Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spirit Photography - Orbs

The more I explore the various paranormal groups and teams that have a presence online, the more I've felt compelled to write some posts about spirit photography, which, even in the field of paranormal investigation, is a controversial subject because so many environmental factors can cause reflections which appear to us to be unexplained.

The first thing I want to address: ORBS. Because they drive me nuts.

If someone gives me a picture like the one below and says, "Look at all these orbs! This graveyard was obviously full of spirits!" I will be highly tempted to smack them.

Okay, I wouldn't resort to violence, but it would seriously frustrate me. Now, I don't have the right to say a spirit CAN'T take form of an orb in a photo...who am I to say what forms energy can take? I CAN say with absolute certainty that when light reflects off of a particle floating in the air, a bug, or anything with a reflective surface, it often creates an orb. This picture is taken outside, in the summer where bugs and pollen are prevalent, and it was taken with a flash. Any orb, no matter how pretty you think it is, has to be thrown out in that scenario. There is absolutely no way to prove it isn't a reflection. You might say, "but that bottom right one is brighter than the others and seems to cover up some of the grave its over, and it's right above a grave! That's too many coincidences!" No. No it's not. How many bugs or particles do you think are sitting on an outside grave at any given time? A lot. There is absolutely NO WAY you can argue it's not a grass spore, or a bug. Throw it out.

"Okay, so what about this one?" You say. "The long thing is obviously a reflection off the mirror, but the orb is inside, and is the only one around. Surely there's not one little pollen particle floating around."

Do you think that every particle floating around a room will reflect any time your flash goes off? If they did, your picture would be white. No, a single orb doesn't mean there is only a single particle, it just means that of all the spots in the room, that exact spot is the one that has an angle relative to the camera where the light is reflected directly back, and not at an angle. Also, notice the vent in the ceiling? Do you think maybe when the air conditioning comes on, it's going to spit out dust? Heck yea. No. DO NOT consider this orb evidence. Even if it happens to be a spirit, and it breaks your heart to not share that brave spirit's cooperation with will never be able to argue against the idea that it is a reflection. Throw it out.

I will say this once. If you used a flash when taking the picture, or if there were any lights in the area, orbs just have to be thrown out as evidence. Even if you are certain that the orb is not a reflection, there is absolutely no way to prove that to others, and the point of this business is to find irrefutable proof. Orbs just can't be that. Like Lori often says, "The best an orb can ever be is a maybe." 

That all said, there is ONE scenario where I will consider an orb as evidence, and ONLY ONE. That is when you take a picture or a video in an area where there are absolutely NO LIGHTS, and your camera uses absolutely no light. No flash, nothing. Not even IR. Infrared waves can reflect as easily as visible light waves, and to a camera that detects IR, it looks exactly the same. But if there is no light, then how can light be reflecting off something?

Take this video as an example:

This video was taken in pitch black. (I lightened it some afterwards with Movie Edit Pro MX). The camera had no light on it. The one time you can't get a reflection is when there is no light to reflect, so in these circumstances, anything seen that has bright light must be producing the light itself. (And as we know, some bugs do, like fireflies, so even in this scenario we have to be careful). In the video you see three orbs. The first two, even though it is very doubtful they could be reflections, I don't get too excited about. They have no defining features, no strange movement, and probably still couldn't make a skeptic think twice. But look at the last "orb."

A reflection doesn't leave a trail unless it is moving at speeds impossible for a bug or piece of dust, and especially not when there is no light in the environment to cause a reflection.

The second reason we took this orb more seriously is because of the face that seems to appear in it. The thing about reflections, is that most of the time, they are symmetrical. Not always, but usually. This orb isn't perfectly round, but more the shape of a head. And of course, there are no lights. Remember, the only difference between an orb and apparition is the outline shape, and the details in the anomaly. This orb seems to be moving away from the "orb" category and moving toward the "apparition" category.

If the camera had a flash and we got this shape, even though it looks like a face, I would still assume that it's possible (though unlikely) for an oddly shaped bug to create this reflection. After all, people tend to see pictures in random assortments of lights (the same way we make shapes out of clouds). But given the fact that there were no lights to reflect, the orb leaves a trail, and takes the shape of a made me stop and think. This I can consider evidence. But, if you present an orb as evidence under these circumstances, YOU MUST MAKE THE CIRCUMSTANCES CLEAR! 

Forgive me if this post seems preachy or pushy, but think about this. There is entire community of paranormal investigators out there trying to find evidence of the paranormal that scientists and skeptics cannot logically explain. Regardless of what you think personally, presenting evidence that can easily be explained without resorting to "someone faked it," (because let's face it, ANYTHING can be faked) hurts our overall goal. If a skeptic with some mild interest goes to do research and finds YOUR site first, where a field full of orbs is presented as evidence, you will give them a first impression that we will turn anything into something "paranormal." That we don't do our research. And for many of us, that's just not true. Don't diminish the value of those investigators that have great evidence, and don't feel bad if you DON'T get great evidence. Chances are you won't, at least not often. When you do, treasure those gems and use them as motivation to keep searching. But please don't jump to conclusions over inconclusive evidence...that's not searching for the truth, that's ignoring the truth.

That doesn't mean you can't include photos of orbs or things that you're not sure are paranormal. But please make it clear on your site that a) you do not KNOW what the anomaly is, whether paranormal or natural. b) if you do have any possible natural explanations, list them. c) open up to suggestions from other people. Experts on photography, your certain camera, light, or other subjects may have a logical explanation you don't know about.

Okay. I'm off my soapbox :)

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