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Introduction and Chapter 1

How to Photograph the Paranormal
Leonore Sweet, Ph.D.

Seek and ye shall find. The world of paranormal photography is open to all who enter with an open mind. Photographing the paranormal is not difficult and does not require special training or complicated equipment. This book will increase your chances of success and teach you more than you ever wanted to know about the paranormal.

In 2000 I decided to seriously pursue the passion of my life--to find the answers to questions such as why we are here, what comes after death, and what at any given point is the "right" thing to do. A lifetime of seeking had persuaded me of nothing. I enrolled in American Pacific University's doctorate program in esoteric studies and was working on the core course books in March 2001 when a kind of light form I could not ignore appeared in two of my photographs. It seemed I had captured my sister's dog's spirit on film!

More lights introduced themselves into my photos and those of my brother Peter around deathbeds and loved ones; in cemeteries, churches, and movie theaters; above flowerbeds--in fact, practically everywhere. Peter and I both came alive with enthusiasm as we learned we could not only photograph our newfound friends, but interact with them as well. Life had never been so interesting.

Peter and I took thousands of pictures of everything, everywhere, to learn how to capture more glimpses into the mysterious world of orbs, vortexes, and ectoplasm. Herein you will find our pictures, and learn from our experiences and those of other orb hunters. We discuss cameras and equipment, as well as when, where, and how to photograph.

References to light forms began to leap from the pages of esoteric texts. They were mentioned on the Internet under myriad topics. I found them in mankind's earliest records; in modern-day religions; in long-lost ancient teachings; and on television, radio, and movies. The lights were something different to everyone. The movies my grandson and I watched persuaded me that Hollywood could not decide what orbs are either. In Brother Bear, the balls of light represent the spirits of the Indians' ancestors. The good witch in The Wizard of Oz flies away in an orb. In Cocoon, the orbs are aliens, and an alien and a human being leave Earth as orbs in K-Pax. Angels or guides in deep space appear as orbs watching the story unfold in It's a Wonderful Life. I became obsessed with the question: What are they?

You'll find that similar light forms are mentioned in literature on angels, UFOs, aliens, ghosts, interdimensional beings, magick, elementals, unidentified biological creatures, crop circles, and thought-forms. Inexplicable spheres and fogs appeared in some of the first photographs ever taken. Many psychics can see and communicate with these lights; channeled material frequently mentions light forms; and hypnotized subjects describe the lights as the forms we become between lives on Earth.

For centuries, ordinary folk have also seen visible lights worldwide and called them ghost lights, Will-o'-the-wisps, ball lightning, fairy lights, and hundreds of other names. Are these lights and the lights appearing in photographs the same phenomenon? Most recently, balls of light have been videotaped hovering around crop circles before and after they form. Do the orbs create these formations?

Why are there so many pictures of these invisible lights now? Ordinary cameras, especially digital cameras, can photograph spectra of light that are not visible to the human eye, and there is much we cannot see--our family pets see more than we do. These lights have apparently been cohabitating with mankind forever, and, like me, you may never have noticed.

I do not mean to present myself as an expert. I had the honor of knowing everything when I was seventeen, but nearly four decades later I realize the light forms have taught me I know next to nothing in the total scheme of things. Becoming convinced of the existence of an unseen world has left me in awe of how much there is for us to learn.

Although many psychics see orbs on a regular basis, I have never seen any light forms except when they became visible for an instant in the flash of a camera. I have never felt I had a direct link to God, Jesus, or any of the archangels. I cannot channel entities, do automatic writing, see visions, connect with my Higher Self, or even be hypnotized, try as I may. My glimpses of the mysterious have been mostly through the lens of a camera--a visual bridge created by digital technology. The camera enables us to see what only psychics could see before, but no one could prove.

