Orbs – thought we had seen the last of this subject!


A few years ago with alot of people researching, it was discovered that there was a normal explanation for orbs, but seems like the whole subject has reared its ugly head again, so re-posting this as it was originally on my website.

Many believe that orbs are spirit that are captured on photos or captured on camcorders at haunted locations.  Certain TV programs have enhanced or even created this theory that orbs are spirit.  Below are other opinions of what orbs can be.

Orbs are seen on digital cameras and camcorders (Infrared night vision) and can be seen as transparent or in solid form, different colours and some people can see faces in orbs. They were rare before digital cameras and only appeared in the mid 1990‘s.  Orbs have been traced back to the early 20th century but not one photo was linked to spirit or the paranormal until Rickard & Collin’s photographs of the unknown in 1980 but were explained as natural but unusual.

Ultra Violet light is illuminated by the camera flash and recorded by the cameras CCD (Charged Coupled Device) and shows orbs contain nucleus and rings.  Digital cameras are more sensitive to UV & IF light than 35mm cameras and have greater depth of field, (the area on either side of the photo subject, which appears ‘in focus’) compared to a 35mm camera.  Therefore digital cameras are more likely to capture ‘orbs’ and the bigger the depth the more chance you have of capturing orbs.  Some think this is the main cause of digital ‘orbs‘, along with using the flash.

The flash reflects on the surface of any particle (dust, insect etc.) between the camera lens and the point of focus. This appears as a circle of confusion (out of focus highlight) and creates an ‘orb’ shape in a picture.  Circle of confusion are caused by reflection highlights that are all around us, on most objects, when the lights are on and are seen as white.

Lens flares can cause ‘orbs’.  Lenses are coated with an anti-reflective material, this helps reduce secondary reflections.  When bright lights are facing the camera lens the coating is not as affective and causes lens flare (secondary reflection).  The camera flash bounces back from something reflective in range of the camera; this creates a ball of light and appears to be in the parameters of the photo.

The cheaper the camera the more orbs you will capture.  Kodak or Fuji cameras stand a greater chance of capturing orbs compared to Canon or Nikon.

Some photos show geometric shape of diamonds, octagon and other shapes, this is known as ‘coma’.  This is caused by a lens curvature error with digital and SLR cameras that have small lenses and a short focus length.

Dust – When dust particles are directly in front of the camera the flash illuminates the dust and dust at 15 degrees of the lens central axis.   Dust is not distributed evenly and therefore you could capture a dust orb and yet nothing in the next picture or before the orb picture.dust

Insects – Orbs are formed from the brightest highlight and expand the circle of confusion.

Reflections – Usually more than one orb is captured and one orb is more intense than the others. The orbs appear in a straight line from any direction to the more intense one.

Moisture/Fog/Mist etc. – tends to fade from solid to transparent and mist tends to produce more orbs than rain.  Rain can be interpreted by the camera as an incorrect lens.droplets2


Bright light sources – lamps, the sun, etc. can cause orbs.

Faces in orbs – are due to pareidolia. From birth, we are wired to see faces and therefore we can see faces in random patterns.  Faces in orbs are produced by imperfections in the camera lens.  Cheap cameras have only one lens and orbs are more visible in pictures taken on these whereas expensive cameras have more lenses to reduce imperfections.

Tailed orbs –captured outdoors are raindrops; when the focus point is too far away the flash stays on for longer and slowly fades. When a raindrop is falling the last part of the raindrop is less illuminated and shows up in the picture as an orb with a tail.  Indoors, tailed orbs are usually insects with the same principle as above.

Coloured orbs – yellow, blue or red orbs are thought to be pollen.  Green orbs are thought to be mold spores.  Grey orbs are thought to be dust and white orbs are thought to be snow, water or dust.

coloured orbs


Coloured patterns within orbs – many orbs have coloured patterns, usually in the rings and are becoming more common in digital cameras with higher mega pixels.  This is thought to be due to moiré patterns (digital imaging and computer graphics), circle of confusion and electronic noise (high ISO).

I have done a few experiments with dust, creating orbs.  If you are creating dust clouds it takes a little while before you capture the dusty orbs.  It is worth taking photos over a 10 minute period, starting as soon as you create dust. Observe how long it takes to capture them and how long it takes to settle down.  See pictures as an example.




Other examples of images caught on camera





cig smoke

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