When investigating the paranormal, it is useful to take a multitude of
photographs, for comparison and in the hope of assimilating evidence! Take as many photographs as possible and do so before, during and
after the investigation and during the event of any strange occurrence as a comparison. Also ensure you take a series of photographs (reproducing the same conditions, positioning and settings, in order to compare and contrast, if you spot a strange image in one photograph.
Note: always be aware of fellow investigators and discuss photography timings with them, as continually taking photos, especially using flash in the dark can be very annoying to others!
Also re-check photos after the investigation, by loading onto a computer. Often at this stage you will be able to study them and offer other explanations / spot things you didn't previously
Types of Camera
35 mm / single lens reflex cameras are useful and reliable, particularly as a contrast to other types of cameras. They are certainly less prone to malfunction (digital camera batteries often drain).
Digital cameras (OR HIGHER RESOLUTION TABLETS, IPHONES, Mobiles) are also useful because you can take a larger amount of
photographs, at little expense, and ultimately dispose of any that are not
useful to you (make sure to thoroughly cheek them all first. The downside is that the results are easier to tamper with and fake and so may not be accepted as strong evidence!
It may also be useful to have a camera loaded with infa-red and different speed films for separate uses. Also a flash is very important - though be sure to warn fellow investigators if you use a flash in the dark (for obvious reasons!).
Things to consider:
Try to have no external light sources, just the camera flash.
Use a high resolution, high pixel digital camera where possible but try different settings.
Try to allow for humidity levels and take shots in low humidity (moisture can give false impressions) as can breath on cold nights and of course cigarette smoke outside.
As a control, take compare and contrast shots of the same place, as quickly as possible.
Take several rapid shots to analyse if images are increasing / decreasing in size or showing marked differences between each photo.
Enlarge photos on a computer to study them in detail.
OVERALL- try not to get too excited, stay rationally minded and look for
Orbs and Digital Cameras
1.The first manifestation of a spirit presence?
2. An airborne particle (e.g. dust) caught in a digital camera?
We strongly edge on number 2!
Since the introduction of digital cameras, people are increasingly picking up light anomalies on their photographs. They also seem to be most
frequently captured in “allegedly” haunted locations. Could this be because, when people, say, take a photograph of the execution block at the Tower of London, they are more likely to notice a light anomaly and conclude that it must be supernatural?
Whereas if you say find an orb in a photograph of Granny doing her knitting! It is not quite so exciting and likely to prompt an incredulous reaction? This has to be a salient point. Orbs undoubtedly do appear in haunted locations, during investigation, more than in other places. Part of this is because you are more likely to be photographing in the dark (and an orb will mostly be noticed). Also haunted
locations are often old and therefore more dusty or damp and such things as moisture or dust particles close to the camera lens can explain many orbs.
Orbs can also be explained by pixelation on the camera and
also as a result of moisture, dust and other particles close to the equipment. Digital cameras are incredibly sensitive and use special chips, (called Charge Couple Devices) to capture images. These are very different to the old “normal” cameras. As a simple experiment: pat a feather-duster or flick water in the air
and quickly take some photographs. You will often find some orbs in the
subsequent shot – however these usually appear to be very pale in structure and to be almost transparent. Also during television outside broadcasts in the rain, you can often see a multitude of transparent orbs appear on screen.
Some orbs appear to contain patterns, structures (similar to biological
cell structures) and faces. Does this prove that, like many believe, these are the soul of a deceased person? To be honest you can see faces in almost anything if you look for them hard enough. Psychologists have long studied face recognition in young children, showing that they seem to develop a proclivity for recognising a simple face structure at a very early age. Previous research has shown that, as adults, we have areas of the brain, which may be dedicated to the task of perceiving and recognizing faces. Subconsciously, we intrinsically look for a face, and it is comforting.
However, to play Devil's Advocate: it is just possible that not all orbs are airborne particles;
some could in theory be a form of energy. For example, if you take photographs of electrical cables with a digital camera, you often produce strong lights in the pictures.
