Photo experts say this image is the result of a flash artifact from camera movement in low-light conditions -- and trust me, the camera doesn't have to move very much. In essence, the flash cycle was too short for the needed exposure time. The area in the center, where the flash is brightest, had the equivalent of a double exposure while the outer edges were less sensitive to the slight camera movement after the flash had finished (but the aperture was still open). Now, let me add that Chris Fleming was picking up a lot of energy and place memory at the time, had seen a ghost in the dining room earlier, and felt like a spirit was in front of him. I believe him, which leads to an important point. Just because you take a photo that is completely normal, or has an artifact that can be explained as reflection, flash bounce, movement, etc., doesn't mean that nothing paranormal was present when you took the picture. The fact is that we don't have a camera yet that can truly photograph ghosts. So, a normal picture means only that you don't have paranormal "proof" to wave around and show off to strangers -- ghosts may, or may not, have been present. To be honest, people's experiences, rapid battery drainage, and equipment malfunctions are far more reliable indicators of paranormal activity.
Odd reflections can also occur with any kind of film camera, but they tend to be a bit less sensitive to dust artifacts than are digital cameras.
Flash artifacts are just one of a nearly infinite number of ways you can get "anomalous" photos. This is true even with an expensive film camera. You can get artifacts from the film itself, to the flash, to reflections, to development, and even the actual printing of the photo. And don't forget the possibilities of microscopic drops of water on the lens, or even a dirty lens. Of course, the last one tends to be easy to spot. You get the same artifact on every picture the camera takes. Loyd Auerbach sums the situation up best when he says:
"No matter what one does, not all factors can be accounted for or controlled when taking any kind of photo .... By "factors" I mean anything from problems with film (or the developing process) or the camera or the photographer or unseen influences in the environment. I've seen way too many photos with "mysterious" streaks of light that can be tracked back to point sources of light at the fringes of the camera frame (a little shaking of the photographer's hand is all it takes) .... Finally, photos are subject to manipulation .... What it all boils down to is this: photos are evidence, NOT proof of the existence of ghosts or hauntings."
Some ghost investigators have experimented with infrared photography. Unfortunately, this has it's own set of problems. And if you have infrared focusing beams from other cameras (or reflected back to you by your own) then you're really in trouble. It's artifact city. Another thing worth mentioning is that it is not heat sensitive. Thermal imaging devices are extremely useful in an investigation, but then you're talking a multi-thousand dollar system from someone like Flir. Infrared film will merely see a slightly broader spectrum of reflected light than the human eye can perceive. As with any scientific process the more control of the environment you can have, the less chance for human error adding anomalies to the data. If you want to shoot with infrared, it's important that you be the ONLY one with a camera, turn OFF the auto focus, and use an older manual focus lens. New lenses no longer have an infrared focusing index, slightly different from what we see as sharp. The down side is that this is all time consuming and working with the tripod today was really inconvenient. The only other thing I can suggest is to take something with good optics. The cameras that are suggested for "inexpensive ghost hunting," (and which result in the kind of pictures most people show off as anomalous) have some of the worst optics in the world... little point and shoots that are prone to flare and dust and hazing over in cold temps. And that doesn't even take into account the issue of flare from a flash reflecting off of something (TV, mirrors, and window glass can be particularly notorious for creating suggestion images that are absolutely meaningless). The average person can pick up a cheap used SLR with an excellent lens for about $200 and avoid lots of these problems. I'm told by camera experts that it is good to avoid zooms too... All photographically speaking of course. It is not heat sensitive in the way you'd need to have for it to pick up ghosts, so while you might get some interesting and artistic shots, they aren't likely to give you any better proof than other cameras.
Am I saying that ghosts never effect cameras? Of course not. But what I and other ghost investigators have found is that it usually shows up as batteries draining or equipment malfunction. Too many ghost hunters miss out on the real evidence because of being sidetracked by artifacts. As Dave Manganelli notes:
"The most common weirdness that has occurred in my own investigations is equipment failure/malfunction. Now that -- if properly vetted -- is the true puzzling anomaly in all this."
Finally, one last word about orbs on video. As with still photography, you can get reflection and other types of artifacts. However, video has one big advantage over it's SLR and digital brethren; you can study the behavior of the photographic anomaly. This can be interesting indeed. If it behaves like dust kicked up by movement you don't have to waste your time on it. On the other hand, if it seems to behave in an inexplicably intelligent fashion, then perhaps you have something interesting. Video, not still photography, may become the standard for serious ghost investigators in the future. There is more about 'orbs' and camera artifacts on the FAQ page here.