The First Photo Ever Taken of a Mysterious Orb?

Mysterious orbs were recently in the news. A mainstream news report from a few weeks ago has this title: "Mysterious 'flying white circles' reported over New Jersey." We see a baffling video showing strange orbs in the sky. According to the page here, in the records of the National UFO Reporting Center there were 7900 descriptions of UFOs as "spheres," 12,456 descriptions of UFOs as "circles," and 9016 descriptions of UFOs as "fireballs," versus only 7414 descriptions of UFOs as "disks." 

Mysterious orbs have been around for decades. For decades orbs have appeared in photos taken by ordinary people. Such orbs have appeared abundantly in indoor photos and outdoor photos.  Typical indoor photos of mysterious orbs are taken in normal clean dry air.  

Claims that such orbs only appear under dusty conditions or moist conditions are not at all true. I have got many thousands of mysterious orbs in a rich variety of colors (including white, green, yellow, blue, pink, and purple) when I took photos both outdoors in clean dry air and indoors in clean dry air.  A careful analysis of the size of dust particles indoors and outdoors (such as the one here) will provide no support for claims that mysterious orbs in photos are mainly produced by the dust particles in air.  The average dust particle size indoors is about 10 microns, less than a millionth of the fingernail-sized area right in front of a camera lens -- way too small to make a decent-sized orb in a photo, regardless of whether a flash is used.  The average dust particle outdoors is only 1 micron, way, way too small to produce an orb in a photo, regardless of whether a flash is produced.  In normal air dust particles are basically invisible to still photography, and the only way you can photograph them in normal air is by  taking a video and sticking a high-beam flashlight under your lens (a technique that neither I nor any other sensible orb photographer uses).  Water vapor particles are no bigger than dust particles in normal air (although in heavy fog or misty weather such particles are way bigger and may appear in photos). 

One remarkable aspect of mysterious orbs is the appearance of very rapid motion, an effect I have got over 700 times (mostly indoors in normal dry air that had no insects).  Below is an example of a photo I took in 2015, in which we seem to see five different position states of an extremely fast moving pink orb in Grand Central Terminal in New York. You can see more than 700 of my photos of speeding orbs by using the link here and continuing to press Older Posts at the bottom right.  For a smaller subset showing 97 photos of a "string of pearls" effect like the one shown below, use this link. This phenomenon of speeding orbs has been photographed by many other photographers.  Speeding orbs often appear in vivid colors such as blue or pink. Using the link here you can see nearly 200 photos I took of speeding blue orbs. 

moving orb

Another remarkable aspect of mysterious orbs is the appearance of dramatically striped orbs. I have published more than 800 photos of mysterious striped orbs with very clear stripes (which you can view very conveniently by reading the free online book here or by looking at the blog post series here and continuing to press Older Posts at the bottom right). Prior to the time I started publishing such photos, no one ever stated, predicted or insinuated that stripes would appear in photos of dust particles or water vapor particles. So we cannot at all explain such photos through any dust or water particle hypothesis.  What we have in such photos is a dramatically novel and very unexpected observational phenomenon beyond current explanation. 

A particularly dramatic aspect of the orb phenomenon is pattern repetition, where we see a distinctive pattern repeating in a way that we would never expect to occur by chance. I have got such an effect in two ways:

(1) I have got a moderately abundant repetition effect in which striped orbs that I photograph in clean dry air tend to repeat the same distinctive stripe pattern multiple times, sometimes with ten or more repetitions (on different days) of the same very distinctive pattern. You can see that effect by looking at the summary post here

(2) I have also got a super-abundant pattern repetition effect occurring during the photography of ordinary falling drops of pure, clean water, in which some very distinctive and extremely noticeable orb pattern will start appearing three or more times (usually five or more times) in the same photograph, with such a very conspicuous effect usually  persisting most massively through most of dozens, hundreds or thousands of consecutive photos, with there occurring a degree of pattern repetition so improbable we would expect no observer in the observable universe to ever get so many repetitions by chance.  I have got such an effect on several hundred different photography days. You can see such an effect by looking at the thousands of photos in the free online book here, or by using the link here and continuing to press Older Posts at the bottom right. 

But enough about what is happening these days in the strange world of orb photography. Let's look backwards, and ask: what was the first mysterious orb that ever showed up in a photo?

Hippolyte Baraduc was a paranormal investigator. At we can read in English his book The Human Soul: Its Movements, Its Lights and Its Iconography of the Fluidic Invisible, a book with some interesting photos mixed with lots of dogmatic speculative metaphysics.  Baraduc also wrote a book in the French language, one entitled "The vibrations of human vitality: biometric method applied to sensitive and neurotics." The 1904 book can be read here. (The site incorrectly lists Baraduc's death as occurring in 1902, but he actually died in 1909.)

In that book on page 271 we see what may well be the first photo of a mysterious orb ever published. It is shown below:

first orb photo

At the top of the photo we see a mysterious orb floating, one looking like the orbs so often showing up in modern photos. The author makes comments that seem to be largely his own speculations. 

Below is the translation of the photo caption I get using Google translate: "Experimental release and momentance of the Azure ball of the spiritual body out of the Ether and the flesh showing the persistent link with the body, the thread of existence." The photo in the book is black and white, but the caption refers to an azure ball, meaning the orb was apparently blue. We don't know whether the blue description came from the photographer seeing a blue orb with his eyes, or having a blue orb show up in a color photo.

