Having been involved in paranormal investigations and research for more than 6 years now I have looked at lots of video and photographic footage taken during an investigation. To be honest - there are times that I have been fooled by something perfectly normal looking supernatural and I have learned not to believe your eyes!
Whilst there are many people out there with fantastic computer skills who are faking photographs and video footage, I am talking about the ones where the operator error and misdiagnosis are the culprits.
I can't tell you how many photographs I have seen of orbs that are nothing more than dust particles in the air or insects being picked up in a flash or by the IR. Yes, they look compelling but it has to be something really special for me to see an orb and find it of interest. For orbs to be of interest to me (and I am not saying that orbs are evidence of spirit), they have to be doing something unusual or correlate to something else being experienced.
For example. At an investigation I did in the UK at Walton Hall, I was communicating with a young Victorian boy. I was sitting at the top of a large flight of stairs and he was standing on a couple of stairs below and was holding my hands. Someone took a photograph and my hands were inside a large orb. Coincidence? possibly but compelling as it correlated with something that was happening to me.
Another example happened recently. I was in the Maritime Museum of BC with Maureen McCann an independent photo journalist and a few others. We were trying to recreate a picture she had taken which appears to capture the image of a young girl (check out the photographs page). I was picking up a male energy who stepped forward and his energy was in fact causing Maureen's camera to think there was something really close and try to re focus. All of a sudden and out of no-where, Maureen started taking pictures of a large collection of orbs. She wiped her lens and then continued to take the photographs. The orbs continued to show up despite there being no flash used. After around 10 photographs the orbs started to collect and form something that looked like a shape. Then they disappeared totally and along with it, the male energy I was picking up. I am not sure what the orbs were or if they were indeed evidence of spirit but they were extremely interesting.
Today I watched a really good episode of Paranormal Files Fact or Faked. They had some really great footage that seemed to look like paranormal activity. They applied solid debunking techniques to try and replicate the footage and did a great job of recreating it. I was amazed at how close a hair on the lens looked like an energy formation after a photograph was taken with a flash and a stray flashlight beam can look like an entity. Human error misinterpreted.
It reminded me (if I needed reminding) of how important careful paranormal investigators need to be when taking photographs and videos and how much rigor must be applied to evidence review. The Beyond Belief Team are currently putting together guidelines on taking photographs and video that will be posted on the site as well as followed by us on our investigations.