Which Orbs In Photos Are Real?

The Great Debate About Orbs

There has always been a debate in the field about whether or not orbs are simply a photographic fluke, or something paranormal. And if they do exist, what are they exactly? I do believe some orbs are more than just dust or humidity.  Roughly five to ten percent of photos have something that is more than bugs, dust, or humidity. My theory is that if orbs are the energy of the spirits, that energy is always there. However, it is invisible to the naked eye, just like electricity. Of course, you cannot photograph electricity unless it is reacting with something else, such as a lightbulb or neon sign. And if you are truly lucky, lightning. What if orbs are just energy reacting with the environment around them, and we happen to be lucky enough to catch it in a photograph?   

Over the last decade of researching, I have taken thousands of photos at locations. Having that experience, you start to become familiar with what is dust, humidity, and more easily, bugs. Genuine orbs tend to stick out in photographs. They are more defined, almost appearing to emit a light source of their own. They are nearly perfect spheres, and not opaque. I’ll show you a few examples of which is which. 

Dust In Photos

Dust in photos tends to be easily definable. Orbs caused by dust come in clusters, and when appearing in videos, are relatively transparent. They do not have much detail inside of them, and almost never contain more than one color. They tend to look like bubbles rather than anything emitting a light source. In videos, dust particles will all flow in the same direction and at the same speed. While there is always dust in the air, two things can increase dust content in the air. The first is moving a lot of equipment and shifting furniture around a location. The second reason, as is with the photos below, is having large groups at outdoor locations. These photos were taken at a cemetery with mostly dirt paths, and about a hundred people attended. That foot traffic will stir up quite a bit more dust compared to a smaller group.

While the above photos have objects that do appear to be orbs, they don’t emit their own light, only reflecting it faintly back to the camera. Dust orbs also tend to have a faint outer ring to the orb, with a solid color inside that looks like static. True orbs will also have an outer ring. but it is much more bright, and an equally if not brighter middle.

Bugs In Photos

Bugs in photos are easier to tell. They will appear as bright smears with irregular shapes, and sometimes even wings brightly lit by a camera flash. Most lights that appear to be rods, or long trails I pass off in photos as bugs, due to the fact that they are moving so quickly. The rapid movement, especially if they have large wings, can create blurred objects that may appear paranormal in nature, but are not.

Genuine Orbs

True ghost orbs have unique qualities that, while dust and bug orbs can have them, they will not have all of them. True orbs will have a glowing edge, almost appearing to have an internal source that glows rather than simply reflecting light. They have brighter colors, including yellows and blues as shown below, and sometimes reds. The outer edge you can sometimes see small rays of light extending from the outer ring. Some will even have shadows to the edge, appearing to be more three dimensional in shape compared to dust orbs.

When analyzing your photos for which are potentially genuine orbs, remember to look for the following details:

  • Edges that appear to glow, and possibly have rays of light
  • Bright colors that almost appear textured
  • Shadows around the edge suggesting three-dimensional shapes

If you have any further questions about orbs or your photos that you would like an opinion on, email them to Sean@SeanParadis.com or comment below! 

The Questions I’m Asked Most As A Ghost Hunter

When hearing that I go ghost hunting, people raise an eyebrow. Their next response is either be “huh” with some skepticism or genuine interest. Either way, it isn’t something that many people hear often, and it leads to questions. Below are some of the questions asked most, and my answers to them. If you have a question that isn’t listed here, or if any of the answers surprised you, leave a comment!

Do Ghosts Scare Me?

While there have been a few times I’ve felt uneasy at a location, ghosts don’t scare me. You honestly have more to fear from the living than you do the dead. Because many haunted spots sit in secluded areas, they become ideal locations for underage parties, drug use, and squatters. Abandoned buildings, while potentially home to a few ghosts, are dangerous to explore due to the wear and tear of time and lack of maintenance. While some locations have grumpier spirits, you can get a sense of that when there, and if it becomes uncomfortable I leave. I’m here for the research, not the thrills. Approaching it that way, it doesn’t scare me.

Is It Like On TV?

That answer depends on the show. Shows that focus on the technical aspect and history of the location mirror what ghost hunting is like. The biggest chunk of time spent during investigations is on research, analyzing, and waiting. It isn’t jump scare after jump scare. Shows that focus on the spooks are focusing on ratings, not so much reality. I do go into more detail about this here.

Is Ghost Hunting Done in the Dark?

The only time I investigate in the dark is while using infrared cameras, or if you want your auditory senses heightened while sitting down. Aside from those two scenarios, trying to research in the dark becomes not only difficult but dangerous. Trying to fumble around for buttons, swapping about batteries, and knowing where tripping hazards are are all important. While investigating in the dark is perfect ambience for TV audiences, it isn’t practical for investigators.

Is Ghost Hunting Dangerous?

It can be, but not for the reasons most people ask. They are thinking of angry spirits that may throw objects, and it does happen occasionally. That tends to only happen when antagonizing a spirit, and the investigator should expect that as a possibility. The largest danger is what I mentioned above, and that is when the living use the location as a spot to break the law in seclusion.

Does Anything Ever Follow Me Home?

While there are hundreds, if not thousands of stories in folklore about spirits following the living home, in the last ten years at least of investigating, nothing has ever followed me home. Spirits attach to locations or someone at their time of death. That attachment may break, but not transfer. If that was the case ghosts would never stay in the same location. If it is still a concern, there are ways to cleanse yourself. Burning some sage, sprinkling some sea salt over yourself, holy water, and even singing bowls can rid yourself of energy. This is the bowl that I use. It’s compact and has a gorgeous tone.

Have I Ever Used A Ouija Board?

