The following is an excerpt from the first edition of Ghost Photography 101, by Fiona Broome.
Your camera can suggest “hot spots” for good ghost pictures. One of the best indications is a phenomenon called sparkles.
In the late 1990s, my research team noticed bright, sparkling lights that slowly drifted towards the ground after I took photos in haunted areas. They appear to flare when the flash goes off, but the lights linger for about half a second afterwards. On rare occasions, they fade over a period of nearly two seconds.
I called them “sparkles” in my earliest ghost hunting website articles in the 1990s, and the term is now used throughout the ghost hunting field.
If we could capture those sparkles in photos, they might look like the following photo. (It think it’s actually a spiderweb or some hair.)
Sparkles usually appear about 20 – 30 feet away from the camera. They look about the size of ping-pong balls. We see dozens of them, sometimes all at once and sometimes in a subtle sequence.
Usually, the sparkles are white or pale pastel colors. Some researchers report more vivid colors.
Sparkles seem to have mass, or they wouldn’t drift towards the ground as if pulled down by gravity. However, people standing immediately underneath them don’t see or feel them as they fall. So far, we have no idea what causes sparkles.
We know what they aren’t. They aren’t bugs (including fireflies), dust or pollen. They aren’t rain or moisture.
Note: Insects immediately in front of your camera can also seem like bright lights, but only when the flash highlights them. In addition, if you’re in an area with fireflies, we’ve noticed that some fireflies “answer” the flash on the camera by flaring their lights as well.
Remember, the anomalous sparkles never show up in photos. (I wish they did.) They’re best seen through the camera’s viewfinder (or lens), but most spectators (about 80%) see the sparkles whether they’re looking through a camera or not. Both film and digital cameras seem to highlight sparkles. Some are better than others.
My oldest camera is among the best to reveal sparkles. It’s an Olympus AF-1 Twin that my mother bought me, many years ago. It uses 35 mm film. Today, you may find cameras like it at thrift shops for just a few dollars. (I recently found one at Goodwill for $1.50. It works well, too. You might find something similar at Amazon.com.)
Once you see sparkles, you’ll know exactly what I’m describing.
Take as many photos as you can when sparkles appear, because there’s an increased likelihood that your photos will include anomalies… just not the actual sparkles you saw.