A few words about Orbs

   There is no doubt that some orbs are connected to hauntings.  Just as there is no doubt that some orbs are not.  To understand orbs and thus be able to judge which orbs are which, we must take a look at the history of orbs in photography.

    It is believed by many that orbs are a product of the digital age.  This is easy to understand since orbs first started to be noticed in photographs about the same time digital cameras hit the market.  Because digital photography is so inexpensive, people were taking hundreds of snapshots at family events rather than the 12 or 24 they would with a conventional camera, and they started to notice that on a few frames they would see these strange round balls of light. Sometimes people would become upset when a strange orb appeared in the shot and messed up an otherwise beautiful photo.

    When people started to ask questions as to what these orbs were, science was quick to explain them away as dust balls, pollen, or other such impurities in the air.  At the same time, many psychics came forward and said that these orbs looked much like the manifestations of spirit energy they see; a manifestation that is well documented in history by psychics throughout the ages.

    Of course, even to this day the debate continues.   There are those who insist that all orbs are a fabrication of the digital camera age.  But can this truely explain them all?

    Just about the same time that digital photography was making its debut in the average family home, something amazing started  to happen.  People began to get orbs in photos taken with standard film cameras.  Granted they were more rare than those in digital photographs. Nevertheless, they were occuring in photos taken with regular film cameras.  Before this time, it is very hard to find even one photo taken with a film camera that has orbs in it, regardless of the amount of dust or pollen in the air.  Think about it, look back at your old photo albums. I bet you don't see even one orb in any photo taken before about 1995.  But after that, you just might have a few here and there.

    Some have argued that the occasional orb caught by a film camera is due to new technology being used in cameras. But this is not a valid argument, since older film cameras and even antique film cameras will get an orb now and again in recent years.  Pollen and dust have always existed.  Why is it only now they show up on film?  It is clear that orbs are a phenomena that is not limited to the digital camera and is becoming more and more frequent an occurrence.

    This begs the question, why are there so many more orbs now?  Where were they before?  It is clear that not all orbs are fabrications of digital technology, otherwise film cameras would not record them.  It is clear film orbs are not the product of enhanced camera technology because older cameras have recorded them. But are they all proof of ghost activity?

    Many things can cause false orbs, and often false orbs can be hard to sort from the real thing.  This is why it is important to follow some simple rules when ghost hunting with a camera of any kind.

    1.  When working outside always go on dry days.  If it is raining or has rained recently the moisture in the air can easily look like an orb.

    2.  Don't take a photo in an area where someone has just sneezed.   If you or someone around you is sneezing a lot, don't bother with the camera until at least 20 minutes after the last sneeze and be sure the lens is clean.

    3.  When working outside, avoid windy days.  Wind can stir up dust that can cause false orbs.

    4.  When working inside a closed dusty place such as in a basement or attic, set yourself and your cameras down and do not move for at least 20 minutes before taking photos.  The dust you stirred up walking into the area could show as false orbs.

    5.  If you are working outside, you will find that bugs can reflect in your flash and look like strange creatures or odd balls of light.  With experience you will be able to tell the difference.

Is  your orb real?

    If you followed the basic rules above and you have orb activity, you  probably have something real.  Here are some guidelines to help you figure it out.

  The best orbs seem to have a 3D feeling to them.  Even if they are not totally round, they often have color around their edges that make them look like a ball rather than a flat circle.  Here is a good example of this type of orb.

    The orb at the top of the photo is another good example. This type is what is known as a flat orb.
Some people, even those who believe that 3D orbs are spirit activity, have expressed doubts about flat orbs.  But the NEPRS team believes, based on thousands of photos,  that some flat orbs are simply 3D orbs that have not completely manifested yet. 

    The flat blue orb above is very interesting for several reasons.  First it is not totally round, even though the other orb is. This would rule out a camera issue such as shutter glare.  The second is that it is partly out of the frame.  When orbs are caused by air impurity they will generally stay in frame.

What does a dust orb or pollen orb look like versus a real orb?

