For a shorter version, please visit this wonderful video
that explains Orbs!
The most common type of visual activity to be presented as evidence
for paranormal activity and often used by amateur groups to "prove" a haunting. Let's begin with what people believe orbs
to be, then we will move on to what is actually happening.
Orbs: What Are They Believed
Orbs are believed by a large number of people, both new groups,
experienced and people who are capturing them, aka, non-ghost hunters, to be spirits caught on film.
Or, another popular belief is that an orb, is a ball of energy,
spirit energy that’s free floating, in the environment. It is “common
knowledge” that energy is most stable in the form of a sphere, which is the limited physics background of the belief,
and I do stress limited. I have also hear of orbs being spirit guides, demons, astral creatures and oddly enough " evolved
In reality, there is no proof or scientific back up for any of
this. Now that we know what the most common beliefs are in regards to orbs, let us proceed onto the truth.
What orbs REALLY are. Orbs have been scientifically debunked as
a modern inception with no pre-recorded example prior to the availability of CCD lens (digital camera) technology and it's
inferior ability to focus (this is especially true of cell phone cameras which cannot in any way compare to professional grade
or even consumer grade stand alone cameras), "supernatural orbs" make up the predominant presence of 'ghost photos' on the
There are two main types of orbs reported, both of which are caused
by particulate matter in the air. The first type is Naturalistic Solid-Type orbs, and the second type is Liquid-Based orbs.
Below we shall explore the two and see what the difference is. First off, cameras.
What Type Of Cameras Most Often
Capture Orbs? Digital vs. Film.
Naturalistic orbs are most commonly gained using digital cameras
and built-in flash thought not always.
While photographers with archives of photos report having occasionally
seen "orbs" in their photos gained with film cameras, no evidence has been presented that this is not a modern light artifact
error arising in CCD lenses both in standard off the shelf cameras and cell phone cameras and the recent rise in reports of
orb photos may be directly related to the common availability of digital cameras and associated rise in the number of pictures
taken. It should be noted also that the size of the camera is another consideration in the recent proliferation of orb photos.
As film cameras, and then digital cameras, have steadily shrunk
in size, reports of "orbs" increased accordingly. As cameras became smaller, the distance between the lens and the built-in
flash also shrank, decreasing the angle of reflection back into the lens causing less focus on small light artifacts and thus
an orb like appearance.
A flash does not need to be present. Any light source that reflects
or refracts from particulate matter (dust, moisture, etc) in the air (even though we can’t see it’s there moving
on air currents) and that enters the cameras lens (which it does otherwise you wouldn’t have a picture in the first
place) can cause an orb artifact to appear.
The Main Causes of Orbs:
There are a number of naturalistic causes for orbs in photography
*Solid orbs - Dry particulate matter such as dust, pollen, insects,
*Liquid orbs - Droplets of liquid, usually water, e.g. rain.
*Foreign material on the camera lens
*Foreign material within the camera lens
*Foreign material within the camera body
Common Things Orb Claims:
" But there was no dust when I took the picture! Must be a ghost!!"
There are also orbs showing up without any "environmental" explanation
i.e. no visible dust, no rain, no moisture, no snowing, no light reflections, etc. However it should be noted that dust particles
and moisture and most particles that are small, and are present in our environment at all times undetectable to the naked
eye. This is actually connected to the next point.
" ...but the orb appeared in this photo, but not this one taken
right after, therefore, it must be a ghost! It moved!"
Orbs are particulate matter in the air, hence they are subject
to the laws of aerodynamics and air currents. In other words, they do move, but not on their own. They move with air currents
and can disappear from shot to shot or frame to frame, with no problem at all due to the angle at which an orb is photographed
which can also play a factor, on whether or not the flash or the light (from any source) is hitting the piece of matter in
the right way as to make it visible. Orbs do not fly in intelligent patterns. They simply follow the air currents. 99.9% of
orbs that move in intelligent ways are insects, such as small gnats.
