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Battle of LA photo: Nothing indeed

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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.

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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.

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

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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:

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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.

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UFO Best Evidence: The El Yeso Reflection?

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It’s been called the world’s best UFO photo. Of course, some national pride may have been involved since the claim was made by Chilean Ufologists about this Chilean UFO photo, captured on February 14, 2010 near the El Yeso reservoir, high in the Andes Mountains. Besides an interesting image, complete with a “possible shape of the UFO” reconstruction you see below, from a local UFO group, the case is interesting because it was also investigated by the official Chilean group CEFAA, which forwarded it for analysis abroad.

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As a cooperation between CEFAA and the American NARCAP, Dr. Richard Haines evaluated the series of images and issued a report, translated by CEFAA to Spanish, and also reproduced by Leslie Kean in English.

The image was part of a series of photos captured by a family in holiday interested in registering the colorful iridescent clouds that can be seen. It was only afterwards that they noticed the apparent UFO in the sky. That is, point one, they didn’t actually see the UFO. And, as Haines himself notes, “the UAP was not visible in any of the other photographs taken of the same location in the sky”. It only showed up in one image. Point two.

Here’s one additional. extremely relevant point. As local UFO group CIFAE comments on, quoting the direct statement by one of the witnesses, Doris Hermosilla, some of the photos in the series were taken from inside an utility vehicle. Hermosilla states that the image with the UFO was taken outisde the car, but the UFO group comments that both the previous and the photo in question actually have fuzzy reflections suggesting otherwise.

Indeed, in the upper left corner of area number 12, following the reference areas marked in the full photo by Haines, one can clearly see an out of focus light blob.

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Now, that could be either a flare, or an internal reflection on a car window or windshield. It could also be another UFO, but then, and here is the point, so could the UFO be… a flare or internal reflection.

A flare is not a very good candidate since the image does appear in focus with definite features, but a reflection looks like a very good hypothesis. It would not be the first of its kind.

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The three points we remarked are all compatible with a reflection on a window or windshield, not noticed by the witnesses, recorded only in one photograph where the angles were just right, and taken from inside a vehicle. Something very much like this mysterious yellow UFO in the sky:

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Which is just a GPS antenna reflected on a windshield. Notice in this other photo how reflections of objects at different distances from the glass may appear in and out of focus, just as on the El Yeso photo we have a more sharply defined “UFO” and an out of focus blob.

Additional elements supporting the idea of a reflection can actually be found in Dr. Haines considerations. He notices how the geometry of the illumination does not match if the assumed UFO was reflecting sunlight. Indeed, it’s backwards. Haines then suggests that “the UAP’s surface was not reflecting sunlight but (perhaps) emitting its own reddish luminance”. Perhaps, but then perhaps it was reflecting sunlight, and then being reflected once again through a windshield.

The ‘UFO’ is a reflection in a window”, promptly explained to me Chilean researcher Andrés Duarte. “Obviously, an image like that is very easy to recreate. The reflected object seems to show a woven pattern and stitching”. Amazingly, Haines also noticed that “the UAP looks remarkably like a woven, canvas shoe with threaded thong stitching around the sole”.

So, if the “UFO” was a reflection, what it actually was? Probably not a shoe. CIFAE published an image from one of the seats of the vehicle in question, noting some similarities, but also some differences:

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So, especially if the photo was taken through the side window, part of one of the seats illuminated by the Sun could be what many are interpreting as an UFO.

From my part, if the photo was taken instead through the windshield, then as with the previous GPS UFO example, the object may appear much larger than it actually is. It could even be, instead of a disc or part of a larger object, in fact a hole in the dashboard, similar to the best “UFO” photo ever.

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If it was a hole, then this case would be fascinating, among many other reasons, for combining the illusion of a convex object where it was actually concave, with the appearance of a large hovering object in the sky where it was in fact a small reflection.

An examination of the vehicle and further interviews with the witnesses could possibly identify the object and make this yet another one of the “best” UFO photos for their interesting story and unexpected identification rather than a great unexplained mystery.

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Famous Battle of LA photo was retouched version

Feb. 25, 1942: Searchlights converge on unknown object over Los Angeles in the early morning hours. Over 1400 rounds of anti-aircraft rounds were fired, with rounds with many rounds landing on the ground. This is unretouched version.

“Feb. 25, 1942: Searchlights converge on an unknown object in the skies over Los Angeles. During the early morning air-raid alert, more than 1,400 anti-aircraft shells are fired.

