Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Battle of LA photo: Nothing indeed


The latest issue of Tim Printy’s SUNlite is out, and among several superb articles are his comments on the recent uncovering of the undoctored Battle of LA photo. And besides Scott Harrison’s article we wrote about here, Printy also points out that Larry Harnisch wrote several articles documenting all the context of the “Battle of LA” (Introduction, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), with loads of news clippings, and even more interesting, better quality and close up scans of the original negative of the famous photo.

And that’s what you see above: “it’s nothing but a convergence of light beams with some randomly clustered dots of light”, as Harnisch states. “Another good story ruined”.

I actually think this is still a great story, and one nicely told by Harnisch himself, of great psychosocial interest, from war nerves to how history was rewritten and reinterpreted in just a few decades to the point where hopes and fears of extraterrestrial beings quickly erased the very real concerns of a real major World War. And it’s still interesting to see how believers still cling to the idea of alien spaceships as the only faint evidence literally vanishes.  “This case will never be closed for those who want to believe it was an actual craft in the center of the image”, comments Printy.

Indeed, Bruce Maccabee, who had previously analyzed – and failed to realize he was dealing with – a crudely retouched print updated his analysis given Harrison’s image, but actually maintained his previous considerations. “The fact is that the beams basically do not get past the convergence”, he states, but given these different scans, with higher dynamic range, it’s clearer both that there’s no solid object there and that the “faint evidence of beams above the convergence” is actually clear evidence of beams right past and above it.


There was something with higher optical density at the region of convergence indeed, but it definitely wasn’t solid, and therefore almost by definition could only be… a cloud or smoke. As Brett Holman from Airminded points out (and Printy had also suggested), a small cloud fits the evidence perfectly.


Finally, Maccabee suggests that one of the beams – the dashed line below, from his analysis – could be a reflected beam.


Over on UfoUpdates I suggested it’s more probable this is actually just a beam which has its source at the right and behind the photographer, which seems to the pointed downwards due to perspective. To better understand this, just look at this photo of a cupola:


None of the structural beams actually point downwards, but several of them in the photo look that way simply by perspective. As Harnisch quoted Marvin Miles of what he witnessed that night, “The objects in the sky slowly moved on, caught in the center of the lights like the hub of a bicycle wheel surrounded by gleaming spokes.”

Or gleaming beams of a cupola, with the photographer below and “inside” it, so that some beams would seem to be pointed downwards even while pointing upwards. No reflections required, no evidence of any solid object, nothing indeed.

But still a good story, just one that will not please those that would rather rewrite the history of a major World War with extraterrestrial invasion.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted in UFO photos | 15 comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Brian May 1st, 2011 9:11 pm

    So, wait…the Scott Harrison article supposedly had the “unretouched” photo in it…..Yet it looks nothing like this new unretouched photo… HUH?!?!
    I’m generally not one to think somethings fishy (and I’m not suggesting this involves alien craft at all) but what gives?

  2. Mori May 1st, 2011 11:44 pm

    Can you point out the differences that would make one suspect the images presented by Harnisch, from the same LA Times, are not from the same negatives as those presented by Harrison? Honestly, I didn’t find any. Only different dynamic ranges, due to different scanning settings.

  3. Brian May 2nd, 2011 12:03 am

    Honestly “different dynamic ranges” is a big deal!
    Why would Harrison write a skeptical piece where the shape of the ‘craft’ (though I don’t believe it to be that necessarily) is clearly evident, which I was not the only one to point out in messages on that page. Why would he not set the “dynamic ranges” to get rid of the very visible structure in the photo? I can change the “Dynamic Ranges” in any dark photo and make things that are TRULY there disappear quite easily…..But isn’t that akin to ‘touching something up’? I could easily take a negative and under or over expose something in order to change its “Dynamic Ranges” in order to hide something or make it more apparent but this is fakery, pure and simple. I was led to believe the picture in the first story was as close to the original negative as you could get….and yet I could still plainly see a shape, even if you disagreed with me on that, if you know a thing or two about developing photographs in a dark room, then you know dynamic ranges can be manipulated to the point of obscuring, or confusing an image (apologies if I’m repeating myself here) but the point is that when someone does that, to that level, it clearly changes the reality of the what is on the negative. These two photos are extraordinarily different in their dynamic ranges, and this could only have been done purposely if they truly came from the same negative. That means someone is trying to stack the deck. I would tend to believe the first Harrison photo is more correct, because even though he is arguing from a skeptical viewpoint his photo is still ambiguous. IF he manipulated the exposure in order to change the dynamics of the photo, then why would he do so in order to make it more ambiguous….it would hurt his viewpoint. The only rational conclusion I can come to then is that these are two examples….both from skeptical views…yet one manipulated the contrast far beyond what he should have, creating a photo which supported his theory far better than the more honest version from Harrison

  4. Mori May 2nd, 2011 12:15 am

    Brian, I think it’s much more simple to simply take that Harrison published the first scan obtained, and that Harnisch publicized another scan of a section of the negative with higher dynamic range. Harnisch also publicized more close-ups of the retouched print which clearly shows black paint and crop marks.

