Featured

Welcome to The Accidental Ghost Hunter

Photo by Gayle Martin. Location: Nassau, the Bahamas.

I originally started this blog back in 2007, and migrated it to WordPress in 2017. At the time I started The Accidental Ghost Hunter, I was writing a series of historical novels for young readers that would eventually become The Luke and Jenny book series, and part of my research included spending time in historic sites, such as Tombstone, Arizona. While I was there I would sometimes experience strange things. I also met others who’d had similar experiences in Tombstone, or at other historical sites, so I created The Accidental Ghost Hunter to share my experiences with others.

While I’ve never assumed that every bump in the night is a ghost, I’ve always believed in life after death, and I believe that those who have passed on can remain connected to loved ones who are still living. Or they may, perhaps, have some unfinished business that they need to deal with.

Unlike a professional ghost hunter, I don’t go into allegedly haunted sites with EMF meters, tape recorders, thermal imaging cameras, or other equipment used to document, or debunk, a haunting. It’s just me, visiting historic places, taking photos, and then finding strange anomalies in my photos. Sometimes I can debunk them, other times I can’t. And that’s what makes me The Accidental Ghost Hunter.

GM

P.S. The photo in this post has no anomalies. It is, however, the one in my collection that came the closest to looking like a “haunted” house.

Monterey Court Orb

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.

The Accidental Ghost Hunter has been upgrading her camera equipment, and the latest edition to my collection is a Nikon D7200. I bought it for night photography, and as I’m working with it I’m finding it’s a really nice camera. However…

Monterey Court is located in Tucson, Arizona, and it has an interesting history. Originally built in the 1930s, it was one of the first of many motor inns along the old highway, which is now a city street called Miracle Mile. Over the decades, however, neighborhood changed. The interstate rerouted traffic, and Miracle Mile went from a resting stop for traveling families to a high crime area known for drugs and prostitution. Fortunately, that began to change in 2011, when Monterey Court was purchased by its current owners, who’ve successfully converted it from a seedy, run down motel into artist studios and a restaurant. They also built a stage in the center court, and it’s become a trendy music venue.

I’ve been going music gigs at Monterey Court for about four years now, and I’ve taken literally hundreds of photos there, with no anomalies, until this past Easter Sunday, when I was photographing a friend’s gig. There, among my photos, was a odd-looking anomaly that, at first glance, appeared to be an orb. Monterey Court just happens to be across the street from an old cemetery, and, according to another friend who had once leased a shop there, odd things do occur there from time to time.

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed the “orb” has a perfect hexagonal shape, which tells me it’s not an orb, but some sort of glitch with the camera. Still, it’s odd nonetheless. I was using a lens that is practically brand new, and another photo, taken at exact same spot a mere second earlier, came out normally, as did all of my remaining shots. The lighting is from stage lights, placed a good twenty feet over the stage, so I think I can safely rule out a lens flare.

While debunked as an orb, and a lens flare, I’ll have to write it off as an odd camera malfunction occurring in an usual location with a checkered past. Another words, it’s all a rather interesting coincidence.

GM

 

Holy Cross Photo

Photo by Gayle Martin. Location: Viscount Suites Hotel, Tucson, Arizona.

The Accidental Ghost Hunter has some new digital cameras and is now doing videography as well as photography. I love the new technology. Hard to believe that back in the day I went kicking and screaming from 35mm to digital, but now, with today’s DSLR cameras, I can shoot video.

A musician friend recently asked me to shoot a demo video for her, and as I was setting up I took a few test shots. Later on, as I went through the photos and video clips, I found something remarkable. My camera had captured a light effect that resembled a cross.

If you look closely, you’ll notice a light fixture on the column, so that would be the source. What’s remarkable is the luminosity. The same effect showed up in some of my other test shots, but not nearly so brightly.

I believe in angels. In fact, I owe my very existence to the angel who intervened and saved my father’s life when he was a young man. Angels, like deceased loved ones, can communicate with us in a subtle way, if we’re able to perceive their messages. I believe this particular photo was a message from an angel to tell me, and my friend, that they’re with us.

GM

P.S. If you’d like to see the video, please click on the link below. Nothing paranormal, but you’ll hear some great jazz.

Mesa Verde Mist

Hello everyone. The Accidental Ghost Hunter is alive and well, and even doing a little traveling. Last summer a friend and I took a trip to Colorado, and one of our stops was the Mesa Verde National Park in the southwestern part of the state.

