To date, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support that orbs are ghosts or anything else paranormal.  However, there is much objective data to support that orbs in photographs and video are explainable photo/video artifacts that can be reliably replicated.  The orb craze gained traction after the popularity of early digital cameras.  While it is possible to capture orbs with 35 mm cameras, it is far less common. The point and shoot digital cameras had a greater depth of field compared to 35mm cameras, because of a smaller focal distance, and with the flash source closer to the lens, it made capturing airborne particles much easier.

Here are just a few articles explaining orbs or "light anomalies" caught by cameras:



This is ASSAP's (Association for Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena) site map linking to various articles about explanations of orbs, including cause of their color, transparency, shapes, etc.:

Here is an photographic experiment conducted by Midnite Walkers Paranormal Research Society that has been widely circulated on the internet for reference of the various colors and shapes of orbs caught on film:

Camera and film manufacturers have also provided an explanation for these artifacts.  This one comes from Sony: (Thank you to River Cities Paranormal Society for sharing.)

Orbs or Dusts: A Practical Guide to False Positives by Kenneth Biddle is an excellent book which not only explains orbs and other photographic artifacts, but also demonstrates detailed experiments for the reader to recreate for them themselves:

"Yeah, but dust can't suddenly change direction!"  Well, yes it can:

Air is dynamic, not static, even inside buildings. Air currents are not caused only by movement or wind, but also by changes in temperature and humidity as this article explains:

Even if we exclude air currents as a cause of movement, there is Brownian motion to consider:
If a larger particle (such as a dust particle) collides with a large set of smaller particles (molecules of a gas) which move with different velocities in different random directions, it can change direction.  Air is a mixture of gases - 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen - with traces of water vapor, carbon dioxide, argon, and various other components:

"But I saw an orb with my own eyes!"  Unfortunately though, our eyes aren't very trustworthy:

Only a portion of the visual process takes place in the eye - the majority up to how the brain interprets the information.  Misperception is caused by various physiological, psychological, and environmental factors.  That is not to say the observer is crazy, lying or stupid.  It simply means that sometimes our brain, by design, misinterprets information.  Add suggestibility or expectation, and the chance of misperception increases.  But for the sake of argument, let's rule out misperception for a moment.  Even if one sees an orb, it is a huge leap in logic to conclude it is a ghost or something paranormal.  There are many other factors to carefully consider and rule out first, including: electrical discharges, static electricity, ball lighting, bioluminescence, piezoelecticity, and ignis fatui.

Unfortunately there are some people who will still cling to the notion that orbs are ghosts even after they are presented with facts to the contrary.  Cognitive bias is very hard to overcome, especially if a belief somehow serves an agenda.   Some ghost hunters want "proof" of the paranormal more than they want valid answers:


  1. Most of the more remarkable orbs that have been photographed cannot be explained as dust, because they are either too big to be dust, too bright to be dust, too fast-moving to be dust, too colorful to be dust, too regularly observed to be dust, too surrounded by clean air to be dust, or too closely resembling faces to be dust. In the case of numerous photos on the site www.orbpro.blogspot.com, several of these "can't be dust" conditions apply at the same time; so, for example, some orbs that are shown on this site were too fast-moving to be dust, too big to be dust, too bright to be dust, too colorful to be dust, and too surrounded by clean air to be dust -- all at the same time.