When younger, all the time. But once investigating more and gaining some wisdom, I stopped. One of the things I love most about the paranormal is that we really have no idea what spirits are, or how we connect to them. While ouija boards may connect to spirits, it’s opening up a connection to everything that can connect. You have no control over it, no matter how many protections you use. It’s casting into an unknown abyss. Because of that, I don’t use them. It’s too much risk for a method of communication that may or may not be who you are trying to communicate with.

What’s The Weirdest Experience I’ve Had?

Back in 2010, I investigated with Lesley Marden and Fiona Broome at the Webster Tay House in Franklin New Hampshire. That night a paranormal group presented evidence gathered at the location. Afterward, the three of us took the chance to explore the home. The site had two or three additions to the original home, and they were all so different from each other it was hard to think of it one as one house. On one of the upper floors, Lesley and I walked down a hallway, and at one door both lowered our voices and walked slower. It took us a minute to both stop and laugh, and realize what was happening.

No one was behind that door, and we knew by asking if anyone was home out of courtesy before exploring. Despite knowing that, we both swore there was an elderly lady trying to sleep inside, and if we woke her up there would be hell to pay. We were both hesitant to even try to turn the doorknob, but they had locked all of the doors in that area of the home. While it wasn’t anything scary, it’s definitely weird when a location affects your thought process and makes you sense spirits on a different level.

Would I Live In A Haunted House?

It really all depends on the house. If it’s occasional doors slamming, shapes out of the corner of your eye, and objects moving, sure. But once it starts to disrupt life on a regular basis, especially when you’re trying to sleep, absolutely not. It doesn’t scare me., I just want some peace and quiet when I’m home.

How Did I Start Ghost Hunting?

I always had an interest in the paranormal growing up. When home sick I watched Unsolved Mysteries, and anytime there was an episode about ghosts I was drawn in. Once able to drive, I started visiting local locations and using any equipment I could find. That’s how I adopted low tech ghost hunting methods, which ultimately turned into the book. One of the sites I followed was written by Fiona, and in 2008 she offered a ghost hunting class which I signed up for in a heartbeat. That’s where I met Fiona, and we started working together after the classes ended.

What Is My Favorite Place To Investigate?

South Street Cemetery is hands down my favorite place for a few reasons. Not only is it the where Fiona taught the first class, but it has a fair share of ghosts who call it home. It’s also a beautiful cemetery located right next to the ocean in Portsmouth, so it’s a perfect spot for walking on sunny days and photography. You can learn more about the ghosts here.

Now that you know a little more about ghost hunting, what are your thoughts? Did any of the answers surprise you? If so, or if you have any other questions, comment below!

What Ghost Hunting is Really Like

Is It Similar To The Shows On TV?

Comparing live ghost hunting to TV shows is tough to do honestly, and it depends on the show. I generally categorize shows into two groups; those focusing on the technical aspect and history of the location, and those centering around the spooks. Those focusing on history portray ghost hunting more accurately. To be blunt investigations are not meant for thrill seekers, as they can be downright dull most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the paranormal and have been a nerd in the field for over twenty years. If it weren’t for having that passion, I would never have pursued it for as long as I have.

Ghost Hunting Can Be Downright Dull

If you’re wondering how dull I mean, I’ll break a typical investigation down for you from the planning stage to analysis. One of the most difficult things about an investigation can be scheduling. If all team members work the same schedule it makes it drastically easier to plan a time. If not, it can be tough to find a time that works for everyone, and some may not make it. Once you have an idea of what times will work, it is a matter of hammering out a time slot with the owner of the location. The next step is to talk to the client to see what activity they are experiencing. This is not only to plan what areas to focus on, but also the amount of equipment needed.

Having Corded Equipment Takes up a Chunk of Setup Time

After having a game plan and time for the investigation, the next step is arriving and setting up equipment. The size of the location and whether or not your equipment uses battery or power cables determines the setup time. If you will be setting up multiple cameras and using extension cords, I recommend budgeting an hour per 1000 square feet of a location. If it takes less than that budget, it’s bonus time for investigating. Once set up, the actual investigating can begin.

Most Ghost Hunting Time Is Spent Behind the Scenes

A third of investigating time is spent walking around the location or sitting down and observing, with or without equipment. The other third is spent having EVP sessions, taking photos, and other methods. The final third of that time is pretty dull. It is spent taking breaks, changing out batteries and checking on equipment, or taking a second look at the evidence. Throughout the investigation, nothing exciting may happen until you are analyzing evidence. And if something does happen during the investigation, it may only be a few odd shadows or strange noises. It’s all a luck of the draw.

Going over the Evidence Is The Dullest Part

Analyzing evidence can be one of the most boring parts of an investigation. The more cameras and voice recorders recording, it all can add up pretty quickly and easily turn into hours of evidence to sift through. Your team can either focus on the evidence your own equipment captured, add everything to a pool and divide it up evenly, or have team members specialize in audio or film. However you decide to divide it up really doesn’t matter, so long as everyone is comfortable with analyzing.

Your Team Is What Makes or Breaks Ghost Hunting

That’s the boring, blatant truth about ghost hunting. Because investigations can be tedious, sometimes without anything even happening, having a team that makes each other laugh and keeps the morale up is what will make investigating fun for you. If it wasn’t for the friends that I find throughout the last ten years investigating, I don’t know if I would have continued, or plan to continue. They are just as nerdy as I am, and we will talk in our spare time; not only about our off the wall theories but also how our families are doing. Go ghost hunting because it is a shared interest among friends, and go to have fun, even if nothing happens. If you go just for the chills and thrills, more than likely you will be disappointed and feel it is a waste of time.

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