Ghost Orbs – An Overlooked Question

Ghost orbsGhost orbs are a controversial topic.

Some orbs can be explained as refracted light from moisture, reflective surfaces, insects, pollen or dust.

But – and this is important – false orbs aren’t the big problem I thought they were.

Unfortunately, many ghost hunters took my earlier advice.

Now I’m embarrassed when I hear someone dismiss a credible orb as “it’s just dust.”

Usually, false orb shapes are irregular.

In other cases, you can see the insect or dot of pollen in the center. It’s more solid-looking. Enlarge your photo and take a close look, to be sure.

When it’s a bug, the reflection is usually white. Pollen usually shows up as a solid yellow dot in the center of the orb. It’s not see-through (translucent).

Always rule those things out.

What if you can’t debunk it?

Some of us believe that unexplained orbs –  described as photographic anomalies – indicate possible paranormal activity.

But some ghost researchers still insist that orbs aren’t evidence.

The Skeptics’ Arguments

Critical skeptics fall back on the easy answer that every unexplained orb is just dust. Or insects. Or a reflection.

That’s a convenient excuse.

When I ask how much research they’ve done with their own cameras, trying to create fake orbs, they usually change the subject.

Or, they snap back, “I don’t have to. It’s obvious.”

In the years since I wrote this, I’ve met just one researcher who thoroughly experimented with orb photos. He told me he could create convincing, orb-like images with extremely fine powder carefully blown from the surface of a credit card.

Perhaps he can. I’m still trying to replicate that, myself. So far, no luck.

But… Sure, Let’s Pretend It’s All Dust

Okay, let’s say that those orbs are “just dust.” (Important: I don’t believe that’s the universal answer.)

There’s still an overlooked question.

In fact, it’s obvious when you think about it.

Why do we see so many more orbs in photos taken at haunted places?

Why are there dozens of orbs in photos taken at a haunted cemetery, and hardly any orbs at a field just down the street from that cemetery?

If they’re both equally dusty, shouldn’t we see an equal number of orbs in the photos?

Let’s backtrack for a moment.

Ghosts and Physical Evidence

Most ghost hunters point to physical evidence such as doors that slam without explanation.

Or, they’ll talk about lights, radios and televisions that turn on “by themselves.”

Similarly, I’ve heard a broken piano play music at The Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana.

We’ve seen balls roll by themselves, pencils move across tables, and so on.

So, why is it so preposterous to think that a ghost might deliberately lift flecks of dust, to manifest as orbs in our photos?

Remember the movie, Ghost?  In one scene, Patrick Swayze – as a ghost – struggles to move physical objects.  Fortunately, another ghost shows him how it’s done.

But what about ghosts in cemeteries and other haunted locations?  Maybe no one has shown them how to move large and heavy objects.  Perhaps a particle of dust is all they can manage.

A ghost that gets our attention with a fleck of dust is no less real than a ghost that slaps someone, rolls a ball across the floor of a deserted hospital, or slams doors in an empty hall.

Debunking Ghost Orb Photos

Many experienced ghost hunters dismiss orbs caused by obvious reflective objects, pollen, insects, and rain.

Those ghost hunters have viewed thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of orb photos. They know what to look for:

  • An irregular shape, not a nearly perfect circle
  • A solid-looking dot or shape at the center of the orb
  • A solid dot of yellow in or near the center of a pollen orb
  • A solid white shape inside an insect orb
  • A solid white or grey dot inside a dust orb
  • A brilliant white orb, usually an irregular shape, if it’s rain or moisture
  • A repeating series of circular orbs, usually in a line, if it’s a lens flare from the sun, the moon, or a reflective surface.

If You Can’t Debunk It

The next question should be: Is the dust an anomaly?

If you’re seeing unexplained orbs in photos taken at one location, take photos at a nearby location with similar levels of dust,  pollen, and so on.  Equal orbs indicate natural causes.

However, if you see orbs in photos at a haunted cemetery but not in photos at the Little League field next door, the real issue isn’t whether it’s dust.

