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Thread: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

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    Dragonking's Avatar
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    Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    I wonder if anybody can explain why what seem like "light bubbles" appear in flash photographs. I have never noticed it before but in one flash photograph taken recently in a large public space they are obvious and many. I have a Panasonic FZ150 and the manual mentions this effect, says its not a fault with the camera and specifies it's caused by reflections from dust in the air. How is it caused though? (Please dont comment on the quality/ composition of the picture, I know it's awful).
    On careful examination of previous flash shots of mine and a friends photos, they are present but I have not noticed them before.

    Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    As stated in the manual they are caused by particles of dust in the air in front of the camera. Because they are relatively close to the flash on the camera they are very brightly lit. They are also quite out of focus and so appear to be circular rather than tiny dots. Check out "circle of confusion" for details about the shape and "inverse square law" for how bightly they are lit.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Hi Bob,

    The manual, you and Jonathan are correct, it is on-camera flash lit dust.

    I wouldn't have expected that much airbourne dust there to be honest, but perhaps they cut back on cleaners, or there was some carpet pound activity just before (gymnastics?), or even just people shuffling into the auditorium.

    I have had it bad in stables, expected due to the straw, but not in a place like this.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanC View Post
    As stated in the manual they are caused by particles of dust in the air in front of the camera. Because they are relatively close to the flash on the camera they are very brightly lit. They are also quite out of focus and so appear to be circular rather than tiny dots. Check out "circle of confusion" for details about the shape and "inverse square law" for how bightly they are lit.
    This is exactly right, but I have also seen explanations by "paranormal" investigators describing this phenomena occurring in both still and video images as "Orbs" - objects which the human eye can not see, but are captured by cameras. They attribute the Orbs to extra-dimensional objects or even living beings.

    If you are up for some fun, post the photo on a spook hunter or UFO forum and see what explanations you get.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 21st January 2012 at 09:39 PM.

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Sorry for the typos in my last post, for some reason, I can't edit my post.

    Thanks for catching the bug, I have corrected the typo
    Last edited by Steaphany; 21st January 2012 at 09:39 PM.

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Thank you for the answer. Thank you Jonathan, I didn't expect such a rapid reply.
    Regarding Davids reply, yes there was a lot of movement in the area at the time. It was at a Ladies Barbershop singing Convention in Harrogate. It was just after the rush to the bar after a show. The bar was behind me.
    Steaphany, I might do that to see what the reaction is. Dno't wrory aoubt the toyp's we all do it.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    Sorry for the typos in my last post, for some reason, I can't edit my post.
    There was a glitch, it is fixed now, you should be able to Edit and Save.

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Actually, my guess is that's dust on your sensor; was this shot taken with a small aperature? Dust is much, much more visible when bokah isn't in play -

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonking View Post
    Regarding Davids reply, yes there was a lot of movement in the area at the time. It was at a Ladies Barbershop singing Convention in Harrogate. It was just after the rush to the bar after a show. The bar was behind me.
    That'll explain it Bob

    Is that in the Harrogate International Centre building?

    Random fact: I helped televise the Eurovision Song Contest from there back in '82, it was all brand new then.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoRob View Post
    Actually, my guess is that's dust on your sensor; was this shot taken with a small aperture? Dust is much, much more visible when bokah isn't in play -
    'fraid not.
    It was taken at f/2.8 (on a fixed lens camera) according to EXIF data.

    Sensor dust is dark, because it blocks image gathering light.
    This is between camera and subject and lit from the camera side (where the flash is)

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoRob View Post
    Actually, my guess is that's dust on your sensor; was this shot taken with a small aperature? Dust is much, much more visible when bokah isn't in play -

    I have a RF transmitting video camera that I use for animal monitoring and when the ambient light drops, the camera activates 8 Infrared LEDs that are positioned around the imaging lens, similar to the configuration of a ring flash. I will often see bright glowing Orbs moving about the image and it's obvious that it's dust suspended in the air.

    Spooky as you can not see anything with your eyes, but it's right there on the video image.

    Just to show off just how some people have too much time on their hands, and a fantastic imagination, I did a google on "UFO Orbs" and came up with 1,970,000 hits, This is the first wacky web page that was on the list:

    ORBS OVER BURLINGTON WISCONSIN

    I've heard these claims before and reading that page had me rolling on the floor. These guys actually believe and feel they have scientific proof that images of floating dust in the air is actually "interdimensional vehicles"

    Here is an idea for a photo competition challenge, fake a UFO or Spook photo, post it to some Paranormal forum, and see who gets the most believers

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    This is exactly right, but I have also seen explanations by "paranormal" investigators describing this phenomena occurring in both still and video images as "Orbs" - objects which the human eye can not see, but are captured by cameras. They attribute the Orbs to extra-dimensional objects or even living beings.

    If you are up for some fun, post the photo on a spook hunter or UFO forum and see what explanations you get.
    Ooooh, I like your wicked sense of humour. It reminds me of something related to this type of "science":

    “All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my right hand”. Steven Wright

    Glenn

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    'fraid not.
    It was taken at f/2.8 (on a fixed lens camera) according to EXIF data.

    Sensor dust is dark, because it blocks image gathering light.
    This is between camera and subject and lit from the camera side (where the flash is)
    I certainly concur. While doing sensor cleaning and experimenting at what f/stop dust bunnies would show up at, f/2.8 never once yielded a visible spot. I wouldn't even test a sensor for dust bunnies at any opening larger than f/11 or f/16. And when shooting flowers at stops of f/4 or so, a dust bunny is furthest from my concerns.

    Glenn

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoRob View Post
    Actually, my guess is that's dust on your sensor; was this shot taken with a small aperature? Dust is much, much more visible when bokah isn't in play -
    I hope it wasn't PhotoRob. I cannot remove the lens from the camera and it was (still is ) pretty new. The FZ150 is in fact a bridge camera not a DSLR.

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    That'll explain it Bob

    Is that in the Harrogate International Centre building?
    Yes it's the Harrogate International Centre Dave. It is still an impressive building, but I did notice in that last visit that they are starting to do modernisation.
    I don't think we'll see the Eurovision Song Contest back in the UK for quite a while.
    Last edited by Dragonking; 21st January 2012 at 11:58 PM.

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    I was using a P&S some months ago and the person I was with asked to look at the picture (which was in a dusty loft space). She was gobsmacked and just cried out 'Orbs', to which I responded 'no its dust'.

    In the end I gave up and let her believe whatever she wanted to, there was no convincing her otherwise.

    Fanatical or fantasist?

    I read up a bit after this on the subject and whilst it is generally flash light catching the dust particles, it can apparently be due also to the short distance between the sensor, and the way it catches refracted light, I am sure others here can explain better than I can on this score. I had lost interest by this time in researching it further.

    That is why DSLRs and better quality cameras rarely capture 'Orbs'.

    My advice is in future, is to concur, tell them its amazing and would they like to buy a copy of my rare shot for £25!

    Cranks!

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    Re: Bubbles in the air in a flash photogragh

    Quote Originally Posted by shreds View Post
    My advice is in future, is to concur, tell them its amazing and would they like to buy a copy of my rare shot for £25!
    Why limit yourself to £25 ? Find a paranormal magazine ( There are a bunch of them out there ) and see about selling publishing rights for £250, or if it's spectacular, £2500 !

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