An Orbituary




My sister is staring pop-eyed at the the photos I’m showing her.


“Orbs! You’ve got orbs—”

That doesn’t sound good. In fact it sounds painful—orbs—can it be cured? Is it terminal? Why didn’t I feel them befor—

She’s flapping the photo wildly under my nose. People do that, waaaay too close to focus so all I get to see is an enthusiastic blur. Nice breeze.

“Orbs! See the white blobs? Those are orbs. Oooooh, you’re so lucky!”

Oh goody. Thank heavens for that—it’s not me that’s got orbs, it’s the camera.

Damn. That might be expensive—

“Yes, old fella?”

“My camera seems to have a bad case of orbs—can it be fixed?”

“Orbs? Oh dear … that sounds like pixelitis—we might have to operate; replace the sensor screen and circuits. Leave it with us and we’ll do some exploratory work … do you have camerical insurance?”


“If not it may be cheaper simply to replace the lens, guts, and shell—”


“—but you get to keep the strap. It’s cheaper than replacing the whole camera.”

“Orbs!” Now she’s getting emphatic, which means in sibling-speak “Shut up and listen. Don’t interrupt.”

I switch to Receive and set myself to Passive Mode to receive pearls of wisdom.

“Orbs are spiritual energies that sometimes manifest themselves on camera. They’re invisible.”

Damn. Long focal range I may be, but blind I ain’t.


“And this photo especially has orbs. Look, it’s covered with them.”

I remember that shot. Last winter, it was snowing in the middle of the night so I went outside and flashed the falling flakes against infinity. Froze ’em in their fluttering little tracks I did.

“And this one in your kitchen—”

Aaaah, yes. Spouse was doing a stir-steam at the time (like a stir-fry but wetter); the shot was taken soon after she added the first deluge and tossed.

Why were so many spiritual energies manifesting in our kitchen at the time? Aren’t spirits meant to wait around for lighted candles and fingertips on wineglasses? Or do the Chinese have it right with their Festival Of The Hungry Ghosts? Was I being a bit inhospitable in not inviting them to float down at the table and join us for dinn—


She’s still transmitting—

“And this one at your barbecue … great orb there, see it?”

That was before we got the gas barbecue, when I used to carbonise everything over hot coals. Great crunch, though. It was a fine drizzly rain that evening, sufficient to keep everyone but the family idiot under cover. I had a good coat though and didn’t get too soaked. (Our barbecued bananas for dessert ended up more steamed than charred but still went down a treat.)

Orbs, apparently, manifest when people are happily taking lots of photos. Also they seem to be a fairly recent phenomenon—none of my film photos going back decades (generations, actually) show any orbs. Wait, spiritual and happy, she said. So where does one find spirits? Liquor store spring readily to mind but I squash the thought, I know she’ll bop me with the nearest blunt object if I voice it. Aha~! Graveyards are full of bodies, so possibly cemeteries would be rife with spirits of the deceased nostalgically hanging around instead of going where they should? Oops. Happy, she said. Are cemeteries happy places? I know I’d be happy living in one, or next door, the dead would be ideal neighbours—no noisy parties, no car doors slamming, no overloud domestic arguments, no barking dogs or revving engines, no screaming kids, no smoke from smouldering hemp—

Possibly not. The places might come alive at night with all the blasted photographers and their damned digital cameras desperately shooting off miles of film (oops, digits) trying to freeze happy orbs in mid float …

The thought gives me an idea. Tonight after dark I’ll visit our local graveyards and shoot off oodles of snaps whilst thinking orbs. I’ll publish on this site any shots of interest:  if any orbs do show up you may rest assured that they weren’t put in there by anything I did with PhotoTweaker or anything of that ilk. What you’ll get is what I got.


Brrrrr~! I may just have to rethink my theory, which is to the effect that ‘orbs’ are simply floating dust or moisture particles acting as reflective lenses to the flash.

A spiritual mote in the eye of technology, as it were.





4 thoughts on “An Orbituary

  1. Before you say it, yes, I know: Why didn’t orbs appear on film when flash was fired under identical conditions?

    Perhaps it’s an artefact of pixels rather than micro-crystals, or something. But you have a valid point …

    1. I did once take a photo in that graveyard (but because I’ve lost it I never mention it) that really was spooky!

      And no orbs were harmed or injured in the taking of any of my images …

  2. I got some nice shots of tombstones and concrete angels, but nary an orb in sight (maybe it was something I ate).

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