Orbs and Balls of Light

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Plenty of images have appeared recently from ghost hunters of "orbs" and balls of light eliminating from almost every source. These pictures also include images of funnels and vortexes which are claimed to be paranormal in origin. If you haven't seen any of these images, please go to the International Ghost Hunters Society web site and look through their collections of photos.

Naturally, I'm a sceptic of these. Granted, I'm a sceptic of anything that is related to ghostly phenomena but these images sure don't make a lot of sense.

First of all, many of the "orbs" look simply like a dirty lens or improper film development or insertion. A vortex often looks a lot like the camera strap in front of a lens. I suppose I too had a ghostly vortex image of my ex in Paris atop the Arc de Triomphe, but it was easily explained as the string hanging from the cuff of an old shirt I was wearing.

Granted, many of these pictures have the assurance of the photographer and any of the people who may have been present that this could not have possibly been the explanation. Another interesting fact (that is not as true with the International Ghost Hunters Society as others) is that most of these orbs and such occur in cemeteries. Statistically speaking, cemeteries are not the great bastion of ghosts they're made out to be. Mostly, ghosts haunt areas they occupied in life rather than the soil they occupy in death.

Recently, there was a television program called "Hauntings Across America" in which was featured a segment on a California home that did seem to have an infestation of moving balls of light. In one sequence, the cameras caught a small wooden gate apparently opening of its own accord without human assistance. This monumental occasion consisted of this outdoor gate opening about six inches slowly while creaking all the time. The dialog went something like this:

  • Cameraman: "Did that just do that by itself?"
  • Observer: "There's no wind back there."

I have seen this kind of phenomena happen at my own home, near streetcar tracks, and I had also seen it at my old home near a highway. The gate was on loose hinges and did not have a latch or lock on it that was visible. Now, if it HAD a latch that lifted and opened, that would have been something, but this was pretty piddly.

Why am I mentioning this here? Easy. Before the gate opened, the camera caught a small "ball of light" flying past the gate.

Interestingly enough, no one looked to see if this MIGHT have been caused by a reflection from a nearby source or even a reflection of the camera's own light. It was immediately presented as proof positive of a supernatural occurrence.

Sometimes, it seems, ghost hunters will see anything they want to see without considering other possible causes of the phenomena.

No disrespect intended to the investigators who MIGHT have checked out why this happened but they never mentioned it on the show in question.

The long and the short of it is, if you see a blotch in a picture you took in your Aunt Edna's old farm house... don't assume you have a ghost. You may want to check the cleanliness of your lens and the lighting in your Aunt's kitchen.

When you get a picture of your Aunt Edna waving "hi" from the balcony of her old farmhouse three years after she passed away, call me.

M. Didier -- Director and Webmaster

Addition: Feb. 01, 2000
We recently had a professional photographer tell us about a neat trick that has succesfully reproduced "orbs" on demand! A phenomena called "Back Reflection" can easily be obtained when ANY reflective item in front of a camera with a flash (dust, water and the like do count,) flashes BACK into the camera and then the actual shutter reflects it back onto the inside of the lens and this can cause multiple "orbs" and other type phenomena.

sceptics, don't get as excited as I did because, AS USUAL, the TRUE believers swear that some orb photos are taken in STRICT conditions that would not allow for this phenomena to happen.

Somehow, (on a personal note,) I still believe that the first wide spread "orb" photo was from the "Wizard of Oz"... Remember how Glinda made her entrance?

Man, am I gonna get heated e-mail for this or what?