    You can easily reconstruct Harrison’s version from Harnisch’s — but not the other way around because Harnisch’s simply has more information on it and is therefore “closer” to the original negative. This is not a matter of opinion, this is a technical fact. “Harrison’s version”, as we could call it, and the retouched prints publicized by Frank Warren of the most famous versions simply had completely saturated values in the convergence area. Now we see better quality scans of the original negatives showing otherwise.

    If anyone claims these photos were “hoaxed” in a conspiracy, it’s up to them to prove that. As you yourself points out, had this been a conspiracy they would have published the higher dynamic range photo first.

  5. Randel Smith May 2nd, 2011 1:25 pm

    Looking at the photo, and ignoring all the hand wringing and worrying to death by argument over scans and line tracing, I noticed that the effect looks like that deliberately produced by film director Leni Riefenstahl for the film Triumph of Faith in 1933. You know, where a big stadium ringed with searchlights, swing them down until they all converge overhead, producing the famous ‘cathedral of light’ effect. It looks just like this photo, and, almost any other time you get several carbon-arc search lights on a target – or off of it (!) but still crossing each other. Gee I’d like to have one of them big lights! Wonder what it costs to run one?

  6. Brycemeister May 2nd, 2011 9:20 pm

    So, if we are to believe it’s a cloud, then we are forced to believe that the men firing the shells were painfully stupid, as to fire at a cloud for so long. Oh, and we are to ignore eyewitness reports? Yes, there were. I’m not willing to say a flying saucer (although, no matter how many times this has been said-all a UFO is, is an Unidentified Flying Object. And that’s all it is.) but clearly, they fired at an object, that moved slowly, and took immense damage. Not a cloud, which is ridiculous.

    The reason I say an object, is because that’s what it was. And hey, there are a lot of things that it could be-an experimental weapon, that failed, something like that. But a cloud? I find debunking or skeptic or sceptic arguments that reply on trained people being suddenly phenomenally stupid, or hallucinating-like the many pilot reports, with radar returns that are claimed as halluciantions, to be utterly ridiculous. More ridiculous than the laughable little green men.

  7. Joseph May 3rd, 2011 2:15 am

    Bryce, it’s not ridiculous to postulate that people make mistakes. How is it “clear” that they fired at an object, and especially that it “took immense damage”? Finally, most of the people involved in civil air defense during WWII were *not* highly trained people. Highly trained people were on the front lines in Europe.

    I don’t know what you’d make of a story I can tell you of a dead body found in a hotel where the paramedics, responding police and even the initial medical exam missed the fact that the victim had been shot in the head. Trained professionals make a mistake or miss something that should be obvious? Impossible! Then there’s the billion dollar company I used to work for that had a vendor move across the border to another country and continue using the same carrier we’d first requested. We had no contract with that carrier to move freight from that country, so they charged us their generic rate. No one at our company or our outside freight bill auditing company noticed these deliveries were now coming from another country for eight months. By the time someone did, we’d racked up one million dollars more in freight costs than we would have if the vendor had used the right carrier. Impossible! Ridiculous! Or… one doesn’t want to accept that someone telling us what we want to hear could possibly be mistaken even when the evidence is against them….

  8. PersonFromPorlock May 4th, 2011 9:49 pm

    I’ve been saying for a long time now that the whole thing was probably very excited, very green gun crews firing at the smoke from other gun crews’ shellbursts. And the other crews firing at their shellbursts, and so on.

  9. Randel Smith May 5th, 2011 5:14 pm

    Yes, in a nutshell, I believe personfromporlock is right. This has been discussed many times, considering the circumstances of very early war gun and light crews, this is very likely the truth. Plus real saucers would use longer range sensing devices to observe activities with no need to come in low like that and create interference. I have never agreed with the idea that aliens are just so weird that we dumb humans can never reason out or guess what they would do. If the fictional USS Enterprise could circle the earth from a great distance and us ‘sensors’ to observe the planet below, then I imagine real aliens could do something similar. Which means we would rarely be aware of them. But there are constant uap that we need to investigate, not the least of which is to find alternative energy sources. The balls of light that can stop and then zip around erratically will have wonderful applications when the physics of them are understood. One must be able to tell the difference between uaps and possible real aliens.

