Saturday, September 13, 2014

How to Create Orb Photos

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This blog post has been almost a year in the making.
I'm so excited to share ORB photos with you!
I came across orb photos on a photography forum and knew
I HAD to try them!

So, over many months, I created orbs whenever I was
photographing outside at night.

It's actually fairly easy and VERY fun to create orbs.
I started by following THIS TUTORIAL on
how to make the lights used to create the orbs.
My photography pal Lucy came over one winter afternoon
and we wired several colors.
I have no experience or talent for electricity or wiring,
but even I could follow these simple instructions.
Then we went down into my dark basement to try our hand at spinning the orbs.
We followed this great TUTORIAL from Evan at
 to learn how to spin the lights and capture it with the camera.
The biggest tip is to place something like a coin on the ground
and always aim to swing the lights over the coin.
That's the BIG trick to making a great orb!
The settings I use are:
ISO 100
Shutter Speed:  20 sec.
Aperature:  Between 8 and 16 (you will need to experiment
depending on your light.)
Use a strong flashlight to focus,
then turn off the autofocus on your lens.
Next, I introduced the orbs to our Photography Club
and we decided to make it our signature. 
We would take an orb photo on each field trip we took at night.
The first one that winter was the Big Red Lighthouse in Holland, Michigan.
Here's the first attempt by members who were just
learning to swing the lights...ha ha!
Since they did not move, you can see their ghosts.

One person, who will remain nameless,
could not catch on

Nope...they did NOT catch on!  ha ha!!!
I admit, it is a bit of a challenge to swing it over the same spot over and over.

So we kicked that person out of the shot and I spun this orb.
This is my favorite orb photo!

Our next try was on Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan in the summer.
We set up and practiced as the sun was setting.'s going to take lots of practice!
My sister and niece were just learning.

Notice that you can see the ghosts inside the orbs.
That's because it was still too light outside.
It's best to wait until about ten minutes after the sun dips
below the horizon when the sky is a rich, dark blue.

YEAH!  We pulled it together with THREE orbs!

Next, I brought the orb lights on my vacation to Napa Valley a few
weeks ago.
My friend Ellie was wonderful to help with the orbs
down by the hotel pool.

Shockingly, just a few hours after these photos were taken,
Napa was struck by a 6.0 earthquake...their largest in 25 years!
This very pool was swaying and sloshing!
I'm so grateful we were not doing these orb photos when the earthquake hit.
We could have hit our heads on the cement and
my camera would have crashed with the tripod!

Ellie caught on immediately and she tried swinging
two colors at once. 
In this amazing orb, she swung the colors at different lengths.
Great job, Ellie!!!

In this one with two colors, she swung them together
at the same length.

This last one was taken at Bay City's Wenona Park
on an outing with the photo club.
Where ever we do the orbs,
people come over to ask what we are doing
and they ooh and ahh when they see the results
in the camera.
I hope you will try this technique and have
a blast with it, too!



  1. No comment? I can´t believe it! Your pictures are great! So much fun to look at! I saw them the day we left for a 3-week-vacation trip to Ireland - couldn´t write a comment then.
    I like the one with the 3 different-colored balls on the beach in front of a pier most! Cool!
    At the moment I´m a bit overwhelmed with our about 3000 pictures (from my husband´s Canon DSLR and my Olympus mirrorless)... I hope I can post some of the best soon.
    Have a nice day today!

  2. Thanks so much, Ulina! The orbs are so much fun. I hope you can try them one day. Good luck with the vacation pics! : )