January 17, 2013

Orb Photography

In response to questions received about orb photography, and how likely or not the masses shown are legitimate, we have prepared an analysis of what to rule out before considering photographed orbs as genuine. There are several authentic photographs of orb phenomena which cannot be explained by any conventional means, but there are many many more results from accidental or intentional photographing techniques.

As long term photographers, we understand it's important to know how light affects a subject as well as how camera equipment affects the final image. Taking pictures under low light conditions is not always an easy task. Quality night shots with a digital SLR can be touch and go at times; They're subjected to blurring when slowing the shutter or while opening the aperture to allow more light in. Often enough, high quality night photographs take a tripod, maybe a remote trigger, and the patience to get manual settings just right. These factors, however, make night photography a great opportunity to express creativity through light manipulation techniques. Understand that many compact point and shoot cameras are designed to automatically flip up a flash the moment scenery lighting is too low for the camera's settings to handle. Identifying a built-in flash in photographs is not too difficult because of extreme contrasts, the hard-points, where light from the flash concentrates the most. Natural lighting generally doesn't have these areas (unless intentional) and using speed lights (with a DSLR), can be compensated for with manual settings to ensure a proper exposure.

Built-in camera flashes are generally at the root of many orb photographs as it's their reflections being sent back to the camera lens to create spots, flares, and other types of camera artifacts sometimes misinterpreted as unidentified objects or spirit entities. Before arriving at the conclusion a photograph truly captures an unknown object of any type, be sure to go over the following checklist to rule out what it isn't:

  1. Flash reflecting off rain drops, snow, mist, moisture, insects or dust particles
  2. Obstructions between the camera and subject such as glass, screens, camera straps
  3. Smudges or marks on the lens or pass-through medium
  4. Filters with dust, dirt, scratches or water marks
  5. Failing camera sensor creating single or groups of burnt pixels
  6. Other lights at the scene causing reflections
  7. Multiple exposures
  8. Other types of camera malfunction
  9. Time, place, and correlation of events 

There is a trick to determine how a built-in flash is lighting a scene to check and see if it's the reason for creating reflective orbs in the photographs. Hold or fix a transparent colored plastic or gel sheet over the the camera's flash unit. When the flash is triggered, it will light the area using this makeshift flash filter. If the orbs are the same color, then they can be ruled as created by flash. If the orbs do not change color it's time to assess the scene a little more in depth to see what might be causing the lights. Look closely at the orbs, are they out of focus while the rest of the scene is in focus?

An object can appear blurred or out of focus for a number of reasons including moving too quickly for the camera settings or being out of sync with the lens' current focal length. Do a scene check, look for every possible light source that might be causing the orbs and trace the light paths. If the photograph(s) can face the above scrutiny and pass, perhaps it's truly a genuine capture of an unidentifiable object. Have a professional assess the image, in fact, have multiple professionals take a look and share it with friends. Photographs capturing something out of this world are rare, so it is important to share it with everyone to try and figure out what exactly the object might be.