Orbs, Streaks and Light Anomalies

Orbs and other light anomalies are the most controversial and misunderstood 'evidence' of the paranormal world. The fact is that orbs are not ghostly or spirit manifestations and should never, ever be considered as such.

Again... to quote another phrase from Sherlock Holmes...

"You must not 'see'... you must always 'observe'. If you only see then you will miss out on the important facts that can only be observed".

Too many novice or inexperienced people will claim that they have captured (on camera) orbs in their house... but one should realise that dust is everywhere and when using digital technology to capture alleged evidence of ghostly activity the dust will be at varying distances from the camera lens and therefore will either be sharply focused or out of focus - the latter creates the 'orb' effect.

Other images captured can be what looks like a smudging effect that appears to crawl across the screen... when in fact it will most probably be a speck of dust or fibre filament stuck to the camera lens and is moving slowly down across the field of vision thus creating the appearance of a mist. Other times... and mostly the main cause of CCTV-type captures of orbs are due to spiders... close up to the lens they appears as blurry out-of-focus blobs. They most definitely are not paranormal or spirit orbs.

So Paranormal Investigators are cautious when being shown photos or videos of claimed orbs...

So what are they?

Some will say they are ghostly or spirit in origin - that they are souls that have passed beyond the living and float aimlessly in the living realm trying forever more to communicate with the living. Others will say they are just specks of dust, moisture, pollen, etc. that are captured at the camera shot-time within the illumination of the flash.

What do PDP say?

Start at the beginning and ask the following question: "Where is the actual factual proof of the existence of ghosts and spirits trying to manifest into the living realm?"

The above question can not be answered with any credible evidence as there is simply none to extrapolate and conclude ghosts and spirits exist. Those that do truly and without any doubt at all believe in ghosts and spirits will never ever change their minds and beliefs - and PDP do not want them to... it is their choice to do so.

As paranormal investigators we must endeavor to use logical reasoning whilst undertaking investigations and not allow our conscious minds to run away from what can be rationalized with constructive scientific evidence.

With regards to orbs... well they were quite rare - if actually non-existent - before the age of digital cameras. Some "ghost hunters" actually claimed that digital cameras were "superior in capturing orbs". And with that came the onslaught of more and more orb photos... due to the vast increasing numbers of people using digital technology of the present.

Most common orb photos are really only refractions of light upon the camera lens. It happens when the bright flash illuminates and bounces back from something reflective in the viewing range of the camera.

So the possible reasons are...?

Orb effect in modern digital photography... and mostly from inferior cell phone camera systems, are caused by what is known as 'backscatter' of the bright flash on any dust, moisture or pollen particles being transmitted back to the camera.

Fujifilm offered a valid explanation with regards to orbs:

"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".

So one must consider that if photography had never been invented, would the amount of claims regarding orbs be in abundance as it is today?


Most people who claim to have witnessed orbs, photographed or captured on video, state they have their own energy and are self-illuminating. Dust will appear to be self-illuminating as whatever light source is used is reflecting of every facet of its surface... and as it floats and spins in the air it creates this sparkle and illumination.

Tangible Answers...

The most popular fact is down to humidity and that moisture 'fine-mist' droplets in the air (water vapour) can reflect light - visible or infrared - and are misinterpreted as 'orbs'... especially with using modern digital cameras. Examples are shown below...

Water Vapour, Moisture and Dust...

As in the Dust picture opposite, have you ever seen a sunbeam through a slight gap in curtains or fence, etc.? You can see the dust particles as they glint in the sunlight... and from the camera view-point the closer to the lens the blurry they get and create the 'orb' effect.

One thing to remember is that infrared light needs a surface to reflect off in order for the image to be seen with the camcorder or camera... and anything that floats within the lens field of view will be captured accordingly be it clearly focused or out of focus.


Similar to orbs but of the 'lightning strike' anomaly. There are some that believe ghosts or spirits are trying to manifest or reaching out to those close by.

This is not the case! Any light source in the background of a photo, if the camera is not held steady, will cause lighting streaks as the shutter closes on the camera.

Even if the camera is held steady, that small background light source if bright enough can cause a streak to form on a picture.

Light Anomalies

As in the last two pictures show, other lights that can be caught on camera or video can be classified as just mere light anomalies. Again the sun can cause these light anomalies in photographs. One can actually see these with the naked eye if you are in the right place at the right time.

With both of these sun flare photos, you can clearly see anomalies as the sun's rays glint onto the lens of the camera.

Water Vapour...



Snow orbs


Streaking orbs

Light Anomalies?

Light anomalies

Rain Shower...

Water vapour rain orbs


Sunlight dust orbs

Camera Shake...

Shutter speed and camera shake

Sun lens flare...

Sun lens flare

Possible answers?

Photos or video footage that show these orbs, it is a Paranormal Investigators obligation to scrutinise closely and check the direction, movement and motion, reflections and shadows as they might really be something that can be explained very easily.

One thing is definitive though... if these orbs or light anomalies move like dust flurrying then they are most probably just dust particles!

If these orbs appear to move erratically and at times change directions like an insect would do (try catching a fly and see how it moves away from your hand) then they are most probably insects like moths, flies, etc.!

The underlying fact here to remember is that 'orbs' are more than likely to be dust, pollen, insects or water vapour that have been captured at the time close to the camera lens and because they are just out of focus they create an aura thus giving the 'orb' effect.

If one were to see a 'light anomaly' or 'orb' with the naked eye and there is no light source or reflective surfaces possibly creating a light source then there might... just might... be room for reasonable doubt. But the fact remains that anything can reflect light - even in darkness and when using infrared illumination... the infrared light is still reflective on the dust, water vapour, etc. and therefore even if it is not visible with the naked eye the nightvision unit will capture it.