Certainly a proportion of people believe that an orb is the first phase of a manifestation (followed by a vortex of light, mist (ectoplasm?) and eventually an apparition). It is interesting that orbs on videos do move
constructively, often against the wind direction and those photographed can often be partially behind an object, thus suggesting that they are not caught on the lens. Some people believe that the orb is the equivalent to a human soul. In other words when you die, you will become an orb of light! We do know that science dictates that energy cannot be destroyed and the brain functions as a result of electrical pulses coursing through it. Where does this energy go? It is an interesting theory. Alternatively, the process involved in a spirit manifestation, must produce a large amount of energy. Perhaps orbs are a by-product of this?
Some images of orbs, which are not so easy to explain:
Those caught on 35mm cameras (which have a completely different make
up to digital cameras). Also they appear on video cameras, moving at times in very determined and peculiar ways. Orbs have been filmed moving in an outside environment; against the wind direction. Also on occasions people have performed experiments where they “communicate” with orbs and often these lights do seem to appear on demand and move in almost intelligent ways.
Also, if all orbs can be explained by dust or moisture then it is difficult to
explain why certain people are able to see them. For example mediums can allegedly direct a photographer to take photographs as they “sense” an orb and then one can appear on the subsequent photo - exactly where indicated that it would. People see “flicks” of light in locations and immediately ask for a photograph to be taken, only to find an orb of light in the vicinity.
A member of the Paranormal Research Organisation recently did an experiment with his son at home. His son claimed to be able to see orbs with the naked eye. Rather sceptically, the member asked his son to point to the orbs when he saw them and then he immediately took a photograph. On 9 out of the 10 photographs he was pointing exactly to an orb. On the tenth there was an orb nearby and he
had described it as moving.
Digital cameras capture light in the range between 500 nanometres and 1100 nanometres (it’s peak is 980nm; which is far into the infrared spectrum). The human eye works between approximately 400 and 700 nanometres. Obviously the digital camera has a far higher visual capacity and this may explain why it can capture lights, which are not visible to the naked eye. Perhaps those who can see them have a greater range of visibility on the spectrum?
It would be fascinating to test mediums in a controlled environment, using different wavelengths of light, to find out their visual range and compare this to those who do not claim to see such orbs.
At the top it is mentioned that if you take photographs of electrical cables
with a digital camera, you often produce strong lights in the photographs. Such equipment is particularly sensitive to energy.
Also ideas that orbs are resultant of pixelation can be countered by those which are captured partially behind an object, also suggesting that they cannot be something caught on the lens.
Perhaps orbs are some kind of energy operating in the infrared spectrum. All things in the universe are made of different forms of energy. There is yet to be any conclusive evidence but maybe an orb is an energy linked to a spirit?
"Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but only conserved and
transformed, from one form to another." Albert Einstein
Some questions to ask regarding orbs - are they simply digital flaws or the
proof we are looking for?
We feel that the approach to orbs on cameras requires a much-needed shift in thinking by paranormal researchers, to a much more sceptical and scientific approach. With this in mind we have developed a list of questions which we think need to be at least considered and ruled out as thoroughly as possible, before even suggesting orbs as evidence of either spirit energy or a ghostly manifestation.
Why do they mainly occur on digital cameras and cheaper 35mm cameras such as the single use ones?
Historically this is a new phenomenon, why was it not widely reported before the popular use of digital cameras?
Why do they almost always only appear when using flash? (Certainly those I have seen whilst not using the flash are very faint in comparison.)
Could not most of them be just particles of dust or moisture, insects or marks on the camera lens?
We are trying not to swing into the school of totally disregarding orbs on
camera as serious evidence of the paranormal, but the following points must be taken into account before jumping to conclusions.
The bigger they are, generally the fainter they appear, whilst the smaller ones tend to be much deeper or denser. Why so do they vary so little in colour from the standard blurry white?
Why do they appear at locations with no supernatural associations, such as weddings and children’s parties; Do the spirits follow us at all times?
Where did the link between orbs and the paranormal originate exactly? Is there any hard evidence to back this up?
Why an orb shape? Why not an irregular shape, star or square (although there are crescent shapes)? Why the standard round sphere? Camera lens are spherical, does this offer an explanation?
A final point is that photos are only a snapshot at any one point of time, Orbs etc. caught moving on camcorder are more interesting as they show movement over several seconds, and can offer a much greater idea of the surrounding conditions and lighting.
As paranormal researchers we cannot jump to any conclusions but certainly would conclude that most orbs are as dull as ahum dust!