"Light" Phenomena

Nancy Talbott
BLT Research Team Inc.

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5

- PART 1 -

Robbert, self-portrait, daytime-September 2004.

Beginning in the early to mid-1990s, when Robbert van den Broeke was just a teenager, he began to regularly record strange objects and light phenomena in his photographs. In some instances he would see something unusual prior to taking photos, but often the anomalies were only apparent on the developed film (or, since 2002, on the LED screen of his digital camera). By now (Spring, 2009) Robbert has taken literally thousands of bizarre photographs—using many different cameras--most of which have been catalogued by date in an archive which I estimate must contain a minimum of 10,000 photographs.

I have been visiting Robbert and his family for 10 years, usually spending 2-3 weeks each summer with them in their home in Hoeven, Holland. During this time I have personally witnessed a variety of amazing incidents, most of which have included the production by Robbert of hundreds of anomalous photographs. I have observed him closely as he has taken an enormous range of very strange photos, using several different cameras in both daytime and at night—and I have never seen any indication that he has deliberately manipulated either the cameras or the physical environment to produce these bizarre events or the photographic images.

Since I am aware that photographic images can be manipulated and because I am not technically sophisticated myself, I have enlisted the expertise of an MIT-trained analyst in evaluating many of Robbert's images and have also carried out some control experiments myself. At the end of each section I've provided the relevant results from these exercises.

Additionally, although I have seen many of the thousands of photographs taken by Robbert when I have not been present—and although those photographs are every bit as curious as those contained in this report—it seemed sensible that, in this introductory report, I use primarily those photos taken by Robbert while he was in my presence and using my camera. During the early years I paid close attention to everything he did, and didn't, do. In recent years I have sometimes been less rigorous, although I have continued to devise new strategies in my attempts to figure out what is going on.

The majority of photographs in this report were taken with my Pentax Optio 33WR digital camera, which was donated to BLT Research in 2002. Because I am an amateur photographer the camera is always set in "auto" mode, although it does have many other capabilities. Robbert, who also has very little technical inclination, has always used the Pentax in the "auto" mode (as he does with all other cameras he uses). Photos taken by anyone other than Robbert, or with any camera other than my Pentax, are so labeled.

Because Robbert has consistently throughout the years I have known him reported his awareness of an external "energy" or "presence" when these photos occur, and because he also reports a similar awareness when crop circles are occurring in his area of Holland and/or when he subsequently visits these crop formations, I suspect there is a connection between the anomalous photographs and the crop circles themselves—and most likely a connection with many or all of the other highly unusual events which are a continuing part of his life experience.

The knee-jerk reaction of some people to this idea that an invisible, external energy may be influencing physical events, particularly individuals who consider themselves to be "well-educated," is to dismiss it -- without any real investigation. Robbert has been accused of using a computer to create or manipulate images and entire TV production units have been similarly indicted as having been his confederates. Charges such as these would have been recognized as superfluous had any of these critics bothered to find out whether Robbert even had a computer. [Which, until recently, he did not.] Further, the general intensity of such attacks suggests their high emotional content — a reaction to a perceived challenge or threat to the "status quo" (in conjunction, in my opinion, with a real feeling of helplessness) — rather than an intellectual or analytical assessment.

Of course these critics may now accuse me of duplicity also, thus adding emphasis to the need for each reader to decide for themselves the reliability and import of this report. For the record I assert that, during the years when most of the photographs included here were taken, Robbert did not have a computer and had no access to a computer—nor even the faintest idea of how to operate one. Further, he took the majority of these photographs using my camera when I was present with him, and I saw the images immediately after he had taken them. THERE WAS NO COMPUTER.

However, a fact which may be quite relevant is emphasized in my Pentax's Operating Manual (p. 1). Here it clearly states that "…the camera may not function correctly when used in surroundings such as installations generating strong electromagnetic radiation or magnetic fields." I suspect that these energies may also impinge upon the operating systems of many, if not all, modern cameras.

And, since evidence of unseen energies around Robbert is accumulating elsewhere, I have to ask — why should we not believe Robbert when he says he is aware of an unusual "energy" or "presence" when these strange photographic images begin to appear? In 2009, in a world where physicists work on theoretical models of "reality" in terms of light waves and quantum particles and biophysicists discuss nonlocal effects of biophoton emissions, isn't it actually archaic not to consider the possibility that invisible influences — of whatever origin — have something to do with the creation of these strange photographs?

Some areas of this photo appear to be double-exposed.

