Monday, June 27, 2016

30+ Facts About Orbs

Orbs are mysterious circular anomalies that show up in photographs. Below are some facts about orbs that I have learned after nearly two years of photographing them.

1. Orbs usually have a circular shape

Most orbs have a circular shape, although I occasionally photograph half-orbs in water, and I often photograph crescent shapes nearby water drop orbs. The fact that orbs almost always appear with a perfectly round shape is evidence against any claim that they are dust, as we would expect dust to appear much more commonly with irregular shapes.

2. Orbs can appear in either air or water

I have photographed nearly 1000 orbs in water drops (a good fraction of which appear to have face-like details), so I know orbs can appear in either air or water. The abundant appearance of orbs in water cannot at all be explained through any theory of dust.

3. Orbs in the air range in brightness, with many appearing to be very bright

The brightness of orbs in the air varies from a dim pale amount of brightness to what looks like a very strong brightness that is perhaps 100 times brighter than the dimmest orbs. We cannot at all explain the existence of bright orbs in the air by imagining they are dust. Since dust is a material that reflects relatively little light, whenever flash photos capture dust particles they show pale, dim little things perhaps a hundred times less bright than many of the orbs shown on this site, particularly the 300+ I have labeled “bright orb."

4. Water orbs and air orbs have a wide variety of solid colors, although some appear multicolored

The air orbs I have photographed have many different colors. Not counting photos of water drops, I've taken in dry, clean air 500+ photos of blue orbs, 80+ photos of green orbs, 100+ photos of pink orbs, 80+ photos of orange orbs, 35+ photos of red orbs, 250+ photos of purple orbs, and 75+ photos of yellow orbs. The water orbs I have photographed usually have a single color of white, blue, orange, yellow, or green, but occasionally have a striped or gradient color, in which more than one color appears. I sometimes photograph multicolored orbs that have a blend of several colors. Conversely dust particles usually have a color of gray or brown (other than one photo I have never observed a brown color in any orb I have photographed, except when I was deliberately photographing cocoa dust). I have never once photographed a black orb in either the air or the water.

The inadequacy of various attempts to naturally explain such colors is discussed here.

5. Orbs typically have sharp outer edges, not blurred outer edges

The outer edges of orbs typically appear as quite sharp, rather than blurred. This is an important indication that they are not tiny particles close to the camera, such as dust. With normal settings, a camera cannot focus on anything a few inches from the camera, so anything appearing that close to the camera will appear as blurred. The fact that orbs typically appear with sharp, non-blurred outer edges is an indication that they are not some tiny particles close to the camera.

6. Orbs often appear to be moving very fast and making sharp turns, in photos taken indoors where there are no observable insects

Some of the most dramatic paranormal photos that I take are photos that seem to show orbs hurtling about at extremely rapid speeds. On this site I have more than 365 such photos, which you can see here. 37 of these photos are photos of speeding orbs that seem to be making sharp right-angle turns, as you can see here. Ten are photos of orbs making U-turns, as you can see here. The site even has 4 photos of orbs that seem to make double right-angle turns, as you can see here.

Then there are photos that seem to show orbs making a dramatic wavy, undulating motion, of a type that is impossible for dust, birds or insects. You can find 24 of these photos here. There are also 36 photos showing a very dramatic “string of pearls” effect that may seem to show several different position states of a single hurtling object, with the positions being connected by a blur of motion. You can find these photos here.

The inadequacy of various attempts to naturally explain these moving orbs is discussed here. The “moving orb” photos mentioned above were all taken indoors with no observable insects nearby, one of several reasons why “moving insect” explanations don't work to explain photos of moving orbs (others being that insects aren't round, don't make sharp turns, and don't move fast enough). 

Moving pink orb, described in this post

7. Orbs are often observed with an outer ring

A very common characteristic of orbs, seen in a significant minority of the photos, is the appearance of an outer ring near the outer edge of the orb. The diameter of this outer ring is about 90% of the diameter of the orb. I have photographed 66 orbs with this feature, as shown here.

