Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beware the 'Professional' Photographer

A couple of weeks ago, I arranged for my colleague Brian to test his Canon EOS 400D (Rebel XTi), with my lenses on my buried targets. Brian is a keen amateur photographer and as such likes to take control of the camera so I let Brian shoot the targets in his own way. The results were very mixed and even using the Sigma macro lens (which gave the best results), Brian didn’t capture many auras and most shots just resulted in a ‘noisy’ blank. Strangely, shots of the same target produced auras on one shot but blank on another. My own experience was that if a target produced an aura once, all things being equal, it would produce an aura every time, so I went for a lie down in a darkened room to contemplate the problem…
Although I’m a technician by trade, I like to keep things simple especially with complex instruments like DSLR cameras so I put my camera on automatic and just point and shoot, letting the camera take care of everything, including focusing. Brian had set his camera on automatic but was pre-focussing without the IR pass filter in place (so the focus would lock on visible light), compared to my method which was to autofocus through the IR pass filter, and effectively focus on infrared light. Brian returned to retest his camera using the standard lens and autofocus through the IR pass filter. The results were great --The picture shows the aura on a single British gold sovereign coin. I used Brian’s camera hand-held and achieved an aura on all targets except the three aluminum beer cans; Brian used the camera hand-held and tripod-mounted and achieved auras on all targets. Brian achieved slightly better results than me, with tripod-mounted producing the best results and I put this down to operator technique – the more stable the camera is held the better the results.
A couple of other interesting facts emerged from these and other recent experiments. 1) The auras have definitely become stronger over the two years that the targets have been buried. 2) I removed the four gold coins for the benefit of the video and did not re-bury them. One week later we were still getting a faint aura over the empty hole.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Digital cameras can see buried gold

The Successful Treasure Hunter’s Secret Manual: Discovering Treasure Auras in the Digital Age

David Villanueva, the author of several metal detecting titles, has discovered that digital cameras can be easily adapted to reveal the location of buried treasure from up to several hundred yards away. In his latest publication, The Successful Treasure Hunter’s Secret Manual: Discovering Treasure Auras in the Digital Age, David explains clearly how anyone can turn a digital camera (possibly one they already own) into an amazing treasure hunting tool.

Having successfully used a Polaroid camera for photographing auras given off by buried metal for a number of years, David was horrified when Polaroid stopped making the film in 2005 and usable original film quickly became unavailable at any price. In the short-term alternative film is available, which photographs treasure auras at least as well as the original film but Polaroid’s recent decision to cease all instant film production would make photographing treasure auras history…unless digital cameras could be used.

However, digital camera technology is very different to that of film cameras and what worked with Polaroid failed with digital. A complete re-think was needed! The breakthrough came after David learned of treasure hunters successfully using a highly specialised digital camera to locate caches buried along Spanish mule-train trails. So clearly it was possible to photograph auras digitally but could it be done without spending a fortune on high-tech equipment? After three years of intensive research the answer is absolutely yes! Some, possibly many, popular digital cameras are up to the task.

Using readily available photographic accessories that anyone can easily attach, without causing damage, the digital cameras tested were able to record an aura, from a distance, on a single quarter-ounce (seven-gram) gold sovereign coin buried six inches (150mm) underground. In extensive field trials cameras located buried metal over two feet (610mm) deep and could discriminate between different metals. The cameras could be hand-held or tripod-mounted and could capture auras anytime during daylight hours in a wide range of weather conditions. A colleague invited to test the system, with his own camera, clearly demonstrated that no special skill or ability was necessary by obtaining an aura on the first attempt.

After reading The Successful Treasure Hunter’s Secret Manual, well-known treasure hunter and author Stan Grist said: “If this is for real, it will dramatically improve my treasure hunting results for the rest of my life! I am in the process of assembling all of the recommended gear so I can get out into the field as soon as possible. From a scientific perspective, my associates and I all agree that this may actually be the modern-day solution for a specific, huge treasure in Ecuador that we have been seeking for years. I am REALLY excited!”
The Successful Treasure Hunter’s Secret Manual: Discovering Treasure Auras in the Digital Age, ISBN 978-0-9550325-5-4 is published (2009) by True Treasure Books. Soft back, 84 full-colour illustrations, A5 size (210mm x 146mm or 8.25 inches x 5.75 inches), 68 pages, price £19.97. Visit: A 52 page, large format digital version is available, price $19.97 at

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Where's the path?
Iain, one of my customers recently introduced me to this site: Ordnance Survey mapping and aerial images are displayed side by side. You can type in a place then navigate around the map, while the map cursor is mirrored on the aerial view, so you can see exactly where you are on the ground. Great for looking for trackways and other features. Modern OS mapping is used initially but OS have imposed a limit, so the site switches to 1940s OS out of copyright maps once the limit is reached. That's not really a problem for metal detectorists and it may be an advantage since the aerial images are still recent - you can compare the modern landscape with a 50 year old map. Take a look!