Ghost Hunting

The basis for someone to become a "ghost hunter" is the deep seated desire to prove or disprove the existence of a ghost, offer assistance to the owners of the haunted site, if any, and to help the spirit move on, if that is what he/she wishes. Services are voluntary, and no fee is ever asked for from a legitimate investigator.

Keep in mind that many of the people who will request an investigation will want to be comforted, educated and they may even want the spirits to leave. Whatever your approach or beliefs, be prepared for this and if you are not willing or cannot help the people in the way they would like, at least provide them with names of people who may help them. Also try to educate them so they understand what is occurring. After explaining what is happening to a witness, many will no longer be frightened or as concerned and you will have done them a great service. If you are a person or group that does offer more assistance through psychics, spirit rescues, etc. remember that the well being and the feelings of the living come first.

Informational article on:
What are Orbs?

Types of Hauntings

General Hauntings

Hauntings occur with no regularity and for no particular reason. Some weird occurrences may manifest on occasion or even continually for a few days or hundreds of years; others may only occur on certain anniversaries; and others may be totally random.

It is generally assumed that hauntings involve apparitions, or ghosts, of the deceased. In fact, apparitions are seldom seen. Most hauntings involve noises like footsteps, a tapping or knocking sound, strange smells, sensations like the cold prickling of the skin, cold breezes, and the feeling of being touched by an invisible hand. Other hauntings involve poltergeist-like activity such as solid objects being moved, broken glass, doors that open and close by themselves, and manipulation of lights and electrical devices.

People who visit haunted locations also report a variety of emotions, including anger and fear. Many cases like this are mistakenly called "evil" or "demonic." Other places seem to involve friendly, or at least harmless, emotions.

Poltergeist Activity

A variety of phenomena can be connected to poltergeist activity: knocking and tapping sounds, noises with no visible cause, disturbance of stationary objects like household items and furniture, doors slamming, lights turning on and off, fires breaking out, etc.

The widely accepted theory behind poltergeist phenomena is that it's usually caused by a person. This person is usually an adolescent girl who is going through an emotionally troubled time. The theory is that this person may be unconsciously manipulating the items in the house by psycho kinesis, which is the power to move things by energy generated in the brain.

Kinetic energy remains unexplained, but even mainstream scientists are starting to admit that it may exist. It is unknown why this energy appears in puberty-age girls, but it has been documented. When the activity begins to occur, the girl is usually in the middle of emotional or sexual angst. It is also possible for young boys, and even adults, to manifest this odd ability. The majority have no idea they're causing the activity.

Of course, not all hauntings can be so easily explained. In some cases, people aren't the cause of the situation. Sometimes it's possible that the source of the activity is an intelligent spirit. These entities try to make their presence known by moving objects.

Residual Hauntings

This type of haunting is much more common than people realize.

The easiest way to explain this type of haunting is to compare it to an old film loop. Imagine an old movie tape is stuck in the VCR and the same clip keeps repeating itself. In locations where these hauntings take place, a powerful event or a series of events may be imprinted on the atmosphere. It can then suddenly pop up and play itself at random. But it's not necessarily visual; they are often replayed as unexplained sounds. The famous "phantom footsteps" reported in many haunted locations are a perfect example of this.

How does this kind of thing happen? The sounds and images are related to traumatic events that took place at the location, causing some sort of disturbance sometimes called a "psychic impression." This is the reason why so many battlefields have become famous for their hauntings over the years. In other situations, the images have been created by events or actions that were repeated, which caused an impression. Reputedly, that is why so many haunted staircases exist, because of the number of times people go up and down them and the amount of energy that is expended in doing so.

These kinds of haunted places act as giant storage batteries, saving up the impressions of sights and sounds from the past. As time goes by, these impressions appear again as if the VCR had been turned on. While apparitions are most commonly connected to these types of hauntings, much of the activity may be in the form of sounds, and even smells.

So, considering this type of haunting is basically an imprint in time, whatever an apparition was wearing and doing will appear the same, as if in the rewinding and replaying of a movie. As to objects, sometimes an object will carry the imprint of its owner, as the person had a deep attachment to the object, and their residual energy remains with it, but this is rare. More often though, the object has more sentimental value for the new owner if it was passed down from a loved family member, and the "ghost" attached to the object is just a pleasant memory in the new owner's mind.

