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What exactly is an orb?

There are many theories on what an orb is. We will examine the most popular here:

1. Orbs are ‘ghosts’ or a manifestation of the dead.

2. Orbs are a separate life form

3. Orbs are energy ‘building blocks’ used by spirits

4. Orbs are nature spirits

In the ghost theory, the orb itself is the manifestation of the spirit. There are many cases where a person will try to photograph an apparition and the developed photograph will instead show an orb. Even though the person ‘saw’ the spirit in human form, it didn’t show up that way on film. That is due to the person’s sensitivity and perception of the event. (see the article on the psychology of a haunting for more on this subject).

The separate life form theory contends that orbs are a race unto themselves, feeding off emotional energy.

The building block theory states that orbs are non-intelligent blobs of energy that are utilized by spirits in order to manifest. If enough orbs are present, a spirit can use them to form an apparition.

According to the nature spirit theory , orbs are ‘elf-lights’ and are strongly connected to trees and forests.

What it comes down to is this : No one really knows exactly what an orb is.

In my personal experience I can definitely state that: During paranormal events, orbs are usually present. On every investigation where we have determined paranormal activity to exist, we have gotten several orb photos. There is a correlation between the amount of electromagnetic activity and the number of orb photos taken. We have never taken an actual orb photo in a place where there was no paranormal activity. During one investigation we followed an orb using an EMF meter and a digital camera. It led us on a tour around the grounds of the property we were investigating.

My personal opinion is that an orb is just one way a spirit can manifest in the physical universe.

Orbs often appear as a floating ball of light. Usually they are quite fast and follow an erratic flight pattern. They can vary in brightness. some are phosphorescent and perceivable to the naked eye, while others are dim and barely visible on film. They can be transparent, semi-transparent or solid. They can be round, oval, or uneven. And they show up in a lot of photographs. The only problem is there are a lot of things that can show up as orbs in photographs that have nothing to do with the paranormal.

Dust, pollen, reflective surfaces and moisture can all appear to be orbs. Any airborne particles close to the camera lens can show up as an orb in a picture. With the position of the flash unit so close to the lens on most cameras, airborne debris seems to ‘light up’ on film. It’s easy to test this. Go into a darkened room with a digital camera, shake the curtains, and take a few pictures.


Instant orbs! Lots of em! Wow.. bet you didn’t know your curtains were haunted..

Moisture has the same effect.. You can use a spray bottle to test that one.

The most common cause of false orb photographs is simple. Refection. Any time you use a flash, or shoot directly into a light source, you can get an orb. So with all these things that cause orbs in photographs, How can we accept any orb photo as real? You have to examine all the factors at the time the picture was taken. Look for reflective surfaces. Was it dusty?

For airborne debris to show up on film, it has to be within approximately eight inches of the lens. Was it raining? Is your lens dirty? Any of these could cause false-positive results.

You also have to look for corroborating factors. A great photograph, without additional backing could mean nothing. Lets say you get a great orb photo, but there is no change in the EMF or temperature readings. Without corroborating evidence, I would tend to assume it was a false positive. Unfortunately, that means at least 50 percent of all orb photos are nothing but dust. Probably as many as 90 percent cannot be corroborated.

At the same time, if you have backing evidence, that photograph you assumes was a false positive, could be real.

So how can I tell if an orb photograph is real?

There are many differing opinions on this, some people say all are real and others none. In my opinion, there are a few things to look for to determine the authenticity of an orb photograph.

1. A slightly ‘out of round’ orb is more likely to be real than a perfectly round one. Lens reflection causes perfectly round or geometrically precise shapes.

2. A trail or other indicator that the orb was in motion. An orb in motion is very likely real, a small trail can indicate this.

3. If the orb is positioned so that it is partially obscured by an object in the picture, then it is likely real.

4. If the orb appears ‘three-dimensional’ or is photographed from more than one angle, it’s real.

5. If you take two photographs in a row from the same precise spot immediately after each other and the orb is in a different position in the two photos, it is probably real.

6. If you have multiple orbs in a picture, very likely it’s false. Dust motes and moisture will produce a multiple, overlapping orb effect.

7. An orb that is a bit blurred is more likely to be real.

8. If you can see it without the camera, It is definitely real. (Of course according to ‘official’ government policy, it could also be swamp gas.. even in your living room).

Orbs happen. They are real. They appear at haunted locations, and show up on film. So why has no one noticed them before this? No one looked. If you go through your old photo albums, especially pictures taken at any historical locations, you might find some things that will surprise you.

All our lives we have been taught that ‘ghosts’ don’t exist, and ‘this paranormal event’ never really happened.. it was just a story. As humans, we see what we want to see. Psychologists call this ‘selective perception’. For just a moment try to forget all you were taught in school and try to look at the world without preconception.

You might just see something you missed.