  10. Lance Moody May 12th, 2011 1:34 am

    Thanks for the above story.

    I posted a story on my blog (notaghost.com) that relates an amusing interaction I had with Frank Warren about the famous photo.


  11. Rob June 4th, 2011 1:15 am

    War nerves and clouds? That’s some ridiculous guessing and insults thousands that were there. If a made up answer calms your own nerves and makes the world “simpler”, then fine…but unfortunately the witnesses didn’t report a cloud, and the report of chase planes was also ignored. This is debunking at it’s worst by substituting testimony with simple answers that doesn’t tie in to the statements.

  12. Joseph June 4th, 2011 2:23 pm

    Rob, just saying “it can’t be” doesn’t make it not so or address any of the points raised in the article. Testimony isn’t evidence. In another case covered by Forgetomori, a cell phone photograph of lasers shooting down from lights in the sky was shown to have been 1) kites with leds on them and 2) the lasers were actually just artifacts of the cell phone camera sensor and never happened. However, there were people who claimed to have “seen” the lasers after the photo came out!

    I took part in a private detective training course where during one class the dean of the college came in to talk to the teacher for a minute. When he left, the teacher asked us to describe him – what he looked like, what he was wearing, etc. Answers were all over the place – his shirt was white, it was light blue, etc. Someone was astute enough to have been able to recall details about his watch, yet described him as bald, although his hair was only slightly thinning! He wasn’t holding anything, he was holding a pen, he had a paper with him, etc., etc. Our teacher’s point was that a description could mean the difference between life and death in the field, and if you didn’t remember, it was much better to tell him “I don’t know” or “I wasn’t looking” then give him wrong information. Of course, some people were convinced of what they recalled even though they turned out wrong – and some who were right allowed themselves to be persuaded by the testimony of others into changing theirs.

    A friend of mine once served as financial advisor to a start-up looking for investors a long time ago. One thing he did was rent some empty office space and take the potential investors on a tour, describing how their operation did/would work even though it really wasn’t up and running yet. He couldn’t let them see much for “security reasons”. He left a lot of the doors closed. He noticed during the tour that one of the tours had partially opened and someone had glanced inside as they walked down the hallway. One potential investor asked the person “what did you see?” The fellow replied that he thought he saw rows of tables with computers on them. In reality? The room was completely empty. My friend had done such a good job painting a picture of the operation that this person’s mind had painted in what it expected to see when it got a glance inside a room.

    In regards to the “Battle of LA”, people were in the grip of hysteria and thought they saw things that weren’t there. This has been happening since the dawn of man and will no doubt always happen. The photograph shows what really happened.

  13. Sam July 5th, 2011 11:14 am

    You skipped the MOST IMPORTANT POINT: the lights from the ground do NOT extend up past the point of convergence in the original as they do in the test because THERE WAS AN OBJECT IN THE LIGHT BLOCKING IT! All of your other BS — like the dome analogy (which would only work IF there were spotlight overhead!) — is pure disinformation!

    Multiple lights converging in the sky do not cancel each other out! They all continue up into the sky in a straight line past the point of convergence unless there is something PHYSICAL blocking it out! We are not as dumb as you think we are!!!

    This was a true UFO, and if you took the time to use simple brightness and contrast tools to adjust the light it becomes self-evident as the glare of the spots goes down, the object shows itself as a true saucer shaped UFO.

    Please crawl back into your lying hole as you do a dis-service to Mankind with your false logic and BS.

  14. Contraerea USA contro UFO nel 1942 July 25th, 2011 1:45 pm

    […] […]

  15. zoamchomsky March 31st, 2012 3:55 pm

    Forget the photo, the BOLA–as a “UFO” event–is utterly inane revisionist nonsense! The BOLA was never anything but a false alarm until the late 1990s when some nutter saw the newspaper-enhanced photo and his p-brane began spinning an “unidentified” yarn.

    As I’ve reported for years, two days before the false alarm, a Japanese submarine had shelled an oil refinery near Santa Barbara so LA coastal bases were rightly on alert. At most, if anything at all, an antiaircraft balloon in Santa Monica broke loose and drifted southeast across the LA basin to San Pedro and, damaged by AA fire, was reported to have fallen into the water off Point Fermin.

    Those suffering under the “UFO” delusion should consider those facts. This BOLA flying-saucer fairy tale is merely a matter of a deceptive newpaper-enhanced photo being forced into a “UFO” CONTEXT fifty years after the event. It’s completely false, its creation and broadcast is disingenuous, and it’s simply stupid.

Leave a reply

Live Comment Preview