Portal Hauntings

The idea of a "portal" or a "doorway" to another dimension is not a new one--though it may be a wild one. These doorways may provide access for entities to enter our world. They may be the spirits of people who've died, or they could be something else altogether--perhaps otherworldly beings from another dimension? Hmmm...

One of the most common locations for these "doorways" seems to be in cemeteries. As a rule, most cemeteries are not haunted, but recently, ghost hunters have collected dozens of anomalous photographs taken in graveyards. There seems to be no explanation why many of these cemeteries would become haunted unless they provide access for spirits, or entities, to pass from one world to the next.

It is possible that these sites were "haunted" long before a cemetery was located there. It is also possible that the psychic draw of the area was what caused our ancestors to locate a cemetery there in the first place. Native Americans chose their burial grounds in this manner, although they did it consciously. They found a place to bury and honour the dead that they felt was more closely connected to the next world.

Traditional or Intelligent Hauntings

This type of haunting is perhaps the most widely accepted kind of ghostly activity, although it's not as common as you might think. Here, the spirit or entity involved is an "intelligent" presence in a haunted location. It is there because of a connection to the site or to the people in the location. This ghost is best (and most simply) described as the personality of a person who once lived and who has stayed behind in our world instead of passing over to the other side.

This sometimes happens in the case of a murder, traumatic event or unfinished business. At the time of death, the spirit refuses to pass over because of these events. The spirits often linger because of emotions that tie them to the earth, from anger to love. Or perhaps the person does not pass not because they couldn't, but because they did not want to. In other cases, there is the chance the spirit does not even realize they are dead (like Patrick Swayze in Ghost). This can occur when the death is sudden.

These spirits are made up of the energy that once made up the personality of a living person. These intelligent spirits are not evil or demonic, as some would have you believe. Spirits are simply human personalities, or souls, and if the spirit was a kind and caring person in life, the spirit will most likely be in death. On the other hand, angry and cruel people will also keep those same nasty qualities as spirits. These negative spirits can be frightening, especially to people not trained in the paranormal. In very rare cases they have been able to harm the living, but that is generally not the case. It is much more common to hear of an encounter with a benevolent spirit than with a negative one. That's a relief, isn't it?


  • The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
  • The Enchanted World of Ghosts by Time-Life Book Series

  • Basic Tips

  • Check out the area in daylight so you are familiar with the area.
  • Look for dangerous places and obstacles that you will not be able to see in the dark.
  • Look for no trespassing signs. Make sure you are not trespassing. If you are on private property you are risking getting a ticket or arrested in some areas. You can get permission from many owners and or caretakers.
  • Notify the local Police that you will be in a grave yard "taking pictures" so they are aware of your presence. If you are asked to leave do so immediately, you will not win this argument and you make other investigators look bad if you make a scene.
  • If confronted by the police, never point any equipment at them. A thermal scanner, in the dark, looks very much like a gun.
  • Make sure you bring you ID. (drivers license, etc.) so if you are questioned by the police you can prove who you are.
  • Never go alone. This is just common sense. If you get hurt, who will get help? Also, you cannot be sure who else may be lurking around the place you are investigating.
  • Make sure you let someone know where you will be so they will know in case of emergency.
  • The best times are from 9pm to 6am, these are the psychic hours, but anytime can produce results. Photos have historically been better in the dark but do not let that discourage you from taking them during the day.
  • Find out all you can about the history of the locale. newspapers, town historians, the internet and books can be helpful finding folklore or hard facts about the site.
  • If it is is raining, snowing or foggy and you are scheduled to do an out door ghost hunt, reschedule it. You cannot conduct a proper investigation in these conditions.
  • Keep an open mind, any negative feelings may drive the spirits away. Be respectful of the locations and the dead.
  • Be skeptical, look for causes for any phenomenon such as natural or man made causes. As an investigator, you have to make sure your final evidence will stand up to scrutiny. By eliminating all other explanations, your evidence becomes stronger proof.
  • No smoking, alcohol or drugs at an investigation for mostly obvious reasons.
  • No whispering, it can taint your recording results.
  • Do not wear perfume, cologne or anything else with a very noticeable scent. This is so someone does not mistake the smell for a supernatural occurrence. Spirits often use scents and smells to get our attention.


