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What are The Causes of Orbs in My Digital Photos?

What is a Photo Orb?

Digital photography has created a new phenomena; the "photographic orb" or just "orb". There are various theories and scientific explanations. Science says these are dust or water particles reflecting light or just a way a digital camera takes photographs and fills in the missing info gaps with orbs! Others claim some of these are “spirit orbs”; some kind of energy made visible by the digital medium.

This Hub illustrates some orbs I have found in my digital pictures and what I think they are.

I was taken by surprise the first time I discovered a very large orb on one of my digital photographs and that started a search on the web for possible answers to the cause of these sometimes spherical looking “orbs”

According to practical science; it appears these glitches on digital film are water droplets or dust. It is a theory I am inclined to believe except for a few reasons, I will go into later. Not that I want to believe they are spirits, though that makes them much more interesting!

I actually believe it is a computer glitch…sort of static electricity…because I have had one camera emit a loud bang and die! Yes there was a witness…lol. That had to be an electrical disturbance or else it ate a very large spirit and poof, done like toast!

I have a collection of a variety of photographic orbs in different lighting conditions as well as inside and out that I want to share for the curious at heart.

My collection result from completely random pictures , although I have never captured the image of an orb in my apartment, for instance, and in many rain situations, none turn up.

Of the orbs I have pictures of, I have to say I never saw anything before I took the picture…but then I was just taking a picture and not looking for orbs! However, some of the orbs are definitely large and one wonders how such large ones were produced…after all dust particles are way smaller!

No orbs here, just setting the scene...

No orbs here, just setting the scene...

One really dusty corner!

Dust is everywhere, however, I mainly get the orbs in photographs taken at my old cottage. These dusty spheres only happen in one area of the cottage AND I accidentally photographed one small one from two different angles. I only noticed it as I was looking for orbs for this Hub. The same cloud appears in the same spot taken from two different angles, so it is difficult to say I caught the same dust particle or ray of light or even a digital glitch.

That is one image that intrigues me and the even more mysterious part is the location. I rarely get this phenomena happening anywhere else in the house and more or less in one corner. Funny dust that!

watch for more of these situated in this corner only ...copyright by Scribenet

watch for more of these situated in this corner only ...copyright by Scribenet

This dust particle lives on in the same place taken from another angle ...copyright by Scribenet

This dust particle lives on in the same place taken from another angle ...copyright by Scribenet

Look at the corner...the wall is not sloped like that in real life!

Same dust particle taken from another angle..not deliberately...the "orb" was noticed much later!

Same dust particle taken from another angle..not deliberately...the "orb" was noticed much later!

Ghostly Apparitions and Mists...

So to make the topic a little more interesting…. In the neighborhood where these orbs have mostly been photographed there have existed ghost stories of a neighbour (who I actually knew in real life). His niece absolutely believed she had seen him…more than once after he had passed away. So that locale does have a reputation to uphold! My mother always mentioned she wouldn’t mind seeing him…after all he was her neighbour!

While I tend to be analytical and am more satisfied by hard facts, I am intrigued about what a digital camera can capture. Sometimes the unexpected!

I did not photograph the image that I will describe because I was too flabbergasted to actually push the button!

This happened outside the old cottage as I was looking into the viewfinder to compose a view of my Japanese Knotweed, when I was confused to see mist in the viewfinder. I looked up and the view was fine… no mist whatsoever. Confused, I then looked back into the display and there it was supposedly right in front of me. I thought my camera was damaged since it appeared there was a fog in the viewfinder.

As I mentioned I had one digital camera die with a bang, so I assumed this new digital camera was giving up the ghost so to speak. Any moment I expected the new camera to go to go up in smoke!

Then the mist began to move and drift off to the right and out of the picture! I checked in front and nothing…

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Sad to say I did not catch it on camera since I thought it was a problem, nothing else…but when it moved away I had goose bumps all over my arms! The rate at which it moved and the fact I saw nothing in front of me except in the viewfinder was a little creepy! Explain that!

I have a witness who heard me say…”What the Hell was that?”