" But my orbs have faces in them!"
You are simply seeing a natural activity of the human mind called
"matrixing", which is the human mind's tendency to find familiar images in complex shapes, patterns or colors. In
other words finding a face in the shapes and shadows of a collection of objects.
An example is laying on the grass and looking at the clouds. You
look at the clouds and your mind makes familiar shapes out of them...a train, a dragon, a hamburger. Most orbs have complex
patterns and lines, as well as colors in their "nucleus" which gives fuel for the fires of matrixing. In psychology, this
phenomenon is called paredolia. Without it, you could not recognize familiar objects such as a person’s face or a chair
from the environment around you.
Solid Orbs and Liquid Orbs.
How a solid orb is created:
A solid orb, or dust orb, is created because a reflective solid
airborne particle, such as a dust particle, is situated near the camera lens and outside the depth of field, (In
optics, particularly film and photography, the depth of field (DOF) is the distance in front of and beyond the subject that
appears to be in focus) in other words out of focus.
The pinpoint of light reflected from the dust particle that would
be seen if it were at the hyperfocal distance, (which is the closest distance at which a lens can be focused while
keeping objects at infinity acceptably sharp; that is, the focus distance with the maximum depth of field) the distance
from the film or charge-coupled device (CCD) to the object being photographed whereby the object is
in focus as accurately as possible, grows into a circle of confusion
with increasing distance from it.
How A Liquid Orb Is Created:
A liquid orb is created because a drop of liquid, most often a
rain drop, is situated near the camera lens and outside the depth of field, in other words out of focus. The pinpoint
of light reflected from the drop of liquid that would be seen if it were at the hyper focal distance, the distance
from the film or CCD to the object being photographed whereby the object is in focus as accurately as possible, grows
into a circle of confusion with increasing distance from it.
The appearance of the circle of confusion is modified by aberrations
such as chromatic aberration (chromatic aberration is caused by a lens having a different refractive index for different
wavelengths of light aka the dispersion of the lens. The term "purple fringing" is commonly used in photography due
to the most common type of corona is colored purplish blue ) or coma.
Chromatic aberration is also the cause of so called "light emission"
by orbs and the supposed" corona" of an orb.
They are also often caused by water or water spots remaining on
the negatives during photo processing. Often simply cleaning the negative and reprinting the film will eliminate the orbs.
Orb Control Comparison
Below at the bottom of the article after the conclusion is a control
set of photos of different orb types, examples of what I've went over above.
This first and second chart shows both solid and liquid type orbs.
On the charts below the first one shows the variety of colors orbs can come in. The third chat shows orbs and light phenomenon
caused by insects and bugs, another unsung cause of orbs and light anomalies.
These charts were compiled in a mass experiment by the Mid-Night
Walker's Paranormal Research Society. The original experiment can be found here: http://midnite-walkers.com/site/content/view/27/41/ and I want to take the time to thank them for all their hard work and effort.
It has paid off!
So? Where does all this
leave us? What is our stance on orbs?
They are not paranormal, at all. Orbs are simply a photographic
artifact created by environmental and mechanical camera effects. .
SSPRS will no longer be accepting
submissions of photos of orbs, of any kind, because we have made our stand, and will continue to stand by it that orbs are not paranormal in nature. If you have
read this article, please do not attempt to send us any orbs because as explained above, orbs are NOT paranormal. There are
no special orbs. Sorry!
Rock on and happy hunting!
SSPRS would like to thank
the other teams in this field that are stepping up to the plate and debunking orbs and for all of their hard work in showing
that this type of phenomenon is not paranormal but indeed rational. I would like to specifically thank Mark Stinson for his
great article on MySpace about Orbs. I would also like to thank Grant Wilson for his explanation of matrixing, Wikipedia and
online resources for explanations of cameras, camera lenses, photography and terminology. I would also like to extend a thank
you to Mid-Night Walkers Paranormal Research Society. You all make this worthwhile! Thanks for all your help!