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The Orb Controversy
Dr. Dave Oester

I am going to comment on the infamous orb controversy, which is just another fancy title for the differences between people who take digital photographs and believe that all spots on their photos are ghost orbs compared to those people who have photographic experience and realize that virtually all spots on a digital photo are really airborne dust or pollen anomalies floating pass the camera lens. I am not angry, but I am amazed how naïve that most people are when it comes to understanding basic photography.

The orb controversy resembles the half-truths spread about global warming. Our weather goes through cycles, its patterns extend into centuries, meaning that it is not changing for the worse it is simply following a cycle as it has done many times in the past. Global warming is a hot button right now because of ruckus generated by Al Gore and his call to reduce our carbon footprints. Even the man who started speaks out that the pseudo-science used by supporters of global warming is flawed data or massaged data that yields false outcomes.

It seems that only one person is benefiting from crying that the sky is falling and that is Al Gore, slum lord and advocate for global warming, but whose own home has a carbon footprint twenty times larger than the average American. Yet, Al Gore is not willing to change his carbon footprint, but he tells us we have to change ours to survive. What a load of horse pucky! Global warming seems to be the popular bandwagon today, just as Hollywood and amateur ghost hunters are pushing that all orbs are paranormal, even rain drops and dust orbs.

I coined the term “orb’ in 1994 to describe the SHAPE of any spherical spots captured with a digital camera. It included dust, pollen (grass, tree, and weed), and moisture droplets, including ice crystals, snow, and humidity. These environmental orbs are common and with better digital resolution in cameras, the abundance of spherical spots is showing up in so many digital photos. The old point and shoot film cameras had a harder time recording dust orbs, but not true with digital cameras. However, today my coined term “orb” is used as a label for ghosts. This transformation from a term that was an adjective to a noun is remarkable.

Recently I have been getting numerous emails from India and from individuals who have captured dust orbs in their home and are terrified that they have ghosts. First off, so what is the problem if the home does have ghosts? I have personally lived with ghosts for the last eighteen years and I am still alive to talk about it. While those in India are not aligned with the Western Religions, they do have a fear of ghosts. So what is the problem . . . it is just that with all of the spurious photos of airborne dust particles posted on the World Wide Web, tend to misrepresent to people that all orbs are ghosts.

I have to stop and scratch my head in bewilderment as to what is happening to people’s ability to use common sense and to deduce even the simplest mystery around them. Is it possible we are sliding back on the evolutionary scale where we are so naïve to believe that all floating particles in the air originate from the paranormal?

I can remember the days of yesteryear when people hung rugs outdoors on cloth lines so they could beat the rugs to shake off the dust and dirt. Imagine today those who would stand next to these rugs with their trusty digital cameras and snap photos of all the ghosts emitting from the rugs. Remember these are the folks who will be our leaders down the road. It makes me shudder at the thought how easy it is to fool so many people so much of the time.

Those who claim there is an orb controversy, are the ones who have the wool pulled over their eyes, duped into believing that all spherical shapes must be ghost orbs. It makes one wonder just how diverse the gene pool really is to produce this kind of mentality. The saying that someone is a few cards shy of a full deck, or as the British would say, a few bricks short of a load, which seem to describe those stuck in believing there is an orb controversy.

There is no orb controversy, but there are dust orbs aplenty. These dust orbs float freely everywhere, in your homes, outdoors, on moonlit nights when the flash is discharged revealing the many sparkles in front of them. Today everyone seems to be a photography expert; this is why they authenticate all of the dust orbs as ghost orbs. Unfortunately, they lack any experience in basic photography. The digital camera is capable of detecting these floating natural anomalies and recording them as spherical spots.

I love it when someone sends a photo to me for examination claiming they have ghost, as they can see a face in the orb. I explain that faces only appear in dust and pollen due to the irregular surface, just as we can see a face in the moon. A true ghost orb is like a ball of light, the ectoplasmic composition is not transparent, has no border around it, and definitely has no face in it.

