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Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2011

Dave!I don't know that I believe in ghosts. Though I am certainly open to the possibility.

Which is why I was thrilled when my good blogging friend, Heather (aka Coal Miner's Granddaughter), invited me to an investigation last night with the Paranormal Georgia Investigations team to "one of the most haunted places in the world"... Waverly Hills Sanatorium! And while I'm not sure I witnessed anything paranormal, it was a heck of a lot of fun. Especially since Avitable and The Muskrat were there too.

The place is most definitely creepy at times. Even when illuminated...

Waverly Hills Exterior

Waverly Hills Interior

Waverly Hills Interior

Waverly Hills Interior

Waverly Hills Interior

So you can just imagine what it looks like when it's dark.

For October, the place is dressed up for Halloween to make a haunted house. There's plenty of spooky paintings on the walls left over...

Waverly Hills Halloween Paintings

Waverly Hills Halloween Paintings

I tried my best to be a good investigator by putting all my energy into my senses so I could best seek out anything unexplainable. This is kind of overwhelming, and resulted in my mind going all fuzzy for the first couple of hours, but eventually everything kind of mellowed out and I was able to maintain focus and be hyper-observant of my surroundings without too much effort...

PGI Team Members (Paranormal Georgia Investigations)

Along the way, there were plenty of "what was that?" moments. Including an extended conversation with a spirit that was messing around with a flashlight (though it was entirely possible it was just an extended conversation with a flashlight). I wanted quite badly for ghosts to be involved in our hunt (and maybe they were!), but even putting that aside, the actual technical side of the investigation was absolutely fascinating.

And, as if that wasn't enough, I got to see my very first lightning bug!

I was bringing up the rear of our team, hanging back in the shadows looking for anything out of the ordinary. As I was walking down the hall, I saw a green blinking LED light. At first I thought it might be one of the K-II EMF meters we were using but, when I got up to it, I saw it was actually a little bug blinking on and off! I wasn't able to get a photo of him glowing, so I've Photoshop-simulated what I saw...

Lightning Bug!

Now, for people who live in the South and see this all the time, it's probably not a big deal. But I was over-the-moon thrilled since I had never seen one before. And it was different than I expected because I had no idea that they would be so bright! As the night went on, I saw quite a few of them blinking on-and-off, which was very cool indeed.

When I got back to the hotel at 4:00am, I was entirely too tired to do much of anything. But this morning I started looking at my photos. Very, very carefully. I was looking for any odd shadows or (gasp!) faces and apparitions like I had seen in the photos we were shown at Waverly. For each photo I would use Photoshop to open up the shadows and then examine each of the RGB channels for anything mysterious. It was a tedious process, but I took the time to go on the trip, so I wanted to put the time into doing things right.

As I got to the photos where the sun was going down, I found this image...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Kind of nifty composition and contrast, but nothing terribly special. I then opened up the shadows and suddenly noticed two green spots. Naturally, I was thrilled, thinking that I had managed to catch two lightning bugs in mid-glow...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

But when I zoomed in, it wasn't lightning bugs at all. It was just flawed pixels on my camera sensor. As anybody who has done work on digital photos knows, occasionally you get spots in Red, Green, or Blue because those are the colors which camera images are broken down into so they can be recorded. The spots are usually so small that they go unnoticed and, if they are noticeable, I just fix them in Photoshop, so it's not a big deal. My camera's most noticeable sensor flaw is a red dot which appears along the bottom-center in every image I take... even going back months...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

But, when I scrolled around this particular image, I started noticing RGB spots everywhere...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

The spots were so numerous that I thought I might have damaged my camera sensor somehow, because in all the time I've owned it, I've never seen so many of them. But, when I went to earlier and later images, the new spots were nowhere to be found. It was only on this image. And while they show up most everywhere, I picked out some random spots to enlarge here...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

I just spent the past two hours going back through image after image of everything I have on my laptop, and the new spots never appear in any other photograph. It's as if the number of flaws on my camera's sensor increased fifty-fold, then went back to normal. Or not. I dunno.

And while I would never claim that this is any kind of evidence of paranormal activity... well... it is something that I cannot explain. Maybe it's a natural phenomena which happens under certain lighting conditions. Maybe some camera function I had in place is to blame. Maybe it's dust. Maybe somebody has a perfectly good non-paranormal explanation. But a cursory Google search turns up nothing. So, again, I dunno.

Because even more so than before I went ghost-hunting... my mind is open to anything.

UPDATE: I was asked if the "RGB Snow" formed a pattern of any kind. If it does, I certainly can't see it. Below is the image where I've enlarged the spots by placing a dot on top...


Some of the brighter white spots I put a grey dot on top of. Those are probably dust, but they are brighter than any any spots I saw on other photos. There may be pixel problems in the bright areas, but I think they'd be masked by the light.

