The following is an edited excerpt from the first edition of Ghost Photography 101, by Fiona Broome.
Orbs are probably the most popular evidence of ghosts and hauntings.
Orbs are the easiest for beginners to capture in photos. They can be confused with dust, bugs, pollen, reflections and moisture… but not as often as you might think.
This photo at the lower right shows a typical orb at Pine Hill Cemetery (also called “Blood cemetery”) in Hollis, New Hampshire. The picture was taken near some of the oldest graves in the cemetery. This orb is unusual because it was photographed without a flash.
About 90% of orbs are photographed using the camera’s flash. This suggests that orbs have some physical content that reflects the light of the flash.
However, if orbs have a physical form, more people should see them in real life.
In fact, most people don’t see orbs, except in their photos.
Orbs usually white or pale blue, but they can appear in a variety of colors, both pastels and vivid shades. Some are very faint. Others are bright and almost opaque.
Now and then, orbs seem to include faces, but most are simply translucent circular (or spherical) shapes.
Sometimes the face closely resembles the person whose ghost is supposed to haunt the site. That’s eerily reminiscent of the fake ghost photos of the late 19th century… and baffling.
Some “face” orbs are reported in locations more associated with faeries than with ghosts.
For now, orbs are a mystery and deserve more study. We don’t have many answers, yet.
Orbs often appear close to people. I’ve seen hundreds of orb photos in which the orb is near a baby or a bride. It’s difficult to dismiss them as mere coincidence. Many people are comforted by an orb that represents a loved one who’s crossed over, and is visiting our world to celebrate a happy event with his or her family.
Other orbs seem to manifest near haunted objects or specific locations.
The photo on the left shows a solitary orb over a house in Katy, Texas. It’s one of just a few homes that survived the famous Galveston Flood of 1900. The night was cool and dry with no insects and no breezes.
Many people think that the Galveston Flood affected the island of Galveston and that’s all.
If you research that famous flood, you’ll see that the flood extended into Houston and surrounding areas. (It was comparable to Hurricane Harvey in 2007.)
As a result, there are many rich stories and tragedies from that disaster, and some may indicate haunted locations.
In the photo at the lower right, orbs hover near haunted Houmas House in Louisiana. It’s an extraordinary location for ghost photos. Houmas House may look familiar because it’s been featured in movies and TV shows. It was also the home of the man who designed the famous “Stars and Bars” flag of the Civil War. Ghosts of Confederate soldiers have been reported near the house.
I’ve seen two full apparitions at Houmas House. One was in the bedroom where Bette Davis slept while filming “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” at the house.
The other was at the front gate, where I saw an unusually tall black man pacing. At first, I saw him from the “widow’s walk” on top of Houmas House. The apparition looked only slightly translucent. It was a sunny morning, and I saw him very clearly.
I wanted a closer look, so I dashed downstairs and out the front door. The figure was clearly visible until I was about 30 feet from him. He faded quickly. It probably took less than half a second.
After the apparition vanished from sight, I asked Kevin Kelly — the owner of Houmas House — about the ghost. I described the figure in detail. Mr. Kelly knew exactly which man I was describing.
Mr. Kelly showed me a photograph of the former slave, taken during the man’s lifetime. I recognized the man in the photo right away. His apparition looks almost exactly the same today.
I wish I’d been able to capture his ghostly image in a photo. However, these kinds of encounters indicate locations — such as Louisiana’s Houmas House — where ghost photos are likely.
This is important: Credible ghost photos rarely occur unless other ghostly phenomena are reported, too.