Orbs Part 2: Dust and Moisture



Orbs Part 2: Dust and Moisture

Dust and Moisture Orbs are probably the most common photographic anomaly seen in ghost images, usually infra-red images. These Ghost Orbs are sometimes referred to as Backscatter.[1] These are most commonly and incorrectly judged as spirits or ghosts, most if not all are explainable and can be replicated under controlled conditions. If you get an orb in your pictures or on your videos be sure you have checked every other plausible variable first, as many investigators will point out exactly what it is very quickly. [2] As for Lens Flares, See Orbs Part 1: Lens Flares – so you know how to spot them and rule them out of your investigations.

“The history of ghost photography can be traced back to the first photographic images. However until the past decade the images have been a full form or at least partial apparition of a human. This changed around the time that the digital camera was introduced. The camera itself was originally a large contributor to the issue because of low resolution image capture technology, the low quality sensors would cause different types of odd images because of digital artifacts, this is no longer a problem as long as a good quality camera and the proper settings are used.

The origins of the Orb can be tracked back to the International Ghost Hunters Society and it’s founders. They were the first to coin the term “Orb” as a ghost-photography term. This happened just as the majority of the public was starting to use the internet and the timing was perfect to set off one of the most mis-understood images in the paranormal world.

The question that one has to first ask is why a spirit would be seen as a ball of light that only a camera can see? Also why would they have changed from a full form of a person to this ball of light? The answer is obvious, it is that the Ghost Orbs are not really ghosts, spirits, etc…” – Rocky Mountain Paranormal (1999- 2018) [3]

Micro Winds affect Dust and Moisture

Dust and Moisture can linger in the air for a while and are subject to the ebb and flow of small movements in the air, we shall call these air movements Micro Winds. These Micro Winds can be caused by someone moving, breathing, camera fans, heat, or anything that disturbs the air. [4] The air around us, though it may seem still, is very active and is moving around constantly. Dust and moisture particles are always on the move, sometimes in very erratic ways that may seem supernatural, however, they are not.

Moisture Orbs
Image 1: Moisture Orbs

Image 1: Moisture Orbs

These are amongst some of the most common and easiest to identify of all the photographic anomalies which get referred to as Ghost Orbs. They are subject to Micro Winds but not as much as dust particles. They appear in humid environments or when it has been raining. Even if someone has sneezed or is breathing heavily in a cold environment they can be picked up. See Image 1.

Moisture Orbs are very distinctive and not always round, many of them have concentric circles in them just like the cross-section of a tree. See Image 2. Some have a grain or mottled effect to them or even what looks like miniGhost Orbs inside. The makeup of the moisture particle creates the rings and the grain. The mini Ghost Orbs are from impurities within the moisture particle, these can be minerals and dust to small microbes.

Image 2: Moisture Orb

Image 2: Moisture Orb

As for colour, they can be any colour, mostly it is the reflected light source that has the biggest impact. The mineral content and impurities can also have an impact on the colour of the moisture orb. Sometimes there is a rainbow halo around them which can be clearly visible if you have a high-resolution camera.

When you are on a ghost hunt, always make a note of the temperature, weather, and humidity conditions. For example, a bathroom or kitchen will always be more humid than in any other room. Outdoors has a high chance of moisture in the air when it is cold outside. Meticulous notes can aid you in determining if the orb you have captured is moisture or other natural phenomena. Moisture almost always looks like something you would expect to see when looking through a microscope. This is because the moisture is acting as a lens and is refracting the light internally before it gets back to the camera lens.

Image 3: Vapour

Image 3: Vapour


These are usually in very humid, dusty, or smokey environments. If you use candles or other items that burn or produce smoke or vapour of any kind there is a good chance you will pick it up. See Image 3. No matter how spooky it looks; vapour usually has a very distinctive pattern that follows the ebb and flow of Micro Winds.  Making notes about the environment you are investigating can help rule out vapours as paranormal phenomena.


