Friday, 27 April 2012

EXIF FILES





Recently it has been brought to my attention that the term "EXIF File" is being thrown around by paranormal teams and investigators, without any real explanation of what it is, what it does, and how it is used. I thought I would take it upon myself to explain for you, Constant Reader, what an EXIF file is, and what it does.
EXIF data can also be found in other photo file formats, these are "RAW" (associated with DSLR) and "TIFF" formats, we may discuss these at a later point.
 The reason behind its prolific use of late has to do with accusations from some sectors of the paranormal community in regards to teams "Faking" photographs of ghosts.
EXIF Files are very useful in finding out certain information from when the photo was taken, and if it has been tampered with electronically, this is not by any means infallible information, as you will see as we get further into this research and discussion.


- Allen Tiller
What does EXIF mean?

 The Acronym "EXIF" stands for   "Exchangeable Image File Format"

So What is it?

EXIF is a non-industry approved standard that was created by the "Japanese Electronic Industries Development Association" to capture data associated with tagging aspects of Smart Phones, Digital Cameras, Scanners, and Audio associated with these media types. It can also capture Geo-location data via satellite in certain smart phones and newer camera.
Stored information can include, but is not limited too,  shutter speeds, date and time a photo was taken, focal length, exposure compensation, metering pattern and if a flash was use, this is what is known as a "metatag"

So who uses it?

 Professional Photographers often examine their EXIF data to compare two or three photos taken in succession, as one photo may be considered "successful" where as two others may not. This gives the photographer visual clues as to what may have went wrong with the "unsuccessful" photo's, allowing one to adjust or compensate in future photographic shoots.
 Paranormal Investigators are often flooded with photos from the public asking "what it in this photo?", a vast majority of the public are honestly unaware of what an image could be, but there is that small percentage that fake a photo to try and catch an investigator out . This is where EXIF data can be utilised by the investigator to determine if tampering or photo-shopping has been done to the photo, it can also expose the current trend of  phone APPs that create ghost images - however, as I said in my opening paragraph, it is not infallible.

So how do I see it?

 To view your EXIF file data you have a few options, the software that came with your digital camera should allow you to view the data. You can also find EXIF web browser plug-ins online, photo editing and organizing programs usually have an option for viewing as well.
 You will find in different programs different terminology used other than EXIF, in Picasa the term "Photo Information" is used, where-as in Flikr it is referenced as "Properties"

Most Internet Browsers have plug-ins availbale that will allow you to view the EXIF data of photo's posted online. This is useful if you are interested in examining different aspects of photography, or want to improve your own technique.

This link will take you to a site that shows a variety of different EXIF data from various camera makers
 http://www.exif.org/samples.html

Does it have a drawbacks?

 Yes, here is a brief sample of drawbacks associated with EXIF data sourced from Wikipedia
   - The Exif standard specifically states that color depth is always 24 bits. However, many modern cameras, such as the Nikon D70 which captures 36 bits of color per pixel, can capture significantly more. Since Exif/DCF files cannot represent this color depth, many manufacturers have developed proprietary, non-compatible Raw image formats.

   - Exif is very often used in images created by scanners, but the standard makes no provisions for any scanner-specific information.

  - There is no way to record time-zone information along with the time, thus rendering the stored time ambiguous.

You stated earlier that EXIF files are not infallible, how so?
 I  always check the EXIF file of any photo sent to me, it allows me to see what settings the camera was on, this is valuable information, as often cameras will be set to " night mode" which opens the shutter for a longer period of time. If the camera is focused on a light source, and that light source, or the camera itself moves at any point in the duration of the open shutter, the light will have a streak effect, or a glowing effect. Many people mistake this for ghosts, spirits or other phenomena. 
 I also check to see if a photo has been made on an APP, like the infamous ghost making APPS found on Apple's I-Tunes :
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/ghost-capture/id349479650?mt=8

