Also known as 'ghost orbs', 'spirit orbs' and 'angel orbs', orbs first began to be noticed in photographs with the advent of the pocket flash camera in the 1990s. They are usually found in digital still photography when a flash has been used; orbs are not often found in photographs taken in natural light or in film photography. At times they have been seen to move in video footage. Usually orbs are spherical but have occasionally appeared shaped as diamonds, rectangles and smears. They are often claimed as real evidence of spirit presences supposedly representing the essence or soul of a departed person. Believers claim that orbs have appeared on command and may have images and faces visible within them when you zoom in; and that under controlled conditions orbs have been shown not to be reflected light but what is known in physics as "fluoresence". Orbs are frequently cited as evidence of a paranormal manifestation in such tv programs as Ghost Adventures.
A number of paranormal investigators have used digital cameras to attempt to catch images of orbs as proof that a location is haunted, claiming that the orbs or "ectos" are spirits or ghosts appearing in the photograph. Eventually so many orb photographs were being produced that the Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society (GHRS) stopped accepting them as proof of paranormal activity.
However, many sceptics and paranormal investigators have accepted that orbs are probably merely natural phenomena such as insects, dust, pollen, or water vapor. Fujifilm states that "There is always a certain amount of dust floating around in the air. You may have noticed this at the movies when you look up at the light coming from the movie projector and notice the bright sparks floating around in the beam. In the same way, there are always dust particles floating around nearby when you take pictures with your camera. When you use the flash, the light from the flash reflects off the dust particles and is sometimes captured in your shot. Of course, dust particles very close to the camera are blurred since they are not in focus, but because they reflect the light more strongly than the more distant main subject of the shot, that reflected light can sometimes be captured by the camera and recorded on the resulting image as round white spots. So these dots are the blurred images of dust particles."
- Orbs on the Paranormal Encyclopedia
- Stephen Wagner. Enough with the Orbs Already, About.com n.d.
- 'Your Spirit Orbs Sightings' - Beliefnet.com
- 'Orb Evidence' - Ghost Circle website
- Klaus Heinemann, Miceal Ledwith, The Orb Project Beyond Words Publishing (2007) - Google Books pg 23
- 'Zak Encounters an Orb' - Travel Channel
- Interview with Zak Bagans on Biography.com
- Matthew Didier, GHRS - Toronto and Ontario - The Orb is Dead.... Toronto Ghosts 6 February 2003
- Robert Todd Carroll, Orbs, The Skeptic's Dictionary 3 December 2007
- 'Natural Not Supernatural Ghost Photos' - Paranormal Studies & Inquiry Canada
- Brian Dunning, Orbs: The Ghost in the Camera, Skeptoid.com (2007)
- Troy Taylor, Orbs Debunked! Prairie Ghosts 2008
- The Great Ghost Orb Debate - Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the Blob - The Society for Paranormal Investigation
- Orbs Explained - Paranormal Research UK
- The Official Word on Orbs from Fujifilm