8. Orbs often appear as large as 10 percent of the original photo height, and sometimes appear significantly larger

So far I have published some 56 photos of orbs that were roughly ten percent of the. original photo height or even larger. One of the photos shows an orb that was about 15% of the original photo height. The orb was a distinctive-looking white orb near an American flag.  Still another showed an orb that was 17% of the original photo height. Another photo showed an orb 19% of the original photo height. Another photo showed an orb 25% of the original photo height. 

The area in front of a camera lens is about 15,000 microns wide (a micron is a millionth of a meter). To produce an orb that appears as one tenth of the photo height, you would need a dust particle of about 1500 microns. But the dust particles in indoor air are only about 10 microns in size – many times too small to produce orbs that appear as ten percent of the photo height (a particle 10 microns in size has only 1/22,500 of the area of a particle 1500 microns in size). The dust particles in outdoor air are typically only about 1 micron in size.

I actually have on several days photographed orbs that appeared as large as 60% of the original photo height, with orbs that size appearing repeatedly as I walked around for about a half mile. The examples are here.

9. Orbs often appear to have face-like details

One of the most astonishing observational characteristics of orbs is that they often have details that resemble the details of faces. I have published 300+ photographs showing face-like details in orbs that appeared in water drops, as you can see here. I have also published nearly 200 photos showing face-like details in orbs that were photographed floating about in the air. Many other orb photographers have published photos showing face-like features in orbs.

10. Orbs often appear as highly transparent objects, although some have an opaque appearance

Orbs sometimes appear as opaque, particularly if they are very bright. But often orbs will appear as transparent objects. I have published hundreds of photos of transparent blue orbs, transparent white orbs and transparent green orbs. Very frequently one of my photos may show very sharp background details behind the transparent orb I am photographing. For example, I have taken a few photos of transparent orbs in front of text, with the orb being so transparent that I could read the text behind the orb. If there is a light behind a transparent orb, the part of the orb right in front of the light will typically be perfectly transparent.

11. Orbs appear in fewer than 1% of the total number of all flash photos taken

A very important fact about orbs in photographs is that at least 99% of all flash photographs taken do not show orbs (although certain people may get orbs in more than 1% of their flash photos). It is pretty easy to verify this by going to any major photo hosting site, and searching for some particular topic that is usually photographed with a flash (a search string such as “my cat” or “my living room” will work). Page through 100 random photos, and look closely for any orb. You will be unlikely to find any.

The fact that much fewer than 1% of all photographs show orbs is a very important fact proving that the particles of dust in ordinary air are not sufficient to produce orbs.

12. For photographers who get many orbs in their photos, there is no relation between air quality and the number of orbs photographed

The fact that orbs do not appear in more than 1% of all photographs is proof that the dust in ordinary air is not sufficient to produce orbs. This leaves only one possibility open to the person claiming orbs are caused by dust – to claim that orbs only appear at particularly dusty times. This is not at all true. All of my very many orb photographs have been taken in perfectly normal, clean, dry air (with the exception of fewer than 10 photos where I was photographing under rain and fog, and noted such conditions when posting the photo). I also regularly log the air quality listed on, and have seen no relation between air quality and the number of orbs that appear in my photos. If you examine orb photos by others, you will see no tendency for such photos to show places or conditions that are dustier than normal.

13. Orbs sometimes have stripes, typically a thick stripe stretching from one side of the orb to the opposite side

As shown here, I have more than 20 times photographed striped orbs while photographing ordinary falling water drops, and in most cases there were several striped orbs that appeared (with as many as 20 striped orbs appearing in a single photo). I have also photographed striped orbs in the dry air, taking more than 200 such photos. Such striped orbs may appear indoors or in the sky. The stripe (typically quite thick) will often have an extremely distinctive "triple stripe" look in which the main stripe is flanked by two thin stripes with the same shape. See here for examples. In some of my photos of striped orbs, you will see two striped orbs with the same very distinct pattern of stripes, a kind of "repeated fingerprint." See here for examples.

I defy anyone to produce a photo showing a known natural particle with a thick stripe (any photo published prior to 2016, when I first started publishing photos of striped orbs). Thick stripes are not something we see in natural particles.

