Monday, November 14, 2011

Orbsession

In order to progress in the work of paranormal investigation and research, our team has disregarded one particular little nuisance: The Orb.

Now, before I start this let me make it clear that I am talking about the most common photographic anomalies captured on ghost hunts. I do realize that there is natural "energy orbs, a phenomena that exists and has scientific explanations. True energy orbs would be a whole other article in itself. But I am going to discuss the most common “orb” seen in most photos.


  • Orb - a sphere or spherical object.

Orbs appear to have taken the paranormal community by storm over the past few decades and these little photographic irregularities have caused much debate. First, in order to secure our argument on these anomalies, I have done a little research on some orb related topics that provides some very interesting facts:
  • Orbs were basically non-existent or (very rare at best) before the 1990’s, however the first photographs were taken in the early 1800’s, so why the lack of orb photography for nearly 200 years?
  • Digital cameras became available in the mid 1990’s.
  • In the 1990’s, the Gallup Poll News Service statistics state that there was a significant increase in the belief of ghosts and other paranormal related ideas. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost)
My point here is that digital imagery, combined with an upsurge of interest in paranormal phenomena has led to this little photographic fault to become glorified as something that it is not. Now let’s talk about the key difference in film cameras and digital cameras that has resulted in such a plethora of these orbs:
  • Depth of field. (Photography featurethe total focused area in front of and behind an object held in the focus of a camera or lens - Encarta® World English Dictionary) The digital camera has a larger depth of field than a standard 35mm as well as a sharper lens. At this point you are a few ingredients short of an orb photograph.
Next and perhaps the key elememt in all of this is the camera flash. If you are using the flash on your digital camera, any particles in the air that are not in focal distance from your lens can refract the light from that flash causing these little round white balls to appear in your photo. Of course orbs can show up on film cameras too, but for reasons mentioned above, the film camera is less likely to produce an orb photograph.

The orb is nothing more than a combination of natural factors and technology. When a person is hunting for ghosts and taking lots of photographs (many at night) you are actively seeking something anomalous to show up in your pictures. When something does show up that you can’t immediately explain away (most likely because you didn’t see it with your own eyes) one may jump to the assumption that because you didn’t see it when you took the photo, it must be paranormal.
Orbs can be photographed anywhere; haunted, not haunted, indoors, outdoors, daylight, or night. Orbs can appear in many different forms; shapes and sizes can vary, they can differ in transparency, some can appear to be glowing, some even seem to have faces. All these factors depend on the environment and type of particles you are photographing. If you see a face in an orb, this is called Pareidolia (the
imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human feature. Collins English Dictionary)

I think this quote really sums up the current orb obsession: “The tragic aspect of orbs - otherwise harmless photo defects - is that they lead normal people to believe they are plagued by ghosts” (Quote from the orbzone.com, which appears to no longer be an active website as of 9/2012). There are many people who find orbs in their photos, and due to wide-spread misinformation, believe that something paranormal is happening around them when in fact orbs are about as harmless as a newborn kitten.

All of those who are trying to pass off “orbs” as something paranormal clearly have not done their homework on this subject. The advancement of paranormal investigation and research can not happen unless those involved begin to seek the truth instead of filling the information and knowledge pool with a bunch of garbage.

There will be those who disagree with the facts about orbs. As stated on our website, there are no true experts in the paranormal field, and I am not claiming we are experts. We have however have taken the time to research many aspects of what we do, and hope to offer those who have an interest in paranormal phenomena as much quality, truthful information as possible.

If you happen to find an “orb” in a photograph on our website, let me assure you that we are not trying to claim it as a paranormal anomaly. For an example, when we investigated the Keith Albee, I took a photo on the roof in the rain. The photo was great, but it was speckled with rain drop orbs, not paranormal of course, just a photo worth sharing with all of you.  

Below are some articles and websites worth checking out, if you want to learn more about orbs and/or photography please check them out!
Here is a great article on orbs from Troy Taylor, a respected paranormal investigator. http://www.prairieghosts.com/trouble.html

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