On the first Sunday in April, and after a great deal of effort that left me battered, bruised and very, very dirty, I 'accidentally' fell into an underground tunnel system (er, possibly closed to the public) know as the North Center Bastion (Annotated Aerial View showing main tunnel systems, drawbridges, etc.)
The fall was due to some clot having partially excavated the tunnel floor since my last visit, years and years ago. Anyway, after picking myself up and wringing out one jacket pocket as a result of the component parts of my juice container deciding to go different ways, I then checked the other pocket to see how things had fared there.
Not only was nothing else broken, but I was amazed to find I was carrying a torch, digital camera, spare batteries, and various other items condusive to exploring and photographing supposedly impenetrable underground tunnel systems. "Hey," I thought, "That's handy, I might as well take some pics while I'm here then.."
This is image number 11, it doesn't look much (and probably isn't):
(please note all images are copyright)
The following extracts are from the Comment appended to the photo webpage:
"This photo of Tunnel 1 (looking north and downwards towards the Caponnier) has a 'smokey effect' in the first archway. The tunnel is actually very dark and the apparent illumination is entirely due to the flash.
When I first looked at this image after loading it on to my computer yesterday, I zoomed in to see what the 'smokiness' was because there was nothing showing on the two preceding pictures taken from further up the tunnel (behind the viewer).
To my eyes, the top part of the blue smokiness looks quite like a sideview of a child's head and upper body.
Don't get me wrong, I don't (yet) believe in esoteric things like astrology, ghosts, etc., but I can see how unexpected results like this can give rise to such speculations - I'll probably be more receptive to "Oh that effect is well known, it's caused by..." rather than "Oh my God - that's a Ghost!!".
The smokiness is obviously clearer on the "original size" but the best way to view it (in my humble opinion) is to save the original size image and then use a viewer with a variable zoom (my Windows Viewer allows use of the mouse wheel for this).
It was only as a result of rapidly zooming in and out that I felt (deletes "stupid") brave enough to put pen to paper (ok, finger to letter key) and describe the image as anything other than Underground tunnel leading to the Caponnier."
The second 'optical oddity' that appeared on the photos I took I originally thought of as 'Blue Spots' (primary characteristic) and 'Soap Bubbles' (secondary).
A little research revealed that the spots are more commonly referred to as 'Orbs' - as you all know but I'd never heard of 'til now - which some paranormal enthusiasts apparently believe to be the "Basic Spirit Form" (BSF), the first stage in a manifestation. The orb being the most energy-efficent shape.
Below are two images showing 'reasonably solid' blue orbs (again, the best way to see them is in a viewer with variable zoom). The first has the secondary characteristic of additional transparent discs, one of which - on the righthand side of the photo - clearly has the blueness and tinged edge of the main orb:
The second image has a single 'solid' blue orb which enthusiasts argue are less likely to be explained by the following:
With the advent of digital photography numerous images with orbs appeared on the internet and Canon were so inundated with queries that they issued a technical letter which begins:
We have checked your camera and are happy that the camera meets all design specification.
The problem you have been experiencing is due to a phenomenon not associated with the camera.
When a picture is taken and reviewed afterwards, circular spots may be noticed on the picture. The problem does not occur with every picture. Additionally, the spots are randomly positioned throughout the picture. Highest concentration is in aareas closest to the flash unit when the picture was made.
The cause of the problem is common to a lot of digital cameras with small CCDs, not just the Canon digital cameras. Such digital cameras have a greater depth of field compared to 35mm cameras, due to their smaller focal distance. This in even higher degree when the camera is set to wide angle.
Because of the above, small dust particles, droplets of water, etc., drifting in the air close to the camera and not within depth of field for normal 35mm cameras, are within depth of field for digital cameras. Under normal circumstances this is not too big a problem, as these are very small.
When flash is used, its light illuminates these dust particles or water droplets, and these therefore show up and are extemely obvious on pictures taken. The problem is worsened, because the flash unit is positioned close to the lens barrel.
Another Canon letter states (under 'User Comments'):
When shooting with flash, you may notice areas sometimes described as ?orbs? or ?spots? appearing in the picture in front of your subject. These ?orbs? or ?spots? usually appear as bright white or gray out-of-focus spots. The ?orbs? or ?spots? are generally caused by particles in the air that reflect the flash. Examples of these particles include but are not limited to; dust, sawdust, snowflakes, rain or even insects that reflect light. The brightness of these ?orbs? or ?spots? will vary depending on the distance from the camera?s flash, the closer they are to the camera the brighter they will appear.
There are orbs and there are orbs and a lot of the internet images I've seen on the internet I immediately dismissed as being (almost obviously) moisture. Those of Dover's North Center Bastion are different to the photographic images shown in the first Canon letter and do not fit the descriptions of the second.
This does not mean I'm arguing the case for a supernatural explanation. Indeed, another possibility for (some of) the North Center Bastion's secondary orbs is that they are spores: in one completely detached tunnel system (not shown on the annotated map) a white fungus grows which clings to the walls like a fine layer of snow - perhaps there are some colonies in the tunnels where the photos were taken.
Einstein said "Imagination is more important than knowledge", a statement which I relate to - particularly when the 'flights of imagination' are an explorable extension of a known reality, rather than fulfillment of an unacknowledged psychological need. That is the case I'm arguing for :)
I have another image with an even smaller blue orb on, others with only various sized transparent discs, which I may upload later.
John Latter / Jorolat
The Grand Shaft from the inside.