The makings of this book came into my life as if by design, so I feel conscience-bound to share what I have found. I learned my greatest spiritual lesson from my search and found answers that I could embrace to countless questions. These questions and answers are the focus of this book:

  • Are the anomalies airborne particles, moisture, lens flare, spiderwebs, or bugs?

  • What are these orbs, vortexes, ectoplasm, shadow ghosts, and apparitions?

  • Do the balls of light and clouds reported by alien abductees suggest that the light forms are UFOs or aliens?

  • Practically every religion believes in angels. Could the light forms be guardian angels, guiding and protecting us?

  • orbs the Bible's "eyes of the Lord" that are always upon us?

  • Do we take the form of orbs between lives on Earth?

  • Do orbs seem to exhibit a preference for one church, religion, or denomination over another?

  • How do orbs figure in near-death experiences?

  • Are the light forms ghosts? Spirits? Souls? Demons?

  • Could balls of light be some form of unknown biology?

  • Are the light anomalies from another dimension here on Earth?

  • Are the lights thought-forms created by our unconscious minds? If so, are they whatever you think they are?

  • Could the lights be all of the above?

  • How do psychics see and communicate with orbs?

  • Can you talk to orbs and receive answers?

  • What makes light forms visible to the camera and to the human eye?

  • Are shadow ghosts evil?

  • Should we fear any of the light forms?

I do finally solve the mystery for myself but feel no need to force my belief upon anyone. I invite you to walk this path in your own moccasins and reach your own conclusions.


Chapter 1 Libby Lou's Demise

The death of a stray dog named Libby Lou changed the course of my life. My sister Ellen had found Libby wandering about, deserted and hungry, in 1987. Ellen adopted the waif and they spent thirteen years adoring each other. Libby's only goal was to please, and she never caused an ounce of trouble. She seemed to understand every word and obeyed any command.

In February of 2001, Ellen noticed Libby's lymph nodes were badly swollen. Her veterinarian diagnosed lymphoma and said she had around three weeks to live. Libby went blind shortly thereafter and stopped eating. Ellen called me on March 1 wailing, "I think it's time to put Libby down!"

I offered to go with Ellen and, as I left the house, I saw my 35mm camera sitting on the edge of the kitchen desk and grabbed it. Having always been interested in everything spiritual, I suspected animals have spirits and hoped to get a picture of Libby's. I had no reason to believe I would, but suddenly I was bound and determined to try. I brazenly asked the veterinarian if I could try to capture a picture of her spirit. He didn't reply. He just looked at me as if I were quite mad and started the procedure.

It didn't go well. Three injections and twenty horrible minutes later, sweet Libby took her last breath and I took the last two pictures out of five and then ran out of film. Figures 1 and 2 were taken on the same roll just minutes before Libby's passing, figure 3 shows Libby just after she passed, and figure 4 was taken around fifteen seconds later. The final two shots featured the same funnel-like cloud but with slightly different edges. (The duplication of this cloud eliminates the possibility of a light leak in the camera. Also, the mist did not extend past the frames of the pictures on the negatives.) No one was more surprised than I by these pictures. Ellen and I saw nothing in the room when Libby passed, and I had no intuitive feeling anything was in that room other than a lifeless dog and a veterinarian I hoped I would never see again.

To this day, I am not certain what that cloud and the black portion covering part of Ellen's face and sweatshirt represent. The mist seems to encircle Ellen and could be reaching towards her heart, as if comforting her. At first I was certain it was traveling upward. Now I wonder if it came down from above. Or both.

Libby's final pictures had a profound effect on members of my practical, down-to-earth family who had always tended to laugh at my spiritual leanings. They knew I was only capable of pushing the camera's shutter button and praying for the best. I am not known for my mechanical abilities. They also knew I could not and would not be inclined to alter the original photographs. It was a mystery. I thought it might even be the "proof" I had been seeking my entire life--proof, at the very least, there really are unknown forces at work on this planet.

