Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spotting a fake: photos part 1

It’s inevitable that sooner or later someone is going to try and show you a picture or video of a ‘ghost’ or ‘monster’ or something of the sort. You may have already seen quite a few of these pictures. Maybe it was obvious the image was fake. Maybe it left you scratching your head. Either way, I want to give you some tools to help you identify when an image isn’t always what it seems.

A lot of these images are taken by people who aren’t actually trying to fool anybody. They may have captured some weird anomaly and believe it to be something paranormal. It could be something a simple as a camera strap or a light reflection. Most of the time it’s just a case of misidentification. On the other end of the spectrum are people who enjoy faking images. They may be looking to get famous or just want some attention. Or they’re just bored. These images are sometimes harder to catch as the fakers get smarter and more tech-savvy all the time. For now I’m going to focus on the first group of people-the well intentioned friend/family/coworker and a common debate among paranormal groups-orbs.

In case you are wondering what I’m talking about, an orb is basically a round feature that shows up in a picture. They’ve caused a lot of confusion for something so small. Many people believe they are the manifestation of a spirit. The truth of the matter is that most orbs are little more than dust. Dust orbs tend to be white and are sometimes partially see-through they can reflect a camera flash which gives them a colorful glow from time to time. They show up both on video and still photos. They can appear tiny or gigantic depending on how close the dust is to the camera.

If you’ve got some free time and just feel like doing an experiment, take a digital camera and a broom to an area you know it dusty. (Attics and basements work well.)  Sit still for a minute or two then take some pictures (use the camera flash). Then use the broom to stir up as much dust as possible and take some more pictures. There’s a good change you will see dust orbs in your photos, especially in the second batch.

An example of 'orbs'       

Another thing that causes orbs to appear in photos are insects. Some insects are easy to recognize with wings and distinct features, but if a bug travels fast enough it often can take on an orb-like appearance. Bugs usually show up as white. If you are outside taking photos there is a good chance of capturing a bug in flight. They hang out inside as well though. Be aware of them.

Light reflections are another orb source that appear over and over again. Light from the flash hits reflective surfaces and can create the illusion of a ball of light. Car lights can also pass through windows, creating unusual features in your photos. Spotting normal light reflection is something that really just takes practice. If you’re looking at a photo, try and identify surfaces that could be reflecting flashes, car lights, and flashlights. Look for natural explanations of what may be causing the orb.

There are other causes for orbs as well-too many to cover on a short blog. The main thing is to look at photos with a critical eye. Understand how light works and moves across a space. Don’t be afraid to question the validity of a photo. Examine them, understand them.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I see so many fake pictures but there are some that I have to question and this kind of helps. The ones to look for are the ones that show the same ghost over and over again, like the one I keep seeing with the long, dark hair. This helps me spot even more fakes than I could before.