  • Camera: Nothing fancy with at least 400 speed film. 800 speed film seems to get the best results outside, and black and white is also something good to try. If you are more experienced photographer you may want to try infrared film. I have seen results from Polaroids but I suggest you only use these along with a 35 mm camera, so you can compare the results. If you use a digital camera make sure you have one with a good flash or a slave flash. I use a 35 mm camera, with automatic film advance, on investigations. I have used Fuji film primarily but I have also used Kodak and a department store brands with similar results. When you develop them you do not need to go to a camera shop, the local drug store or department store is fine. Let them know you want all the pictures developed "As Is", so that you get the pictures that they might think are bad ones. These "bad ones" are normally your best ecto-mist photos.
  • Flashlight w/spare batteries: A common sense item. Remember to bring spare batteries for everything. Due to spirit activity, batteries often run down very fast and you do not want to miss anything because of dead batteries.
  • First Aid Kit: just in case, it's very easy to trip in the dark and get cut.
  • Notebook w/pens and pencils: You need to write down and log in everything that happens. If you do not, then you really do not have much research information.

    An example of this is one investigator gets a EMF reading that's high and never writes it down. Another investigator takes a picture of the same area but is not aware of the reading and gets a anomalous image. Without that EMF reading the picture may be good evidence, but with a report noting the reading, the picture greatly increases in evidence value. Many investigators use a pocket tape recorder in stead and that is fine, just make sure you have spare batteries and tapes.

  • Jackets or weather appropriate clothes: If you are cold you are not at your best and your observation skill could suffer, pretty common sense.
  • Watch: You can log in the times of events and your arrival and departure.
  • Video camera(optional tripod): A regular camcorder can be used for video taping in lighted or day light conditions. The Sony line of camcorders has an infrared night shot feature that enables you to video tape in complete darkness and see beyond what the human eye can see.
  • Tape recorder w/external microphone and high grade tapes: You have to use a external microphone when recording EVPs (ghosts voices). If you rely on the internal microphone you will also be recording the internal gears and motors and this will make your tape worthless. Any sound you hear on the tape could not be used as evidence because of this, so use the external mic, they are pretty inexpensive. The type of tape that is most often recommended is high bias tapes or metal tapes.
  • Digital Audio Recorders: This recorder is small and easy to carry. You can also use the voice activation feature so there is less audio to review. I use this for my notes as well. Most units record the time of the recording as well which is very useful.
  • EMF Detector: These meters read the electromagnetic fields in an area. It is a common theory that spirits disrupt this field in such a way that you can tell one is present by higher than normal readings with this meter. There are many types and price ranges. You need to be aware of the natural readings in an area or building before you assume that your reading a ghosts presence. Make sure that you know where power lines, electrical line, major appliances and electronics are before you begin your readings with this useful and easy to use tool. You can try using a compass in place of this , the needle compass would move or shake when something was interfering with electromagnetic field the compass relies on the work properly.
  • Night Vision Scope:This tool may be useful in viewing some spirit activity It amplifies any existing light via the use of infrared. They are pricey and a good one can run into the 1000's of dollars.
  • Cellular Phone: If you have one it can come in handy in case of an emergency.
  • Motion Detectors can be used to sense movements by often unseen forces or spirits. You can get battery operated ones for about 20 dollars and they are great for inside but I have seen them used successfully outdoors as well, just watch the placement. You don't want a tree branch setting it off.
  • Thermometer or Thermal Scanner: You can use a digital thermometer that you can get for 25-50 dollars or spend a bit more to get a point and shoot thermal scanner. All of these are good for detecting cold spots that are often found in haunted places. I recommend using the thermal scanner guns in indoor areas because they shoot out a beam that reads the temperature of whatever it hits. It's easier to keep track of areas indoors with this type. A regular digital or analog thermometer works better out side because it is detecting the air that is currently in, so if you hold it in a cold spot and them move away, you would get a temperature increase and that would give you a truer reading of the temperature difference.
  • Hand-Held Radios or Walkie Talkies are very useful in a large outdoor area and a building with groups spread out in various rooms. They could be great in emergency situations or just to rotate groups. Be sure to be aware they could interfere with your EVP recording though.

    Note, to have a successful investigation, you do not need to have every piece of equipment listed. Personally, I have had great results using a 35 mm camera, a thermal scanner and a tape recorder.