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  1. Mrs. Hall says:

    i don’t want to poop on your parade here but I just don’t get ghost hunting. I mean, having worked with cadavers, who are DEVOID of life, i’ve come to realize that life is built of energy. So when people go a ghost hunting, aren’t they really trying to capture energies?

    and if they capture it, in green blue and red dots OR fully on crazy floating ghosts . . . so what?

    i mean, when did unseen energy come as a surprise to anyone? for instance, when someone gives you the stink eye, or blows you a kiss, don’t you feel that energy?


    you walk but a person or a place and feel something off-that’s unseen energy.

    i just don’t get why people chase what’s already around them.

    OK that is all from debbie downer over here.

    • Dave2 says:

      Well, I don’t get why somebody would want to sit through the utter stupidity that is “Cirque de Soleil” since I find it to be about the most mind-numbingly boring bullshit on the planet. But I was told to “SHUT THE HELL UP AND THINK ABOUT NOTHING. GET ALL CHILD LIKE AND LET YOUR IMAGINATION BE TICKLED BY THE COMINGS AND GOINGS. STOP TRYING TO MAKE SENSE” so maybe that’s what advice I can offer to people who don’t understand ghost hunting?

      For me it has nothing to do with “capturing energy”… it has to do with seeking out the unknown and having an adventure. And I had an awesome time doing it, so it doesn’t really matter what other people think. Just as it shouldn’t matter what I think about somebody wasting their time by watching the nonsensical crap that is Cirque de Soleil. 🙂

    • For me, the ghost hunting is all about confirming that said energy is there, to confirm that I will continue to exist even after my body quits working. And to shut up my inner freak show and anxiety attacks that I used to have nightly regarding death. I no longer have those anxiety attacks and I don’t have to take drugs. Instead, I just sit in abandoned tuberculosis hospitals at 2AM in the morning. 😉

  2. Mrs. Hall says:

    and btw. i would be more afraid of FALLING THROUGH THE FLOORS OF THAT BUILDING then ghosts. that place does NOT LOOK structurally sound AT ALL!!

    glad you made it out alive!

    or did you?

    this could be a ghost driving blog ya know!

    • Dave2 says:

      Just like any building open to the public, Waverly Hills has to be inspected, certified structurally sound, and meet certain safety standards in order to be entered. If it didn’t, the building would be closed and condemned, so I wasn’t worried. I was even less worried when I found out that it is slowly being converted into a hotel, which you can see by the windows being replaced on the first floor there.

  3. Faiqa says:

    YOU were there? Now I’m jealous of Adam.
    The thing is, I absolutely believe in the paranormal. In fact, I believe in it so much that I wouldn’t go near that building if someone paid me a bajillion dollars. Okay, maybe a bajillion. But definitely not for a million. Like I told Adam, this is how HORROR movies happen!!
    The photo thing was super cool, I got chills. For real.

  4. val says:

    Sounds like quite an adventure…and as to fire flys…I agree common for southerners I am mesmerized by them, can’t wait till they arrive. My back yard looks like christmas! I love them!!! First year here my adult son and i captured them in a jar (then let them go) just to see if it would really light up the area! Such a southern treat!

  5. Mel says:

    My parents were always non-believers-in-ghosts until they bought their current house, which was built ca. 1830. One of the manifestations has been a blue light that moves around, which has been seen in a bathroom that’s in the center of the house with no windows.

    I’ve never had a sighting there or in my house, which dates to ca. 1700, but I once saw a ghost in my grandparents’ house, which was built ca. 1900. I very distinctly saw a solid human form walk past a doorway when there was nobody in that part of the house, and it happened in late afternoon, so no trick of dim lights.

    Then there’s the matter of the two sentinel figures I used to see on either side of the doorways wherever I slept as a child. They always freaked me right the hell out, but they never did anything but stand watch, and they weren’t location-specific. If I was sleeping in a room, regardless of the house, they were there.

    I’m not sure how to explain ghosts – an overlap in space-time, perhaps? – but I do believe they exist, because I’ve seen them. Of course, I also enjoy Cirque du Soleil shows. And spoofs of Cirque shows.

  6. Alison says:

    You know, I don’t think I realized until now that fireflies are a Southern thing. I did grow up with them and just kind of took them for granted and never thought about the fact that I didn’t remember seeing them elsewhere. Glad you got to enjoy the light show!

  7. Robin says:

    I can’t believe you have never seen a lightning bug. I thought they were everywhere. Glad you had a good time!

  8. muskrat says:

    Great pictures! Except, I was disappointed that the one you took of the gargoyle and me didn’t make your post.

  9. karla says:

    1) I never once saw a firefly in Texas, but I see them here all the time in summer, and at my parents in Missouri.

    2) I wanted tp be a parapsycologist when I was a kid until I realized i have the sensitivity of a cinder block. I just DON’T have the psychic ability at ALL.

    However, my husband has seen ghosts (memorably one in our hotel room in an very old bulding in New Orleans) and he actually hollered and said “Did you see that?” an I was all “Wah?” and he was all “A little girl just ran past you and into the wall” and I’m like “Wah?” Apparently she almost ran into me, I totally didn’t even notice. But he saw it and was mighty freaked out entire stay.

    My mom also swears an old house my parents used as an office was haunted, banging on the desks and someone going up and down the stairs when no one else was around. She didn’t like being there alone, but also felt that the ‘presence’ was benevolent, somehow. We found out later that a kid had shot himself in the attic of the house, in the 50’s.