Nearly two months later, my brother Peter shot a digital picture of his mother-in-law, Annabelle, seconds after she passed from cancer (see figures 5 and 6, center section). He expected another cloud and nearly missed the bubble above her body. (Later we found these bubbles are most commonly called orbs; the funnels like Libby's have been named vortexes; and the mist we were to capture later is most often labeled ectoplasm.) Our first orb brought to mind the twenty-one grams of weight humans reportedly lose the moment they pass on. The orb seemed a likely place for a little bit of Annabelle to go.

A few members of Annabelle's family objected to the use of her final picture, so I have obscured her face. I found it beautiful. Annabelle was a vibrant, lovely woman. It appears she left her cancer-ridden body and again became beautiful, colorful, and seemingly alive as an orb.

Since digital cameras don't waste film and money, frugal Peter began snapping pictures everywhere. He got pictures of orbs at the funeral home and in his family room. Figure 7 (center section) seems to be Annabelle's orb hiding behind her picture. The picture frame is casting a slight shadow on the orb. This picture appears grainy because it, like some others in this book, was lightened to make the orb and shadow more visible. Several times Peter spoke to the orb as if it were Annabelle, asking it where her friends were, and the next shot would be filled with fainter orbs. I didn't include those, however, lest skeptics call them pictures of dust. (We know, though, that Annabelle would not hang out with dusty friends!)

When Annabelle?s brother-in-law, Chet, passed the next month, Peter found orbs in Chet?s home, including one "sitting" in Chet's favorite chair where he spent most of his final days. This shot was our first clue that the orbs have a sense of humor. As Peter left the cemetery, orbs were posed at the entrance.

Now Peter, who feels discovery is what life is all about, was seriously hooked. I was delighted, because my big brother is the mechanical whiz of the family and I needed help with my new obsession. He led me into the world of digital cameras and processing my own pictures with my computer.

Most persons over forty years of age feel technology has left them in the dust. Digital cameras look and operate like normal cameras but require no film, and the pictures just taken, including any paranormal additions, appear instantly on the camera's view screen. The pictures are stored on a tiny disk (or some more recent invention) that can be placed in a device attached to the computer, or the camera itself can be connected to the computer to transfer the photos into a photo program.

Swallow your pride and ask one of your children or any neighbor kid how to do this. It is embarrassingly simple and getting easier all the time. Once you learn how to work with the software, you can edit and print your photos at home with no cost other than ink and paper.

Peter and I made the perfect investigative team for this endeavor. He flourishes in the worlds of science and science fiction. He is a tinkerer and builds everything--including his house, a television set, a cannon, and his furniture. On his tenth wedding anniversary, his wife commented he'd spent eight of those years in the garage.

I, on the other hand, enjoy writing and researching and studying anything religious or spiritual. Peter and I worked ten-hour days together in the family furniture business with our father and sister Ellen. We somehow found time nearly every evening to experiment with our orb photography and broke the monotony of our jobs by discussing our discoveries among ourselves and sometimes with open-minded customers. (My father was a well-known eccentric. They expected something like this from his children.) When I could no longer bear the boredom of the retail world, I retired to write my esoteric studies dissertation and this book.

Why were we getting pictures of things we could not see except for a brief moment in the flash of the camera? As I explain in more detail in chapter 3, certain films in regular (analog) cameras are more sensitive to infrared and ultraviolet spectrums of light than the human eye, where these light anomalies evidently reside. Digital cameras generally photograph further into these invisible spectra than film cameras, making them better tools for paranormal photography, in my opinion anyway. Ironically, science, in the form of digital technology, has seemingly invented a machine that sees into the world previously known only to psychics.

The invention of digital cameras seems to be responsible for this apparently new discovery and thousands of pictures of these light anomalies are appearing worldwide, but similar light forms have appeared since photography was invented. I feel digitals capture a greater number because people take many more digital photos (Peter and I took thousands) and because digitals record more things that the human eye cannot see.

