Fake Orbs and Photos – Common Tricks and Misconceptions.

Spread the Word:

Fake Orbs and Spirit Pictures

How to spot a fake ghost picture and a real ghost picture. Camera techniques and cheats that result in fake or forged ghost pictures and orbs. Phantom or Fake? You decide.

You happily snap away at a family gathering, as millions of people do every day. But when you get the pictures developed there are strange wispy forms, mists. ‘orbs’ (raindrop like blobs) or, if you’re lucky, something resembling a ghostly body or face. But can they really be ghosts?

Paranormal expert Craig Hamilton-Parker thinks there’s every chance they are. ‘Over the years, there have been many experiments done using telepathy to project an image from the human mind on to a photographic plate,’ says Craig. ‘And using a process known as Kirlian Photography, which captures electromagnetic energy fields, we can photograph human auras. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that spirit energy could be captured on film too.’


Craig believes that in the days of 35mm film there was more chance of technical glitches being mistaken for (or deliberately passed off as) spirits. However, with the advent of digital cameras and camera phones, where images are captured electronically, it’s harder to explain away orbs, weird streaks of light and transparent faces.

‘It’s intriguing that just as many people are capturing what looks like spirits on digital cameras,’ Craig says. ‘Years ago, it was all too easy for crystals in the developing solution to leave a mark on a picture that would look like an orb. But nowadays, with sophisticated automatic cameras, there’s a lot less chance of flaws or double exposures cropping up.’


Craig suspects that orbs, which are the most common example of possible paranormal evidence, could be the physical manifestation of spirit energy. ‘People regularly capture orbs in haunted houses,’ Craig says. ‘And others say they can identify the face of a loved one. What’s interesting is that faces usually appear in photos of birthdays or weddings.

It makes sense that spirits would want to take part in these special occasions. On another level, these “spirit extras” could be energy or vibrations contained within a building. This would possibly explain why spirits who are not known to a family would sneak into their snaps.

‘All in all, it’s an exciting area,’ says Craig. ‘But don’t be taken in by everything that is said to be a spirit picture. There are many hoaxes in circulation.’

Craig agreed to give us access to his vast collection of paranormal photographs taken by the public. So are they true examples of spooks captured on camera? ‘I’ve given my verdict on each, but you can make up your own mind,’ Craig concludes.

Fake Ghost Photographs

How to spot a Fake:

With sophisticated computer software widely available, it’s never been easier to fake realistic-looking spooky pictures. Here’s what to look out for…

PHOTO MANIPULATION Be aware of suspicious lighting. In a genuine photo the light should always come from the same direction in all areas of the picture. If the light around a face, for example, is coming from the left, but the light flooding into the room is from the right, then it’s likely the two components were photographed in different locations then later superimposed together.

FAKE ALIGNMENTS Look out for blurry edges. If a computer has been used to superimpose something on to a scene the edges will look soft and smudgy, particularly the outside of a face or hair, for example.

TIP: Want to snap a spook? Craig suggests that you visit places of ‘spiritual significance’, such as haunted houses or ancient stone circles. This is where spirit energies will be at their strongest, increasing your chances of capturing photographic evidence of their presence.


Orbs are balls of light that are caught on video, film or by digital camera. Some people believe that orbs are spirits and paranormal energies whereas most sceptics believe that orbs are either caused by insects, moisture, dust particles and malfunctioning camera diodes.

Can all orbs be explained in this way? For example researcher who have taken photographs of the hands of healers show that orbs are more likely to appear in photographs when the healer is projecting their spiritual powers.

In most instances I believe ORBS have an earthly explanation. The diodes in old digital cameras are prone to misfire which results in some of the unusual orbs that can look like faces and so on. Digital cameras also have a short focal length which means that particles of dust and rain droplets that are very close to the lens can be captured on the camera.

Although not seen by the naked eye these can appear like balls of light to the camera. This effect is exaggerated further when a flash is used. But this does not explain why ORBS can also appear in situations such as around a healers hands when they are projecting their energy or surrounding a medium when they are demonstrating.

In Spiritualist circles we prefer to use the term ‘spirit lights’ for this type of phenomena.

What do they look like?

One of the most commonplace “real ghost pictures” that are sent to me for analysis are of what psychics call orbs. Orbs are usually circular balls of light. Most are usually white orbs though often orbs are red and many other colours. Some orbs appear to have images and faces within them.

The orb can be a paranormal phenomenon but most of the orbs caught on cameras may have an earthly explanation.

What is the cause of Photo-Orbs?

