live interview on our new project Haunted Lafayette Tours.  You can view our interview by clicking the right for Haunted Lafayette Tours or view our interview direct on KATC 3 by clicking http://www.katc.com/videos/haunted-ghost-tours/.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

Press Release: “Ghost Lady” in Lafayette

press release

Haunted Lafayette Tours announces its Grand Opening October 1, 2013.  Tickets are now available for purchase at http://www.hauntedlafayettetours.com.

Haunted Lafayette Tours offers historical ghost tours everyday of the week except Mondays 50 weeks out of the year.  Tickets range in price from $25 per person for her Secret Society Tour and Haunted Cathedral Tours and $35 per person for the Haunted Pub Crawl Tour.  All tours offered by Haunted Lafayette Tours is family friendly and suitable for any age with exception of  the Pub Crawl Tour in which all guests must be 21 years of age and older.  Visit our website http://www.hauntedlafayettetours.com or contact our office at (337) 565-0576 for more details.

Although born in Rayne, Louisiana, the “Ghost Lady”, Kasey Gilbert Clark, moved to Texas and lived in the Houston area for 35 years.  During this time, she developed an interest in ghosts and the paranormal.  After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Western Governor’s University, she turned her ghost hunting hobby into a thriving business, Haunted Houston Tours, in July 2010.  Her new venture soon gained the attention of the local media in Houston, Texas where she has been featured on news stations, local newspapers and magazines each year.  Upon her return to Lafayette, Louisiana in April 2013, she was saddened that similar tours were not offered in the area despite Lafayette’s rich history.  This inspired her to create a sister company, Haunted Lafayette Tours based in Lafayette, Louisiana.  In addition to owning and operating Haunted Lafayette Tours, she continues to actively manage her Houston Company, Haunted Houston Tours, with the assistance of an experienced staff, office manager, and customer service department from Lafayette, Louisiana.   Not only is the “Ghost Lady” a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, operating 2 businesses in 2 states in 2 cities, she is an accomplished paranormal investigator, historian, webmaster, website designer, genealogist, and author with her first book scheduled for publication sometime in 2014.

The “Ghost Lady” being of Cajun descent gives her historical ghost tours with a quaint Cajun flair.

© James Franklin Dietz 2013

 

l