Photo by Gayle Martin Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved

Like most of Colorado, Mesa Verde is certainly worth seeing for the scenery alone. It was once the home of the Ancestral Puebloans, who lived in the area for approximately 700 years, roughly 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Seven centuries is a long time, with many generations of people living and dying in the area. As my friend as I made our way around I was taking photos with both my iPhone and my Nikon Coolpix digital camera. Then my iPhone started acting up while I was taking photos of some of the cliff dwellings. Well, I figured it was because we were in bright daylight. The sun had bleached out the screen, and I apparently hit a button by mistake, as my iPhone was now taking photos in black and white instead of color. Yes, I was annoyed, but I also took a few shots from the same vantage point with my digital camera, and, as you can see by the first photo, they all came out perfectly.

We eventually made our way to the visitor center, and as we chatted with some of the staff we heard some interesting accounts of paranormal events. Again, this would not be unexpected in a place where people had lived and died for some seven hundred years, and most sounded like residual hauntings, such as claims of hearing the sounds of drumbeats and chanting echoing across the canyon at night.

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2014. All Rights Resersved.

I’m posting two of the photos taken with the iPhone, shortly after it began acting up. The first is for a reference point. This photo also has a distortion in the upper right corner, but I’m going to debunk it by saying it could very well be my finger, since it’s right where the iPhone lens is located, and it’s an easy mistake to make. The one that follows has what appears to be ethereal mist. Both were taken on a bright, sunny day, and there was no wind blowing. I also tried to debunk it by looking through my iPhone lens and trying to place my hand in front of it at the same angle as the mist. It felt awkward, and I would have known that my hand was in the way when I took the shot. I could also  clearly see the details of my hand and they were very solid. This photo looks misty, and, interestingly enough, my finger is not in the upper right corner.

So, is this something paranormal? Possibly. As always, I’ll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.

GM

Hotel Gasden Orb

Once again guest blogger, fellow author and accidental ghost hunter David Lee Summers returns to share some photos from a recent book signing in Douglas, Arizona.  Thanks David for contributing.

GM

* * *

Photo by David Lee Summers

On October 13, I was invited to participate in the Arizona Centennial Authors and Artists Weekend at the Hotel Gadsden in Douglas, Arizona. The Hotel Gadsden is a grand hotel first built in 1907. It was a home away from home for cattlemen, ranchers, miners, and businessmen in the Arizona Territory. Visitors to the hotel have included Pancho Villa, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Lee Marvin.

Photo by David Lee Summers

The hotel was designed by famous Southwestern Architect Henry Trost.  Trost designed many buildings in Tucson, Arizona, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.  Arguably one of his greatest accomplishments was designing the University of Texas at El Paso, which he modeled after Bhutan, the last of the three Forbidden Kingdoms hidden deep in the Himalayas.  The Gadsden’s Lobby is a terrific example of Henry Trost’s architectural style.

As it turns out, the Hotel Gadsden is famous for its ghost sightings.  They even have a page devoted to its haunted history here: http://hotelgadsden.com/haunts.html

Photo by David Lee Summers
Photo by David Lee Summers

During the book signing and our stay at the Hotel Gadsden, we only had one potential incident, I only had one potential encounter, but it was an interesting one.  My wife was taking photos from the mezzanine, which looks down into the lobby and managed to capture the image of an orb right in front of me. Now, I realize that orbs are controversial. Some attribute them to dust or tricks of the light and I certainly can’t write off that possibility. Still, what’s odd is that she took two photos in a row and one had an orb and the other didn’t.

Before I leave it to you to ponder whether this was a real paranormal event, I’ll just note a couple more items. Of all the photos we took at the event, this is the only one that showed an orb. Also, it’s the first time I’ve seen an orb appear in a photo with such bright light.

If you’re interested in ghosts or history and find yourself in Southern Arizona, I highly recommend dropping by the Hotel Gadsden.  The hospitality is fabulous and it’s an interesting look back into days gone by.

Proofreading Ghost?

I know, I’ve been away a long time. Guess my life has been more “normal” than paranormal lately.

About a year and a half ago I switched genres and went from writing historical children’s novels to contemporary adult romance novels, which I write as Marina Martindale. So, last night my good friend, “Ginny,” was helping me fine-tune a manuscript before it goes back to the editor. We were rewording the dialog in a conversation between a private investigator and an FBI agent, and, as I’m reading out loud to her, I notice a faint shadow going across my keyboard. Keep in mind, my hands were not moving or nor were they on the keyboard at the time, nor was it a power surge. I stopped reading and I asked her if she saw it. Ginny is a sensitive, if not out and out psychic, and she also has the ability to see spirit people. Yes, she saw the shadow all right. She then tells me that the entity is a man, but he is not my father. It is someone who I do not know. At this point I’m not exactly feeling warm and fuzzy, but, since the dogs are all asleep and not barking, she tells me it’s a good sign and that he is not a negative spirit.