    Below are additional decisive reasons for rejecting the idea that dust can explain the photos on the site www.orbpro.blogspot.com.:
    (1) This site has 17 photos of orbs that are behind distant obstructions more than 10 meters from the camera (see the posts labeled "air orb too distant to be dust"). Such photos rule out the idea that orbs are all specks of dust a few inches from the camera.
    (2) This site has more than 24 posts labeled "inexplicable orb motion." Such posts show moving orbs making sharp right-angle turns or wavy undulating motions or u-turns, spectacular motions that are never made by dust, insects, or birds.
    (3) The particle size of ordinary atmospheric dust is about 1000 times too small to produce conspicuous orbs in photos (orbs that are more than about 3% of the original photo width). Ordinary atmospheric dust has a particle size of about 1 micron (1 micrometer) or less, but you need a particle size of about 1000 microns (in other words, a millimeter) to produce a conspicuous orb in a photo. As for the many photos on this site showing orbs that are 10% or more of the original photo height, ordinary atmospheric dust is 10,000 times too small to produce such orbs (and even settling house dust is about 100 times too small to produce such orbs). See this post for a more detailed discussion of these particle size considerations which exclude the theory that most orbs are dust.
    (4) If the dust in ordinary air were sufficient to produce orbs, then people all the time would complain about orbs appearing in their photos. Instead, 99% of all people do not notice any orbs in their photos. But people with an interest in paranormal photography tend to see orbs appear very often in their photos.
    (5) Moving orbs are often photographed by security cameras, as you can see by going to www.youtube.com, and searching for "orb+security camera." Such videos cannot be explained through any dust theory.
    (7) My tests photographing a piece of cardboard at arm's length (often in the middle of photographing orbs) do not show any orbs in front of the cardboard, which shows that the orbs I am photographing are not specks of dust near the camera.
    -- M. Mahin

    1. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and commenting! Most of the information in your response has been addressed and explained in the links and sources I provided on this very page. I strive to provide objective information that has tested and reliably replicated by multiple independent experiments. To be clear, airborne particles that are being photographed include much more than just atmospheric dust. Moisture, dander, pollen, lint, insects and other particulates can create the same camera affect. This, as explained in sources I provided, accounts for the range of color and opaqueness. Resembling faces, is not at all evidence, as explained by pareidolia, more commonly called matrixing. As explained by neuroscientists and psychologists, our brains are hard-wired to see faces in random patterns. As far as movement, again, as explained in the sources I provided, air is not static and currents will cause movement. If the “anomaly” is actually a flying insect, as many have been shown to be, the sudden movement or change of direction is natural. Even in the cleanest environments there are particulates in the air, and again, as explained with a link provided, there is Brownian motion that explains movement of small particles.

      1. The apparent size of an airborne particle in photos has been reliably demonstrated to be relative to distance from the lens. While our brains try to process photos and videos in 3-D, what we have is a 2-D product to work with. So particles closer to the camera do appear larger. Again, this has been explained in more than one of the sources I provided.

      2. Just labeling something “inexplicable” doesn’t make it so. This is completely subjective. “Never made by dust, insects, or birds.” There is no objective evidence provided to support this statement.

      3. Please review 1. In addition, as many of us who’ve wandered around dusty environments with night vision enabled on our cameras, the dust is visible on the screen, and therefore easily photographed. Try it for yourself; it’s fun. And again, there are more particulates than just atmospheric dust in the air.

      4. This is a speculative and subjective statement. “99% of people don’t notice orbs in their photos”. There is no substantiated, objective data to support this. In fact, when digital cameras first came out, people DID complain about the effect, prompting camera manufacturers to include the explanation in their manuals (like the example I posted on this page.) Since then, modifications have been made to newer models to decrease this effect. One obvious reason paranormal enthusiasts observe more “orbs” in photos is because they’re looking for them. (Confirmation bias.) Another reason to consider is common environments they tend to “investigate” in.

      5. Security cameras typically provide grainy and highly pixilated images, and are notorious for shadowing effects, so they are not convincing to start with. And, many of orbs captured by them have in fact been replicated and explained as bugs, lint, etc.. I remember years ago one that turned out to be a plastic bag!

      6. Your informal experiment, which I applaud everyone who experiments on their own, doesn’t have any supporting data to confirm your hypothesis.

    2. As I said at the beginning, I try to provide objective information that can be tested and verified. One of those sources is a book I recommend to all paranormal enthusiasts, Orbs or Dust: A Practical Guide to False Positives. It was written by an investigator and professional photographer (and a consultant for MUFON), Kenny Biddle, who not only provides explanations, but also demonstrations and experiments that anyone can replicate and verify the results for themselves. Because I am not an expert in photography, I took the liberty of forwarding your comment to him. Here is his response:

      “Dust being...

