Courtesy of Rev. John Holbrook Founder & CEO of HOLBROOK PSI
Over the years during most of my investigations I've had orbs appear in my photos and video. Does this mean that every place I have investigated was haunted? No ... not for the most part. Does an orb in a photo constitute a ghost or spirit? No. A true orb is just a form of energy that is captured on a media (like film or digital) and may or may not be part of the haunting. The first orb that I captured was on a 35mm camera when I was first starting out doing investigations. We did not have digital cameras or digital camcorders. All the media we used was tape. Most of the orb pictures were caused by the flash and a reflective surface, some were not.
When first started learning the ins and outs of investigations and how to use the equipment, I found that it was easy to get orb pictures. That is to say that I thought that I was getting good evidence with my pictures when I was not. You see, dust, pollen and insects sometimes appear as orbs in pictures. This is because they are reflecting the flash and that is all you are seeing on the picture (the reflection of the flash not what it was reflected off of).
Even when I had orbs in my pictures that seemed to be real orbs I did not automatically jump to any conclusions that a place was haunted. This is because I wanted more evidence to prove to myself and if needed to others that a haunting was occurring. This is some of my police background coming out - evidence is the key but your use and interpretation of it is the door. The more evidence you have the better chance you have to opening the right door to the truth. Now with digital cameras, you can load your pictures on to your computer and really take a very close look at them. You can see that some orbs are not paranormal or supernatural at all.
When you look at photo "I", the tree pollen, you can see orbs everywhere. This is clearly dust and pollen in the air that was captured on film. Also in this picture some of the orbs are the stars in the sky.
Picture "II" is a digital picture of Maple pollen. This picture is from one of the university's digital libraries on pollen that I look at for matches. In this picture the pollen is illuminated from the rear so that you can see the detail and characteristics of the pollen.
As you can see in Picture "III" (taken by Donna Overall a very gifted graphic design artist) there are several orbs that appear in the picture.
The orb that is close to the fence is the moon and was the reason for taking the photo. The most prominent orb is in front of the pine tree and has the look of pollen or maybe dust. I believe it has the look of dust or pollen because of the similar patterns that are occurring in the orb. You can see a similar pattern in the picture of Maple pollen (Picture II). I know that it is not a perfect match, but the similarity is there none - the -less.
Let's look at the same photo after it has been solarized. In the picture below, the moon is totally black with just a ring of light and the orb in the picture is spotted or textured. The moon is not reflecting the light of the flash so it is solid black. The orb is not a star or a light in the tree because it would be solid like the moon. You can see the pattern on the orb a little clearer now and you can tell that it is definitely between the camera and the tree. You can see that it is a reflective object that is not interacting with the tree or a part of the tree. So what are all the things that I am looking at in this picture to make my analysis of whether it is supernatural or natural? The way the light reacts with the object and the look of the object is one part of the analysis. The way you look at orb pictures is to determine what exists naturally or is a reflection, so you have to look at many pictures to get the hang of how to discern what is real.
Pictures like the next one can help you see how dust looks. See the orb in the top left, the pattern is the similar as in picture "IIII". The quality of the picture and the amount of orbs solarizing this picture doesn't help to determine
if it is natural or supernatural. Looking at the consistency and the fact that the person that took the picture said that it was dust helps to know if it is natural not supernatural. I'd like to say that anything caught in a picture is an anomaly or an orb. An orb is round and an anomaly is anything else. "Orb" and "anomaly" are working terms I use until I discern if it is supernatural or natural. I may not always be right but with my experience and by not jumping on the "everything is supernatural" bandwagon I have been able to gain a discerning eye.
Below is a picture of an orb that I captured on my digital camera while practicing with the camera. Right next to it is the same picture that has been solarized; you can see that the reflective part of the orb is near the edge.
If it was the other way around it could be a small insect. So is this supernatural or natural? I feel that it is supernatural but it is not related to a haunting. Just because an orb appeared in this picture, it doesn't indicate evidence of a haunting. This orb could be a nature spirit like a fairy or a sprite or any of the other supernatural beings that inhabit the world around us. Some would say that all of the supernatural orbs that appear on a picture are ghosts. But there are other energy beings that could be captured on many types of media. Some orbs can be seen without a flash, they produce their own light. With flashes and night vision cameras it is hard to see if it was illuminated by the flash or by itself.
I've heard stories about people who have seen orbs "in person" without a camera. The orbs that have been seen include ball lightning and static electric discharges on the natural side, ghosts, will-o'-the-wisps, fairies and evil entities. In most of the stories the people know or have an idea of what they are seeing or, after the event have figured out what they saw. They do this by many different means which include research of the event itself and of the location where the event occurred. Some have an interaction with the orb that gives them insight into what it is... like the feelings they have when they see the orb. Some of the orbs that are seen with the naked eye are called ghost lights or have even been deemed alien.
So, as a paranormal investigator I'd like to say, an orb is an orb and it can be supernatural, natural or alien. It is not just a picture or a video of an orb that constitutes good evidence of a paranormal event or a haunting. You need to get as much evidence as possible including historic and eyewitness information, EVPs, videos, pictures, EMF readings, and any other anomalistic readings you can acquire. Orbs can be a good part of the evidence that you garner from an investigation if you do not jump to conclusions regarding the nature of the orbs. The only thing that you need to discern is if it is natural or supernatural. So orb are everywhere and they are not all necessarily paranormal.
Printed with permission.