Mystery Orbs

On February 6, I woke up to a beautiful snow-covered landscape. At dawn, I grabbed my camera and took a few photos, one towards West Seattle in the the NE and one directly west over the Salmon Creek Ravine. When I viewed them in Lightroom, I noticed they were peppered with beautiful orbs that varied in size and transparency, but I had not noticed the orbs through the view finder nor with my naked eyes. Also, the sky appeared to be perfectly clear — it was NOT snowing or raining.

Looking NW -- Orbs
Looking NW — Click on photo to see orbs more clearly


Orbs to the West over the Salmon Creek Ravine at Dawn

I immediately put the card back in the camera and began to shoot more photos, reinserted the SD card in my computer and — NO more orbs.

Looking West over the Salmon Creek Ravine — no orbs

Unravelling the Mystery

That morning I sent a few of the orbed photos to friends and one of them was sure I had captured beings from another dimension — “orbs”. I must admit that I wanted to believe his esoteric explanation, but I continued to pester others for their ideas. Next, I spoke with a colleague of my husband who is an optics expert. He carefully examined the photos and removed the lens from my camera to view the sensor and mirror. “Moisture on the sensor” was his theory.

I was still inclined to believe the first conjecture due to the fact that:

  • There were no orbs on the second batch of photos
  • I had not taken the lens off the camera that morning
  • And I must admit I have a penchant for the mysterious

Next, I showed it to a few guys in a camera repair shop and they were mystified. One mentioned orbs again and said they looked like something he had seen recently on Ancient Aliens. One more vote for the esoteric.

In late February, I attended a presentation by John Greengo, a well known professional photographer in Seattle. After the presentation, I had a chance to get his opinion. John said, “The first photo (with the orbs) was taken with a flash and the second (without any orbs) with no flash. The orbs are a result of light bouncing off moisture particles (invisible to the eye) in the air. The larger ones are closer to the camera, the smaller ones are more distant.”

In my enthusiasm to start shooting that morning, I had taken all the photos on “auto”. A quick examination in Lightroom verified his theory — the flash had fired on the first photo (which was taken just at dawn), but not on the second which was taken 15 minutes later in more light.

UPDATE: I just got two more votes for orbs and one for fairies.



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