Orbs of light in digital photos are as intriguing as they are beautiful. As with so many things, there is a raging disagreement about what causes them and why they appear in photos.
My first remembered encounter with orbs was on a Ghost Tour of Colonial Williamsburg several years ago. http://theghosttour.com/ Towards the end of the tour our guide took us onto the campus at William and Mary, near the oldest buildings where Native American children had once lived as boarders to receive an English education, and invited us to take photographs. It was well past 10 PM in the late summer, and quite dark. He explained that our photos, taken towards the historic buildings, might contain these mysterious bright orbs.
I hadn’t brought a camera, but was interested to see photos taken by others. Some photos were just very dark, lit only by the street lights. A few photos taken that night did capture bright white mysterious balls of light floating in the air in front of the buildings. Since this was a “ghost tour”, the guide indicated that the balls of light were in fact related to the “ghosts” of the past said to still inhabit this area.
Although I’m familiar with researchers using various methods to record the presence of disembodied human consciousness, this was a new one for me. It was all very interesting, but I still haven’t returned to the campus after dark with a camera to try it for myself.
What I did find intriguing was these orbs of light turning up in my own photos taken at home in the garden, in broad daylight! At first I just found them interesting, and didn’t come to any conclusions about what might be causing them. I will often take several shots of the same subject from slightly different angles. It is interesting to see an orb show up in one shot, but not in the next, under the exact same lighting conditions.
There are various explanations out there for “orbs”. Digital photography is a fairly recent technological development (at least for someone of my decade) and the photographic process records information differently than it is recorded on old Kodak film. This electronic imprint allows information to be recorded which traditional film might miss. It also allows a whole different range of reflection and refraction which can play tricks and create interesting effects in photos.
Some photographers insist that all orbs of light in digital photos are simply light reflected off of dust particles or moisture in the air. Since there is almost always moisture and dust around in the real world, were this explanation to be accurate, I would expect to see orbs in nearly every shot. I have some photos taken during snowstorms in which I can clearly see snowflakes reflecting the flash, but can also see what appear to be orbs.
Other photographers draw a distinction between large orbs and small, orbs that seem flat or round, colorful orbs as opposed to white, and have even recorded orbs with shadowy “faces” in them. Some “orbs” show up in photos as tetrahedrons, ovals, or even merkabas. My own photos show a number of different sizes and colors of orbs, and a few that repeat in photo after photo like a familiar friend.
Orbs seen in photos often congregate around a particular person, or group of people, around a garden, or around an animal, as though in some way nurturing or helping. Some believe that orbs hovering around an individual are the energy of a departed loved one, still close and involved in family life. These orbs are sometimes seen in photos taken at weddings and birthdays.
I once read about the Scottish community of Findhorn http://www.findhorn.org/aboutus/vision/co-creation/#.Uc8zLaw9ZEU and was captivated by their work with elemental nature spirits to aid the growth of their gardens in very difficult growing conditions. These gardeners developed a method to communicate directly with the nature intelligences to work cooperatively in the garden. They consulted over where to site each plant, what soil amendments were needed, and other specific details for the culture of particular plants. And, they generated spectacular results growing huge fruits and vegetables on a seacoast in Scotland, where their soil was simply compost and sand. Many gardeners have worked with this community over the years, and similar communities using these methods have sprouted up in the United States and elsewhere. There is an impressive body of data to support their methods of working intentionally and cooperatively with nature.
There are some who speculate that rather than ghosts, the orbs in photos are visual evidence of the presence of these nature spirits. Some might call these beings fairies, elves, elementals, devas, or even angels. Since most of my photos show orbs hovering around plants in my garden, this explanation makes sense to me, although I have no proof to offer to skeptics that this is the definitive explanation.
I offer no answers here, only intriguing questions, and interesting photos. I leave it to each individual to do more research if they find this interesting, and to take a few digital photos of their own to see whether they find orbs of light hovering in their own gardens.