My logical mind says; I think , the camera captures a depth of field of vision that isn’t visible to our eyes…the mist was too fine to see with the eyes but visible in the camera viewfinder because of the depth perception…yet the way it moved, I have no possible explanation! I was intrigued.

What had I seen? Was it an invisible mist, visible only to the camera? It is interesting to say the least. As a photograph, it would not have looked like much anyway, but I wish I had caught it nevertheless!

Outside orbs...

One fascinating image of an orb just missed my scrutiny even though it was very prominent. (I thought it was the moon since the focus of the camera was elsewhere. I never really looked at the entire photograph and assumed that luminous thing was the moon. What else would be in a dark sky, huh?

As I said, I am open to the aberrations being dust and water, but I don’t think that is the entire explanation…What about an orb photographed from two angles that seems to be suspended in the same spot? Why is light seemingly refracted just above it! What in the world was the mist? I like to think it was mist, more or less invisible to the eye, but visible by the camera, but there is that delightful mystery that I am not  absolutely satisfied with the explanations. I wonder why some spheres are flat and some appear to be spherical?  Why would dust particles give off such large reflections?

Now I have to catch one moving, but I may break my camera as I drop it and make a run in the opposite direction . A dust particle explanation is ultimately more comforting. Then again, if it is the spirit of my departed Mom paying a visit... well, that is pretty comforting as well…just as long as she doesn’t make any fast movements or loud noises. I am curious…but too jumpy to be a ghost buster! Maybe she knows that…LOL

Whatever you think these orbs are…it is interesting to see where they show up!

Have you caught any fascinating orb in your digital photography?

The Mistaken Moon Shot

The entire photo of the picture at the front of this Hub...taken in the dark...there are lights and traffic...but in the next phot taken at approximately the same orb! copyright by Scribenet

The entire photo of the picture at the front of this Hub...taken in the dark...there are lights and traffic...but in the next phot taken at approximately the same orb! copyright by Scribenet

Taken about the same time and location...picture was to be of an explosion happening near the row of lights in the background...notice no orb. copyright by Scribenet

Taken about the same time and location...picture was to be of an explosion happening near the row of lights in the background...notice no orb. copyright by Scribenet

Look closely, there is a ring in the sky...but I think this is caused by the camera, because it looks like the aperture of the camera by it's placement. how this happens, you would have to ask a camera expert!

Look closely, there is a ring in the sky...but I think this is caused by the camera, because it looks like the aperture of the camera by it's placement. how this happens, you would have to ask a camera expert!

My Conclusions

Even though the idea this is something "otherworldly" is a good story idea, I actually do think all my pictures above are a result of some reflection of light or dust or raindrops falling in some weird fashion on the lens of the camera.

There is always a light source ,whether it is moonlight some distant car headlight or refraction off of raindrops or an odd angle to the sun to explain the mystery.

However, it is fun pretending!


gussie0101 on April 05, 2013:

Hi I started getting them as well. In fact THOUSANDS of people are beginning to see them w/their naked eye. I have seen them both ways. I'm not overly sure why, nobody has an absolute positive answer. no matter how hard you look. but I do know from what I'm finding out the people that would see the orbs I have would fall off their chair almost because I have blatant clear as day faces in some of the orbs. Not shadows in the middle or not IS THIS A FACE (like you would look up at a cloud and say Oh Look that looks like Abe Lincoln. ) Not like that. More like you see the Pigmentation of skin in some of mine and dark hair, eyes, eyebrows, nose. I have babies, men, women and the Super super perfectly bright white round ones! and more importantly the original pictures the orb is waaay across the room!! not a dust speck in front of my camera. Not in the least. there is a HUGE difference between dust and water and Legit spirit energy orbs. I'm 47 and I have never in my life seen anything like this EVER. this is stuff you see on TV. I sent the pictures to Professionals around the country. I am saved I go to church, I say my prayers...and from Everybody I've spoken with you get several different close answers. That they are; Spirit energy of loved ones, or some could be an angel protector / spirit guides.... You can visit theorbwhisperer .com that's a great site. also get the movie The Viel is Lifting very interesting movie. I just make sure I stay grounded each day and pray and go about my day. Sometimes I crop them out if I'm taking pics of my grandkids (they love to be around kids, music, worship, loved ones get togethers/parties). Some days they're not here in my pics at all or I'll get one or two, or one day I'll have loads f them. they're outside, inside and they are all around everybody, even around people that deny they are. My dog was barking one day at the steps absolutely went bonkers, we were napping on the couch from getting up way too early one morning with my husband for work. I don't even know what made me snap two pictures when he ran towards the steps but Wow... I was way far back in the livingroom and at the bottom of the stairs the first pic was super bright perfectly round orb with centrical circles within the orb it glowed super white and again PERFECT circle... 2nd orb, it must have floated up higher and OPENED UP Larger and since the original was far...i noticed it had a pink / peach tint and I noticed hair, eyes etc. so I went on shutterfly to crop out my livingroom and hallway so I could get a better look... there is a Woman starring into my livingroom! I even saturated it to see what colors would change you can see her eyes, eyebrows, nose, pigmentation of her skin, her hair kinda glowed. It's unbelievable! again I felt like my cheese completely fell off my crackers lol but with all the pictures I have I show them to some friends and family and 99% see what I see. So that helps. If you're saved and grounded in Christ you're absolutely fine. People can say what they want. reflection I'm sure on some pics happen but I will say that I purchased my camera 3 yrs. ago. specifically for it's clarity. 12.2 mega pixel. Digital cameras these days are now picking up dimensional things we've never seen before. there are Orbs videos on Youtube. look up Orbs in baby cribs. find one under search that says Orbs all around me the guy is; balance1950 His video is amazing. or leave your video camera on at night when you sleep. I don't...cause I already know what I have but there is one girl also that see's a couple big ones in her bathroom I wish I could find that one on youtube again. shoots in and out of her walls & towards the camera. Good luck to you and God Bless!

Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 19, 2012:

Hi moonlake! I have a few that is certain. There are a few more to add, which are definitely caused by the sun reflecting into the lens since I noticed them in the viewfinder before I took the picture and I was able to decide they were caused by reflection of some sort.

Glad you enjoyed the Hub! Thanks!

moonlake from America on August 19, 2012:

You have some great orbs. I take tons of pictures and I never get an orb in my pictures. The only orb I every saw was on our field camera placed in the meadow and that could have been moisture but not a bug. Really enjoyed your hub. Voted Up.

Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 06, 2011:

Mercian, Thank you for your interesting comments. Lately, I was able to see an orb in my viewfinder before I took the picture and it also showed up in the picture. I will post that one soon...This particular one was caused by reflection from the sun because I could manipulate it in the viewfinder by changing the angle of the camera... however some defy explanation as you have stated. It is worth checking pictures as you take them...sometimes they are not noticed until later though!


Mercian on October 29, 2011:

I'm surprised that no-one seems to have a simple explanation as you would expect from the camera manufacturers or experts.I own a currently unoccupied 19th century town house where I'm getting this effect with the images ruined by swarms of orbs of various sizes.It isn't lighting or particles as I have taken two identical shots one after the other because the first was spoilt and the second is perfectly ok.

Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 19, 2011:

Hi Gina! Was it a sunny day when you took the picture?

I have one I did see on my camera "before" I took the picture. I moved the position of the camera and the orb moved to match where the sun fell on the lens. I am certain this was caused by the sunlight! Before you assume it is something else look for natural causes especially a light source hitting the lens at an angle like I had happen. Hope that helps!

gina on October 19, 2011:


Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 31, 2011:

Random13 Thanks for visiting! It certainly seems the orbs in digital cameras can be explained, in most cases, as dust and water droplets or something quite ordinary. It is interesting when the camera captures something you can't explain so easily and it is great to imagine what it might be! Lots of good luck with your project! Cheers!

Random13 on March 31, 2011:

Thanks for doing this website im sure me and my friend will get a A on our proget.

Random13 on March 31, 2011:

I would like to think orbs are ghosts but........ Inside i feel there just dust and water particles.

Random 13 on March 31, 2011:

Me and my friend went to Skeleton park at night and i took a bunch of photos and i looked over them afterwords i saw tons of orbs but not only that A GHOST PICTURE i was soo scared when i saw it, i cried. Thinking that a ghost was right in front of you the whole time is kind of scary!

Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 13, 2010:

Suziecat, The photograpic orbs are interesting in their placement. I wish there was a way to avoid them, but until they come up with a solution, they are interesting because they just do not occur all the time!

Thanks for stopping by!

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on December 12, 2010:

I get fascinated by the orbs of my cats' eyes in a photograph. Never thought about photographic orbs before.

Thanks for the interesting read.

Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 28, 2010:

I can tell you one of the pictures I took is in bright natural light situation with no flash.

I am curious as to what the camera is capturing? It probably is an optics thing like you say...somehow light getting bounced around and creating a bright spot. They do crop up in the oddest places.

I am also curious why some of the orbs have different colours and others are transparent while others white! I would say transparent ones are water droplets and white ones are reflections of light bounced around, but the multicolored ones just seem odd.

One thing is certain, we all seem to get them now and then! It is interesting to see if they could be avoided...something like the dreaded red eye!

Thank you for your comments tonymac! Thanks for stopping by!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on November 28, 2010:

Well, this is so interesting! According to the Wikipedia article on photographic orbs, "Orb artifacts are captured during low-light instances where the camera's flash is implemented, such as at night or underwater."

Now I have just checked one of my photos which has an orb (though I thought maybe I had done something wrong to cause it and so carefully cropped it out in the version I used on a Hub) and it was taken in broad daylight. The photos just before and just after have no orbs. So I agree with you, the official explanation does not fully cover this phenomenon. Though I have to say I would prefer not to think of ghosts or any other sort of supernatural cause. It must be in the optics.

Thanks for sharing and now I have to go and look at some of my other photos to see if there are more!

Love and peace


Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 27, 2010:

Hi oceansunsets

I like to ask questions and not accept just any answer.

There is an explanation alright.

I do think orbs can be caused by dust and water droplets, but not all can be explained that way. If they are camera glitches, then the makers of cameras need to fix that issue...because good pictures can be ruined that way. The orbs are too small to notice in the picture while it is "in camera". I usually only notice on the big screen of the computer and that would be too late to take another picture!

If it is "something else", well, that would be interesting to know, so studies could be done. Up to now there has been no evidence. Unfortunately, hoaxes exist, but regular people seem to get these on their pictures, so in time there would be empirical data to draw upon...should someone be interested in studying the phenomena.

In the meantime, it is entertaining to write about as a change of pace! I am glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for commenting!

Paula from The Midwest, USA on November 27, 2010:

Scribenet, this is a very interesting hub! I liked reading it very much, and I have had a few pictures where they show up from my digital camera. Sometimes there have been several and different sizes. It does have a rather mysterious feel to it for sure.

Who knows for sure what these things are? I think a lot like you, in that its probably got some explanation but then again who knows? The more you paid attention to it all, the more interesting it became. I will definitely be paying more attention in the future. I want to keep notes or something on what I find and see if there is anything in particular that stands out, like that one corner of the cottage. Thanks for the fun read!

Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 27, 2010:

Jeremey, The first picture I took that had an orb spooked me when I saw it. I had no idea what it could be. Since then, I have been curious.

It is interesting that you also got the orbs on a camera with 10 mp and even more interesting around wrecks.

Thanks for sharing your experience and circumstance when you got the orbs!

If these are dust or water, they do have an odd way of showing up. I would think our pictures should be full of them and mine are not. These are a few among easily over hundreds of pictures!

Jeremey from Arizona on November 27, 2010:

When I was driving tow-truck i had to take pics of wrecked vehicles before loading and unloading and I experienced this same 'phenomenon' with a 10mp canon! I was a little haunting at first.

Maggie Griess (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 26, 2010:

Sword of Fire, Thanks for visiting. I have never had these appear until I had a 10 megapixel camera, so it is interesting. I will be looking at other pictures to see if I spot the phenomena,but so far, only these pictures.

The photo of the orb on the pillow and the one that I thought was the moon for the longest time fascinate because one was taken in the dark, the other in broad daylight with no artificial light and both orbs are very bright. If they are problems with a camera, then it would be disturbing, because, as you can see they are quite noticeable and "the camera people" should find a way to eliminate them!

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