A lot of people (myself included here) probably started investigating the paranormal after realising it was a real thing you could do. Where do we find this out? By watching paranormal reality shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. While I don't really watch these shows anymore, they certainly played a part in my going out there and jumping into the world of paranormal investigating. One of the common themes on these shows was that the investigations would happen at night time and they would always turn the lights off before the investigation began. The night was then filmed using night vision or in some cases candlelight, or even red lights. When we look at the way a lot of people investigate the paranormal today (admittedly myself included), commonly they are done at night and again with the lights off. While there are some reasons in theory behind this which I will get into below, it is also entirely possible to have an investigation during the day and even with the lights on. So let's compare both and look at the pros and cons.
I personally think that the value of investigating the paranormal during the day is quite underestimated. When I look at the majority of the historical locations I know I have been to and speaking with the staff, a lot of the experiences or even sightings they have had of possible apparitions are occurring during the day. The buildings are usually not open at night so there is quite potentially activity happening at night also, but there is no one there to witness it. I myself have had some very profound personal experiences happen to myself in the middle of the day. It was when I wasn't expecting it nor even looking for it which could be a factor too. I personally find the fact that these sightings are happening when people are not looking for them or expecting them all the more interesting. When you are looking for something (like say when you are on a paranormal investigation), your brain often tries to find a pattern in the chaos and we can often misinterpret something believing that it is paranormal. So when it is happening to people with no expectation (and in a lot of cases no knowledge of the location itself), this kind of thing gets me interested.
So when there is so much activity during the day, why are we investigating at night?
More than anything else, the reason most people are likely investigating the paranormal at night is a logistical one. A lot of locations are not available during the day as they are open to the public. It means if you do want to do an investigation, you have to put up with people walking around and potentially contaminating any photos you are taking or any EVP sessions you are trying to record etc. Daytime is also generally a lot noisier so again there may be things like traffic noise to consider. A lot of us also have families and work in full-time jobs so nighttime investigations are again convenient.
It is much easier and more convenient for a lot of people to investigate at night. It is also a lot quieter compared to the daytime and you are likely able to have a building to yourself. Look at old hotels that have restaurants and bars for example. If you are investigating the building and you have the sounds from the bar and the kitchen from downstairs, it is going to contaminate a lot of what you are doing and in some ways can be hard to focus. I know how hard it is sometimes doing investigations at Black Rock House which sits in a suburban street. I know the sound all too well of the bus driving past and stopping out front. Sometimes people have parties in the street with loud music. On hot nights, people walk through the public grounds outside at night (not knowing we are inside) and you can hear all the talking and messing about. It is a lot worse during the day, especially during the warmer months with the beach across the road so in a lot of ways, of course, it makes sense to do it at night.
Let's not forget the spooky factor. As someone that operates tours, I can tell you in the past I have done double sessions where we have done 1 investigation at around 7pm and a later one at 10pm. The later session ALWAYS sells out first. People have it set in their minds that they should be investigating at night. If they want to have an experience as they have on their favourite ghost hunting shows, they expect it to be at night time. Not only that, it is more convenient for a lot of people. I know I spend my Saturdays running around and watching my kids at their basketball games. I am not usually done until late afternoon, so a Saturday night investigation is more convenient for me logistically as it is for a lot of people. It is just where we are in the paranormal field.
While we have the nighttime thing well covered, it is still entirely possible to investigate during the day. In some ways, it is an opportunity to do something at a location that may not allow paranormal investigations. If you go to the location first thing when they open or not long before they close, it is quite possible to find a quiet spot for you to do your investigation. Speak to the staff, to the volunteers and ask them for their stories. I guarantee there will be some and they will be happy to tell you about them. They may even be kind enough to tell you where it all happened and encourage you to go and check it out so they themselves can get some answers and validation.
So in short, you can investigate during the day and at night, for a lot of people it is just easier at night and it brings in the crowds.
How many times during an investigation have you walked around in the dark and bumped into a table or a chair. I do it at least 5 times a night. Why don't I just turn on the lights? In the same way that an experience can happen to someone in the middle of the day, of course, it can happen with the lights on. Our eyes are likely to be more focused and it would be harder to misinterpret moving shadows as something paranormal and it would also remove an element of fear a lot of people have. So why do we switch the lights off?
Aside from the fact, people do it this way on television, a lot of people believe it allows us to focus on our senses. As paranormal investigators, we work with sensory deprivation in a lot of ways with the thought that if we can't see with our physical eyes - can we then see with our third eyes or our other senses? If you are not focusing on the environment around you with your eyes, you tend to listen more to your surroundings. You tend to feel what is happening around you. While it is something people do as well with lights on, they will often close their eyes - again to take that element of sight away to help focus better. A lot of people are also scared of the dark or they tend to be more on edge and more uncomfortable. Does the fear fuel activity or does it make people overly scared of something that really isn't there?
Firstly, again coming from the tour factor, if you are attending a public investigation, the expectation from people is that the lights will be off because that is what is on tv and has become the 'norm' when it comes to paranormal investigating. Some people use lanterns or even red light to set an atmosphere so while there is low light, it is not completely dark nor light. While navigating in the dark can be difficult, it is a lot easier to focus on the task at hand with the lights off. It is also important to know that the darkness causes our vision to go a little crazy and we may see what we think is a shadow person when it is a shadow being cast from a window. This one is always going to be a personal preference for people but if you are doing something where you need to see, don't feel you have to turn the lights off. You can absolutely do it with the lights turned on!
Is activity really going to differ if you have the lights on or off? My assumption is no but why not try and log your experiences. Compare the results. Are you getting more with the lights on compared to the lights off? Then ask yourself why that may be. Understanding why we investigate in a certain way can maybe bring us a little closer to understanding what it is that we are investigating.
So what is the overall outcome? It will be a personal choice based on what you like doing and there is really no right or wrong answer - it is what works for you. We all do things differently. All you need to know is that it is entirely possible to investigate day or night with lights on or off, but maybe we need to be smarter about it. Perhaps we are missing out by focusing solely on investigating at night. If a location has sightings during the day, why are we trying to recreate them at night under different conditions? The majority of historical sightings and ghostly stories that have been collected over the years by psychical researchers occurred during the day. While there are preferences that lean either way, the ultimate decision is yours and what you want to do and what works for you! Remember you don't have to copy what you see on TV. The next time you do switch the lights off, ask yourself why?
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