It is impossible to represent here the total range or scope of anomalous photographs taken by Robbert over the last 10 years. He often takes several hundred photos/day and the anomalies change constantly. But after 10 years of observation I am certain that--whatever is causing these anomalies--it is considerably more sophisticated than technical manipulation by Robbert or anyone else. Here are the important facts:

  1. Photo anomalies can (& regularly do) occur on any camera used by Robbert;
  2. A huge range of anomalies appear on both film and digital cameras;
  3. Robbert takes the photographs in the immediate company of the camera-owners;
  4. Regardless of the camera being used, some images will be absolutely normal;
  5. Robbert perceives an "energy" or "presence" as the anomalous images begin;
  6. Once the anomalies begin, they may continue for minutes or even hours;
  7. Robbert often does not know what sort of anomaly will occur;
  8. He is certain that a spiritual energy, external to him, is responsible for the images;
  9. The cameras are always set in "auto" mode;
  10. None of the"explanations" presented by critics fit the actual facts.

In the 1990s Robbert began taking photos primarily at crop circle sites near his home, using the family's 35mm film camera. In 2002 he began using an Olympus digital camera regularly, and now uses it almost exclusively (except when clients or other people are present, when he often uses their cameras). Since he often takes hundreds of photographs every week the digital camera saves the considerable costs associated with film; it also provides Robbert with instant feed-back which has, I am fairly certain, sharpened his ability to sense when and under what conditions he is most likely to obtain anomalous photos.

It's important to emphasize that many of Robbert's photos (at crop circle sites or at other locations unrelated to any known anomalous event) are totally normal, containing none of the strange effects presented in this report. This is true regardless of the camera he is using, whether he is indoors or out, the time of day or night, weather conditions, etc.—the photos usually becoming anomalous only if or when he senses the presence of what he describes as an unusual "energy."

"Fuzzed" light in kitchen, light "stripes" in front of Buddha-head statue;
there is no light source above the table (camera flash did fire).

Brilliant "light ring" photographed in field near Hoeven, late afternoon.
(Robbert's 3 Mega Cam--flash did not fire.)

When Robbert becomes aware of the presence of this "energy" (a change in his experience of his immediate environment) his photos always become abnormal, although in many different ways. The anomalies are likely to continue in dozens or even hundreds of sequential photos for anywhere from perhaps 5 minutes up to as long as 20-25 minutes. And then, as suddenly as they began, the anomalies cease to occur and the images again are normal. Multiple sequences of anomalous photos may occur on any given day or night.

To reiterate, the anomalies occur regardless of whose, or what type of, camera Robbert is using, what time of day or night, whether he is indoors or out, or any other variable that I have been able to determine. The only constant factors I have observed are as follows:

  1. Robbert usually indicates that he has become aware of the presence, in his immediate environment, of an "energy" which is not normally there;
  2. He often describes this energy as a "loving" presence, but sometimes defines it as "UFO" or "healing" energy;
  3. Robbert simply aims the camera in the general direction of the "energy" (he does not necesssarily look through the the view-finder) and then takes multiple shots;
  4. He is very often (but not always) surprised by the images that appear;
  5. The cameras are always set in "auto" mode.
Chandelier is on—camera flash is only other light source. Light is peculiar
throughout & left third of photo appears superimposed.

Since I first began studying crop circles I, too, have begun to take strange-looking photos, both on film and with the Pentax (a few of these are included in this report). These now occur slightly more frequently than in the early 1990s--and some always occur when I am staying with Robbert—but in my case they're not as varied, or as dramatic, nor as frequent as with Robbert.

It should be noted that I keep the Pentax in a case which I carry on my person; when I am sleeping it is kept next to my bed. It is only out of my possession if/when Robbert asks to use it. At these times I am always present and able to watch whatever Robbert is doing for as long as I please.

In more recent years when, day after day and night after night, Robbert is taking dozens or hundreds of photographs and obtaining anomalies one after the other, he will sometimes walk off into another room in his house (or another section of the field when we are outdoors) and I no longer always go with him. At these times (so far) the photo anomalies he continues to get if he walks away are of the same type and variety and intensity that I have seen he was capturing when we were standing close to each other and I was watching him intently.

My camera is used only by Robbert or me and both of us have only an amateur's understanding of how it (and other cameras) functions. Because of this our various cameras are always set in the "auto" mode, and both of us simply point the camera and then push the button, counting on the camera to figure out the focus, shutter speed, and whether or not the flash should go off. The only difference in photographic style between us is that Robbert usually aims the camera lens in the direction of the unseen "energy" ­ something I don't do, because I generally don't perceive it's presence.

Again, unless otherwise noted, all photos here have been taken by Robbert, using my Pentax camera. In many instances the camera's flash was triggered; in others it did not fire, even when the ambient light would seem to indicate it should have. We hope to carry out an evaluation of this factor in the future.