The book "The Orb Project" by Miceal Ledwith and Klaus Heinemann, PhD has a photo of a striped orb in Figure 1-34. As in quite a few of my photos, the stripe is a thick dark stripe stretching from one side of the orb to the other.

14. Orbs can appear outdoors in dense swarms, even in dry and clean air

Orbs sometimes appear in dense concentrations or swarms, with as many as a hundred orbs or more appearing in a single photo. Such concentrations of orbs often appear in perfectly dry weather, and in normal, clean air. I have photographed almost a hundred of these orb swarms, all of which appeared in dry, normal, clean air. In almost all cases when I photographed such an orb swarm, the swarm disappeared within about 10 or 15 seconds.

15. There is almost no tendency for orbs in the air to be photographed during consecutive photos

After taking maybe two or three photos of an orb swarm in the air, the next photo will show only a few orbs or no orbs at all. Such behavior shows that these orbs are not caused by dust. Suspended dust takes a few minutes to settle, so if you ever did photograph a “dust orb swarm,” we would expect that such a swarm would persist for several minutes.

As a general rule, an orb photographer will see no tendency for an orb to “hang around” and be photographed in consecutive photos. But in a few very rare photo sessions (such as here and in some of the photos here) I have photographed orbs that seemed to hang around and be photographed repeatedly during a series of photos.

Another exception to this general rule of thumb is that when photographing orbs in water drops, I tend to notice them persisting from one photo to the next much more commonly than when I photograph orbs in the air.

16. Orbs seem to appear more often in meaningful positions, and seem to show a tendency towards aligning with meaningful lines and structural lines

Orbs may appear at random positions in a photo, but I note a strong tendency for orbs to appear more frequently at positions in which they seem to align exactly with meaningful or structural lines. I have countless photos of orbs exactly aligning with structural lines in Grand Central Terminal, such as the edge of a wall. I have taken 32 photos showing orbs exactly aligning with the edge of the large flag in Grand Central Terminal.

17. Experienced orb photographers may photograph orbs much more frequently in certain “hot spot” locations with clean air

I definitely experience a phenomenon of orb “hot spots” – locations where orbs seem to appear much more commonly than the average location. Three such locations are (1) Grand Central Terminal where I photograph orbs in great abundance; (2) the Schwartzman branch of the New York Public Library (as shown here); (3) the American Museum of Natural History (but only the old parts).

These three buildings all have one thing in common. They are old buildings with lots of marble. I do not get orbs very often at all when I photograph inside places such as brightly lit shopping malls.

Orb photographers will often report that within their homes or yards, orbs will tend to appear mainly in particular spots such as one particular room in the building.

I may note that all of my orb “hot spots” have normal, clean air. My photos at Grand Central Terminal are typically taken from elevated balconies, with lots of clean air in front of me, partially because of the powerful air filtration system at the station.

This tendency of orbs to appear much more frequently in certain indoor locations with normal, clean air is further evidence against any dust explanation for orbs.

18. Orbs appear much more often in the photos of those who are interested in photographing orbs

If you have no interest in photographing orbs, you will probably go throughout your life without every photographing them (at least not to any degree that you will notice). But if you express some interest in photographing orbs, you may soon find them beginning to appear in your photos at a very modest rate. If you continue to have an interest in photographing orbs, you may find them appearing more and more often in your photos. People with a prolonged interest in photographing orbs seem to get them appearing at a much, much higher rate than those who have no such interest. The orb photographer Klaus Heinemann (a physics PhD) reported that after a certain time photographing orbs, they were appearing 100 times more often in his photos than when he first started. The same thing happened to me. I never got a single orb in any of my photos until the day in September 2014 when I first audibly expressed an interest in getting something paranormal in my photos; and then 3 photos later I had my first orb photo. 

The fact that certain photographers (such as many on this list) are able to produce web collections with very large numbers of dramatic orb photos is evidence that orbs appear more often in the photos of those who are interested in photographing them.

This tendency is one that strongly suggests orbs are some very paranormal reality that cannot be naturally explained by mundane explanations. There is no reason why the appearance of natural orbs would have any relation to the degree to which a photographer was interested in photographing an orb.