I cannot imagine paying to develop roll after roll of regular film from an orb hunt when nearly all of the prints could be less-than-inspiring pictures of darkness. (Paranormal pictures are easier to capture at night.) Digital cameras save us that embarrassment. The display monitors of digitals provide instant feedback as to where the orbs are.

I soon found that these anomalies in pictures are not entirely new. A search through my old photo albums uncovered a dozen or so shots I totally discounted at the time as some sort of camera problem. These photos are as inexplicable as any I've taken recently. They were taken with several different film cameras before I bought two digitals in 2001. Digital camera technology was invented in 1951 by the television industry, and the cameras were first introduced to the consumer market in the mid-1990s. (All pictures in this book that were not taken with a digital were taken with a 35mm camera before I was seeking light pictures.)

Peter and I took thousands of photos and accumulated hundreds of paranormal photographs in one year. "The Orbs and Company" never failed to entertain us, and they consistently amazed us with their intelligence, ingenuity, and sense of humor.

I had been putting off writing about my photographs until I could give a definitive answer as to who or what they are. I have since realized I may never have that answer. So, instead, I have decided to investigate the theories, and there are many. The Internet is loaded with opinions, as are paranormal television shows, religious groups, spiritualists, UFO enthusiasts, ghost hunters, skeptics, crop circle watchers, and newly published books and videos.

The Internet has had some websites featuring one or two lonely, inexplicable pictures. There are also websites claiming that all of these shots are of camera straps, fingers, rain, snow, helium gas, light refractions, lens flare, spider silk, bugs, camera problems, airborne particles, or other natural phenomena.

I have been gathering information on light pictures for three years and regularly find new avenues of research. I remain convinced a great number, anywhere from 5 percent to 50 percent, of these photographs are unexplained mysteries. A growing number of persons around the world agree with me, but many of these same folks are at odds with each other. Some decided early on based on their own conclusions or were told (sometimes by supernatural sources) what these photographs were and cannot accept any other explanation. They believe all light anomalies can be attributed to any or all of the following:
  • Pictures of dust, moisture, lens flare, spiderwebs, pollen, mold, breath, insects, hair, ash, fingers, lens spots, camera flaws, developing flaws, or camera straps

  • Demons or the work of the Devil

  • Earth lights, ghost lights, will-o'-the-wisps, ball lightning, or one of their many other names throughout history

  • Thermal plasma

  • A product of electromagnetic energy

  • Aliens or UFOs

  • Angels, guardian angels, nature spirits, or spirit guides

  • Spiritual extensions or the higher selves of those existing on Earth

  • Ghosts, spirits, incoming souls, or earthbound souls

  • Crop circle creators bringing sacred geometry to raise human consciousness

  • A form of unknown biology

  • Interdimensional beings

  • Thought-forms, elementals, or creations of the unconscious mind

There are seekers throughout the world attempting to explain these mysteries. Remember the old saying, "The mind is like an umbrella. It won't work unless it's open." We are trying on these different theories to see which ones fit. My hope is that scientists and theologians will eventually agree on what the Orbs and Company are. Albert Einstein, who became so spiritual near the end of his life that his last writings were discounted, wrote, "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." Perhaps another Einstein could solve this puzzle that many feel could finally unite science and religion, or at least science and spirituality. Maybe, as I will explain later, quantum physicists are on their way already. Traditional scientists would call most of my personally meaningful photos coincidences. I have come to believe there are no accidents, and coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous.

There are so many pictures of light anomalies floating about these days that, once other causes are ruled out, I don't feel a need to prove their authenticity. My goal is to teach others how to take their own paranormal photographs. When people actually interact with these intelligent beings, even the most stubborn skeptics will think twice before debunking them. I believe they are real and "alive" because I have had intelligent interactions with them. At times they seem to read my thoughts, but, so far, they haven't answered my questions. In fact, my list of questions is growing faster than definitive answers. Please join me in my search. ...

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