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Monday 21 May 2007

Strange grey blur and circles on photographs

These are three photographs that I took on 11 February 2004 at about 6pm. At the time I thought they were rather odd and sent them to a few friends. Now it seems that other people have experienced strange circles and ‘orbs’ on digital images, so I thought I would publish them with some information.

The camera, a Minolta E323, was pretty good at balancing a long exposure with flash and I was testing it out in the garden of the cottage that I visit. It’s really dark up there at night, as the village is fifty miles from the nearest city. The sky only looks blue on the first shot because the shutter stayed open for two seconds. The camera was on a tripod.

Strange grey blur on night time photograph

When I looked at the results, on this photo I saw the grey blur. I was wearing a grey hooded top at the time and at first I though maybe I had obscured part of the frame during the two second long exposure. It would be unusual, I can’t remember the last time I did that.

Anyway, it doesn’t seem to fit as an explanation. For something to be indistinct like that, either it is out of focus, moved during the exposure, or both. If the flash had caught me, the shape would be more sharply defined, due to the brief duration of the flash.

The house lights were off. If it was my arm or something, illuminated by the existing light, then I’m not at all sure my grey clothing would be that colour on the photo. The existing natural light would tend to be more blue than the flash (which is balanced for normal daylight).

Quite apart from that, the natural light was so dim that even the brightest part of the scene — the sky — only registered as a deep blue. Whereas I was standing in dark shadows at the back of the house. How could my arm appear that bright on the photograph?

Strange circle on night time photograph

Thirty-eight seconds later I took this shot from the same position. This full-size cropped section shows a small circle in front of the trees.

I went up to the top of the garden, which is where I took this shot.

Strange circle on night time photograph

Again a two-second long exposure and, looking at the shots later, I was surprised to see this bright grey circle. I can’t explain it and have always thought maybe it was a droplet of moisture or a speck of dust floating inside the camera.

I don’t see how the flash could illuminate something really tiny if it was immediately in front of the lens, because the flash is offset an inch or two from the lens on the camera body.

Last night I was on a forum and people were talking about ‘orbs’ and how they sometimes appear on digital photographs. One person wrote this:

‘I’ve noticed those orb things alot too. I work in a photolab and I’m to check each print that comes off individually (for content etc). We had this Jewish girl that came in with about 400 digital prints, of some sort of ceremony. They were in this old building then appeared to have travelled to Israel to visit a graveyard?

Well anyway, one of the old men in the photos had about 5-6 orbs around him in every single photo. No matter where his position in the photo, near or far, they were around him. Then what really caught my attention was the ceremony taking place in the graveyard. As the old man was doing something (covering his hand over his face and looking down – sorry I’m not clued up about Jewish practice!) there were literally millions of these orb things in the graveyard.

In some photos there were so many you could actually hardly see anything else!’

Coincidentally one of my cats is buried under the paving stones below the circle.

However, despite the weird things that tend to happen to me, I still think this is all probably related to digital cameras and the way they process and enhance the image data.

For anyone who is interested, here is the EXIF information for the three images:

Grey blur:

Original date/time: 2004:02:11 17:56:20
Exposure time: 200/100
F-stop: 2.8
ISO speed: 400
Focal length: 5.6000
Flash: 9
Orientation: Top-left
Light source: Unknown
Exposure bias: 0.0000
Metering mode: Pattern
Exposure program: Normal
Brightness: -0.1000
Digitized date/time: 2004:02:11 17:56:20
Modified date/time: 2004:02:11 17:56:20
Image description: MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Scene type: Photograph
User comment:
Compression: 6
Camera make: minolta Co., Ltd.
Camera model: DiMAGE E323
X resolution: 72.0000
Y resolution: 72.0000
Resolution unit: Inches
Camera version: Ver. 1.00
Colorspace: sRGB
File source: DSC

Small circle:

