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Orbs: The Real Picture

By John A. Harris


Orbs.  Are they real un-natural phenomena, or merely products of over-active imaginations and hype?  Webster’s Dictionary defines an orb as: Something circular.  A spherical body.  A celestial sphere.  So, in the context of that definition, yes, orbs do exist.  But what about in the context of the paranormal?  Now we get a new definition:  A circular ball of spiritual energy.  Of course, this is just one of many paranormal definitions, but you get the idea.

Amateur Ghost Hunters and Professional Paranormal Investigators alike have been capturing these “little balls of energy” for years.  As a matter of fact, unknowingly, non-ghost hunters have been catching them as well.  Virtually anybody that has ever taken a photograph or video has captured an orb.

Now, I am not about to attempt to “debunk” or burst everybody’s bubble on the existents of orbs, as I do believe there is some evidence to support their validity.  My purpose is, again, attempt, to educate the general public on this most falsely interpreted piece of paranormal evidence.

First of all, here are a few of the observations I have made regarding orb photographs being submitted as evidence.

1)      The orb is usually in the foreground of a photograph.

2)      There is usually some sort of reflective surface nearby.

3)      Outside photographs usually have evidence of being taken with some sort of moisture present.

4)      Orbs have just mysteriously appeared on film.  Rarely has someone seen the orb with their naked eye, and then

          photographed it.

5)      Lenses are a magnet for glare.


Notice, I refer to each of these points as “usually”.  I do this because I have not investigated or analyzed every orb photo out there.  I am also not saying they don’t exist, because I don’t know, for sure, if they do or don’t.  I do know, however, I can take the majority of the orb photos out there and explain why it’s there, either by the properties of the orb itself or by the environment from which it came.

To start with, I want to briefly explain lens properties and how they interact with light.  This is important because this is the number one cause of lens glare.  You will notice the shape of your lens is rounded, irregardless of whether it’s a film, digital or video camera.  You will also notice the glass of the lens appears to be full of reflective color – almost like a diamond.  The lens is designed this way to capture, with the utmost amount of clarity, the image that you are pointing it at.  If the lens was flat and dull, your photos would be too.  The downside is, because it is designed to capture everything, it will also capture all forms of light, which includes unwanted reflective light. 

As an experiment, take your film, digital or video camera and look through the viewfinder.  Scan a room that has windows, or go outside and scan around the backyard.  You will begin to see all sorts of reflective light and glare in all sorts of colors and shapes.  The most predominant shape will be circles, which is the shape of your lens – Are you beginning to see the connection?  Once you have one predominant circular glare you are likely to get a “bounce reflection” from that original glare.  Now you will begin to see, possibly diagonally across the lens screen, a row of fainter circles.  This is all caused by the reflective properties of your lens.  It is a very sensitive piece of equipment and is why most, if not all, Professional Photographer use lens shades.  You can also watch just about any movie or TV show and watch these orbs of light materialize right in front of you.

Now, you will probably say, “but my orb photo was taken at night in a cemetery.”  Well, to get the exposure to turn out, you had to have used a flash.  A flash replicates daylight and most of its color spectrum.  So, all the same reflective properties still apply, only the reflective surfaces change – Somewhat.  A small bit of dust or a singular moisture droplet will become a reflective surface and cause your glares.  Be aware.  You can and will get glare from a tombstone.

One further note on reflective glare issues.  Remember my comment on the rounded surfaces of lenses?  This itself can be a reflective surface for your flash and daylight, causing glare problems.  Again, another reason for lens shades.

Now, on to some of my other points.  Orbs in the foreground issue.  It seems every time I see an orb photo it appears to be in the foreground.  That’s because it is.  Either a bit of moisture landed directly on the lens and immediately evaporated – but not before you shot a picture.  Or, you experienced the glare.  Both these scenarios are going to place the orb in the foreground.  Most orb photos are very obvious, to me, that it originated from on the lens.  While others are a bit more difficult to tell if it originated from the lens, there are other tell-tale signs that it was a product of glare or moisture.  Remember, no matter how clean you keep your lens, you will never be able to clean the air of debris.


Honestly, how many orbs have you actually seen with your naked eye?  One… two… Zero?  I personally have never seen an orb with my naked eye.  I would venture to say most others haven’t either.  That’s not to say they don’t exist, because I have heard of some reputable people in the business that claim they have seen them.  Are they lying or trying to paint themselves as unique?  I don’t know, but it does leave the door open.  My point is.  It is extremely rare for the naked eye to see a “little ball of floating energy”, about as rare as an actual apparition.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you spotted an orb and now are going to take a picture of it.  Here lies the problem.  Take a flashlight and shine the beam on the wall.  Now get your camera and take a flash photograph of the beam of light on the wall.  The result will show the beam of light over-powered by the flash – eliminating the flash beam altogether.  The same result would most likely happen to an orb.


I know it is exciting to go on a ghost hunt and come back with unexplainable paranormal activity.  I know we all want to believe in the spirit world and the ability to communicate with the disembodied.  But what good does it do to saturate the industry with highly explainable natural phenomena.  Be a good Investigator and get clean, viable evidence.  If you’re like me, I don’t want to convince the world of the paranormal; I just want to convince myself, as I know even the best evidence will have skeptics.  I want to know for sure what is on the other side.  Glare orbs, camera strap vortexes and “ecto-breath” are not going to convince me.  The things that are hard to explain or cannot be explained is what I am searching for.  Let’s clean up the evidence out there and bring a little more validity to the paranormal industry.



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