Dear Kathy,

What do you know about orbs? You know, those little balls of energy that sometimes appear on photographs? I have taken pictures inside one particular room of my house, and these things like faint little balls of light always appear, but in different locations in the room. This has happened using both 35mm film cameras, and two different digital cameras. Also, some friends I had the same thing happen when taking pictures in a cemetery, in pitch dark, using multiple ca-meras. There was nothing to cast a reflection, it was a clear night, and it wasn’t raining. Could orbs really be ghosts?

Yours truly,

A TRAMP (member of The Redneck Appalachian Mountain Paranormalists Society)


I looked on various Internet sites, some by “ghost hunters” and others by photography buffs, and I have found mixed reviews on the subject.

Of course, the photographers merely try to explain the orbs in terms of camera malfunctions, light reflections and things of that sort, while many people who are seriously interested in ghost hunting believe that there are orbs that are a product of camera distortions. There are others, though, who think the orbs may actually be balls of energy, thought to be spirits or ghosts (and apparently there is a difference between spirits and ghosts in many experts’ opinions).

Mind you, all of this is speculation and none of us will every really know until we die and either become ghosts or orbs, or whatever else people may believe, but let us continue anyway. A site maintained by the American Ghost Society,, includes an essay by Troy Taylor, author of the “Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook” and president of the American Ghost Society.

Taylor writes, “Despite what you might see and hear, there is absolutely no hard evidence whatsoever to suggest that orbs are in any way related to ghosts. Yes, they do often turn up in photos that are taken at haunted locations, but as you’ll soon see, many of these photos have been called into question. However, I do think that legitimate photos of image anomalies (or orbs, if you prefer) exist. These photos do show a type of paranormal phenomena, but just what type that is remains to be seen.”

Taylor goes on to say that there is a difference between being paranormal and being a ghost, according to experts such as himself.

As far as the camera distortion theory goes, while some people may deny that there were any water droplets or specks of dirt on their camera lenses, apparently dust floating in the air can also cause a reflection when you use a flash in the darkness. Did you use flashes on your cameras? One group went as far as going to an open field and taking photos, most of which were “orbless,” and then tramping around on the field and taking photos afterward, which gave evidence that the dust stirred up had caused more orbs in the photos.

But let’s go back to Taylor and his theory of the paranormal. He says that he has found that true paranormal orbs are not transparent as many “false orbs” are. False orbs (ones created by reflection) tend to be pale white or blue in color and are transparent.

Taylor goes on to note that ghost hunters don’t simply go by the fact that they are seeing orbs in their photos. They also look at others things that may be going on at the same time. He writes, “There are a number of determining factors, not the least of which is corresponding activity. By this I mean, photographing an “orb” just after recording a sharp temperature drop.”

Obviously, he has more ad-vanced technological devices to use for this than most of us do.

And here’s one last note, from the perspective of an animal lover and self-proclaimed cat behaviorist: I do believe that if any creatures see ghosts or other paranormal things, it would have to be cats. Why else would they become so preoccupied with staring into space with seemingly great interest much of the time?

And I did find a website where a woman had taken pictures of her cat on a bed and there were tiny floating balls of light floating through the air over the bed. The cat was staring directly at one. Coincidence? Hmm …

— Kathy

By Kathy Kish for the Daily Telegraph. If you have a question of general interest, no matter how weird or wacky, write to “Ask Kathy,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, P.O. Box 1599, Bluefield, WV 24701; or e-mail her at

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