Let me start by saying that both Chris and I love reader emails.  Should any of you ever have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to pass them along.  Our email addresses can be found, of course, by navigating to the Who are we? tab at the top of any page.

Our latest bit of correspondence comes from Lee Ann in Maryland.  Though she writes to us from a location a bit outside of our usual focus area, her questions regarding a set of potentially paranormal photos are universal ones and certainly merit sharing here.

Her initial email is below:

Subject: I have some orb and a possible apparition face pics I’d love looked at
From: “Lee Ann [Redacted]” <[redacted]@[redacted].com>
Date: Sun, Jul 06, 2008 12:48 pm
To: <katie@newenglandoddities.com>

Hi Katie,

I got your email from the New England Oddities web site. I went on a ghost tour in Ellicott City, Maryland a few weeks ago and tok some pictures with my digital camera.

When I got home and downloaded the pics to my computer I discovered many pictures had orbs. Some pics only 1-5, but a series of four pictures snapped within one minute show many, many orbs.

Then, there is the picture that I snapped of a storefront window that has a clear image of a womans face looking out from the inside. The store was empty, closed and dark and I didn’t see anyone when I took the picture.

Do you know of anyone who would take a look at these pics and give me their opinion of what they see?

I am no camera buff, I can only snap and take a picture. The pictures haven’t been retouched in any way.

I’m now fascinated by the orbs and the woman’s face – and would really like to know what someone who has more knowledge in the world of the paranormal thinks about them.

Warm regards,

Lee Ann [Redacted]

My reply:

Subject: RE: I have some orb and a possible apparition face pics I’d love looked at
From: katie@newenglandoddities.com
Date: Tue, Jul 08, 2008 5:43 pm
To: “Lee Ann [Redacted]” <[redacted]@[redacted].com>
Hi,

If you would like, you may send them to us. We would be happy to give you our (non-expert) opinion.

Also, if you are comfortable with online forums, the folks over at the Unexplained Mysteries forum (www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum) are never shy with their opinions on potential paranormal evidence.

Thanks for reading,
~Katie

Lee Ann’s explanation and attached photos landed in my inbox shortly afterward:

Subject: FW: pictures from Ellicott City Maryand
From: “Lee Ann [Redacted]” <[redacted]@[redacted].com>
Date: Tue, Jul 08, 2008 10:49 pm
To: <katie@newenglandoddities.com>

Katie,

Thanks for offering to take a look at these. I’m just so curious now that these showed up on my camera. And, I know that I was there in person and didn’t see any of the orbs floating or the face in the window, but yet they show up in a picture. Strange.

For some back story, the tour was Friday the 20th of June, the moon was almost full and there was a woman who is a Wiccan on our tour.

For all these pics, all I do is lighten the exposure on my iPhoto program on my Mac and change the contrast to see all that I’m describing…

Pic 3210 is the first one that I attempted to catch the bell tower. I did use a flash however, the sky was still very light and I could clearly see the bell tower. When you lighten the exposure many more orbs come into view and you can see the shadow of the bell tower.

This was shot at 8:10.

Pic 3211 was shot twelve seconds later. Pic 3212 ten seconds later, pic 3213 twelve seconds later – 3213 is the “orbfest”!!

Picture 3216 has just one orb and the woman in the picture is the Wiccan..

3222 taken at 8:17:47 has few orbs, 3223 taken ten seconds later, clear orbs..

3228 snapped at 8:19:25 bright light near man’s face – he is the tour guide telling us about the spirits.. just thought I’d include it.

3231 snapped at 8:23 one orb in top right corner of building

3233 snapped at 8:25:14 This is the pic with the face. You can see it right above the frog head and below the colored crystals. This was not a stop on the tour, we just liked the window display. The glass is on the inside of the store. I am standing outside, so there is glass between me and the glass with the reflection of the face. So, I don’t know that someone standing next to me could reflect in that glass and not on the glass of the window front, but I’m no expert.

3234 snapped at 8:25:23 Nine seconds later, face may be there, but distorted.

3251 snapped at 8:43 one orb between window at left and the next one to it.

3255 snapped at 8:46:16 one orb above door on blue building in the middle

3256 snapped at 8:48:30 same orb? Now appearing on dentil molding on same building

3263 snapped at 8:52 orb on mans face under the sign books

3268 snapped at 9:28 orb over window above womens heads??

3248 snapped at 8:37:13 orb floating at top of pic between two buildings and one on the green roof over the stairs?

