Thursday, 4 April 2013

Orbs turn up in unexpected places

Misted lensIn the unseasonably cold weather here in the UK (it is snowing as I write - in April!) I took this slightly unusual photo (right) recently. Through the general mist you can see some parked cars, trees, a fence and other stuff. I often see misty photos which people think might be paranormal, maybe even a ghost!* In most cases they are taken at night and involve the use of a flash. The mist in such cases is usually caused by the photographer's own breath on a cold night. It might not even be visible to the photographer at the time of exposure but, near the camera, the brilliant flash is still able to pick it up. These flash photos sometimes also include orbs, with their usual cause.

In the photo here, however, we have a mistiness and orbs, neither of which is caused by flash. What has happened is that the camera lens has misted up after being taken from a cold environment into a warmer one. In my experience this is a surprisingly rare event as it takes quite a large temperature and humidity difference to occur! It can, nevertheless, be responsible for some 'misty ghost' photos.

But what is causing the orbs in this photo? Even on close examination they look like ordinary orbs, implying the usual cause. In other words, they must be something small, out of focus and near the camera. In this case, I think it is tiny liquid blobs that have formed within the otherwise uniform thin layer of condensed water. But why are they visible at all? Usually, things on a camera lens don't show up because they are too out of focus. But in this case, the zoom lens was set to wide angle, in which the orb zone is much closer to the camera than is usual. If the zoom lens had been set to a 'standard' or telephoto focal lengths, I think there would have been no orbs, though the mist would still be evident.

It is not often that I find out something new about orbs (see here for a brief summary of the information discovered so far). Most paranormal researchers now accept that orbs have natural causes and are bored with them. If a formerly popular part of the ghost hunting boom can fall from favour, maybe other bits will too, like assumption-led methods. Perhaps, one day ...

*The idea that ghosts might be misty appears to be largely fictional. I've never come across a real life case. The vast majority of ghosts are described as looking perfectly solid and normal. But the mist idea, like so many others in our field, remains widely popular despite lack of supporting evidence!

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