What to Bring?
Here's a quick checklist of essential stuff for any investigation...
[ ] Appropriate Clothing. (Extra sweaters and things are good... As are umbrellas)
[ ] BATTERIES! (Extras for ALL your equipment)
[ ] FRESH, SHRINKWRAPPED FILM and TAPES or whatever for your equipment
[ ] Pencil, pen, paper
[ ] STRONG Flashlight
[ ] MONEY!!!!! (coffee, emergency etc)
[ ] Camera (35mm, Polaroid or Digital... Whatever)
[ ] Some type of sound recording device
Above and beyond this is your call...
Aside from these obvious toys, we have found the following can be handy in the clutch...
[ ] Laser Pointer(s)
[ ] EXTRA flashlights
[ ] Appropriate books or notes
Laser pointers are excellent for checking how "solid" something is and for signaling across distances. It's a given that some of your troop will NOT bring equipment. It's nice to outfit them with flashlights at least. DO bring all your notes and any books appropriate to the investigation for quick references.
MAKE SURE you have a witness as you unwrap tapes, film or whatever you brought. This is necessary in case someone cries, "TAMPERING!" if you capture some kind of phenomenon.
MAPS if you are going out of town are a GREAT idea as is the phone number of those with cell phones or to the place where you will meet before heading to the actual investigation.
Other than this, bring a good attitude, have fun and don't be afraid to giggle at the ridiculous AS LONG AS you're not doing it at someone's expense...
There are of course, the other toys that some groups use including our own on occasion. Things like EMF detectors and "Laser" thermometers. These items do have their uses but in some situations, are difficult to control and use. For example, an EMF detector will go positively off the scale if someone turns on a microwave or cell phone nearby (heck, even in the same room!). They will also jump if you move them quickly pointing at one place then another. To get the most out of this equipment you would almost need to be alone without any other electronic gadgetry in a hermetically sealed room. The thermometer is a bit more useful but look out for HVAC vents and other sources of heat or cooled air. Outdoors, this can be particularly difficult.
If you do wish to utilize these instruments, please use the utmost care to get valid readings.
As far as the use of this equipment, use your own judgement. We usually suggest taking pictures almost ANYWHERE but once we've had the fifty-cent tour by the owner/manager/person who reported the phenomena, we'll position webcams, videocams, tape recorders in "known" hotspots. REMEMBER, make sure people repect the recording a equipment. When we've left tape recorders around, we ask that when people walk past them or into the general vicinity where they're being used, they announce who they are, what time it is and then announce when they are leaving. This ensures we won't mistake someone quite of this earth wandering about for more ethereal sounds.
If you're reviewing a tape, it's UNLIKELY the "ghost" walked into the space with your tape recorder, lit a cigarette and complained about running out of film and batteries and whined about one of the other investigator's breath but you never know.