19. Orbs have been photographed across the world for 25 years

The phenomenon of orbs is not something that is being reported only by a handful of people. A large number of photographers all over the world have been producing dramatic orb photos for 25 years. See here for a list of orb web sites produced by many other photographers.

20. Orb photographers usually find that orbs appear in flash photos but rarely or never in photos taken without a flash

Skeptics sometimes claim that this fact is evidence for their groundless “orbs are dust” claim, but it isn't. Using a flash photo can cause the effective shutter speed of a photo to be up to 30 times greater. A photo taken without a flash might have an exposure time of 1/30 of a second. But using a flash will cause the effective exposure time to be about 1/1000 of a second, the length of time that the flash is flashing. You can show this by taking photos of water pouring from a water bottle with a spout. Without a flash, you'll see a stream of water; but with the flash you'll see individual drops of water. What is perfectly possible is that an individual orb is a very transient or fast-moving phenomenon that can be captured with an effective exposure time of about 1/1000 of a second (such as you get using a camera flash), but cannot be captured with a lower exposure time such as get without using a flash. We do indeed have lots of evidence that orbs often move very fast, as they often appear in streaks of motion and “string of pearls” configurations. So the preference of orbs to appear in flash photos can certainly be explained without evoking any “small particle” hypothesis. Another possibility is that orbs are some kind of manifestation by some reality that prefers to produce this manifestation when it can be more clearly or brightly seen, as happens when you use a camera flash.

21. Orbs show up more often when a full-spectrum camera is used for night photography

A full-spectrum camera is one that lets in the infrared light and ultraviolet light that is often blocked by regular cameras. When I started using a full-spectrum camera for night photography, I started getting many more orbs in my photos than I did using a regular camera. This fact is entirely incompatible with claims that orbs are produced by material particles near the camera. If that were true, it would make no difference whether or not a full-spectrum camera was used. The fact that orbs appear more often when full-spectrum cameras are used strongly suggests that at least some orbs are an unknown energy phenomenon, one involving infrared or ultraviolet wavelengths outside of the visible spectrum.

22. Orbs may appear behind distant obstructions far from the camera

Whenever you get a photograph of an orb behind a distant obstruction meters from the camera, it proves that such an orb is not some tiny particle near the camera. I have taken many photos of orbs that appear to be behind distant obstructions, which you can see here. Other orb photographers have also produced such photos.

23. Orbs may appear looking sharp and normal in a “jerked camera” photo in which all other details are blur-streaked

Sometimes I will accidentally move my camera in a sudden jerk which causes all the visible details to be blur-streaked. In some of these photos I have noticed orbs which appeared as sharp and clear as normal, just as if I had not moved the camera. This strange effect almost seem to defy the laws of optics.

24. Orbs will not appear in front of a piece of cardboard photographed at arm's length, even if such a photo is taken just after photographing many orbs

What I call the cardboard test is a test that I have tried 41 times just after taking a photo with lots of orbs in it. To do the cardboard test I hold a paper-sized sheet of cardboard at arm's length, so that it fills up most of the photo area. I have never once photographed a single orb in front of the cardboard when doing such a test. This is a strong indication that orbs are not physical particles near the camera. If they were, we should expect such a test to show orbs in front of the cardboard.

25. Orbs often appear to have an aura, which often has a “split” appearance, with one color on one half, and a different color on the opposite half

Although their outer edges are usually sharp and non-blurred, orbs will often appear to have a kind of outer sheen or glow that is not the same color as the orb itself. I call such a thing an aura, for lack of a better term. One strange thing I often notice is what I call the “split aura” effect, in which half of an orb's aura is one color, and the other half is some different color. Some examples are here.

26. Orbs are sometimes photographed next to other paranormal-looking things such as strange veil-like structures and “ecto-mist”

There are two other anomalous photographic phenomena that are sometimes photographed with orbs. One of these are what I call orb veils (180+ examples can be seen here). I have photographed many of these strange objects while photographing water drop orbs. Another anomalous photographic phenomenon sometimes seen when orbs are photographed is what may be variously called ecto-mist, light forms, or ghostly mist. Some examples can be seen here. I get this ecto-mist only very rarely, but other photographers on this list seem to get it much more often (and some of these photographers also get veil-like objects like the ones I have photographed). The book "The Orb Project" by Miceal Ledwith and Klaus Heinemann, PhD has photos of ecto-mist (called "plasmoids" in the book) and veil-like objects. The book "Orbs and Beyond" by Katie Hall and John Pickering also has lots of photos of orbs appearing with ecto-mist, which the authors call "light forms." 