Blue orbs are one of the most common colors of mysterious orbs. I have personally photographed more than 1400 blue orbs in clean dry air, as you can see by using the link here, and continuing to press "Older Posts" at the bottom right. Below is an example I took in 2019 (as reported here), one showing a blue orb near an office building. Getting orbs from dust particles during outdoor photography is particularly unlikely, because average particle sizes are very much smaller outdoors, with an average size of only about 1 micron, much less than a millionth of the fingernail-sized area right in front of a camera lens. A typical dust particle outdoors will be invisible, because it blocks less than a millionth of the total area right in front of the camera lens.

night orb

Very many of the blue orbs I have photographed have had prominent stripes. At the link here you can see 65 photos I took of mysterious striped blue orbs. Below is an example, a photo I took at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The orb not only has a stripe, but a very distinctive type of stripe called a shadow stripe, a type of stripe I have photographed 90+ times (as shown here). The site here defines a shadow stripe as "a main stripe that is surrounded by one or more other, thinner stripes, creating the effect of a shadow."

orb shadow stripe

Returning to the topic of Baraduc and his photo shown above (possibly the first mysterious orb photo ever taken), here is how Google Translate translates the book text above the very old photo shown in the book page above:

"The experiment was made in May or June 1903; it lasted a few minutes; then ethereal forces acting for 5 minutes re-invade M "** S. cold, icy; without being touched, she is infused with new telepathic and invisible forces; she wakes her unconscious, ignorant, quickly revived by her cerebral energy. It is one of the most curious experimental studies made of the Super-Being, above the body, outside the Ether, in a person who is both an excellent spiritualistic medium and a great artist of temperament."

Baraduc was very interested in getting photographic evidence of the human soul. He photographed the death of his son and the death of his wife. In both cases the photos show mysterious clouds over the bodies at the time of death. You can see the photos here.

Observers have sometimes claimed to have seen such a cloud or mist at the time of death. On page 33 of a volume of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, we have an account of a woman who saw a vaporous form seem to emerge from her father-in-law's body when he died (following the link may require a Google login):

"He smiled , but said nothing, gave a sort of a sigh and puffed his breath out through his lips . The breath seemed to form a cloud, as breath does often in cold weather, and floated upward and away from him . She followed the cloud, which was of no definite shape,  for a few seconds with her eyes, and then turned to look down again at Mr . Baldwin and noted a sort of settled look that had come over his face and body . She had seen few people pass out , but felt that he had done so , and she called to Mr. Baldwin, Jr ., her husband , to come in,  for she thought their father had died , which proved to be the case."

In the extremely interesting year 2000 book One Last Hug Before I Go by Carla Wills-Brandon, we read on pages 12-13 the following account:

"The paramedics had arrived, but Dad and I knew they were too late. I sat there with my mother as she died and watched this gray wisp of vapor leave her body. As it disappeared, I knew Mother was gone."

On the same page we read of a witness reporting "a swirl of pastel color" arising from the chest of a dying person. 

Similarly on page 215 we hear an account by a nurse who claims to have seen "a white cloud sort of hanging over the woman's bed," a woman who was dying of a terminal illness.  On page 385 of the long and very interesting paper here, we read of a gravely ill man who was "conscious of something like a fleecy ball releasing itself from his physical form," with the man reporting he "distinctly saw my dead body lying upon the bed."  On page 386 we read this:

"While waiting for the return of his companions, Mr. Bertrand apparently began to freeze to death, such that he was unable to rouse himself. After a brief moment of acute pain, he suddenly found himself  'a ball of air in the air, a captive balloon still attached to earth by a kind of elastic string and going up and always up. How strange! I see better than ever, and I am dead.... Looking down, I was astounded to recognise my own envelope.' "

Similarly on page 108 of Sir William Barrett's Deathbed Visions we read this account:

"He says that at about 3.30 p.m. he and his wife were standing one on each side of the bed and bending over their dying son, when just as his breathing ceased they both saw 'something rise as it were from his face like a delicate veil or mist, and slowly pass away.' He adds, 'We were deeply impressed and remarked, ‘How wonderful! Surely that must be the departure of his spirit.' "

Baraduc threw around his metaphysical speculations with dogmatic confidence, but I cannot confidently offer any explanation for the multiple mysteries of mysterious orbs. I regard the source of such anomalies as something beyond our current understanding.  

Postscript: At the site here you can see a large collection of remarkable photos taken between 1918 and 1945. We are told the collection "details Dr. T.G. (Thomas Glendenning) and Lillian Hamilton's investigations of psychic phenomena in their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba between 1918 and 1945."  A photo I find very interesting is the photo below (click here to see the original source). It is entitled "Katie's Shining Garment." 

first speeding orb photo

What I find interesting here is what we see on the bottom right. It looks exactly like an effect I have got 97 times, and have labeled as an "orb string of pearls" effect. It resembles what we might expect to see if an orb was moving very fast, so that the camera caught multiple position states of the orb. In this photo the line of the orb reaches the edge of the photo, but in almost all of my 97 photos of such an effect the line does not reach the edge of the photo; and such photos cannot be explained as a hair protruding in front of the camera. See the first photo in the post for an example of one of my "orb string of pearls" photos, and note how it resembles what we see in the bottom right of the photo above.