My latest novel, The Deception, is both a romance and crime story, and she seems to think that the ghost of a police officer may have overhead us as he passed by, and that he possibly took an interest. I never had any friends or relatives who were police officers, but she tells me that spirits can roam, just like we do, and if something gets their attention they may stop to check it out. She also reminded me that there is an electrical substation directly across the street from my house, so there may be a portal over there.

Needless to say, that ended working on the novel for the rest of the night.

GM

Queen Mary Ghosts

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger, fellow author and accidental ghost hunter  David Lee Summers.  Thanks David for contributing.

GM

***

PHoto by David Lee Summers

These photos are from a ghost tour my daughter and I took during Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium held aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach California on Friday, January 13, 2012.  The strangest incident that happened was when we went to the first class swimming pool aboard the ship.  It’s a noted “hot spot” for ghost sightings.  The first photo shows the pool.  Off the upper balcony, we went into the women’s dressing rooms.  I snapped a photo of the corridor. 

Photo by David Lee Summers

When I took the photo, I thought I saw a person in the flash and indeed, there is a strange, almost human-shaped shadow in the photo.  I assumed it was one of my fellow tourists, but when I walked up the hallway, I didn’t pass anyone or see any other people ahead of me in the corridor or the dressing rooms.  I did get a serious case of the willies as I walked further down the hall and the hairs raised on the back of my neck.

PHoto by David Lee Summers

When I downloaded the photo onto my computer, I assumed the shadow I captured was some strange trick of the light.  However, I then did a simple brightness/contrast adjustment and adjusted the color curves a little in Adobe Photoshop and the image below popped out.  I should note, the hallway was completely dark.  The only illumination came from my flash.  If this was a fellow tourist, they were standing in the dark with this apparently non-nonchalant pose.  They had no flashlight and the flash didn’t seem to illuminate them. 

Photo by David Lee Summers
Photo by David Lee Summers

Another place that felt very eerie to me was the old boiler room.  The top photo was taken just outside the boiler room.  Inside, the boiler room, I took several photos.  I kept feeling like I was seeing something move outside the corner of my eye.  The one thing that I may have captured is the green glow in the lower left hand corner of the bottom photo.

I’m a professional astronomer and writer.  I’m also an admitted skeptic.  I’m hard pressed to say these photos serve as hard evidence of ghost encounters.  Despite that, these photos do raise questions for me—especially the one taken in the dressing rooms.

For anyone who would like to read more about Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium, I posted a guest blog about the event at: http://darkcargo.com/2012/01/22/her-royal-majestys-steampunk-symposium-2012/

My regular blog is at: http://davidleesummers.wordpress.com

Thanks, Gayle, for letting me share my ghost tour experience!

Why do Ghost Hunters Only Work in the Dark?

Excellent article on Salon.com called Why real-life ghost hunters hate “Ghost Hunters.” The author brings up a point that I’ve never quite understood myself, and that is why do all those reality TV ghost hunters always do their hunts overnight?

I’ve heard some say it’s because ghosts are more active at night. Really?  Do ghosts punch a time clock? And what about interference from streetlights or car headlights? He also questions how well can anyone observe anything in total darkness. Sure, they’re using night vision cameras, but those LCD screens are tiny. And if you recall in a few of the episodes of Ghost Adventures some of their guys have tripped and fallen over furniture in the darkness, and how smart is it really to be walking around inside a completely dark derelict building? It’s lucky that so far no one has taken a bad fall and ended up with a serious injury.

Another point of observation is to listen to the claimant testimonials on Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures. The typical story goes something like, “I’d just locked up the museum for the night and I was the last one to leave. I was about to get in my car when I looked up and saw the lady in the Victorian dress staring out the window.” Almost without exception their encounters are happening either during the day or in the early evening hours. So why is it necessary for all the TV ghost hunters to do their work between midnight at 5 am? Is it to make their shows more dramatic?

The rest of the article is a very interesting read, and I would have to agree with the author that there are some fakers out there, as well as some television shows in which the hunters do sloppy work. Take Most Haunted. They don’t even do EVP sessions. Instead they rely on psychics and Ouija boards, and, as far as they’re concerned, every little particle of dust that the camera picks up is an orb and therefore evidence of ghostly activity. Yeah, right. I can’t help but wonder if some of the people on some of these TV shows are perhaps more interested in showmanship and doing whatever it takes to get the ratings up than in conducting serious paranormal research. But at the same time they are bringing the discussion about ghosts and the paranormal into the mainstream. People who have had strange experiences that they can’t explain, or that they have been badly frightened by, are now more able to open up and talk about it because they are realizing that they are not alone and that they’re not “crazy.” And that’s a good thing.

