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False Orb Experiment
False Orb Experiment

By Rich


The false orb experiment is intended to offer a large selection of non-paranormal orb pictures, descriptions, and production methods. A large array of reference images will be very helpful for determining potential authentic paranormal orb images. The experiment will give information on what caused the false orb. Descriptions of how the orbs were produced is also available for people who want to repeat the experiment themselves to see if their results match.

Camera Set-up: used a Cannon PowerShot A520 digital camera for the photographic false orb experiment. The camera settings are as follows:

Shooting mode - aperture priority with full open aperture of f2.6

Zoom - full wide angle of 35mm (35mm camera equivalent)

Lens - manually focused to infinity (auto focus does not work in darkness)

Film (CCD) speed - ISO 400

Flash - on

Self timer - set to take a set of ten pictures in succession

I placed the tripod mounted camera on the back steps to face the open field. This arrangement provided an elevated location for an increased camera to ground distance to minimize reflected light from the flash. I wanted to keep the background black without any nearby objects or ground showing up. This will provide maximum contrast for the resulting false orb images. I leveled the camera and then took a few test shots to determine background darkness. It was dark enough to proceed. For the dust orbs, I shook a mass of dust/lint above the front of the camera to form a cloud of dust while the camera was shooting is succession. For the insect photos, I mounted a black light with a reflector just below the camera in order to attract enough insects for good pictures.

Panoramic daytime view of my back yard showing the open field using described setup
False Orb Experiment
False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment
My back yard at night taken 1 ½
hours after sunset (Long exposure without flash)
Same view with flash using described setup
Enhanced view of flash photo showing background

Dust Orb Experiment

I shook clumps of lint above the front of the camera while it was taking pictures in succession. I first used lint from the drier and then the vacuum cleaner. Noticing some colored dust orbs in the photos, I decided to try shaking some red colored shirts to produce red lint to see if the colored dust orbs would be predominately red. Red dust orbs were very scarce. Moving back to using dust from the vacuum, I took some more pictures with the aperture stopped down to f6.3 to see its effects.


Drier lint produced a general mix of white, grey and some colored orbs. Although the lint strands were generally around a thirty-second to an eighth inch long the resulting orbs were mostly round. The dust from the vacuum tended to have very few white orbs and the grey orbs were usually darker. The vacuum dust has a large proportion of fine silt particles which have a tendency to produce a greater abundance of grey orbs due to their small size and darker shade. The number of colored orbs was about the same for both. The red lint produced only two red orbs but it made mostly tan and cream colored orbs suggesting that lint color has a slight effect on orb color. No other colors were produced from the red lint.

I suspect most of the color comes from light diffraction. Colored orbs came from the vacuum dust which has almost no colored lint or silt in it. The drier lint only had a few colors but orbs of other colors showed up. The red lint has a smooth surface which does not produce diffraction effects which resulted in no atypical colored orbs. The variety of colors was similar to the diffraction colors as seen on a CD or DVD. I consider very little of the colors coming from refractive dispersion, like a rainbow or from a gem, because the color magenta shows up which cannot be produced by refraction. Nearly all of the particles in the drier lint and vacuum dust lacked the transparency needed to produce such vivid color in this manner.

The reduced aperture had a strong effect on the dust orbs, making them smaller and hexagonal in shape. All but the brightest orbs show the hexagonal shape. The most heavily overexposed orbs have lost some of the hex shape but generally show up when the image is darkened a great deal. These effects are very repeatable and easy to identify.

False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment

Dust orbs from drier lint – There is a general mix of white, grey and some colored orbs. Observe that most of the orbs are round despite the fact that the majority of the lint strands were around 1/32 to 1/8 inch long (0.7mm to 3mm long).

False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment

Drier lint strands - Field of view (FOV)1.73mm x 1.30mm

False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment

Dust orbs from vacuum cleaner dust – Notice that there are almost no white orbs and the grey orbs are generally darker. This is from the lower amount of lint to the higher proportion of the finer silt particles

False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment

Dust orbs from vacuum cleaner dust - continued

false orb experiment False orb experiment

Vacuum cleaner dust – This dust has a lot of silt
particles as compared to lint strands. (FOV 1.73mm x 1.30mm)

False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment
Dust orbs from red lint – Examine the tan and cream colored orbs that indicate the weak effect of lint color
Red lint – Notice the red color and smooth surface on the strands. (FOV 1.73mm x 1.30mm)


False Orb Experiment

Dust orbs from vacuum cleaner dust with stopped down aperture
– Notice the obvious hexagonal shape and smaller size.

False Orb Experiment
Composite image of white and gray dust orbs (Image sizes
have been scaled to a similar size for easer comparison)
False Orb Experiment
Composite image of colored dust orbs (Image sizes have been scaled to a similar size for easer comparison)

Flying Insect False Orb Experimen

I placed a black light underneath the camera. Checked the camera settings and then turned on the light. I waited about five to ten minutes. Then I took about fifty pictures.


The insect orbs are mostly irregular in shape often resembling the insect especially the larger closer ones. Round insect orbs are rare. Insect orbs are also very brilliantly white frequently overexposing the image. There extreme brilliancy is due to the insect’s relative large physical size as compared to dust or lint. This larger size provides more area to reflect the light from the flash to the camera lens. There images are typically smaller then other orb types due to the fact that further out insects will show up in the picture.

False Orb Experiment False Orb Experiment

Raw images of insect orbs and insect orbs with dust orbs
– Observe the irregular shape, brilliancy, and average size as compared
to the dust orbs

False Orb Experiment

Composite picture showing the typical irregular shape and high brilliancy of insect orbs. Image sizes have been scaled to a similar size for easer comparison of shape and brightness.

False orb Experiment

Composite picture showing the typical image overexposure associated with insect orbs. Originals are to the left, pictures showing overexposure are to the right. Slight overexposure shows up as colored regions. Black central regions show heavy overexposure.


Dust Orb Experiment

The particle that produced an orb image can generally be identified by the brightness. Bright orbs usually come from lint, while darker orbs come from smaller silt particles. Monitoring the ambient suspended dust will be worthwhile during an investigation that uses flash photography.

Orb color probably comes from light diffraction. The smooth surfaced lint strands produced no atypical colored orbs. Lint strand color has only a small effect on the resulting orb color

A reduced aperture makes all of the dust orbs small and hexagonal. This technique would be highly useful for paranormal orb photography if your camera has the aperture priority mode feature. One should test their camera out to see if the “hexagon” effect occurs and at what f-stops. All of the hexagonal orbs are fakes making the potential paranormal orbs stand out. Only the most overexposed dust orbs will be difficult to identify

Flying Insect False Orb Experiment

Insect orbs can be easily identified by their key features of “irregular shape” frequently resembling the insect and “very high brilliancy” often overexposing the image. Another useful identifying feature is the typical small size.

In conclusion this experiment had no intension to disprove the existence of real paranormal orbs. Its intention was to supply pictures of false orbs for comparing an unknown orb image in determining its authenticity


(C)Copyright MidNite Walkers Paranormal Research Society