The truth is EXIF data can be altered, changed, lost or deleted, and rather easily too, with a variety of programs available to do so. Here are some links with information about changing EXIF data:

http://www.photosurfer.com/fix-enhance/24/how-to-edit-meta-data-or-add-information-meta-tags-to-photos.aspx 

http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Graphic/Digital-Photo-Tools/Exif-Date-Changer.shtml

Adobe Lightroom 3:
 http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Lightroom/3.0/Using/WS57264460-DC72-4a1f-A665-1E90907A9FFD.html

 FtsVM06oAFg


So as you can see EXIF data is not infallible and not really a valid argument when accusing another of faking a photo, because the reality is, you can never be 100% certain the data is, or isn't correct. I normally recommend to all budding paranormal investigators to forget the photography and go with video, as photography gives you an image and no data, no start and finish point, where as video gives you a start point, and action point and an end point, allowing for better examination of a phenomena represented by the images - but, video is also fraught with so many possibilities for tampering, editing and faking....but we'll leave that for a later discussion!


Researched & Written by
Allen Tiller

Thursday, 19 April 2012

"As In Life, As In Death"


As in life, As in death

A Paranormal Theory

by

Allen Tiller


“David was a grumpy old man, he'd spent 40 years working in poor conditions in a factory for minimum wage, spent his life living in public housing, never being able to afford a house of his own. His children had grown up with hand me down clothing as money was tight. This led to complications with his marriage, which ended in divorce.
Even as a young man, David was always in a bad mood, the world around him got him down. He got no happiness from sport, no satisfaction from work or family and eventually, died a miserable old coot with no friends...”

Now, I have a question for you, Constant readers, If “David” from my story above lived a miserable life, and was generally a sad miserable person, would he be released from his anguish and be a happy man in the after-world, or would he be as in life?

It is an interesting question, and one I have pondered upon for quite some time. Firstly lets remove religious bliss, things like going to Heaven and receiving forgiveness from this equation, and focus purely on the soul of the man that has shed his dense earthly skin.
So now David is a Ghost, he looks much like he did, he sounds much like he did.... does that mean he is the same “soul” he was when he was alive?
It is my wager that he indeed is exactly the same person, just without the dense human vessel around him.
Now, lets leave David to his misery and change the focus of emotion to something a bit darker, lets say, Anger.

Same scenario, but I'll name our Angry character "Susan".

Now Susie has been angry her whole life, and, if my theory is correct, is angry in Death.

New people move into Susie's house after her passing, she doesn’t like them much (she doesn’t like anyone much), and begins to cause trouble, little things at first, slowly building as her anger builds...
Soon the new occupants are worried and call in a paranormal investigation team.
The team begins their investigation, and Susie becomes even angrier as these strangers start asking inane questions of her...she scratches one of the investigators to get her point across...
Now, constant reader, You are that investigator, and you know nothing of Susie in life...do you jump to the conclusion of angry ghost lady, or do you jump to something “demonic”?

My belief is most would jump to the demonic theory and not even contemplate an Angry Susie ghost, this is partly because of the current trend of TV shows that come to the “demonic” theory all too quickly, partly because of the movie industry (think “The Exorcist, Amityville) and maybe a little bit of presumption on my part.

It is my belief that as we are now, we are the same person after death, of course this is just my own personal theory, and may not apply to every living person, I imagine someone in intense physical pain, or with a degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s may be freed from their affliction in death, and become negative or positive, depending on their outlook, and return to something like their old self – but who is to say really? As with all things in the paranormal world, it is just a theory, and probably opens more questions as to what is possible...

It is however, constant reader, my goal to get you thinking about such theories, and hopefully adding your views, thoughts or questions to the discussion about this article in the Eidolon Paranormal forums found on our website at www.eidolonparanormal.net – I look forward to reading your comments (but please keep the negativity to a minimum)

- Allen Tiller
Eidolon Paranormal