Orbs - it's all a load of erm orbs - and now there's proof.

Orbs.  Love them or hate them there's no getting away from them.  Particularly if you're using a compact digital camera and firing the flash during your photography.

For those who have been out of the loop orbs are light coloured (generally) circular patches on photographs.  Many claim that these are spirits or the first manifestation of a ghost lacking sufficient energy to fully manifest.  When these images have been blown up it is claimed that faces can be seen inside.  Further claims relate to size, distance from camera and orbs allegedly interacting with individuals.  And there are others who claim that orbs are dust particles, water vapour, insects etc. close to the camera and illuminated by the on camera flash, this gives an out of focus highly reflective image.  And the arguments have continued with each side firmly entrenched.  With 35 years of experience of photography and a similar length of interest in Fortean matters I tend to the latter, mechanistic explanation, although as a good Fortean I admit the possibility that orbs may be spirit based but as yet I have seen no evidence to support this latter supposition.

And along comes Steve Parsons of Parascience.

Steve is a ghosthunter and a great fan of the scientific method, as part of this he is currently studying for a PhD in the effects of infrasound and its possible importance in haunted locations.

Steve has never been a big fan of orbs and has carried out various investigations to attempt to dismiss them from the scence, but he has never been able to convince everyone.  What he wanted, he realised, was a digital compact 3d camera with two lenses closely positioned.  By looking at the combined image there may be orbs, but if the orb is on one of the two images used to generate the 3d picture but not the other then it shows the orb is a particle close to one lens and outside of the field of viewof the other, alternatively if the orb is on both photographs but displaced that shows it is a particle relatively close to the camera.  If the orb is present in the same position on both photographs then that may vindicate some of the claims of the orb believers. In then in Autumn of 2009 Steve got the camera of his dreams - a Fuji W1 3D.

Steve used the camera extensively to take photographs at allegedy haunted locations, some of these are detailed on the parascience web site.   On at least one occassion a medium saw the orb on the preview screen and annoucned that this was proof positive of spirits in the area.  To quote from Steve's report:-

"To date 1,870 stereo pairs of images have been taken and examined. Orb
anomalies have been found on 630 pairs. In 491 pairs, an orb or orbs was
seen to be present only in the left or right image and not in the
corresponding second image of the pair. In 139 stereo pairs, orbs were
seen to be present in both of the images (left & right) but not in a
position that corresponded to the individual orb being the same object."

So there we have it.  Dust.  Close to the camera.  Reflecting the light back to the lens.

And here we have a picture courtesy of Steve to show it.

Many thanks to Steve for permission to use his orbs (!) and  for the full report on Steve's investigation and many more expamples from the 3d camera check out http://www.parascience.org.uk/articles/orbkill.htm

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