Instead, ask why the orbs only show up in the haunted cemetery.

The answer might be ghosts.

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16 thoughts on “Ghost Orbs – An Overlooked Question”

  1. we have been doing alot of pic taking, around our place. we try and take at least two pics at a time, in the same spot. more times than not, there is an orb and then in the next, it’s gone. sometimes, we catch the the tail of the orb before it is gone. would that be dust? or moisture? and in such a large area? we have 10 acres to work on, w/alot of past. i would like to send you some pics.

  2. how can we help bad spirits to move out from their suffering hell & reach them next good birth?

  3. Cool website. But I have to say I respectfully disagree with the theory of ghosts raising dust particles to form orbs. Dust exists in our “dimension” so to speak and if it was dust we were seeing on camera shots, wouldn’t we be able to see the orbs with our eyes? Plus the dust would have to be in a near perfect circle shape to comprise what we see in the photos. I have some awesome orb pictures taken at a notoriously haunted place as well as some weird vocal noises on a digital recorder from the same spot. I noticed raven wanted to send some pictures in and I would like to do the same. Is there someone I can send them to?

    1. I was wondering if a spirit can move dust which causes dust particles to move when there is no one in the room but the Hunting Camera on which is Infrared and records and takes photos one after the other?

      1. Cynthia, I think that’s entirely possible. If a spirit can open or close a door, or roll a ball across a room, I think moving dust would be easy.

  4. Some people do see orbs with their eyes, not just in the photos. However, they seem to be in a very tiny minority. I’d guess fewer than 5% of ghost hunters actually see orbs on site.

    However, I have no doubt that humidity and rain cause some false orbs, and I don’t see those orbs with my eyes, either.

    In most settings, I don’t see the flecks of dust that we raise when we walk or — in total darkness — shuffle around. However, we can generally spot the dust cloud in front of the camera when the flash highlights it. When that’s going on, I usually discount orbs in the photos.

    My point with this article is: Do you believe that a spirit can slam a door, roll a ball across the floor, or move something large? If so, consider the possibility that a very weak spirit (or a prankster) is lifting just one fleck of dust, hoping that it’ll show up as a tiny light or an orb in the photo.

    But, in general, I never accept orbs as proof of ghosts, unless there is other clear and supporting evidence that the site is haunted.

    Regarding photos: We’re generally not able to analyze individual photos at this time. We receive hundreds every week, and while we look at as many as we can, we’re not able to evaluate most photos via email.

  5. Crossing over to the other side is a topic I’ll be addressing in my next online course, madhuki.

    There’s a five-step process that I recommend to help stuck or unhappy spirits cross to the other side. The first step can be the trickiest if a spirit is angry or has evil intentions.

    In the latter case, contact should not be attempted unless you are well-protected, spiritually, and know what you’re doing.

    However, with a friendly or sad spirit, it’s fine to talk out loud with them and encourage them to look for the light, look for their friends and family who are waiting for them, and so on.

    I’ll discuss this in far more depth in my new online course, due out in November 2008.

    Thanks for asking!

  6. Raven, your question is a good one.

    If you see the orb moving out of the frame in the second picture, check the shape of the orb that you saw in the first photo. If it’s an irregular shape, especially if it has a solid-ish centre, it could be a bug.

    Enlarge the original photo to check for a yellow dot in the centre, indicating pollen.

    Consider every natural and normal explanation, first.

    Once you’ve ruled out the natural explanations, and especially if the orb is in only one of the two photos, you’re looking at an anomaly.

    I never use orbs as the only reason to believe that a site is haunted. However, if there are other very good reasons — other phenomena and/or some historically-based ghost stories — orbs can provide supporting evidence.

    Besides, they’re lovely to look at in photos, and they’re fun to photograph.