Original date/time: 2004:02:11 17:56:58
Exposure time: 200/100
F-stop: 2.8
ISO speed: 400
Focal length: 5.6000
Flash: 9
Orientation: Top-left
Light source: Unknown
Exposure bias: 0.0000
Metering mode: Pattern
Exposure program: Normal
Brightness: -0.1000
Digitized date/time: 2004:02:11 17:56:58
Modified date/time: 2004:02:11 17:56:58
Image description: MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Scene type: Photograph
User comment:
Compression: 6
Camera make: minolta Co., Ltd.
Camera model: DiMAGE E323
X resolution: 72.0000
Y resolution: 72.0000
Resolution unit: Inches
Camera version: Ver. 1.00
Colorspace: sRGB
File source: DSC

Large circle:

Original date/time: 2004:02:11 18:11:57
Exposure time: 200/100
F-stop: 2.8
ISO speed: 400
Focal length: 5.6000
Flash: 9
Orientation: Top-left
Light source: Unknown
Exposure bias: 0.0000
Metering mode: Pattern
Exposure program: Normal
Brightness: -0.1000
Digitized date/time: 2004:02:11 18:11:57
Modified date/time: 2004:02:11 18:11:57
Image description: MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Scene type: Photograph
User comment:
Compression: 6
Camera make: minolta Co., Ltd.
Camera model: DiMAGE E323
X resolution: 72.0000
Y resolution: 72.0000
Resolution unit: Inches
Camera version: Ver. 1.00
Colorspace: sRGB
File source: DSC

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Filed under: Photography,Strange — GS @ 12:29 pm

6 Comments »

  1. Hi, I have experienced these circle phenomenons aswell, cant say what it is, since they appear randomly, my gf took a lot of pictures at a wedding, and they seemed to come on a lot of photos, some smaller some a little bigger, her first thought was also some supernatural thinking, that I dont beleive, but I have a hard time explaining what it could be, I just took 45 pictures of my self, from around the same angle, and here only at 1 of the pictures there came a circle. this was with 2 different cameraes, and different producers, the one I have now is a Sony SuperShot DSC-W80.

    I would love to now what it could be, it has always been circles, never squares, and always somewhat perfect circles, which leads me to say that it is the camera making the circles somehow.

    Comment by Richard Kure
    Thursday 10 January 2008 @ 3:54 pm

  2.  
  3. Hi again, I googled the phenomenon, and I now beleive the cirles to be caused be dust and other small things like humidity and such. what made me beleive this was the site from the following link:
    http://pyrrho.s5.com/orbs.html

    Comment by Richard Kure
    Thursday 10 January 2008 @ 4:09 pm

  4.  
  5. Hi I definitely believe there’s a technical explanation. Maybe a droplet of moisture or speck of dust on the lens, catching the light that is reflected back from the scene.

    But, if its a lens/dust/mositure droplet thing, out of tens of thousands of photographs taken over the past 30 years on film, many with flash, many at night, I never saw this before. So I suspect it’s something to do with digital images and digital cameras.

    I’ll do some experiments!

    Comment by gary
    Friday 11 January 2008 @ 12:07 am

  6.  
  7. I have notice on my youngest son’s photos. they were three different months photos but they all came out same type and design.
    I asked my friend about it since she is very good with these kind said that they are dead person’s ring. She also sent me on website where these pop up many of them on photos. one more thing. This has connection or not but I just lost my oldest son in sudden death on 9/11/10…..

    Comment by Goro Hamasaki
    Sunday 12 September 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  8.  
  9. please any body can told me what is this
    its very strange circle
    me too i take a many photos by my new phone nokia n8
    its very clear and shining wit grey color
    i choosed it between many photos i have and i upload it
    i take in my brother house while the childrin is running and plying
    its appear on the wall :(
    take a look of this link and see it by your self :
    http://www.4shared.com/photo/jLOHZ2KM/strange_grey_circle.html

    Comment by mostafayooff
    Tuesday 9 November 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  10.  
  11. Hey my sister took a new photos here in Croatia(Europe) an one of them have strange grey circle too the same as I saw on this site ( Its under this sentence : I went up to the top of the garden, which is where I took this shot) so fck strange!!!

    Comment by alex
    Saturday 25 June 2011 @ 11:58 pm

  12.  

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