Orbs Truly Paranormal?
Every time there's
a leap in technology a new paranormal phenomena will be born.
The creation of tape recorders started EVP, EMF readers created
the hypothesis that magnetic-field fluctuations indicated
spirital presense and the digital camera started the fascination
with orbs. Orbs are the bane of the paranormal world. They're
a very recent development in the field as digital cameras
have become more and more accessible to the average wagepacket,
and even now their origins are still a puzzler. But what exactly
are orbs? Well, this article will hopefully answer some of
the questions surrounding them.
those who don't know, orbs are the little balls of light that
can sometimes appear on digital camera photos (they can sometimes
appear on 35mm film camera but this is very rare). To the
psychic community they are proof and say that orbs are the
beginnings of spirit manifestation. Other paranormal explainations
have been orbs being the soul of a departed individual or
balls of energy that're created when spirit manifests itself.
As soon as Orbs
started to appear on digital cameras they received the stigmata
of being 'paranormal activity', undoubtedly helped along by
TV programs like Most Haunted using orbs to make it appear
that their earlier investigations wielded positive results.
Some mediums and psychics have also stated that orbs are paranormal
in origin, with some even claiming to be able to see them
The camera manufacturers
themselves have issued innumberable statements as to the origins
of orbs, and not one of them have attributed orbs to
being paranormal in nature. Instead, the manufacturers say
that orbs are airborne particles or humidity in the air.
In doing research
for this article I looked at the different kinds of digital
camera that were being used in paranormal investigating, and
discovered that pretty much every camera that was capturing
orbs were of the 'compact' variety. These cameras are the
cheapest you can buy (and as such are used in abundance in
your average ghost-hunters kit) and are referred to as compact
because of their small size. These are the types of camera
that seem to continally photograph orbs whereas the more expensive
models, SLR type digital cameras, picked up nothing orb-wise.
Obviously there was something about these two types of digital
camera designwise where, on the SLR style, something was preventing
orbs from being captured.
This is what
I believe causes the 'orb' effect on compact digital cameras,
and also why orbs do not appear on SLR style cameras.
For this article I have used my Fujifilm Finepix
2200 compact digital camera to highlight what I am referring
to. I bought this back when they were new and pretty much
the day after I brought it home I started to capture orbs
all over the place - interesting because my house isn't haunted.
This was all well and good, I was capturing orbs during a
few investigations and whathaveyou until I decided to upgrade,
purchasing a Fujifilm Finepix S5000 SLR. But when I started
using this camera on investigations I photographed zero orbs,
even though the camera was being manufactured by the same
company as my older one and was being used in the same places
as before. This is what led me to conclude that there must
be a design element that causes orbs to appear on compact
digital camera photos.
excuse the diagrams below. They're a little crude but do highlight
the points I'm trying to make.
The main difference
between Compact and SLR digital cameras (and the reason as
to why I believe compact cameras capture orbs but SLR cameras
don't) is the distances and angles regarding how close the
flash is to the lens...
the left here is a Fujifilm Finepix 2200 compact digital camera,
the first digital camera I ever bought and one that I continually
captured orbs on. If you look at the design you can see that
the flash is at a very close proximity to the lens - a common
feature on the compact design. The
flash is less than 1cm away from the lens on this particular
model. Because of this, when a photograph is taken with the
flash the space almost directly in front of the lens is flooded
with intense light, and particles in the aie that are close
enough to appear in the photo are massively lit up as the
photo is taken, thus they can appear as an 'orb'.
On the right
are some crude diagrams that show the area in front of the
camera is that is lit up when a photo is taken with flash.
As you can see the area pretty much directly in front of the
lens of the camera is
flooded with the flash of the camera, and because of this
any tiny airborn particles that normally would not appear
on the photo are made intensely bright to such a degree that
the camera captures it in a very blurred form. Now, bearing
this in mind, let us now focus onto the SLR style digital
The first main design feature that leaps out at you in regards
to the SLR camera is the position of the lens and it's proximity
to the lens. This time the lens has been placed much, much
further away and is encased within a screw-on adaptor (used
when other lenses are screwed onto the existing body). This
is not only keeping the lens a safe distance away from the
it is also protectively encasing it so that none of the flash
light can get anywhere as near to the front of the lens as
it can on a compact digital camera. If you look at the diagram
on the right you can see that the light from the flash is
getting absolutely nowhere near the front of the lens, and
as such any particles that're hanging in the air directly
in front are not massively lit when the flash goes off, thus
they do not appear on the photo.
can also be used to explain why orbs never appear on photographs
that're taken without the flash.