Lee Ann [Redacted]

Her photos are below.  Click on any photo to open full size; use the back button on your browser to return to this page.

My reply, including my non-expert analysis, below:

Subject: RE: FW: pictures from Ellicott City Maryand
From: katie@newenglandoddities.com
Date: Mon, Jul 21, 2008 8:50 pm
To: “Lee Ann [Redacted]” <[redacted]@[redacted].com>

Hi Lee Ann –

I apologize for the long delay, it has been a rather hectic few weeks. I hope you have been well.

I’ve shown the pictures you sent to a few associates who are also involved with this field, and they have come to the same conclusions that I have. Most of the pictures appear to show artifacts inherent in digital flash photography – reflections of dust or floating particles illuminated by the flash and blurred by their presence just to the front of the available depth of field. The photos you sent to me that include multiple or dim orbs would appear to be this type.

However, a couple of the photographs do not fit so easily into this category. The first picture in question is number 3262, the crowd shot. The man with the blue and green striped shirt seems to have an orb over his face which appears not to be dust or debris, but rather a spot of distortion that we can’t explain away using the normal terms. The other picture in question is number 3212, which, though it contains many small, pale orbs, also contains one large, very bright one to the far left of the frame.

I won’t say that these orbs definitely signify a paranormal occurrence, but I will say that they are – as yet – unexplained.

Did you happen to feel, see or hear anything out of the ordinary when you took these pictures? Did anyone else in the group? Are these specific locations known for any particular activity?

Orbs are most useful in photography when they corroborate one’s own visual experiences or other collected measurements and evidence. Without other data or personal experiences from the same time and place, there will always be doubt as to their evidentiary merit.

Thank you very much for sending these to me; I hope my explanation has helpful. We both welcome any other questions and comments you may have.

Also, if you would like me to post our dialog to www.newenglandoddities.com to invite further commentary from other interested parties, let me know.

Never give up the chase,

~Katie

Lee Ann’s reply below:

Subject: RE: FW: pictures from Ellicott City Maryand
From: “Lee Ann [Redacted]” <[redacted]@[redacted].com>
Date: Mon, Jul 21, 2008 9:13 pm
To: <katie@newenglandoddities.com>

Hi Katie,

[…]There was a woman in the group who is a Wiccan and she seemed to have a sense of something odd. A few people had instances of their cameras not functioning properly. These locations are on a ghost walk and there have been many reports of spirits in this area.

Specifically in pictures 3210-3213 when 3-4 of us were trying so snap the pictures our cameras all gave us problems at the same time. In my case, it took a long time for the picture to “take” – I had to keep my finger on the button much longer than usual. However, when I turned 45 degrees, and took of apicture of a building with the same sky in the background – the picture “took” right away, in the normal amount of time pressing the button. What our cameras were all pointing at was a bell tower that was a supposed hotbed of unexplained activity. And, in those 4 pictures there are so many orbs…

3 or 4 other women said that there cameras wouldn’t even work when they pointed them at the bell tower.

It’s funny that the unexplained orbs look like the ones that you say would be dusts or pollen. Why is that? Just curious, not doubting your explanation.

Also in picture #3233 did you see the face that seems to be looking out of the store right above the frog head and below the colored crystals? I have to lighten the contrast to see it, but as soon as I do – it comes pretty clearly into view. I couldn’t understand how that could be a reflection from us on the outside of the store because the reflection would have to travel through one pane of glass and I would think would become distorted.

Thank you so much for taking the time. It’s cool that at least a couple were unexplained…

And, if you get a chance, let me know about that face. That’s one picture that I find very odd…

[…] Sure – go ahead and post it – that would be great. Would they be able to see the pictures also?

Lee Ann

So, I formally invite readers of this site to help me help Lee Ann out with this. Please voice your opinions in the comments section below. As usual, all opinions are welcome, just keep it civil and on-topic.

From the Mailbox: Orbs in Maryland
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3 thoughts on “From the Mailbox: Orbs in Maryland

  • Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 11:25 am
    Permalink

    I think your analysis is spot on. Most of those look like dust. The bright blue one in the really dark picture is an odd shape though. If any are real I’d say that one.

  • Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm
    Permalink

    Mark – thanks for your input. I just can’t decide about that bright blue one.

    Thanks for reading :)

  • Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 4:07 pm
    Permalink

    I see the face in the window. Was there somebody else there when she took the picture? If not–creepy!!

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