Friday, September 30, 2011

God or ghost?? Nay it is just dust...dust...anyone?

Some people have gotten ghostly blobs appearing in their photos when they took shots of temple fairs or hungry ghost festivals (read here - paranormal ghost stories) and also my post on the second day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival). The first reaction is, hey did I capture something that was invisible?? Then they may think it is a defect in the lenses or dirt on their lenses, but wiping the lens proved that it was clean and a test at a later time indicate that their lenses were fine. And if two or more photographers in a group had obtained similar shots of the ghostly apparitions using two different cameras, then they are bound to think that they have seen something from 'the other side'.

Actually those blobs are light, usually from an intense source, bouncing off dust particles. That comes from the use of flash photography, whether in slow sync mode or fill mode flash. Also the particle must be big enough and high enough in numbers to be captured by a photographer, hence the usual occurrence inside smoky temples during festivals. I have personally experienced this before when taking photos inside temples and was desperate enough to use flash to fill in the dark interiors.

A good place to try it out is during Guan Yin celebration or during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival or the worst place to scare the shit out of yourself, the Hungry Ghost Festival. The blobs mar the photos, although small ones can be Photoshopped away, it takes time and therefore I usually discard it. If you want to try this, do remember the magic phrase to invoke them - Om! Anybody Home!... Just kidding, it is flash photography (Say cheese!).
Om! Anybody Home?! I can summon the gods to appear in my photograph (click to enlarge the pic and see the ghostly blobs that I have labeled with orange arrows). Shot with a weak fill flash at 1/40 of a second.
And make them go away. Shot at 1/13 of a second with no flash.
At this moment you can only see smoke rising in the air. Just wait and let me summon them; Om! Anybody Home!!!! And....
'Yes we are here!' What, you're not offering us any joss sticks?! Damn!' Notice the blobs - flash was used for this shot.

The reason which triggered me to write this article was due to the fact that I was quite pissed off with one of the 'big boys' photographers (people with big DSLRs and acting like 'very pro') today at the Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Ampang. I was trying to capture the candles and was using very slow shutter speed with my point-and-shoot. I needed the table to brace for the shot, and he suddenly came in and kept pushing me off just so that he can get the shot. Well, it was fair game for any photographer to try and grab the shot, but he then did a dumb thing that really got me pissed; he used his flash and at quite a high output, which means I must also time my long exposure shots way off of his so that I will not inadvertently capture those blobs. It was only self restraint that kept me from uttering a prayer to the gods to jinx him so that all his shots turn out bad for nine continuous days (me very bad, thinking about it). Anyhow, I think he could not get the good shot he so desired, for he left 5 minutes later after numerous clicking and flashing (the light, not his body..ewww) whilst muttering something under his breath. Perhaps the gods did read my mind...hahahaha.

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