    So I have first had experience, though other people, that there is something, but I am not one who sees it. Sigh.

  10. lightning bugs aren’t just southern…they are all over up here, too. doesn’t feel like summer until my yard flickers. (see, another reason to come back to visit pittsburgh!)

    i pretty much could have written what faiqa wrote, so basically…what she said.

    i am curious about something, though. do the images you captured on the investigation make you have a strong feeling that there was something there? do you feel that they are “proof” that the place is “haunted” (for lack of a better word)?

  11. Avitable says:

    I connected the dots and it became Slimer.

  12. Sybil Law says:

    We have lightning bugs here, and I’m not in the South! They are super cool, though!
    Love the dots. I don’t care what it is – super cool!
    Still jealous I couldn’t make it. WAH.
    (Also, I refuse to come back as dots. I want to be a ghostly, better looking apparition of ME, dammit! Haha)

  13. Megan says:

    I think I may be too far south for the fireflies. I don’t recall ever seeing them either. 🙁

    As for ghosts, I cannot rule out the possibility. I believe there is a hell of a lot we don’t know can cannot know. But it’s totally cool to try to find out.

    I have no idea about the picture. Not a clue.

  14. Ren says:

    We used to see fireflies fairly regularly here, but now it seems to be a rarity. Or perhaps I’m just not outside as much as when I was younger….

    I used to see an apparition of some sort in our house when I was growing up and it took me a long time to figure out that it was almost certainly a reflected shadow. Now, I’ve gotten so used to my peripheral vision misinterpreting changes in light as movement, that I — perhaps too readily — attribute most oddities to that.

  15. Ren says:

    Oh, I also wanted to mention, regarding the camera sensor spots, heat is a factor. You probably already know this, but as the sensor gets hot, more and more pixels are likely to experience the problem. Whether this is relevant to this photo is another matter entirely, of course.

  16. Sarkawt says:

    Super-creepy photos! Really scared.

  17. sizzle says:

    I would be so scared to go on one of those tours but all the same am fascinated by it all.

  18. claire says:

    Glad you finally got to see some fireflies: they’re cool! Though they’re aren’t a lot of them, we have them in the Northeast too.

    I always think something is reflecting in my window at first until I look up and realize a little lightning bug or two has come to visit. 🙂

  19. NYCWD says:

    That’s really interesting. I know for years there were things that would happen to film, purportedly from the energy of a spirit, so without film in the camera could this be the effect of that same energy on a digital medium? Definitely without a doubt a total possibility.

    Lightning bugs rock. We have them in the city, believe it or not, but they usually glow yellow.

  20. Sarah says:

    I’ve always wanted to go on a tour like that. I am fascinated by the paranormal. I wonder if I could talk Vahid into taking me…

    Also, I’m jealous you got to see a firefly. I’ve always wanted to see one and never have.

  21. Invader_Stu says:

    I love this kind of stuff. I’ve been obsessed with ghosts and ghost stories ever since I was a kid (I think being a huge Ghostbusters fan has something to do with it) but at the same time I’m kind of a skeptic. I think I just like the idea of it and the law around it.

    I’m dead jealous that you got to go on a ghost hunt. I would love to do that even though I know I would scare the shit out of myself while doing it.

  22. kapgar says:

    The most disturbing thing about all this is not the haunted nature of the place, but the idea that Washington does not have lightning bugs. Wha???? The very thought leaves me aghast! While we don’t have a ton in Chicagoland, I do see them relatively regularly. Saw a few just the other night. And, no, they were not fireworks. I swear!

    BTW, looks like you found a new place for Adam to host Avitaween.

  23. I worked for 5 years in a gourmet grocery that was built on a Tunica Indian burial mound. I saw freaky shit every. damn. shift. Never saw ant dots though…. Floating bags of hot dog buns though……

  24. erik says:

    It’s probably cosmic rays. Or radiation emitted by the soil. Or negative space entropy.

  25. I am so very happy that you were able to come and you were a consummate paranormal investigator! I hope we’re able to do it again and that you can come. Thanks for your insight and photograph! *MWHA!*

  26. Kevin says:

    Dave – have you tried to connect the dots on that picture? I’m seeing something…

    Thanks for the pics!

  27. Ephemera Wirefly says:

    i went there over 30 years ago, before it was tidied up… snuck in with a bunch of kids under the chain. There were still beds and cabinets there, papers all over the floor, i particularly remember a coat rack. Some signs of vandalism, misappropriation, and beer cans –lots of beer cans. It was absolutely paralyzing. Even knowing that the excursion was merely a ploy to ‘get the girlies all skeert, and needin’ some he-male pertection’ was small comfort.

    i loved seeign the pictures–even all tarted up with halloween jive it is still incredibly imposing. As memorable as my trip there was, and as unafraid as i have become of those passed, I would nevereverever do it again. Some places simply have their own presence. You are a Brave Little Blogger.

  28. adena says:

    SUUUUUUUPER jealous! I’d love to do something like that.

    Especially at Waverly Hills! The only other place I’d want to see more would be the Stanley Hotel.

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