A Little About Orbs

Many people, including some paranormal investigators, believe that these little spherical shaped balls of energy or "orbs" are our dearly departed loved ones. In reality, they are not balls of energy at all as some of the paranormal Television shows want you to believe. In most circumstances, there is a logical explanation for them appearing in photos when using a flash with a digital camera.

The vast majority of cases, photographic orbs are nothing more than dust, bugs, moisture, pollen or other totally explainable natural elements floating around in the air. If you want to experiment with this, shake out a blanket, pillow, or similar item and then take a photo with a digital camera of the area. You will see orbs.

So, if you take a photo and see orbs in your home, don't think that your house is haunted by anything other than dust bunnies. Orbs usually appear in digital still photography when a flash is used. The flash reflects off of the particle of dust and creates what appears to be a ball of light.

Orb photos are rare in daylight and with film photography. While most orbs appear spherical, other shapes have been reported such as diamonds, rectangles, and smears.

When digital cameras became popular in the early '90s, ghost hunters and other paranormal enthusiasts were able to quickly take dozens of pictures in a single location. The orb became popular as more than an anomalous spot.

Ghost hunters wanting to prove their locations were haunted, eagerly brought photographic orbs to the public's attention, claiming that orbs were spirits made visible in their photos.

OK, that explains orbs in photos, but what about orbs appearing in videos? They've been on Ghost Hunting TV shows and the little balls of light appear to be moving across the room and sometimes following the investigators.

Video cameras used for paranormal investigations usually have LED infrared illuminators sited close to the lens. These can catch floating particles of dust, moisture droplets, and small insects in a similar way to the flash of a still camera. As with still-photo orbs, the dust particles are really much closer to the camera than they seem. The main difference is, of course, movement.

Common household dust is mistaken for paranormal activity in flash photos






Moisture orbs are mistaken for spirits or ghost in flash photos

Explanation of how a flash used in photos creates orbs

Insect orbs are mistaken for spirits or ghost in flash photos




Improper camera settings can also be mistaken for spirits or ghost in flash photos



Sometimes the orbs have a flight path that makes them appear to follow people, but, as the investigator passes through a room they create an air current within that room and the orbs follow the air current behind the person, sometimes up to several minutes later or completely at random.

At times the orb will be traveling in one direction and all of a sudden it will change direction, appearing to have a mind of its own. According to some paranormal investigators, this rules out dust as dust wouldn’t change direction in that way.

This is not necessarily true. You have to realize there are many different air currents within a room moving at different rates of speed and different directions.

If that orb happens onto a cross air current it will follow that current appearing to have a made a decision to move in that direction. The dust has a particular pattern that's easily recognizable.

It's basic physics. If the orbs were truly of a paranormal nature, they would move in a random pattern.

This small but simple bit of knowledge can save paranormal investigators excessive amounts of time. However, few investigators are taught this, so orbs remain one of the most frequently reported “evidence” for paranormal activity.

Although it is comforting to believe that the spirits of our dearly departed live on in these small balls of light, many ghost hunters agree that photographic orbs are most often, if not always, caused by dust, bugs, pollen, water vapor or other explainable natural elements.