Sunday, February 10, 2013

Paranormal Photography:EXIF Data

Paranormal Photography: EXIF Data

 Digital cameras save JPEG (.jpg) files with EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data. Camera settings and scene information are recorded by the camera into the image file. Examples of stored information are shutter speed, date and time, focal length, exposure compensation, metering pattern and if a flash was used.

Many camera owners study EXIF to compare successful photos to those that are not. Data provides insight about how camera settings affect photo characteristics such as exposure, depth-of-field and subject movement.

EXIF is read by applications that support JPEGs. They include web browsers, image editing and organizing programs and some printer drivers. The printer drivers use the information to automatically enhance images, which can result in a better looking prints.

Preserving EXIF information

If an edited image is saved correctly to preserve EXIF data, the information can be viewed online at photo hosting sites. Some photo hosting sites, such as Flickr, use the word "properties" instead of EXIF.

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It is important to know how to check the EXIF data of any questionable digital images after photographing paranormal investigations. What may seem like a photograph with a ghostly image may turn out to be something much less exciting.

Take for example the photo below, this was a photograph taken by one of HPIR's investigators. It appears that a "ghostly" shadow figure is standing in front of this old plantation house. After reviewing the photo's EXIF data we discovered that this photo was the result of a long exposure.

While trying to adjust to the low light conditions our investigators camera shutter stayed open for 8 seconds, allowing time for a second investigator to wander into and back out of the area being photographed. The investigator was unaware of his camera's hiccup, and didn't notice the other investigator wandering around the area in front of him as he was trying to get his camera to take the picture.

At a later time we attempted to recreate this photo in the same conditions as the night it was taken, our results were not exact but very similar to the photo below.

In order to be a credible investigator it is important to always know how to use your equipment, and always check and double check all photos and video that have questionable content.

EXIF data is just one way to ensure you are providing quality evidence to the public in your quest to research, photograph, and find some proof of paranormal phenomena.

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