One popular orbs theory is that the orb is the energy being transferred from a source such as power lines, heat, batteries and so on. Energy like a globule of water in zero gravity is drawn together to form a sphere. Orbs may also have something to do with human bio-energy and may be an effect of the energy of the aura. I have certainly seen orbs around people’s heads when I am making a spirit link. There is one instance that I have described in detail in my book “Protecting the Soul” in which Jane and me saw a brilliant ball of light -an orb about the size of a football- appear in the middle of the room. It was astonishing and in this instance we believe that it may have been a protective spirit. The difference between this spirit light phenomena and orbs caught on camera is that spirit lights can be seen with the naked aye and by everyone present.

What are the circular lights we see in digital photos?

Found on a standard photograph these can be caused by crystals in the developing fluid that leave a ring on the picture. They can also be caused by the refraction of the light in the camera lens in both digital and in a standard film camera- particularly if you are filming directly into a light source or towards a reflective surface. Dust floating close to the lens will also catch sunlight and appear to be a ball of light. Digital camera have a short focal length so captures dust particles and droplets of rain close to the lens. These appear as brilliant balls of light and because of their varied size give the illusion that they are in perspective and a part of the scene photographed rather than happening close to the camera. This is particularly the case if the background is dark and the light source is from the side or when a flash has been used. Older digital cameras will misfire their diodes in low light to produce orbs in the final image. This is most likely to happen in low light such as in graveyards, dark haunted houses and inside tombs.

What about the moving orbs we see on TV programs?

We’ve seen the same effects appear on some of my own ghost hunts- a strange ball seems to float across the picture. Now it is quite possible that this is a paranormal phenomenon but it is probably more likely to be dust. Similarly if someone is smoking nearby then the smoke may well appear to look like spooks. I have spoken in the past to a camera man from the programme Most Haunted who claimed that the supposed phenomena on the programme simply mislead people and took advantage of camera effects known to most cameramen.

Is there such a thing as a real orb?

In some rare instances the orbs that appear on camera are hard to explain. For example why do orbs appear when a healer extends their powers but are absent when they stop healing. Why too do photographs of mediums working also result in photographs of orbs. And why do large numbers of orbs appear at spiritually significant events under conditions that would normally not allow for orbs to be created by dust, moisture or faulty cameras?


“To manufacture FAKE orbs use an old digital camera in a dusty or damp room and use a flash. To capture REAL orbs use a 35mm camera using photographic film with a standard lens in normal light. Do not use a flash.

In most instances orbs are caused by particles of dust and water caught in the very short focal length of digital cameras. They can also be caused by old cameras that have trouble functioning properly in low light or that have faults in one or more of the sensing diodes. It is best not to use flash as this can also create lens flare and other effects that can be mistaken for paranormal phenomena. To capture real orbs and spirit lights I would suggest taking pictures of healers and mediums as they are working to see if any special energies are revealed when they are using their powers.”

There is more about Orbs and Spirit lights in our new Psychic Training Manual that is offered as support material for people studying at our online psychic school. The above is an extract from my book ‘Psychic Protection’ – available below:


Article Name
How to spot a Fake Orb
How to tell if a ghost picture has been tampered with, photo-shopped or faked. This is a copyrighted extract from my press columns. Copyright Craig Hamilton-Parker
Spread the Word:

Meet the Author

Craig Hamilton-Parker

CRAIG HAMILTON-PARKER is a celebrated psychic medium who has confounded skeptics by the uncanny accuracy of his readings. Craig is the author of 15 books and together with his wife have their own TV series.

4 comments… add one
  • elizabeth brauer Apr 19, 2016, 5:42 am

    I took several pics on galaxy S6 cell phone in the park nearby at approximately 4:30 pm eastern time. I noticed small balls of light in quite a few and blew them up. They are different colors, only one per picture, but in common they are sphere shaped with what appears to be nobs on them symmetrically spaced. Can I send them for you to look at?

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Apr 22, 2016, 10:18 am

      I only accept ORB pictures for analysis through my magazine columns. There are links on the contact page of this website.

  • Charles Gamble Nov 20, 2014, 1:06 am

    I am studying mediumship at a spiritualist church. A few weeks ago, I saw a blue orb by the naked eye in broad daylight. It circled in front of me and around me for what seemed like a minute. I thought orbs can’t be seen by the naked eye. Well I saw them clearly.

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Nov 20, 2014, 3:04 pm

      Orbs are a camera effect. What I believe you could be describing is a ‘spirit light’ – these are normally seen by everyone in the room.If only you saw it – and the room was dark – then it could be caused by the firing of the retina at the back of the eye and be an optical effect. Hopefully you’ll get more of this and if you all see it simultaneously then it could be a ‘spirit light’. There’s a lot more about this in our own website training manual.

Leave a Comment

 characters available