West Gallery Blue Orb, North Centre Bastion, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

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Comments (11)

John Latter on April 6, 2007

Tunnel 1 of the North Center Bastion looking down in a northerly direction to where it passes Drawbridge 1 (sample photo) before ending at the Caponnier complex (sample photo).

This is the second optical oddity - 'Blue Orb 1' - and its located very nearly in the center of the image at the top of an archway (its Image 12 of the 62 I took that day, the first oddity is the 'Ghost Photo', Image 11).

Click to see 'Blue Orb 2' (Image 34).

The main Blue Orb looks 'substantial' on all magnifications, but as the image is enlarged, other, more transparent, discs are discernible.

The one down and to the right of the main Blue Orb in the above image is also bluish with a tinged edge. Dust motes? Water globules? I'm curious and any info would be appreciated.

After looking more closely at the other photos I've since found a third blue orb. Its smaller and less central to the image than the first two but I haven't uploaded it yet.

Several other photos show just the secondary characteristic of transparent discs ('soap bubbles').

The North Center Bastion is part of Dover's Napoleonic defenses, a "Hidden Fortress" on the Western Heights. See tags for the Drop Redoubt, Grand Shaft, North Entrance, or Western Heights for all images. Photos of other locations (St Martin's Battery, Knights Templar church, etc.) will be included later.

John Latter on April 6, 2007

The second 'optical oddity' that appeared on the photos I took in the North Center Bastion tunnel complex I originally thought of as 'Blue Spots' (primary characteristic) and 'Soap Bubbles' (secondary).

A little research reveals that the spots are more commonly referred to as 'Orbs' which some paranormal enthusiasts 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 'solid' blue orbs (again, the best way to see them is in a viewer with variable zoom). The first has the secondary characteristic of transparent discs, one of which - on the righthand side - clearly has the blueness and tinged edge of the main orb:

Blue Orb 1

Blue Orb 2

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 :)

rosina lamberti on April 6, 2007

wow :)

John Latter on April 6, 2007

Thanks Rosina - glad you liked it! :)

John Latter on April 6, 2007

Also see: Satellite view of the North Center Bastion annotated with tunnel system locations, surface features, drawbridges, etc.

John Latter on April 7, 2007

From the second Comment:

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.

You can just make out the white fungus on this photo of the entrance steps to Tunnel 5.

Standard Info:

The North Center Bastion is only part of Dover's extensive Napoleonic defenses - click on Western Heights and then check the tag list for all the locations covered (eg Drop Redoubt, Grand Shaft, North Entrance - more will be added as time goes on).

Annotated satellite view of the North Center Bastion showing tunnel systems, drawbridges, surface features, etc,.

VKeith on September 20, 2007


tessg907 on April 29, 2009

do you know if anyone has been killed at all in the smokey??

John Latter on April 29, 2009

tessg907 said:

do you know if anyone has been killed at all in the smokey??

There was at least one worker who died during the construction of smokey (which we used to call 'Dead Man's Island'), but I can't find the webpage with the newspaper clipping describing it.

People have also committed suicide on the Western Heights, although I don't know if they were actually inside smokey when they did so.

Hardly a subject to begin the day with, but one chap I knew hung himself with barbed wire in the moats. This was quite a long time ago and I only knew him slightly because he was much older than me. From a psychological perspective, it's quite interesting to speculate if the chap went back to the place where he had experienced his greatest freedom after things got too much to bear in the man-made (ie artificial) world.

There have also been lots of accidents up there. I once knew a pensioner (Stan Newman) who had a bad limp for the rest of his life after he fell into one of the counterweight holes of Drawbridge 1.

John Latter / Jorolat

Part of the Images of Dover website.

John Latter on November 21, 2010

The correct name for Tunnel 1 is the West Gallery

The English Heritage Pastscape entry for the North Centre Bastion and Detached Bastion reads (1):

TR 3110 4083 North Centre and Detached Bastions

North Centre Bastion was begun in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars, as part of the Western Heights fortress in Dover. It remained unfinished at the end of the war in 1815 but was completed to a revised design between 1859 and 1867; this resulted in two linked bastions known as North Centre Bastion and Detached Bastion (2).

Both were surveyed and researched by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England between 1998 and 2001 as part of the Dover Western Heights Survey Project (event UID 1316220 and monument UID 467989). See the archive report and plans for full details: Pattison P The Western Heights, Dover, Kent; Report no 5 North Centre and Detached Bastions.

An English Heritage site and Scheduled Monument; the Detached Baastion is also known as "Dead Man's Island".

Photos of the Detached Bastion are included under the North Centre Bastion tag.

(1) Pastscape: North Centre Bastion

(2) The bastions are linked by the South Caponier (see South Caponier interior; South Caponier exterior).

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 5, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio 33LF
    • Taken on 2007/04/01 09:44:14
    • Exposure: 0.017s (1/60)
    • Focal Length: 5.80mm
    • F/Stop: f/2.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired