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Paranormal Investigations

What are orbs?


There are a number of different types of photographic anomalies that turn up on film during investigations. Many researchers believe that these types of activity portray actual ghosts, but I cautiously refer to it as "paranormal energy" on film, simply because there are so many unknown variables when it comes to paranormal photography. Some of the strange images on photos that turn up include eerie rays of light, floating objects, mists and shapes and even apparitions that appear to be human, but perhaps the most common images are the so-called “orbs”.  

Many of the “orb photographs” that turn up on Internet websites or in books seem to come from cemeteries but they actually seem to have an annoying habit of showing up almost anywhere. They have become the most commonly reported types of “paranormal photos” claimed by ghost hunters today. Despite what you might see and hear though, there is absolutely no hard evidence whatsoever to suggest that orbs are in any way related to ghosts. Yes, they do often turn up in photos that are taken at haunted locations, but as you’ll soon see, many of these photos have been called into question. However, I do think that legitimate photos of image anomalies (or orbs, if you prefer) exist. These photos do show a type of paranormal phenomena, but just what type that is remains to be seen.

One of the largest problems that exist with “orbs” is that many researchers have made the leap to claim that “orbs” are actually ghosts. To date however, there has been absolutely no evidence provided to state with any certainty that “orbs” are actually ghosts. Some of them may be paranormal, but ghosts? There is no way that we can say that just yet.

As mentioned, orb photos are the most commonly seen "ghost photos" today and you will probably see more photos on the Internet of these purportedly "mysterious" balls of light than of anything else. While I do believe that genuine photographs of paranormal orbs exist, they are not as common as many people think. An "orb photograph" is usually one that is taken in an allegedly haunted place and somewhere within the photo is a hovering, round ball. Some of these “orbs” appear to be giving off light, while others appear to be transparent.

Despite the claims, the majority of “orb photos” are not paranormal at all, but merely refractions of light on the camera lens. This occurs when the camera flash bounces back from something reflective in the range of the camera. When this happens, it creates a perfectly round ball of light that appears to be within the parameters of the photo but is actually just an image on the lens itself. Many people often mistake these orbs for genuine evidence of ghosts. These false orbs can also be created by bright lights in an area where the photo is being taken, by angles of light and by many types of artificial lighting.

If all of these problems exist with image anomalies --- “orbs” --- then is there any reason to believe that they might be paranormal at all? I believe that there are legitimate photos of what are anomalous, round balls of light that can be photographed and can sometimes be seen with the naked eye. But how do we tell a real “orb” photo from a false one? 

There are a number of determining factors, not the least of which is corresponding activity. By this I mean, photographing an “orb” just after recording a sharp temperature drop, or some other event that can be documented. In every aspect of paranormal research, corresponding activity, and documentation of the activity, is vital to the success of the investigation and to authenticating the activity, evidence and especially the photographs.

Ade's views on orbs

Not 100% sure about orbs, we seem to catch them all the time on our photos but here are a few things that could cause them to appear.

  •  Dust on the lens
  • Dirt in the camera
  • Internal reflections in the lens structure, also known as "lens flare"
  • Deliberate multiple exposures
  • Objects very close to lens
  • Poor quality digital cameras
  • Poor quality optics
  • Deliberate digital editing of photographs
  • Flash reflections from shiny objects in the room
  • Contamination during processing of conventional film
  • Contamination during printing of conventional prints
  • Scanner anomalies
  • Dust on the scanner glass
  • Bad or outdated film

Must admit that we do get the odd  1 or 2 that intrigue me

Jen's views on orbs


Orbs? Well..... The reports of our investigations on this site are chock-full of still shots taken by digital camera where one or more of these orbs are to be seen lurking within the frame, usually to be found on walls, wooden panelling, banister rail, etc.etc.  It's so easy to write them off as tricks of the light or reflections from pictures, mirrors, torches etc.  I read somewhere that it's an occupational hazard when using digital equipment and it's a relatively "new" phenomena that has arisen from the popular use of  infrared cameras.

This picture (study the close-up) was taken during a vigil in Cambridge and has sparked some hot discussion within the team. It appears to have materialised on my back as opposed to the usual wall or shiny surface which might suggest a limited risk of reflection.  There were no windows within this particular vicinity.

It's a strange one.  Is it a digicam quirk?  It appears to follow the contours as opposed to appearing as a flat disc and is merely an outline, almost a perfect circle.  It might be a hair as was strongly suggested within the team. 

Here's hoping we might get more of these and spark a really healthy debate!

Richard's views on orbs

Orbs are cool - shame we only see them on camera, not with the naked eye!

Tim's views on orbs

For me, true orbs are the first stages of a ghost manifestation. They are small balls of light that given the energy will form together and show the ghost in full view. A lot of so called orbs can be explained as nothing to do with paranormal and I would be inclined to agree. I have seen numerous photos of 'orbs' that could very well be insects, dust, camera flare etc.

There are some orbs that have been caught that can't be easily explained and I'm still stuck to try and work out what the blue light is that was caught on a locked of webcam here.