    Many people believe they can discern an orb that is caused by dust or pollen versus a real orb.  The NEPRS understands that anything is possible and that many times there is a prosaic explanation for phenomena.  We were suprised during our AFP Farm investigation when 2 different digital cameras photographed several orbs around a person as the video camera captured an orb fly past them at the same time, in the same location of the room.  The following video and 2 photographs are from that invesigation.  The orbs in the photographs appear indiscernable from orbs in other photographs that have been labeled as dust and pollen.

Here is a photo taken with a canon digital camera at the same time the video was shot.

Here is a photo taken with an Olympus digital camera at the same time the video was shot.

Cluster Orbs

    Another type of orb phenomena is called "clustering".  Clusters of orbs are common in very haunted places.  Clustered orbs, such as the ones below, can resemble the orbs that happen during rain showers and in dusty rooms.  This is why you must take the above noted precautions about dust and rain before you do anything else.  Then take several photos from the same position as quickly as possible one after the other, especially if you believe you may have photographed a cluster of orbs. 

    If there is rain or impurities in the air, you will be able to reproduce it again and again in a quick succession of photos..  If it is not, you should get one photo with orbs and the next without many, if any at all.

    The first photo was taken by an investigator in the daytime as he was standing on a paved road.  No dust was stirred up. It was not raining.  It was not windy.  At best count there are over 40 orbs in this photo.

    This photo was taken within seconds of the photogragh above and shows only 2 orbs, both classic 3D in nature.

Understanding cluster orbs.

     If the general belief that each orb is a soul is true, then clusters of orbs would represent many, many people, or perhaps even some kind of doorway to the other side.  Though this might seem logical, it might be too simple an explanation for a complex phenomena.  We don't really know for sure that each and every orb in each and every case is an individual person. Thus, we don't know if each individual orb in a cluster photo is an individual soul.  It has been reported (note: the NEPRS team has not gotten first hand examples of this as of yet) that orbs have been known to cluster together and form into a greater, brighter orb before tangible manifestations occur.   There have been reports, some going very far back in history,  of people seeing balls of light merge together into a ghostly figure or body.  Could cluster orbs be, at least on occasion, a single spirit trying to gather up their resources to create a manifestation?

    The nature of cluster orbs will remain a question for now.  It is clear the phenomena bears much more research.

  Sometimes an orb can appear behind an object in a photograph.  When this happens you can sometimes even see the shadow the object is casting on the orb.  Clearly, in the photograph below the orb in question is something other than pollen or dust as it appears to be at least 6" to 8" in diameter. What then is it?

Orb behind headstone

Flair orbs are always false orbs.
    A strong single source light is another way false orbs can form.  Be careful of this.  If you are in total darkness with only one strong source of light, for example the moon, a flashlight or streetlight, and take a photo at the proper angle towards that light you may get an effect commonly known as solar flair or lens flair.  You can tell solar flare from normal orbs because they tend to run in straight lines from the light source.  If you have a single bright light source and your orbs are very uniform, you should consider that it is solar flair.  Here is an example of solar flare made with a photo editing program. 


    When photographing outside in the summer, it's hard not to have bugs in some of your photos.  Here is a photo with bugs in it.

    Though bugs could be responsible for some orbs in photos, in general, bugs are easy to spot.  They have legs and wings.

    Here is another photo of a bug.  It looks so much like a fairy, it was hard not to play with the idea.

    What is more interesting about this shot is not the fairy shaped bug, but the small orb in the background.

    So, as rule of thumb, when attempting to photograph ghosts, be sure conditions are right.  This will help you be able to discern good orbs from ones that are probably camera or atmospheric issues.

    Ghost or not, the question of orbs remains.  Why were there virtually no orbs in film photos only 10 years ago?  Why are there so many now?  Could it be that there are simply more orbs to photograph these days?  Could it be that digital cameras are really more sensitive to light beyond the human spectrum?

    Here is something for you to ponder.  Here are two photos of one of the NEPRS members' grandfather. One is from the Christmas before he passed away and the second is at his 99th birthday.  The first photo was taken with a 35mm disposable camera and the second photo with a regular Pentax 35mm camera.  In the months before this man passed, many photos taken of him with a digital camera had a similar orb in it, always around his head.  If orbs are just dust, is it that old men are dusty?  Or could it be something more wonderful and inspiring for us all?  Could it be the spirit of his wife, who had passed on 18 years before, watching over him, and waiting for him to come home to her?  We would like to think so.

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