Dunning countered that an orb will simply appear when a piece of dust, drop of water or an insect floats into the frame just as the camera flashes. And if it’s close enough to the lens, the object will then appear bright yet blurry – a combination that creates the white, circular orb.
In fact, the practice of spotting – or even producing – ghosts in photos has been around for decades. And one of the most notorious peddlers of ghost photography was American William Mumler, a jewelry engraver who took pictures as a hobby. But it was a self-portrait that he developed in 1861 that presented a shocking result.
The photo, of course, showed Mumler in the forefront – but next to him hovered the form of a young woman. So the amateur photographer initially assumed that the female had transferred from an old negative. Yet others who viewed the image told Mumler that the woman looked like his cousin who had passed away. And then the spiritualist community caught wind of what Mumler had captured.