"Smoky" Stuff

Invisible smoke-like substance which appeared when Robbert felt
the "energy" present. (Photo: taken with 35mm camera.)

Beginning in the early 1990s people interested in crop circles began sending me photos they had taken in or near crop circle fields which contained a "smoke-like" foggy-looking material they had not observed visually. Most crop circle photos are taken during the warm, dry summer months when no fog is present and most crop circle enthusiasts don't smoke. People who do smoke don't--when they are in the fields. In colder conditions, visitors to the crop circles soon realized that their exhaled breath might cause a similar effect and began taking care to rule out this possibilty also. Robbert has captured this "smoke-like" effect in crop circle fields many times, as have I when with him in Holland.

Invisible "smoke" in July, 1999 crop circle, Hoeven (no one smoking,
no fog present). (Photo taken with Robbert's 35mm camera.)

Invisible "smoke" in crop circle field, Holland, 2007. Again, no one
is smoking, no fog present, car has been sitting for 1-2 hrs.
(Photo: N.Talbott, w/Pentax.)

Bluish "smoke" in crop circle field near Hoeven, August 2007.
It was a mild evening, no one was smoking, no fog was present.

This smoke-like anomaly does not occur only in photos taken in crop circle fields. One afternoon while I was sitting alone in the family's back garden I repeatedly photographed the same thing; although I couldn't see it with my eyes and was not smoking, it appeared on 4 or 5 photographs and then disappeared. No one else was home at the time and I was sitting, admiring the dolphin statues at either end of the fish pond, and thinking how pretty the pink flowers rising up from the lily-pads were.

Invisible "smoke" in Robbert's garden one afternoon. I was not smoking.
(Photo: N.Talbott, w/Pentax.)

On another occasion in 2004 I had picked up a "flu" on the airplane to Holland and had to stay in bed for several days. Robbert was sitting with me one night and began to take photos randomly, when suddenly smoke-like anomalies began appearing in one photo after another. Neither of us was—or had been—smoking, and neither of us saw the "smoke" with our eyes.

"Smoke" in Nancy's room (no one is smoking) - Hoeven, 2004.

"Smoke" anomaly in Robbert's living room, Hoeven, 2004.
(Robbert's 3 MegaCam; flash did not fire.)

In most cases these smoke-like anomalies (as well as the various other types) are not visible to Robbert or to anyone else present. In some cases, however, light phenomena and other artifacts have been visible to Robbert--or he has had a clear mental image of the anomaly that subsequently appears on the film or digital chip. This ability of Robbert's to actually "see" something which is not visible to other people but which subsequently appears on the photographs is, as far as I can tell, sporadic.

Attempts to Replicate "Smoke" Anomaly

I and others have attempted to replicate these smoke-like photo effects. In none of the trials indoors using cigarettes did the anomalies ever come close to those we are labeling "smoke" anomalies in this report.

For my replication attempts outdoors I chose a particular field where Robbert regularly gets photo anomalies. Below are photographs taken by me at this location, at the same time of night, same time of year, same weather and temperature conditions, and using the same Pentax camera. I deliberately blew smoke from a cigarette in front of the lens and then took these shots.

"Smoke" anomaly created by cigarette smoke (mosquitoes were out
on this night & those close to the lens are reflecting the camera flash).
(Photo: N.Talbott w/Pentax.)

Another attempt to replicate "smoke" anomaly using cigarette smoke.
(Photo: N.Talbott, w/Pentax.)

Although very few of Robbert's photo anomalies occur in really cold weather (there are usually no crop circles occuring in winter and he doesn't spend as much time out in the fields when it's very cold), I thought I should include an example of another type of "smoke" effect that can occur due to exhaled breath when the temperatures are low.

This particular photograph, taken by a colleague, mimicks closely some of the "smoke" anomalies captured by Robbert. However, the temperature conditions necessary to cause this photo of exhaled breath have not been present when Robbert's photos were taken.

"Smoke" anomaly caused by exhaled breath in 24 degree air.
(Photo: BLT colleague w/digital camera.)

"Orbs" or Light-Balls (BOLs)

Probably the most common photographic anomaly associated with the crop circles so far (and also now found on photos taken by people not involved with crop circles) involves small tennis to softball-sized translucent to semi-opaque light balls, often called "orbs" or BOLs. As has been pointed out repeatedly (http://, and FAQ.html), tiny dust particles, insects, moisture droplets, snowflakes etc.—if they are close to the lens--can reflect the light of the flash, thus producing light-balls and other strange effects. This occurs particularly frequently with modern cameras which have become smaller and smaller, thus causing the flash to be located very close to the lens.