There will come a time when shows like Most Haunted and Ghost Adventures will have run their course and, if you’ll pardon the pun, fade away. Then perhaps the more serious paranormal research can begin again.

My thought for the day.

GM

Is This an Orb? No.

Yes, the Accidental Ghost Hunter is alive and well, but the economic reality of the times has sharply curtailed my travel budget, so I’m not traveling historic places as often as I once was.

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

That said, last weekend I had a book signing at an event at a historic place in southern Arizona called Empire Ranch.  It’s an old cattle ranch dating back to the 1860s, currently undergoing restoration and is now being used for educational purposes. I’m not aware of anything sinister in it’s history, nor did I get any kind of a creepy feeling while I was there.  If anything, it felt like a happy, positive place. About the only scary thing I encountered was having to deal with porta-potties.

I did however, get one anomaly that, to an untrained or overly excited eye, might be mistaken for an orb. However it is not. It’s simply a lens flare, and a lens flare can look similar to an orb. That’s why orbs are a controversy in the ghost hunting community. Sometimes an orb truly is an indicator of paranormal activity, but oftentimes they’re not. That’s why those ghost hunters who want to be taken seriously are skeptical of orbs.

Another one debunked.

GM

Book Signing Ghost? Not Exactly

I spent the past weekend in Tombstone doing a book signing at the annual Vigilante Days event.

I’m now in a new location for my book signings. The owner of Doc Holliday’s Emporium, at 6th and Allen Street, invited me to her shop this past June during another event, and she and I hit it off. Doc Holliday’s Emporium happens to be right across the street from the famous Birdcage Theater, which, as we all know, is one of the most haunted buildings in America.

A funny thing did happen at that first book signing. The card table I was using suddenly collapsed. That’s when the store owner’s kids told me that they too have problems with ghosts and poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because of the close proximity to the Birdcage. However one has to approach these things with a little bit of skepticism, and the fact that the table had been rickety to begin with, and that customers had been bumping against it for a good part of the day, is the more likely reason why it collapsed. Either way, nothing was damaged and no harm was done. We picked everything up, I resumed my book signing, and no other unusual activity occurred.

This past weekend I decided to bring my camera with me, and as I was reviewing my photos I saw something in the background, on the t-shirt hanging behind my shoulder, that appeared to be a very bright orb.

Orbs are a bit of a controversy. They can be balls of energy that can indicate paranormal activity, and some in the ghost hunting community really glom onto them. Others, including me, understand there can be more to an orb than meets the eye, and that what appears to be a ball of energy can also be a dust particle, or an insect, or a reflection. That said, I zoomed in on the orb, and sure enough, it was a reflection. There was a glass panel between me and the window display behind me, and when the photo was taken the flash reflected off the glass.

So I’ve debunked another one. For now. I’ll be back doing another book signing at Doc Holliday’s Emporium during Rendezvous of the Gunfighters, this coming Labor Day weekend. I’ll try to remember to bring my camera again. You never know.

GM

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Ghost Hunter’s Academy”

When I first saw the previews for this new entry from Ghost Hunters I really thought I was going to hate it. It looked trite. So I tuned in the first episode, not expecting much, and I found myself pleasantly surprised.

This show, more than any of the others in the Ghost Hunters stable, really gives viewers an inside look into just how much time and effort goes into a TAPS investigation, and how vital it is that the team work together. And, as the season progressed, it also gave viewers a chance to observe group dynamics and learn lessons that could be applied to just about every workplace.

Heather was a good example of someone failing to blend in and be a part of the team. Yes, she was very nice, and everyone liked her as a person. But at the start of the very first investigation she announced that she was a medium. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that is not the TAPS way to do an investigation. Her approach made it difficult for her to work alongside the others. She was too independent so they had to let her go.

Then there was Jane. Pretty girl. She was someone who could possibly do well as an actress or a model, but she was not a team player. And unlike Heather, who was very congenial, Jane was only interested in looking out for number one. She had no problem stabbing others in the back in order to make herself look good, and then she would turn on the tears when Steve or Tango criticized her. Frankly I’m surprised Steve and Tango that didn’t kill her. Needless to say, while the all others were invited back, Jane was sent home.

And then there was Susan. She got off to a really rough start and I expected her to be the first person cut. But, instead of finger-pointing and blaming others, she learned from her mistakes, pulled herself together, and made herself into the most improved member of the team. Susan is a real positive role model for everyone. I’m glad that both she, and Karl, made the final cut and will be a part of the Ghost Hunters International team. I look forward to seeing more of them for a long time to come.

GM