Monday, 11 November 2013

What if there was a second photo?

Distant UFOWith very few exceptions, I don't manipulate photos on this website. And in those few cases where I do alter a photo, it usually obvious and only done for illustration purposes. So, I was a bit disappointed to have to change the UFO photo (right) that I took recently. For those who are interested, I have made it lighter, more contrasty and softened it. It was all in the cause of making it look more mysterious. The result is a dark, circular UFO against a cloudy sky.

In my defence, most photos I see of anomalous phenomena tend to suffer from one or more photographic 'faults' (I put that in quotes because some peopole deliberately use these 'faults' for effect). They may, for instance, be out of focus, motion blurred, over- or under-exposed, noisy or of very low resolution or highly compressed. And in many cases it is that very 'fault' that is responsible for the apparent anomaly in the photo (producing a photographic artefact). So, in this case, I had to deliberately 'apply' some 'faults', simulating over-exposure and focussing problems. If I hadn't, it might have been too obvious what the UFO really is.

Note how the background of clouds give no real clue to the size of this object. We know it is in front of the clouds but without knowing how high they are, that doesn't help much. The best clue is the overall shape of the object. It is basically circular but there is a slight extension downwards, reminiscent of a balloon. Which is, of course, what it is.

UFOHere is a photo of the same object, unedited zoomed in, taken just 8 seconds later. Now the shape is more obvious and so, too, the string attached. It is now clearly a toy balloon, probably just a few tens of centimeters across. It was the string, still just about visible even in the original distant shot, that forced me into manipulating the image. Indeed, you might still be able to make it out now, depending on your display unit.

So what is the point of this exercise? Well, whenever I see an anomalous photo which suffers from a photographic 'fault', I always wonder what might have been recorded if only the photo had been well exposed. That, in essence, is what analyzing such photos is all about. Anyway, this pair of photos shows what it might look like in just such a case.

There is also another important point. When we think about photo manipulation with respect to anomalies we tend to think in terms of objects being deliberately added. However, simply playing with things, like contrast, can enhance or diminish details that can alter our entire perception of what is in a photo. And such manipulation is harder to detect than simply adding in objects.

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