Editors determine paranormal investigations “fake news”

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a silhouetted figure behind a tree

Editor’s note: Last week photopigs published a story about finding mysterious files in our archives, apparently as a playful joke for April Fools. Underling writers should never break into the basement storage to retrieve confidential files without permission. The authenticity of the files cannot be verified, which prompted a furious editor, overly concerned with the organization’s integrity and objectivity, to wrangle “confessions” out of the two writers to address reader accusations of Photoshop and #fakenews, whether or not it was true.

Long exposure used to fake spirit photography

Pushing the aperture ring around on a Lensbay feels strange at first, but I quickly got used to it.

Early spirit photography was likely double exposures. Since I didn’t want to use digital effects and do not have a film camera, I used a long exposure to create a similar effect. I moved myself or objects in and out of frame really fast. My cat is a particularly uncooperative creature. Trying to get an interesting image of her was a struggle.

I wanted to keep to physical effects as much as possible. Around Halloween we will produce a series on creating practical effects and this was my first go at trying some out. One way I tried to make the photo look a bit off was by having my camera’s aperture be not centered. I used a Lensbay Sweet 35 Composer Pro. Lensbaby lenses are known for good bokeh and other effects in out of focus areas.

Tack sharp photography was possible in the 1890s, but I decided that the ‘Ladies of The Spirit Photography Society’ did not have the money or training for that. Their shots look like they were made with a flawed and uneven lens but the out of focus areas have a nice creamy feel to them.

Cheap practical effects used for cryptozoology fake-out

Since the goal was to shoot low-quality footage reminiscent of supposed video evidence for Bigfoot, it wasn’t necessary to design a detailed costume.

Low budget and little experience does not lend itself very well to cryptid photography, but we made due. It was a simple matter of basic practical effects, which can only improve over time, as evidenced by the photos we did capture.

Our intent was to follow the narrative that Sasquatch was caught on an old trail-cam, so we cranked the ISO to increase the graininess and found some sparse woods on the edge of Minneapolis.

It’s a good idea to test effects ahead of time.

The only “tricks” used for this shoot were practical effects and low quality shooting. The Bigfoot costume was made with a $20 gorilla mask and a sweatsuit turned inside out. Ben, the photographer for the shots, talked me out of taking my shoes off. This was probably for the best, although it may have improved the effect for the other cryptid we photographed.

The “Anansi Goatman” story, which originated on 4chan, was a strong inspiration for some aspects of this story. We took a few test shots in my old apartment to make sure everything was right. It wasn’t but it was close enough.

My biggest concerns for the costume were the long, slender fingers ($5 gloves) and the glowing eyes. I wore some skintight clothes underneath my jeans and stripped in the suburban woods at 8pm for the photos.

The worst part was walking through that forest at twilight without my glasses and wearing a black “hood.” I couldn’t see a damn thing but the results came out satisfactorily.

The hood definitely needs some work. My partner donated some leggings to the cause, which I cut up and squeezed onto my head. I felt like Ace Ventura with the rhino. Electrical tape is pulling the top of the hood taut to the back of my head.

Plans include exploration into practical effects

A battery-powered LED lamp simulated flashlight-like lighting.

As you can see, Photoshop was not necessary to produce images intended to deceive the viewer into believing quote-on-quote “fake news”, even if it is intended as a practical joke. Readers should always be careful to study the elements of an image to prevent falling victim to scam artists. Stay tuned to photopigs for information on how to effectively interpret the intent of a photograph.

All in all, these projects proved to be a fun experience. photopigs plans to explore the realm of practical effects and build the narrative within this universe for occasions like April Fools and Halloween. Additionally, we will also continue building miniature sets with figures and Peeps. These articles will be tagged with “practical effects”, which displays at the bottom of the article, so that readers know the content should not be taken seriously.


What say you, loyal reader, how did these projects turn out? How were the effects and in what ways could they improve? Share your thoughts in the comments! Or request to join the private beta test of our community by sending an email to admin@photopigs.com.

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