A more rational explanation for those “ghostly orbs”


I really am getting old.  I used to revel in stories about spirits and ghosts and other assorted bump in the night thingys.  Now,  I’m finding it easier and easier to dismiss any and all claims in that regard.

After reading my post about the orbs in the photos that I took at Old Trinity Church, Sissy asked me what the explanation was.  If I understand it correctly — a digital camera’s flash and the lens are very close in proximity.  If there are dust motes in the air, they will show up as an orb when the flash is engaged, because the flash is hitting it head on and the lens is also directly in front of it.  When an SRL camera is used, the flash is usually mounted higher up on the camera, so that the flash is pointed more at an angle down on the subject, therefore the dust mote is illuminated from above rather than from face on.  Wikipedia probably does a better job explaining this phenomenon than I can.

This is an image that I took  during a snowfall last year — the snowflakes  were nowhere near the size that the image implies — and is an example of the flash angle being face on rather than illuminating from above.

This enlargement is of the orb in Old Trinity Church.  It shows some of the colored aberrations that Wikipedia refers to.

This enlargement is from the snowfall picture.  It also shows some fringing and aberrations. They look very similar to me. Sorry folks — can’t sell me on the idea that it’s ghosts floating about.


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