    Using Photographic Equipment

  • Make sure you note any other lights in the area so when you view your developed pictures you will not think a street light is an orb.
  • Watch for reflective surfaces and make notes of them. The flash reflected off shiny surfaces such as windows, polished tombstones, etc. can look like an orb or other anomaly.
  • Before taking your first shot, clean the camera lens thoroughly. Do not touch it, or clean it again once you start filming or taking photos.
  • No smoking at the location, this can appear like mist on the photos so you don't want to contaminate your evidence.
  • Watch for dust or dirt being stirred up in the area you are photographing. They can give false positive pictures, as the particles can look very much like orbs to the naked eye.
  • All long hair should be tied back or under a hat, again this is to eliminate any false positive pictures.
  • Remove or tie up any camera straps so you don't take a picture of that, it looks like a vortex when photographed.
  • Let fellow investigators know when you are taking a photo so that you don't get double flashes and the night scope operators can look away. If you think you have a double flash photo or any other false positive, log the picture number so you can exclude that photo from the batch when they are developed. Night scope operators can get eye damage if they are looking at a flash through the scope, so this is important.
  • In cold weather be conscious of your breath so you don't photograph that, it'll look like ecto-mist. If you think you may have, log that picture number and discard it when you develop the pictures.
  • Many people like to ask the spirit if they can take their picture , it can't hurt.
  • If you think you see something, even out of the corner of your eye, take pictures.
  • Sometimes you will see an orb, mist or sparkles in your flash or others flashes, take more pictures right there, you are near a spirit.
  • You may only get about 1- 2 pictures for every 50 you take, that's about the average, so don't get discouraged. I've been at sites where I didn't get any and others where 30% of the ones we took were positive.

    Using Audio Equipment

  • Load the tapes when you are loading camera film so you've given any spirits in the area a chance to get used to you.
  • You can set up stationary recorders and just let them run or you can walk around with them. During audio recording, ask questions whether general ones or one specific to a certain spirit.
  • Make sure you listen to the whole tape. EVPs are usually not heard at the time of recording but are heard only after the tape is reviewed.
  • Review notes where you should have recorded any normal sounds as well as unexplained ones (dogs barking, cars, etc.) This way you can tell what a sound is that wasn't heard by you at the time but is now on the tape.


    (These are investigations that I participated in, and photographic results.)

    The Old Jail, located in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is famous for the seven Irish laborers, called the Molly Maguires, who were hung inside the jail itself. A handprint, in cell #17, still exists to this day, even though many methods have been used to try and remove it.

    I was there in April of 2002, at a Ghost Hunters' Convention, sponsored by The Philadelphia Ghost Hunters Alliance, and visited the Old Jail at 3am, with another person. Walking around the jail, you cannot help but feel the foreboding atmosphere. At one point, near the rear of the jail, I felt such deep despair, that I needed to leave that particular area.

    Outside the Exercise Yard

    Outside the Front Door of the Old Jail

    Digital Enhancement of the Front Door Photo

    Fort Mifflin is another historic site which the The Philadelphia Ghost Hunters Alliance offers overnight investigations of. I was lucky enough to go there twice, once in winter, once in summer, so I was able to conduct the investigations under completely different conditions.

    The picture below is an example of a "false positive". As I was taking photos, someone directed a flashlight beam in the area I was photograhing without giving any warning. Anyone not familiar with energy orbs would swear the lighted object on the wall was indeed, an orb.....proof of a ghost, but this is, in fact, untrue.

    My own home, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is also home to two spirits. One day, around dusk, I noticed a figure standing by the shed, a dark figure, female, in a long dress, but she was a dark solid, a shadowy figure. I have a garden around that shed, and working in the garden the next day, I started to ask questions. When I asked, "What is your name?", I heard in my mind, "Emmy". I did some research on the house, finding out that, before the house I live in was built in 1956, the area was a farm. In the area I had my garden, one of the women who lived on that farm also had a garden there......her name was Emily Marie Esbenshade, and she died in 1958 which is also the year that I was born.

    Below is a photo taken near the shed in my yard. Now I cannot rightfully say that the orb is the ghostly energy of Emily Marie, as we have another spirit who resides with us. His name is Walter R. Rice Jr., who committed suicide in the basement, by shooting himself, and he left a note, on the door leading to the basement, to his wife, saying, "Don't go downstairs, call the police." He was born on September 18, 1930 and died on January 15, 1989, and I purchased the house on my birthday, December 26, 1990.

    More Ghostly Encounters

    Bube's Brewery

    Eastern State Penitentiary

    Rehmeyer's Hollow