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  Orbs in Photgraphs

A Mystery Solved a Truth Revealed

Orbs and Sphinx Orbs close to a sphinx near the Luxor Temple Egypt

Since the advent of digital cameras ‘orbs’ have been appearing in my pictures with striking regularity, particularly on my frequent trips to Egypt. This can be fascinating if the capture of ‘orbs’ is the desired intent but slightly frustrating if it is some delicate picture or scene that is the intended target. I had come to recognise that these curious patterns only occurred when the flash on my camera was active and as most of the pictures I wanted demanded a freedom from the intrusion of ‘orbs’ I mainly operated the camera with the flash mode off.

Nevertheless the ‘orbs’ were intriguing and I started to read all sorts of claims about their angelic and similar connections. The researcher in me eventually determined to try to get to the heart of this mystery and the expedition I was planning for Egypt at the end of 2008 seemed an ideal opportunity, so I mentioned this in my pre Christmas Newsletter. David Randell a research scientist friend of mine with a long-standing amateur interest in optics wrote back:

“The orbs you describe in the last article almost certainly do not have any esoteric significance and are probably nothing more than the result of diffraction patterns arising from the camera's flash reflecting from microscopic dust particles in the air and generating specular reflections. It is a well known phenomenon, which is a direct result of the wave-nature of light originating in a point-source of light passing through a circular opaque aperture. In focus the image takes the appearance of a very small bright spot of light surrounded by faint set of concentric and alternating light and dark rings called the Airy pattern. Out of focus the number of rings increase producing the familiar "orbs" seen in these photographs. I suspect the reason why we see this more these days is because people are using compact digital cameras that use lenses with very short focal lengths and corresponding great depth of field. I would go so far to make a prediction, namely that if you zoom in on many of the original images showing these orbs you will see the familiar nested, alternating light and dark Fresnel rings that arise from an out of focus point-source image from interference.”

Thence followed some interesting correspondence between us, which resulted in the formulation of an experiment to determine if ‘orbs’ truly have an objective reality or whether they are simply dust particles being picked up in the camera’s flash.

The Experiments
The first experiment was filmed on an evening visit to the magnificent Luxor temple in Egypt. It is a place full of atmosphere that I knew well, which in past trips had been redolent with ‘orbs’. We decided to carry out the research away from the jostling crowds of the main temple in the quieter Avenue of Sphinxes. True to expectation all eight of us in the group managed to photograph plenty of ‘orbs’ that evening.

The experiment itself was very simple. One person agreed to be the object of the photograph, whilst the rest of us stood in a line facing her. At a given signal we all took our photos together. The concept simply being that if we all photographed the same ‘orb’ close to the person then we might safely assume that the ‘orb’ must have an objective reality. On the other hand if all of the ‘orbs’ were different then this suggested that the ‘orb’ pictures related to the individual cameras and therefore the dust particles were the most probable explanation.

We carried out the experiment that evening six times over the space of about fifteen minutes and the results were conclusive as some of the pictures below demonstrate. The ‘orbs’ in the pictures were all connected to the individual cameras and did not have any objective reality of their own, unless of course they were all moving within fractions of a second. However if this was the case then the ‘orbs’ themselves should have been blurred in the photos and as you can see they are not. One experiment is hardly satisfying so we determined to repeat it again at a different location and time. We decided the grounds of the hotel where we were staying would be ideal as there is a fairly secluded grassed area, where we could carry out the experiment. This time, instead of standing a horizontal line, we managed to photograph in a vertical line with some sitting on the floor and others stood on chairs, so that we were seeing almost the same image, from a vertical perspective. Once again the results were conclusive despite several sets of photos being taken. In no case was there any correlation between the ‘orbs’ within the separate photos strongly implying that the explanation of these ‘orbs’ verified what David Randell stated, as originating in minute dust particles passing in front of the lens of the camera, captured in the flash light of the film. Egypt is after all a very dusty place.

Orbs in Luxor
A mass of 'orbs' in the Avenue of Sphinxes in front of the Luxor Temple.

Orbs – Another Perspective
My research into ‘orbs’ might have rested there had I not had time to reflect further on this intriguing phenomenon. Why I wondered was there such a need, within some individuals to see these objects as representing some psychic or spiritual manifestation? We might consider Jung’s concepts of synchronicity and suggest that the cause of the ‘orb’, the minute dust particle, passing across the lens of the camera just happened at the precise moment when some angelic presence was there and somehow the two became fused together. This however is at odds with my own experience of spiritual presences, which is much more in tune with the moving description of elemental and angelic beings in the book The Findhorn Garden where Roc Abercrombie describes his encounter with the god Pan. He states:

“The moment he (Pan) stepped into me the woods became alive with a myriad of beings – elementals, nymphs, dryads, fauns, elves, gnomes, fairies and so on far too numerous to catalogue. They varied in size from tiny beings a fraction of an inch in height- like the ones I saw swarming about on a clump of toadstools – to beautiful elfin creatures three to four feet tall. Some of them danced around me in a ring; all were welcoming and full of rejoicing. The nature spirits love and delight in the work they do and express this in movement.”

I have little doubt, for I have experienced it myself, if we truly opened our inner eyes to perceive the spiritual essences all around us we would be amazed at the multitude of presences that are there; far in excess of the odd ‘orb’ or two that our cameras capture.

And here is another marvel for I do appreciate the subtlety and beauty of the ‘orb’ images, produced as I now know by tiny particles of dust, floating in front of the camera lens. Surely the most powerful insight that ‘orbs’ give us is that there is magnificence and beauty in even the tiniest and seemingly most insignificant of things. We assuredly live in an awesome world.

David Furlong
April 2009

Links on Orbs :
Wikipedia Article
The American Ghost Society - Orbs article

Orbs in the Luxor Temple   Orbs in Luxor
Picture 1 in Luxor Temple. The ‘orb’ to the right of the sphinx did not appear on any other photos.   Picture 2 in Luxor Temple.  The ‘orb’ here on the left shoulder of the subject did not appear in any other photo.
Orbs in Luxor   Orbs in Luxor
Picture 3 in the Grounds of the Mercure Hotel. The person is meditating calling on higher spiritual energies.   Picture 4 in the Grounds of the Mercure Hotel. A synchronised shot with picture 3. Note the difference in 'orb' positions.
Orb image from Malta
Picture 5 Finally a magnificent orb image taken in Malta. This time caused by a minute water droplet on the lens of the camera.

For further information please write to David Furlong
Myrtles, Como Road, Malvern Worcs WR14 2TH
or phone T: 01684-569105    M:0777-978-9047                           Email: David Furlong

David Furlong
David has been working as a healer, therapist, and researcher for more than 40 years. He is the author of five books including The Healer Within and Develop Your Intuition and Psychic Powers and Working With Earth Energies.

The definitive book on Working With Earth Energies.
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The Findorn Garden contains the wonderful quote by Roc Abercrombie on his meeting with the god Pan and his sense of the multitude of spirit essences in nature.
To order this book through Amazon click the image.

Orb detail from Luxor Picture
Detail of 'orb' from adjoining photo showing the exquisite beauty captured from a minute dust particle.

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