Typical "orb" or BOL-type photograph taken in Robbert's backyard,
July, 2004. (Camera is Robbert's Olympus digital.)

Years ago Robbert began finding the same small tennis ball to baseball-sized, semi-translucent to opaque "orbs" in his photos also, although he was unaware that the phenomenon was occurring in many other people's photographs around the world. Some of Robbert's "orbs" were taken at local crop circle sites in various fields around Hoeven where, in several cases, he actually saw light-balls with his eyes. Soon he was also photographing them regularly in his back yard or inside his home.

The BOL photos which occur inside Robbert's home are often very extreme, particularly if the camera is aimed at Robbert and, most particularly, if he is experiencing an awareness of the presence of an "external energy" when the photographs are taken. It should be noted that Robbert's mother is a meticulous housekeeper and the likelihood that dust particles can account for these photos is, in my opinion, highly unlikely.

Brilliant "orbs" or BOLs photographed when Robbert is focusing
his attention. (Photo: taken with 35mm camera)

BOLs continue to appear, even when Robbert relaxes. Room lights were not on.
(Photo: taken with 35mm camera)

Beginning in 2006 many of these BOL or "orb" type photos taken outside are of large spheres which are now frequently pink or purple or orange in color. These first appeared on my camera in France in September, 2006, (see: ­ and then continued to appear on my camera when I arrived in Holland in October--at which point Robbert also began  getting them, both on his camera and on mine. Often these larger mostly translucent and pink-colored spheres occur in conjunction with the smoke-like anomaly.

Large pink BOL w/smaller translucent light balls & "smokey" stuff.

Large pink BOLs were first seen on Nancy's &
Robbert's cameras in 2006.

Pink, purple & orange BOLs occurred at many fields we visited in 2006,
even in fields where no crop circle had ever appeared.

In 2006 Robbert and I were present when a new crop circle occurred in the field in front of us. On several nights before and on the actual night the new formation occurred we photographed dozens of larger pink, orange and purple BOLs (

Often, if we have been up late at night trying to document one or another of the events which constantly occur around Robbert we find that dozens or hundreds of the small translucent-to-white light balls will suddenly start to appear on the camera. These photos are often interspersed with other types of anomalies and will suddenly appear, and then disappear, with no observable alteration in the basic environment. Same camera, same location, same light conditions, same temperature, same everything, insofar as we can determine. Just as suddenly as they begin to appear, they stop.

Small "orbs" in Robbert's office where he sees clients
for readings or healing sessions.

"Orbs" in the upstairs hallway.

"Orbs" downstairs one very active night. Clearly these are not caused by insects
or mist, & they only appeared on one of several shots taken at that same time.

Attempts to Replicate "Orbs" & Light Balls

Because a majority of the "orb" photos we have seen are taken outdoors and are thought to be associated with mist in the air, or insects flying close to the lens, we attempted to reproduce this effect outside when we knew there was moisture in the air or insects were present. We took dozens and dozens of shots on various evenings—many on clear nights also—but concentrated on nights when the air felt dank enough that we could be certain the dew-point was high. We went to the same locations we visit regularly, but waited for nights when Robbert was not experiencing anything unusual.

In spite of many attempts on dry, clear nights we were only able to reproduce a few orb-type light balls—the majority of these "test" shots producing mostly photos with no anomalies at all. On one night we did get a few faint "orbs," as well as many mosquitoes which were out in force that evening.

A few small "orbs" occurred on this clear dry night
when hordes of mosquitoes also happened to be out.
(Photo: N.Talbott w/Pentax)

On nights when we knew there was moisture in the air--but nights when Robbert was not experiencing anything unusual--we drove to the fields we always visit, and at about the same time of night. Both of us got dozens of photos showing hundreds of small, mostly translucent light-balls--clearly caused by the camera's flash reflecting off mist close to the lens. These "test" photos do not look exactly like most of the BOL photos we've taken on dry nights, or inside the house.

"Orbs" caused by camera flash reflecting off mist close to the lens.
Note that surface of bridge is dry.
(Photo: N.Talbott w/Pentax)

Another "test" shot showing "orbs" caused by droplets of mist
reflecting the camera's flash.
(Photo: N.Talbott, w/Pentax)

Because it is clear that we can deliberately approximate at least some of the strange photographic effects obtained by Robbert I try to pay attention to both the environment and Robbert's behavior when he is using my camera. I have also conferred with an analyst who has extensive photographic expertise, so as to understand the conditions required to replicate, or approximate, these anomalies.

In every trial carried out so far (more of these trials will be presented farther on), the conditions which were demonstrated as necessary for even an approximation were not present when Robbert obtained his unusual photos.

Continue to Part 2 >>