      "too big or too small" - the size of an anomaly in a photograph only partially depends on the physical size of the object. The other part has to do with perspective. A basketball photographed at 2 feet away does not appear to be the same size as when the same ball is photographed at 20 feet away.

      "too bright to be dust" - If we use the basketball from the example above, and put it outside in a field at night, it will appear much brighter when photographed (with flash) at 2 feet away then it will at 20 feet. The effective range of most in-camera flash units is about 15 feet - illumination drops off sharply after that. However, the flash is pretty bright when hitting an object only 2 feet away.

      "too fast moving" - Exactly what is the speed of a dust particle? I assume that we're talking about the situations in which an "orb" moves across the view of the camera lens. In which case, we'd have to revisit perception. Most camera lenses being used are pretty small. Even the standard 18-55mm lens has a diameter of less than 2 inches. If we're dealing with a compact camera (or even a phone), then we're talking about a lens that's less than half an inch wide (and smaller). It doesn't take much at all to appear to zip across the observed scene...depending on where an object is. Again - perspective - because an object a few inches from the lens doesn't have to go fast at all to cover the observed scene...no where near as fast as an object that's 10, 20, or 40 meters away.

      "too colorful" - On your site, you caption an image with "Photo date: June 5, 2015. Photographer: Mark Mahin. The photo below was taken while photographing ordinary water drops falling against a dark background." Ever see a rainbow? Ever look up how they appear? An individual raindrop has a different shape and consistency than a glass prism, but it affects light in a similar way. When white light - as in from your camera flash - hits a collection of raindrops at a fairly low angle, you can see the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet = the colors of a rainbow. By purposely shooting water droplets, you are causing the effect.

      "too regularly observed" - sure, "orbs" are seen everywhere - in photos, on TV, and in movies. Photographers with practical knowledge and experience understand where and how these effects are produced - Circle of Confusion, Lens Flare, Lack of Focus, etc. "Too regularly observed" is an insufficient argument and lacks logic - unicorns and Tinker Bell are regularly observed as well, yet...they are still only exist in the imagination.

      "too surrounded by clean air" - Honestly, this makes no sense. I don't know what your idea of "clean" air is, but there is a ton of stuff in what you breathe. Dust is composed of a variety of materials, and it's everywhere. Going back, again, to perspective...dust particles need to be close enough to the lens and flash to create the effect. It's not always going to happen. But you definitely have a better chance using compact cameras. Try using a DSLR with a shoe-mounted flash unit.

      "Too closely resembling faces" - You should look up Pareidolia. I don't see it making any difference, but at least it will give you a name to why you think you see faces.

    3. Part 2 of Kenny Biddle's response:

      "17 photos of orbs that are behind distant obstructions more than 10 meters from the camera" - These images only show how a camera with a weak flash, and selective cropping, and intentional out-of-focus, can fool an inexperienced picture taker (not to be confused with a "photographer"). The dust particles are illuminated by the camera flash, which is why they have a white tint to them, and the rest of the background is yellow. The hall was too large for the weak flash, and the standard lighting in such places has a yellow tint.

      "24 posts labeled "inexplicable orb motion." - These are not orbs in motion, they are pieces of lint and threads that are dropped in front of the lens. And after looking at many of these images, I'm beginning to suspect that he already knows this.

      "The particle size of ordinary atmospheric dust is about 1000 times too small to produce conspicuous orbs in photos" - PLEASE show me where you get your data from. See the first basketball example I gave you. Then go look up perspective and perception. The eye can see particles to about 40 microns. Materials such as fertilizer, pollens, textile fibers, human hair fall into this range.

      "people with an interest in paranormal photography tend to see orbs appear very often in their photos" - That's because most of these people are NOT photographers, and misinterpret the images due to lack of proper knowledge. They see terribly misinformed TV shows and ghost hunters that promote false ideas like "orbs", and blindly believe in it - no legitimate data needed.

      "Moving orbs are often photographed by security cameras" - Correction, dust and bugs are often misinterpreted by people that have no training in photography and falsely label something very explainable as "unexplained".

      "My tests photographing a piece of cardboard at arm's length" - was by no means sufficient to demonstrate your point.”

  2. Please also see: