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ORBS - A Ghostly Presence?

Updated on May 26, 2009

ORBS - Natural vs Paranormal

What is an Orb?

There are many amateur as well as a few seasoned ghost hunters who will contend that almost every orb captured on digital or conventional film is spirit energy. NOT! I've taken thousands of pictures, most during investigations of supposed haunted sites, and there is one thing I've learned - most orbs are atmospheric in nature. Dust is the most common anomaly that will be photographed by the beginning ghost hunter. Dust orbs are generally fuzzy and the core is fainter than the outer edge. Paranormal orbs are very bright and consistent from the edges inward. Often, the nucleus of a paranormal orb is brighter than the outer diameter. One thing to be aware of is your surroundings. If you're taking photos in an area where there is a lot of dust, such as an old abandoned building, or perhaps you're in a field, or cemetary, chances are you'll be stirring up a lot of dust and catching bugs in your lenses.

Do this - if you're taking photos at night and are using a flash, hold the camera away from you and look at the flash at an angle. Nine times out of ten you're going to see an abundance of dust particles. I've had those that would argue they don't see dust in the air, but believe me, its there! For the beginning ghost hunter, it would be wise to take several dozen pictures of dust, rain, pollen, and other contaminates to familarize themselves with what they look like when shot.

Another argument is, "Why don't all of my pictures show orbs if there's always dust in the air?" That's a fair question and a simple one to answer. There is a particularly small area directly in front of the lens that minute pieces of dust must be directly in line with for the lens to capture them. We performed many experiments from throwing a handful of fine dirt in front of a lens to pounding on a dusty piece of furniture then snapping pictures rapidly. The first 2 minutes or so, the photos look as though they were taken from within a snow globe. After the dust begins to settle, there were less prominent orbs caught on film. If a photo is filled with many orbs, almost definitely they are nothing more than contaminants in the air.

Here's something else to think about - most orbs are caught when using camera flashes. It's generally quite easy to 'debunk' the majority of orb photos. Keep in mind your surroundings, the speed settings on your camera, whether or not there is something just outside the captured area that may cause a reflection on the lens, and most importantly, remember, when shooting in dark areas, dust, bugs, any contaminants in the air are going to show up much clearer.

I suggest the use of a photo editor such as Paint Shop Pro, PhotoShop, or IrfanView which is freeware. These editors allow you to increase the brightness or gamma of a photo until the picture's opacity is to the point of looking faded or washed out. After doing this, you most likely will notice an abundance of orbs that weren't visible prior to editing.

Another question I've been asked many times, "What would you consider to be an energy or spirit orb?" There's a certain criteria which must be met for me to believe an orb is anything but contaminates or bugs in the air.

  • Was it seen with the naked eye prior to the shot being taken?
  • Was a flash used?
  • Were there any anomalies which were caught on video at the time of the shot?
  • Was it a single orb and consistently bright?
  • Was there other forms of paranormal activity at the time of the shot, unexplained noises, cold spots, EVP or EMF readings.

There are countless websites displaying pages of paranormal pictures, and ORBS are at the forefront. There are a couple of reasons we're seeing more and more posted to the web daily. One, with all the television shows such as, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, The Discovery Channel's "A Haunting," and so many more, there are literally hundreds of ghost hunting clubs being formed across the country, as well as in Great Britian. These groups of people are taking millions of pictures each year and natually, they're going to be capturing a lot of bugs, dust, and other contaminates in their pictures.

Prior to digital cameras becoming available to anyone with a $50 bill, there wasn't the onslaught of haunting photos being offered due to the price of film and its developing costs. With today's high tech digital cameras, you can shoot multiple shots in seconds. The new Casio EXILIM Pro EX-F1 has a burst speed of 60fps, six times faster than the leading competition. It also does HD video at 30fps as well as ultra-fast video at 1200fps, which means playing it back at 30fps results in an ultra-slow motion image. Now this is the camera I'll be looking to use in our ghost hunts this summer!

Below are several pictures of orbs gathered from various websites. I will explain the differences in each shot and see if you can ascertain what the cause of each of them are.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is a pollen orb.Dust orb.Moisture orb.Dust orbs.Dust orb.
This is a pollen orb.
This is a pollen orb.
Dust orb.
Dust orb.
Moisture orb.
Moisture orb.
Dust orbs.
Dust orbs.
Dust orb.
Dust orb.

The above orbs basically look the same. Some cameras treat dust particles differently in that their shape can be that of a diamond, or in most cases, circular. Spirit orbs are commonly confused with natural anomalies such as dust, rain drops, snow,and pollen. Don't jump to conclusions when you've captured clusters of orbs, most likely they are nothing more than dust.

Below are orbs believed to be that of spirits. Note the brightness and especially the energy emitting from the second example.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Spirit orb.Spirit orb - emitting energy.
Spirit orb.
Spirit orb.
Spirit orb - emitting energy.
Spirit orb - emitting energy.

Well readers, I hope this information will give you a little insight into the common misconception of orbs. Those of you who are or have thought about becoming ghost hunters now won't find yourselves feeling every investigation you've been involved in has become a paranormal jackpot! Ghost hunting requires a lot of common sense, patience, and practical thinking. Be wise, be careful, and above all, make sure, since most ghost hunts occur at night, that you have permission to investigate on private land, and the proper authorities know of your intentions in parks, cemetaries, and other public locations that have posted hours. Good Hunting!


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    • paul kenyon profile image

      paul kenyon 7 years ago from Olean, New York

      Nellie and Steve, thank you for your comments. I very much appreciate you reading my hubs!

    • steve8miller profile image

      Steven Miller 7 years ago from Ohio Great City of Dayton

      Great Hub here. I love the supernatural as I am an aspiring parapsychologist. Many people want to know what these orbs are, I think I will blow your mind with my latest hub. The title pretty much tells you what you need to know. "Recording The Earths Core Miracles of Plasma Orbs" I really like your style and I will be following you. Keep up the good work Paul.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 8 years ago from TEXAS

      Fascinating!! Now I must read more of your hubs! Very succinctly presented, too. Thanks!

    • wittywriter profile image

      wittywriter 8 years ago from Concord New Hampshire

      I used to own a used furniture and antique store on the border of Penacook and Concord NH. I was plagued by entities, paranormal activity and orbs which I could see with the naked eye. I, too, have been skeptical of orb pictures from the start. Unless I could see it with the naked eye I passed it off as dust or bugs. Thanks for this hub. I am sure it will be informative to the newbie ghost hunter or anyone else trying to find out what goes bump in the night. Thumbs up!