27. Orbs photographed indoors and outdoors in dry weather often have tail-like trailing paths, resembling the tail of a comet

Orbs are often photographed indoors and outdoors with trailing tails resembling a comet's tail. I have photographed 85+ examples of these “orb comet tails” indoors and in completely dry weather outdoors. Skeptics attempts to explain these “tails” as being caused by falling raindrops, but such an attempt is completely unworkable for three reasons: (1) these orb tails are often observed indoors; (2) these orb tails are often photographed outdoors in completely dry weather; (3) outdoor photos of these orb tails show them pointing in completely random directions (up, down, left, and right), without any tendency for them to point mainly either up or down.

28. Orbs photographed in water drops often appear to be spinning rapidly around the outer edges of a water drop

I have 98 times photographed an extremely strange effect in which an orb in a water drop will appear to be spinning extremely rapidly around the outer edges of a water drop. I call this effect the “orb centrifuge effect,” because when I get it the orbs in the water drop may look like test tubes spinning around in a centrifuge (such as one might see in a lab or a doctor's office). See here for examples. 

29. When photographed in swarm-like concentrations outdoors, orbs often show a tendency to appear much more often in the area of the photo above buildings shown in the foreground.

In this series of photos, I notice a tendency I call “orb vertical bias.” When this occurs, my photos will show very few or no orbs in front of foreground buildings at the bottom of the photo, but the orbs will appear in great numbers in the upper area of the photo above such foreground buildings. Such photos offer very strong evidence that the orbs we are seeing are not some tiny particles (such as dust) near the camera, as such particles would be scattered completely randomly around the photo area, with there being none of this “vertical bias.”

As shown here, on August 3, 2015 I photographed 845 orbs that were not in front of a building in the lower foreground of my photos, and only about 7 orbs that were in front of that building. The building took up about one seventh of the photo area. Using a binomial probability calculator (which allows you to calculate the chance of x successes in y trials where there was z probability of success per trial), I asked the calculator to compute the chance of getting only 7 successes (or fewer) in 845 trials in which the chance of success was 1 chance in 7. The answer I got was 1 chance in 6.03 X 1046 which is about 1 chance in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Running the same numbers through a Java binomial probability calculator I have successfully tested against benchmarks, I get an answer for the “cumulative probability” of 1 chance in 4.22 X 1045.

30. Orbs are often observed with the naked eye in the sky

As reported here, in June 2015 the National UFO Reporting Center reported that it had received some 12,000 cases of people reporting ball-like UFOs during the past three years. A particular observer will typically report seeing with his eyes one or more such orbs, and report no further observations. Such observations are often backed up by photographic evidence.

31. Moving orbs are sometimes photographed in videos

Although I concentrate on taking photos of orbs, and rarely attempt to take videos of them, other photographers have produced videos of moving orbs that they have uploaded to Numerous such videos can be found if you use “moving orb” as a search phrase.

32. Repeating patterns have been noticed in orbs, with the same very distinctive pattern sometimes repeating ten or more times

See this post for photos of repeating patterns I have seen in orbs, such as an "inverted Y" pattern I have photographed 7 times, and a very distinctive "umbilical cord" pattern I have photographed 10 times

33. Orbs often have sharp, clear details
As shown hereI have more than 200 times photographed orbs with stripes, and in all such photos we see sharp clear details. This is an important indication that they are not tiny particles close to the camera, such as dust. With normal settings, a camera cannot focus on anything a few inches from the camera, so anything appearing that close to the camera will appear as blurred. The fact that orbs so often appear with sharp, clear details is an indication that they are not some tiny particles close to the camera. 


This ends my list of 30+ characteristics of orbs (I am using the “+” in the title to accommodate future additions to this list). I will add additional items to this list as I observe them. You will be able to permanently find a link to this blog post on the upper right corner of this blog.

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