Published: 4:10 AM 10/6/2014
... the image is showing something actually present in the scene.
On Thursday, October 2, 2014, at 4:53 pm, Pacific Daylight Time, I snapped the photo above of Stanford University's Hoover Tower from within the Stanford Quad.
I was unaware of anything unusual at the time, and was not aware of the strange object which appears in the photo between the two left-most trees.
I first saw both the photo as a whole, and the strange object in the photo, when I offloaded the photos from my camera onto my home computer in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Saturday, October 4, 2014.
The camera which took the photo is an Olympus Model VR-320, "HD 12.5x Super Wide, 14 Megapixel", although I had it set on a relatively low resolution, so as to save space and be able to snap more photos during my trip to California.
--Paul N., Silver Spring, Maryland
I am certain of the following:
The image is not caused by anything on or in my camera. It is NOT a bug or dirt on my lens. There is no such "smudge" on the previous nor following images, and in two years of having used this camera, have never had any such "smudge" on any other image. The image is showing something actually present in the scene.
The object is NOT a human-created "drone." Less than 24 hours before taking this photo, I attended the "Oracle Appreciation Event" on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, part of the JavaOne 2014 conference in San Francisco. During my three hours at this event, I watched and photographed a commercial drone which they used to video the event from the air, for display on a large video screen.
I even took a number of close-up photos of that drone while, every 15 minutes, the drone technicians changed the batteries on it and its camera. That drone was quite audible at all times, even over the roar of some tens of thousands of attendees below it.
Moreover, that drone, and every drone I've ever seen, in person an on images or videos, is in a horizontal orientation. The strange object in the photo above is in a vertical orientation.
Moreover, while there were hundreds of students in the area around where I took the photo, the surroundings were perfectly quiet, and I know for sure I would have heard, and had my attention directed, to any human-created drone flying above Stanford, all the more so having just spent three hours the night before fascinated with the Oracle drone.
The object is not an airplane, helicopter, or bird. Moreover, although we can't know for sure, it appears to be stationary, since if you zoom in on it, there's no "movement blur."