Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Hey! I've got orbs!"

I am thinking that "orbs" may be the paranormal Rorschach blot of our time.  We all see in them what we wish to see.

With the veritable glut of "ghost hunting" reality shows on television, how many times have you heard one of the breathless participants exclaim, "Look! There are orbs in that photo"?  They then point to the computer screen or the screen in their camera.  The photo indeed has one, maybe even several, spherical shapes of light across its tableau.  Devotees of ghost hunting may tell you that the orbs represent ghosts or at least evidence of spiritual or psychic activity.  There are, however, other explanations.

I don't know about you, but I get orbs rather frequently in my photos.  They are the result of dust particles, insects, or a speck on the camera lens.  They become especially pronounced when the flash on the camera goes off and light is reflected off of the objects.  Taking photographs in the rain will also tend to produce this effect.  Digital optics aren't perfect and can become beguiled rather easily.  So they produce the best approximations given what they see.

Consider this: where do many of these "ghost hunts" take place?  Sure, the hunters go to everyday homes, but the TV specials have investigators in locations like Alcatraz, castles in Britain, an abandoned building, or another such aged structure.  These places undoubtedly have a great deal of dust within them.  Ergo, lots of orbs in photographs, especially as people move through the rooms and disturb said dust.

Undaunted, many will still call their orbs "ghosts," deceased relatives visiting from the other side, or "guardian angels" that are here to impart spiritual messages and directions to take in life.  There's nothing wrong exactly with people taking that stance, however inaccurate it may be.  My problem is that there are so many genuinely bizarre occurrences and images, cases with solid evidence behind them, that to waste time and energy on "orbs" is counterproductive.

I mean, I remember working in the editing bay of my local cable access television station.  Someone else was editing video footage of their "investigation" at Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, a truly haunted location here in the Chicago area.  In one stretch of footage, the producers shouted and pointed, delighted that they had captured an orb.  I looked.  It was clearly a moth flying through the shot.

Everyone saw what they wanted to see.

If you'd like to see a fair and balanced discussion of orbs, please click here.

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  1. Is there a way to post a new link to your site from my blog?

  2. Sure, Danny! You could probably just cut and paste the link into your blogroll along the right hand side. I'm adding yours to mine right now.


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