above, my belief is that orbs are created by particles in
the air that're flooded in the light of the flash on compact
digital cameras. This also explains why there are so many
different styles of orbs that're out there. You can get yellow
ones, dull ones, bright ones, sharp ones, ones with a dimple
in them, ones that look like comets etc etc... but all of
them are, in my opinion, caused by airborn debris in front
of the lens. Below is a small list of many differing styles
of orbs and the natural debris that has created them. All
of the following photos have been taken using a Fujifilm Finepix
2200 Compact digital camera.
on the Lens
little spots or dark marks have appeared in photos that're
then thought to be orbs. However, as you can see from the
given example, these types of orbs are most likely caused
by a spot of debris that's actually on the lens itself. It
appears black because the flash is unable to light it up,
being so close to the lens, but because of its size in proximity
to the lens itself it appears as a black spot.
example shown on the left was created by sprinkling a little
dust in front of the camera and then taking a photo. Dust
orbs are most usually small and grey, with no inner texture
or anything. Dust orbs are by far the most common kind and
can frequently appear in clusters as an amount is accidentally
kicked up by an investigator or whathaveyou.
this is another common cause of orbs, and appear when there's
a promiment light-source directly in front of the camera when
a photo is being taken. The direct influx of strong light
into the lens creates a massive flare, and can usually create
multicoloured blobs of light appear in shot. The effect created
on the left was done by taking a photo directly at the sun,
but the light doesn't need to be that intense to create a
similar effect. I've seen a number of photos that have some
unusual anomaly in them but which also have a strong lightsource
directly in the background.
little pinpoints of light can appear in photographs (such
as on the left) that have been classified as an orb. The truth
behind these is that sometimes digital cameras can really
struggle in low light, and if a photo is being taken in a
place with zero light it is sometimes unable to capture information
for a single pixel. Since this information isn't collected
this pixel appears like a tiny pinprick of white in an otherwise
black photo. These becomes increasingly common if the camera
being used is old and is starting to fade a little quality
is most usually the cause of an orb if the photo is being
taken outside, especially near grassy areas with flowers or
fields. Pollen orbs are very rarely white, most being a tint
of yellow and their unique feature that distinguishes them
from all the other styles is that they pretty much always
have a little dimple or spot in them, as can be seen above
(some people jokingly refer to pollen orbs as 'Death Star
photo was taken during a very misty night where you could
feel the moisture in the air on your clothes and skin. The
photo was taken with a flash and showed hundreds of small
orbs in shot. These mist orbs have, in the photos I have taken,
appeared small in the majority and they all seem to have a
slightly hexagonal shape to them. Their distinguishing feature
I've noticed is that they seem to have a small dimple in the
middle of them. Obviously, mist orbs always appear in clusters.
Rain / Comet Orbs
it is raining, or has just rained, or if there is a mist,
fog or humidity in the air, then you have a good chance of
capturing a comet orb. But why are they pointing up towards
the sky? Well, these are caused when raindrops are falling
from the sky, and because of their speed coming down (terminal
velocity) they move as the photo is being taken. When the
photo is first taken the shutter is fully open, and all of
the raindrop is exposed, but as the raindrop falls the shutter
closes, cutting more and more of it out, creating a faint
tail underneath it as less of the light reflected from the
raindrop is allowed back into the lens. The animation on the
right is pretty basic but explains this point.
type of orbs appear rarely, and they're the most fascinating
of the bunch. It's been said that they're caused by dust,
although dust orbs most usually appear in clusters and are
small, dull and flat. These have a kind of skin with a plasma
type outer edge to them. They have a skin and a texture to
their insides. They're only appear on their own as well.
Things to Ponder...
have claimed to be able to see orbs with the naked eye, thus
fuelling their 'paranormal nature'. However, you do have to
wonder that if this were the case, why did no medium or psychic
claim to see such things before orbs started to appear
If orbs are
said to be the first stage of spiritual manifestation, how
come there are zero photos or videos showing an orb transgressing
into the second stage (assuming, of course, that the second
stage is 'ectromist')?
Questions About Orbs
why do orbs only tend to appear at haunted sites?
A: A pretty simple one to answer. It's most likely because
your proverbial haunted home is usually more
dusty than a standard place, or is a public building where
a lot more people tend to visit, invariably shedding skin
and creating much more dust than in a private residence. Plus,
with places such as pubs, there's also the added fixture of
a fireplace which can eject particles of ash up with the rising
heat it creates.
about orbs captured on video?
A: Orbs on video camera are a different matter. I've seen
some very interesting orb videos where the orb captured seems
to have an intelligence and can interact and move around its
surroundings. I have also seen video of orbs appearing from
behind furniture a fair distance away, giving a scale as to
its position. Although this article explains what orbs caught
in photos could be, it cannot be used to try and identify
the orbs that appear in video since they're two completely
different formats. This will be the subject of an article
in the future.
by Michael Harbidge. Copyright © 2007. All Rights Reserved.
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