Orbs Part 1: Lens Flare



Orbs: Lens Flare

The Lens Flare covers the first part of a multi-part piece on Ghost Orbs and other visual phenomena. You can see this is a kind of checklist to rule out any ordinary optical anomalies from any photographs you take, leaving only the unexplained. We have seen many photographs of ordinary photographic phenomena, caused by lenses, lighting, or just bad photography. Bad photography is not paranormal phenomena. Always check every option before jumping on the spooky choice, as this will stop people laughing at ghost hunters.

Checking if it’s Lens Flare
Image 1 Lens flare Diagram

Image 1: Lens flare Diagram

The first subject on this list is ‘lens flare,’ this is common on a lot of cheaper lenses and cameras and quite often mistaken for something paranormal. This can come on many forms, from small Ghost Orbs to large Corona, and even part of a circle. Understanding how light interacts with a lens is not something for the faint-hearted. However, there is an easy way to check if something is a lens flare or not.

You need the uncropped image, and in any graphics package you are used to or even a ruler and a pen can work on a printout. Find the centre of the image and draw a line through the centre and the orb/flare, and the opposite direction so the line covers the whole image. Along this line, you will have the flare, image centre, and light source (even if the light source is off the edge of the image). See Image. 1. This can happen with multiple bright light sources if you are using artificial light. [1]  If it is the sun that is the light source you can also extrapolate the time of day and direction the shot was taken from the lens flare.

Lens flare is the result of unwanted light reflections in an optical system. While lenses are supposed to refract an incoming light ray, reflections can occur, which lead to deviations from the intended light trajectory. A single reflection would send a ray back towards the entrance plane, but an even number of reflections can redirect rays towards the sensor. If such rays carry sufficient energy to the sensor, they might produce a so-called ghost. As these reflected rays still cross the aperture, ghosts often share its shape. While originally an artifact, lens flare is often used for artistic purposes and is a good indicator for bright light sources.” – Sungkil Lee & Elmar Eisemann (2013) [2]

Lens Flare Colour, Shape, and Haze

Lens flares come in many colours, many are green, or red. The colour is determined by many factors, from the lens coating to any moisture or dust in the atmosphere. The green ones are more than likely the oxygen atoms excited by sunlight. This is a known phenomenon that has been seen from space as a green corona around Earth and Mars [3]. Many factors give a lens flare its colour. The brightness of any flare can vary greatly depending on the light source.

Image 2: Multiple Lens Flares

Image 2: Multiple Lens Flares

The shape of a lens flare is also varied, this is highly dependent on the light source, and lens. As a lens is made up of multiple glass elements each element is reflected in the lens flare. Simple lenses will only have small flares. More complex lenses may have multiple Ghost Orbs within it. See Image 2. The shape of the flare will also change dependant on how well and accurately the glass is made, and if it interacts with the internal edges of the lens housing. Even though the inside of the lens is usually matt black, strong enough light will reflect off that housing creating half circles or distorting the shape of a lens flare. See Image 3.

Image 3: Lens Body Reflection

Image 3: Lens Body Reflection

Lens flare can also create a Lens Haze across the image, often washing out the subject you are trying to photograph. See Image 4. This can also cause other anomalies and multiple Ghost Orbs which in turn can spawn other Ghost Orbs. Lens flares are very common in modern photography as small compact cameras and mobile phones do not have a lens hood.

Lens flare on video takes on many of the same forms as stills photography, however, it will move with the movement of the camera or light source. This is highly predictable with the movement of a camera and by moving the camera around back and forth a few times during recording can make it easy to spot them.

Better Equipment
Image 4: Lens Haze

Image 4: Lens Haze

A lens hood can cut out many lens flares and give you a clean image. [4] If you have a lens hood or can get one use it as much as you can when trying to capture images of the paranormal. There are many ways to avoid lens flare other than a hood, you can use your hand at the side of the lens to block the stray light rays, use higher quality lenses, use prime lenses instead of zoom or phone cameras, and change the perspective, direction, and framing. [5]

Always Check your Work

When doing any kind of paranormal photography try to eliminate any factors that might cause lens flare. If this is impossible try to recognise what is and is not lens flare. Drawing a line through the flare, light source, and centre of the uncropped image is a good place to start. Once you know what you’re looking at you can quickly spot and rule out any and all lens flare.

Below are more examples of lens flares:

Lens Flare Example 1 Emutoro100% Proof of the ParanormalLens Fl;are Example 2100% Proof of the ParanormalLens Flare Example 3100% Proof of the ParanormalLens Flare Example 4
Lens Flare Example 5100% Proof of the ParanormalLens Flare Example 6100% Proof of the ParanormalLens Flare Example 7

[1] What is “lens flare” and how do I avoid it? (https://www.nikonimgsupport.com/na/NSG_article?articleNo=000027570)
[2] Sungkil Lee & Elmar Eisemann (2013) – Practical Real-Time Lens-Flare Rendering – Computer Graphics Forum, Volume 32 (2013) Number 4
[3] Mars: Green glow detected on the Red Planet (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-53057055)
[4] Understanding Camera Lens Flare. (https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/lens-flare.htm)
[5] Understanding Lens Flare (https://photographylife.com/what-is-ghosting-and-flare)

Orbs Part 2: Dust and Moisture >>

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