Dust Orbs
Image 4: Dust Orb

Image 4: Dust Orb

Dust Orbs are subject to the effects of Micro Winds much more than Moisture Orbs. They can appear very erratic and almost supernatural or human in their movements. You are most likely to encounter Dust Orbs in old buildings, as you disturb the dust while you move around. They are very common indoors and in active living spaces. See Image 4.

There is a difference between Dust Orbs and Moisture Orbs. Dust has no internal pattern, grain, or impurities, and they have no rainbow halo.  Dust is almost always flat in texture and may seem to have a trail. This trail is caused by the slower shutter speed required for taking pictures or filming footage in low light. The trail is nothing more than motion blur.

Image 5: Dust and Moisture Orbs

Image 5: Dust and Moisture Orbs

Dust Orbs tend to reflect the colour of the light in the area. So, if your main light is slightly blue, they will reflect that, it may come out more orange or red if you are using interior lights. See Image 5.

You should make a note during your investigation about the area if it’s a dusty old building, or a place with lots of human traffic, or soft furnishings as all these are factors that can cause dust particles to be in the air.



Snow and Ice Particles
Image 6: Snow Orbs

Image 6: Snow Orbs

These are very similar to Dust and Moisture; however, they often appear as bright white streaks across the image. It is usually quite obvious when it is snowing or cold enough to freeze the moisture in the air. So good note-taking is important especially if you are not going to review your images for a while. See Image 6.

How to Avoid Orbs

Ghost Orbs are created when the bright light source reflects into the camera lens off Dust, Moisture, Vapor, and Ice in the air. This can be from a flash, Infra-red or normal camera light or a strong light source behind the camera. This is a known phenomenon, that many camera manufacturers explain in their camera instruction manuals. [5] See Image 7. Ghost Orbs do not appear during the day when you are not using a flash or extra lighting. You rarely see Ghost Orbs in pictures unless your flash accidentally triggers or there is a strong light source behind you.

Image 7: Sony's Manual

Image 7: Sony’s Manual

The best way to avoid any natural phenomena creating Ghost Orbs is to move your light source at least 33 degrees in an arc from the camera. This can also be achieved by moving the light 3-4 feet away from the camera. This is not always possible, but where you can you should do this. For infra-red cameras look at getting an external infra-red light that you can stand a good distance from the camera. If you can use a remote flash unit on your camera this is also a good idea as you can hold it at arm’s length, or get someone else to hold the flash.

Always Check your Environment and Lighting

As the environment and lighting are the biggest factors in getting images of Dust and Moisture Orbs always make extensive notes of the environment around you. Be aware of the cameras you are using and their light sources, as these will produce false positives. The more aware you are of how these natural phenomena appear in images the better your investigations and conclusions will be. And the less chance someone will debunk your images. Learning to spot these phenomena is easy and you will quickly learn what many of these Ghost Orbs are.

Below are more examples of Dust, Moisture, Vapours and Snow Orbs:

Dust Orb Example 1100% Proof of the ParanormalMoisture Orb Example 1 - Soul Travel Rules100% Proof of the ParanormalMoisture Orbs Example 2 - Crystal Johnson Overhuel100% Proof of the ParanormalVapour 1 Example - Barbara Carnley100% Proof of the ParanormalSnow Orbs Example 1 Kichigin100% Proof of the ParanormalMoisture Orb 3 Julie Perez Bumgarner

[1] Backscatter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backscatter_(photography)
[2] Ghost Photos: A Close Look at the Paranormal Live Science (2006) https://www.livescience.com/4263-ghost-photos-close-paranormal.html
[3] Orb’s – Rocky Mountain Paranormal 1999-2018 https://www.rockymountainparanormal.com/orby.html
[4] A Little about Orbs – Paranormal Research Organisation http://pararesearchorg.com/paranormal-information/facts-about-orbs/
[5] White, round glare spots or orbs sometimes appear in a recorded image when using the flash -Sony https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/support/articles/00028753

Orbs Part 3: Bug Orbs >>

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