Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Patiently Watching Ghostcams

First, a little information for anyone not familiar ghostcams. A ghostcam is a webcam (short for website camera) which broadcasts from a location that is purportedly haunted. Hence people watch them primarily in an effort to spot ghostly activity.

Historical sites have discovered that one way to increase interest in their properties is to take a cam, which may have originally been put up for security purposes, which is hooked into a computer which is hooked into the Internet, and have it broadcast images at regular intervals at a website where people may come watch it around the clock. Additionally, some private individuals set up these webcams in their own homes. The historical sites need  people to visit their properties and donate money for upkeep and renovation. These buildings are expensive to maintain. Private individuals may do it hoping that allowing strangers to view the activity in their home may help them uncover proof of paranormal activity. What other reasons there may be, I leave up to your imagination.

There are more ghostcams posted on the net every year. Some are at public sites where anyone may view them. Others belong to forums where you must register to be able to view their cams. Many people sit in front of their computer screens and look at ghostcams every day . . . and every night. How many people? No one knows. There is no way to keep track of their activity, but they look and they observe and sometimes they see things that shouldn't be there.

How long can you expect to watch a ghostcam before spotting any activity? Well, that depends on what kind of person you are and brings me to the following observation: People in the digital age of instant everything are IMPATIENT! They want what they want and they want it now. They want results, and they want them yesterday. Hence, some people quickly start to see ghosts everywhere they look, on the floor, on the walls, in the folds of curtains, in the waves of people's hair. Anywhere there are shadows cast, they see faces. There's a name for this phenomenon: pareidolia , but I like to call it apparitionus impacientum. They want to see, therefore they see. You can be like them or you can accept that the process might take a little longer since real ghosts don't appear on demand or onto fit anyone's schedule.

I confess that I succumed to apparitionus impacientum myself. I wanted to get in on the fun that everyone else seemed to be happening! After watching the Ordsall Hall cams for a few months, I started to see lines and shapes and spots that resembled a variety of characters. The first one I "saw" looked like a court jester. My favorite was an old king with a long beard, but I woke up from my delusion and admitted to myself, that as fun as the game of looking for people in the pixels had been, they were not real. They usually appeared in the stairway with the dirty stucco wall, and they never walked on out into the room. When I decided to turn on the logic circuit in my brain, I reasoned, ghosts can move. Ergo, if it doesn't move, it isn't a ghost.

Which brings us to an anomaly spotted recently on one of the Ordsall Hall ghostcams. A sharp-eyed watcher noticed that what appeared to be a candlestick on a sideboard along the back wall of the Star Chamber was in a different position when the cam refreshed, which for that cam, happens every 15 seconds. The viewer saved the images and posted them to the forum for viewing, and voilá, a comparison of positions shows that not only did the object move several inches to the right, but a cap from 6 minutes later showed it back in its original spot. This happened at a time late at night when no staff were present.  If you would like to see the original caps and read the forum discussion, click on the title of this post.

*UPDATE* The object may be a cross or crucifix and not a candlestick as first thought. One of the members of the Ordsall forum stated that on one of the many investigations held at the site, a medium reported that there was a ghost of a monk that was associated with a cross who was upset when it was moved during renovations. Is this the same cross? Which makes us wonder who moved it? Did one of the other ghosts move it, so that the Monkish monk would move it back? Was this a spirited prank, one ghost to another? 

I have seen some examples of paranormal activity caught on ghostcams, but only a few. Besides the candlesticks, there were the balloons that did a merry dance around the room,  a ball of glowing light, a dark wispy shape, the face of a young girl among an adult crowd. If I were to do a percentage, it would be a tiny portion of those caps posted by viewers, but those few are thrilling. For those who are truly interested in looking for evidence of ghosts, check out some links and if you find one you like, you have something to do on those days or evenings when you have a little time on your hands. Conclusion? Yes, you may actually be able to spot paranormal activity on a ghost cam, assuming there are ghosts present (i.e. the place truly is haunted), but this is an endeavor for people who are both persistent and patient, because it takes both to catch a ghost!

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