Much of the skeptical view of the UFO phenomena is based on the quality or lack thereof of photographs and video that purportedly show images of UFOs. Those of us who study UFOs are kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. A photograph of an unknown flying object that is not very clear is not good enough to convince the non-believer, and yet a nice clear shot of a UFO falls into the "too good to be true" category. I have found myself falling into the later category when seeing a nice, clear shot of an unknown. Why? Well...we are so used to seeing the grainy, blurry photos that anything else must have been created in a graphics program on a computer. And most importantly, we know that when the photograph is put into a report on the Net, we are going to get negative feedback from the skeptics. Also, even those who are fence sitters will say, "Now, see, this is what gives Ufology a bad reputation." So...what does one do? I was recently asked by a gentleman why there are so many photos of UFOs that are out of focus, and why are there so many in which the object in question was not seen at the time the image was shot, and only noticed later when the pictures were uploaded to the computer. I would like to address these questions.
As to seeing UFOs, there are several things at play, and the most important rule is there are no rules. You have to remember that everyday people go about their lives with their eyes on the busy world around them: watching traffic, store signs, talking on the cell phone, listening to the radio, watching television, and more. It is very rare that anyone really looks into the sky to see if there is a UFO there. We have all seen the unusual phenomena of when one person starts looking up to the sky, everyone around will soon be doing the same thing. Going about our everyday business, we never look up unless we see someone else looking up. Very few people actually are looking for UFOs. And if you saw a person walking around the mall parking lot looking up at the sky, well...you might call the men in white coats in. Skeptics do have a rule they often follow: it is quite normal for a person to make a UFO report, but when that same person starts making one after another, that person can't be trusted, and their reports can be summarily discarded.
As to the photographers themselves, unless there is that rare individual who is specifically looking to photograph a UFO, even a person taking pictures is pretty much watching the subject of his shot, and when you look through the lens, everything is much smaller, and an object in the distance would usually not be seen. It is true that the new digital cameras see better than the human eye in a sense, because the camera is not distracted by sounds, or confused by reflections, shadows, or other movements that are seen peripherally by humans. It only takes a photograph of what falls within its range. This applies primarily to day time settings, and night time photography is even more difficult. Of course, some digital cameras have all of the normal photographic adjustments on them, and depending on how they are set, they can take a photograph of a distant object that is moving extremely fast without blurring. There are also some inherent problems with digital cameras as to reflection and glaring that is beyond my scope of knowledge, but these difficulties only add to the debunker's cache of weapons.
We must also keep in mind the elements that are often associated with the taking of a UFO. If you are all set up, and looking for an unknown to film, using a tripod, and a UFO comes right into the center of your view finder, then you are all set. Just hit the record button. You should get a fairly clear photo or video. But this rarely, if ever, happens. Usually, you are doing something else, and if you are lucky enough to have a loaded camera in hand, you are not expecting a UFO to come flying across the sky. If per chance it does, you would have to compose yourself, steady your hand, find the object in your view finder, and then start your recording. Remember you probably won't be filming an object that is stationary. Have you tried to keep up with an athlete at a soccer game? Can you follow the action without getting out of focus, or losing the subject of your photo? Try filming a fast moving object in the sky. This is why many photos of unknowns are not portrait grade.
The most important development that has caused concern among Ufologists is modern technology. With the advent and ever increasing sophistication of computers and computer software, it is very easy for one with a basic knowledge of graphics to create a very believable photo or video of a UFO, even employing mind bending maneuvers and other special effects. The only restriction is the amount of money one is willing to pay. Several of the video upload sites, like Google and Youtube are full of these types of videos. Some of them are impossible to know if they are real or computer generated. As far as investigative techniques go, the more information you can get from the photographer or videographer, the better. Normally, one who is reluctant to give any details of the UFO sighting, or gives very scanty information is a hoaxster. Certainly this can be a fun hobby for some people, and there is certainly nothing illegal about it. It just makes the job of the UFO investigator more difficult. For many, the study of UFO photography is limited to the pre-digital era, when it was much more difficult, albeit, not impossible to fake UFO photographs.
There are those, of course, who are specifically looking for legitimate UFOs to photograph, and I have had some of them tell me that they camped out for days, and never saw a thing. And then there are those folks have been taking a family vacation picture, and captured a UFO unexpectedly. This is just a case of Murphy's Law.
I receive on the average about 25-30 UFO photographs and videos per week. Most of them are just not good enough to post on the Net. Even some that I find to be intriguing come under fire by skeptics. Just as approximately 95 % of UFO sightings could be explained by earthly means, the same applies to UFO photographs and video. Although an image may be compelling, and be accompanied by a good, detailed report by the witness, at most you can ascertain that you have a true UFO, that is, a flying object that cannot be identified by any plane, balloon, or other known flying object. To take this one step beyond and declare that you have an extraterrestrial craft is almost impossible. To make this declaration, you would have to be in a position to know exactly everything that Earth's governments have behind closed doors in the way of experimental craft. There can be no doubt that many seemingly strange flying objects can be attributed to unmanned surveillance craft, and that at least a portion of the triangle reports are actually sightings of Stealth planes or blimps. The problem is discovering what exactly you are looking at.
Throughout my years of analyzing UFO images, I can say that I have seen craft that just don't match anything flying today, but again, this declaration must be judged by the limits of my own knowledge of what's out there. The investigator must always remember that no matter how good the evidence seems, like in the case of the Phoenix Lights, this evidence will be debunked and ripped to threads by those who don't want to believe, even though the facts lead to a totally different conclusion. To those who are looking for that one great shot of a UFO, don't stop. Keep searching, and eventually, you will get that photograph. The truth will find you, because the proof really is out there.
(B J Booth)
Source & References:
Image © Sharon Rowlands
Image © Sharon Rowlands
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