  7. Fiona, i love taking pics, and i know the history around this area. when i first moved to the area, my parents bought some land that belonged to a lady named “Ivy Lamb”. she was well into her eighties when i met her, and that was in 1976. we hit it off right away. i would sit on her front porch, which was the 2nd log house to be on the property, and she would tell me so many stories. it would take me a week or more to write all of it down. she would tell me “ghost stories”. i thought they were just that! she told me one, that kind of gave me the creeps. it was a true story about her sister and her brother. seems her sister killed her parents, and in return, her brother hunted her down and killed her. in Ivy’s words, she said,”the police came and took my brother away , and i never saw him again”. wellll, i found out that they had taken him to Richmond, Va, to be executed. my point is, that there is alot of history out here. anything from indian fights, civil war, to bootlegging i catch what i think are orbs, and have also gotten some EVPS. me and my sister, are starting our own web site. it’s not quite finished yet, but i would love for you to take alook at it. i have some pics on there. would love to get your thoughts. by the way we both took your course and i think it helped us alot.
    thanks, raven
    it is: [email protected]

  8. Fiona. Some people e-mail our team photos to get our oppinion. “orbs” are still a little hard for us. We had a photo sent recently that kind of bothered me a little bit. The photo shows an orb. But the wierd thing is this orb is emitting light beams like a UFO’s search lights that scan the ground. The second photo was either the same orb or a different one doing the same thing, but a second one above it acting in the same matter. Samantha couldn’t make anything of it so we showed these photos to the rest of our team. One theory is tiny UFO’s. I don’t think so. Is it possible for a ghost orb to act in such a way? I haven’t read anything such as documents or anything published to back this up. Could it be an action that orbs can do that has never been photographed before?

    1. Rich, thanks for asking! Just once, I’ve seen an orb seem to emit light in a photo. Until it happens again, I’m reserving judgment on that photo, which appears near the foot of the page, . However, it’s important to rule out hair in photos. Even a single hair can create very strange effect. I’ve written a few articles about this, and recommend reading as well as some of the related articles linked at the foot of that page. Meanwhile, if future photos show the same phenomena and all natural effects can be ruled out… well, that could be a very exciting breakthrough. Thanks for telling me about it!

      1. My daughter took about 24 photos while she was at her sisters grave that recently passed.
        There are two Orbs in almost every photo, they change from bright white to light blue.
        Itspretty awesome to look at.

  9. I just took some photos of my new German Shepherd puppy. There are one or more orbs with him in most of the photos. We lost one of our German Shepherds about a month ago, so I think the orbs may be him in some way. The last photo was most amazing in that while I was taking the photo, my camera battery went dead right after taking what is the last photo. The battery indicator light was red and showed the battery to be depleted of power. I commented about it at that time to my husband. Then I went in the house and put the memory card in the computer to look at the photos. As I looked at this last photo, there are two very distinct orbs in the photo: one large orb covering my puppy’s head and one smaller and much brighter orb with what appears to be a small trail of light behind it. When I made the connection between my battery dying and the orbs appearing in the photo I was taking at that time, I attempted to turn my camera back on. Surprisingly, the camera came on immediately and indicated the battery was around two-thirds charged. Could the presence of a “spirit” in the form of an orb drain the battery from my camera?

    1. We often notice that batteries go flat when we notice anomalies. Perhaps the spirits draw that energy so that they can manifest as orbs. We don’t know, but it seems a reasonable explanation.

      I’d like to think that your orbs represent energy from the dog that you lost. I’ve heard reports like this from other pet owners, and it makes sense that a lost pet would return to let us know that he or she is still alive… just on a different plane right now.

  10. The folks over at have a great essay about the physical reasons orbs usually appear:

    If a spirit is using dust to make itself known I think it might be an idea to see if the same spirit could be induced to make itself known in a more clearly identifiable way… kind of like in a noisy room when you ask someone to speak up or if someone doesn’t know your language well, you might ask to resort to gestures.

    My personal preference is that if a spirit is having trouble communicating, a sensitive EMF meter might do the trick in fostering better communications. The people over at TAPS have this pretty much down to a science. Their research in this direction looks like it’s getting some great results.

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