We’ve all taken photos in which small, round balls of pale gray lights are captured. We get excited, because we’re certain we’ve caught an actual spirit or ghost on camera. But, are all orbs actually spirits? 99% of the time, no, they are not. And today’s post is aimed at helping you get a better understanding of why.

  This is a typical orb photo [top left]. It was taken in June, 2013. Is it a spirit, caught on camera? No. It’s actually a gnat or a mosquito that got caught in the camera’s flash. Gnats and mosquitoes usually go to ground in the grass at night. And because they’re so small, they’re mostly invisible in the dark. When you walk through that grass, they get stirred up and fly – much like a pheasant does when flushed out by a hunting dog or other animal. If you’re using a camera at just the right time, you’ll catch them in mid-air. They appear on the photo as an orb, because the light is reflected back and out of focus. The size and brightness of the “orb” depends on how close or how far away the bug is from the flash.

There are also microscopic things floating around us all the time: Animal dander, dead skin cells, particulates like dust from a variety of objects, to name a few. When you catch these particulates in a camera flash, the light is reflected back and out of focus, which creates the “orb” you see. Rain drops can sometimes appear as spirits moving upwards. This happens because of the refractive properties of water. Rain drops have most of their mass in the bottom due to gravity; when the light from the flash enters the rain drop it leaves via the path of least resistance, which is straight out the top. This makes it look like the orbs are moving upward. And colored “orbs” are just dust or other particulates that are shaded – usually, by whatever object they’re caught coming off of. For example, a red particulate may have come off a red sweater.

So, if 99% of most “orb” pictures are attributed to the above-mentioned causes, does a true spirit orb actually exist? Yes. It’s rare, but yes, they do exist. The biggest indicator we look for when examining orb photos is whether or not it emits its own light. A true spirit orb emits its own light; it doesn’t need any form of external light in order to be seen.

We hope this post has given you a better understanding about orbs, and about why we don’t include them as evidence of paranormal activity. Unless we have some kind of supporting event to back up their appearance [e.g. an EVP, or video capture of an object being moved], we assume they are just a natural aspect [e.g. dust] of the environment that happened to get caught in the camera’s flash.

If you’d like to offer your opinions, questions, or insights about this post, feel free to leave us a comment.

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