Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Unidentified does not mean anomalous

Mystery photoI sometimes receive anomalous photos, like the one here (right), where it is possible to identify how it was caused but not what it shows! I happen to know what's in this photo because I took it! But if someone had sent it to me, I'd be at a loss!

Here's the problem - some people take an inability to definitively identify such a blurred object as meaning the photo is unexplained or even anomalous. The orange object here is blurred because it is out of focus. It can't be identified from the photo, even after enhancement. But that does not mean the object is paranormal!

You can see the orange object is out of focus, rather than motion-blurred, because there are green bars behind which are also out of focus, though less so. The background is in focus and everything in front is too close to be in focus. The closer to the camera, the more blurred objects are, showing it is a focus issue.

If only the object could be identified, the photographer may quickly realise that it was entirely likely that just such an object could have strayed into the frame unnoticed at the time of exposure. However, while the object remains unidentified the photographer may continue to consider the possibility that they photographed something anomalous when all they did was take an out of focus photo of something mundane! Of course, it is remotely possible that the photo really DOES show something anomalous but, being heavily blurred, we have no evidence to support that conclusion.

In my experience, when there is any 'mystery' left in a photo after it has been analyzed, some people will continue to equate that to the paranormal. Quite simply, 'unidentified' does not mean anomalous in the same way that 'unexplained' doesn't either.

PS: It's Erithacus rubecula!

1 comment:

  1. I only discovered this blog a few weeks ago, but you make a lot of really insightful points -- this is one of them. The sad thing is, a lot of people in this subject just don't want to hear common sense like this!

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