The response I get back is colored with anger and resentment. I guess having 40 years of experience in outdoor photography with darkroom and developing experience does not qualify. I got involved with digital technology in 1994 when Canon came out with their first digital camera. Since filming dust orbs with film cameras are much more difficult, it wasn’t until the advent of digital cameras that dust orbs become a common flaw in digital photos.

Today new digital cameras employ slow shutter in the low light settings. This is both a plus and a minus because those who take twilight photos on a tripod will record better quality images but if they hand hold the camera they will get strange glowing lines originating from any light source in the photo. These glowing lines are not paranormal; they are the natural result of camera shakes and slow shutter. However, place the camera on a tripod and the glowing lines suddenly vanish, hence no paranormal glowing lines. It is amazing what a little common sense could do for ghost hunters if they would take time to understand how their camera treated the various environmental anomalies afloat in the air currents around them. Few ghost hunters establish a database of known environmental samples. It is easier to jump to conclusions without having the facts to support their conclusions.

I just recently acquired the new Sony Cybershot DSC-T70, an 8 MP touch screen digital camera. I tested it out one night, held the new camera in my hands, and set the scene mode to Twilight Portrait, which allows extra light into the camera lens. I snapped several images and in all of the images that had an outdoor light in the background resulted in glowing jagged lines in those images.

I am seeing more of these glowing lines in photos sent to me for evaluation so I know that this is going to be a problem for people to understand. I predict this will be the next controversy to hit the web. A ghost researcher needs to understand the tools that they use in their investigations. This is a good example of what separates the novices from the trained ghost researchers. Holding a camera while shooting at night is one sure way of getting glowing lines, especially if you are using a newer digital camera that employs slow shutter to allow more light into the camera lens.

Any time you see on television ghost hunters that call spherical shaped anomalies ghost orbs, you can almost be sure they are novices and are confusing the natural everyday dust orbs with what they have read about, but apparently lack the insights to understand the differences. These are your untrained ghost hunters, who learn from the multitude of other novice ghost web sites. The ignorance of novices teaching ignorance to others novices.

The only controversy is understanding why they know so little about the spirits of the dead. I guess it is much easier to just think that any round spot is a ghost, even standing in the rain and capturing rain drops. It amazes me that some ghost hunters think that rain drops are intelligent and label them ghost orbs.

Our home study courses will separate the wheat from the chaff meaning that when you complete the courses, you will no longer be in the novice category confused by dust orbs, but as a trained investigator with the insight to understand the spirits of the dead. I hear comments that people do not need training that anyone with a camera can capture ghost images, but that is not true as is evident by so many dust orbs posted on web sites and now documentaries showing dust orbs aplenty as being valid ghost orbs. So many novices attempting to be experts in this field but all they are accomplishing are the distillation of false and inaccurate information to the public.

Recently Sharon refused to do a review of a new video DVD because the only ghost hunter profiled showed photos of dust orbs and claimed they were all ghosts. This beautiful video was excellent until an arrogant ghost hunter decreed that his orb photos showed ghosts all around people which ruined it for us. Forget that a photo is two-dimensional and therefore, size and distance cannot be determined unless it is behind an existing object, but instead he claimed the orbs were floating around the people, instead of understanding that the orbs were actually in front of the camera lens. The only controversy is between the uneducated and the untrained.

Novices learn from TV programs or from web sites where dust orbs are confused with the real ghost orbs. Television is not for teaching correct aspects of ghost hunting, but for entertainment and for instilling fear about ghosts. It is all about money and ratings. Unfortunately, the Web is populated with web sites posting pictures of ordinary environmental dust, pollen, and moisture droplets and they call themselves experts.

I receive orbs photos daily to examine and in 99% of the cases, these orbs are just the everyday common airborne dust, pollen (grass, tree, and weed), and moisture droplets that float on air currents too weak to be felt by the photographer. The only orb controversy is whether you have dusted the orbs from your furniture or wiped the dust orbs from the TV set. Sadly, these are the Fallen Orbs of the orb controversy.

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