The incident, now referred to as the Battle of L.A., occurred less than three months after the Pearl Harbor attack and two days after a Japanese submarine shelled an oil facility near Santa Barbara.

The next day, on Feb. 26, The  Times published a photo page with a retouched version of the above searchlight photo and seven other images of damage from falling anti-aircraft shells.”

Do you hear that sound? It’s one “classic” UFO case falling apart in the most basic form. In an article by Scott Harrison published by the same LA Times, we are informed that an original, unretouched negative of the famous image was recently found at the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive at UCLA, and that:

“In the retouched version, many light beams were lightened and widened with white paint, while other beams were eliminated.

In earlier years, it was common for newspapers to use artists to retouch images due to poor reproduction — basically 10 shades of gray if you were lucky.

Thus my conclusion:  the retouching was needed to reproduce the image. But man, I wish the retouching had been more faithful to the original. With our current standards, this image would not be published.”

Feb. 25, 1942. Retouched version of searchlight photo after work by Los Angeles Times artists. The bottom part of the image was painted black. The searchlights were lightened with white paint.  This version is from a copy negative made at unknown date from retouched print.  The neg is now in the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive at UCLA.

Previously, Tim Printy had already delved into the whole Battle of LA case in his SUNlite Vol..3 No.1, where he had already speculated the famous image could have been retouched. He also noted that another photo of the Battle of LA published on LIFE magazine shortly afterwards didn’t show anything at all:

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As it turns out, just like the original unretouched LA Times image.

Printy’s article also goes into the very small detail that most promoting an UFO link seem to ignore, that the Battle of LA happened a couple of days after an actual Japanese attack on the west coast.

Interestingly, and quite amazingly, all the panic that night may have started with a  weather balloon. One of the major cases before the word UFO was even coined involved a weather balloon.

Believe it or not – and if you do read more about the historical context, it actually is quite believable – fact is that the only physical evidence for an alleged alien spacecraft that night has just vanished.

As it was never actually there.

UPDATE 03/13/2011: A looping animation between the original and retouched versions:

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Ghost Rocket in California was flight UPS902

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At the beginning of the month, a “mysterious missile launch” recorded from South California sparked a lot of media interest until it was identified as a commercial flight UPS902 from Honolulu to Ontario, California. The sunlit contrail looked like a rocket exhaust, but unlike any rocket, its source moved very slowly.

Mick West over at ContrailScience did a superb job presenting the evidence for the identification, as this may be one of the most irrefutable explanations for an intriguing aerial phenomenon in the history of intriguing aerial phenomena.

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It goes from multiple photos allowing triangulation which matches in time and space the radar track of flight UPS902 to satellite imagery of the contrail and even previous cases of contrails that look like rocket plumes. Just check all the evidence, it’s quite beautiful to see so many independent evidence converging into one single and clear explanation thanks to the wonders of the modern information age – and Mick West and his many collaborators, of course.

Now, though most people called it a “mysterious missile launch”, one could just as well name it a “ghost rocket”. As Bob Sheaffer noted, the classic 1946 photo of a ghost rocket in Sweden, the only known photo of the wave that anticipated modern ufology by a year, is usually interpreted as a meteor.

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But couldn’t that actually be a contrail? “People in Sweden, seeing [in 1946] the unfamiliar new phenomenon of high-altitude contrails, [may have] perceived them as menacing rockets launched by one great power or another.

It would have been quite a feat to capture a meteor trail in the sky with an old camera, but a contrail not unlike the recent California one would be in the sky for several minutes. Much easier. Much more probable?

Contemporary investigations did mention contrails as one of several explanations for the “ghost rockets” (none of them involving actual rockets, nor alien spaceships), but it would be quite curious if the sole photo of that wave is of a contrail rather than a meteor.

Much more so that more than six decades later, with people in California very familiar with contrails, ghost rockets may still cause a lot of confusion.

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Billy Meier remakes

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Do the photos above seem different? One is an allegedly alien spacecraft by Billy Meier. The other is one of the top 60 remakes by Phil Langdon, made with a plastic garbage lid and other trinkets.

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People have long been seeing the obvious tricks used to create such UFO photos, involving mainly forced perspective – including the use of a small bonsai-like tree.

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But Phil Langdon managed to match almost every little detail of Meier’s photos. Here he is with the small tree and one of the models:

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Click for the full gallery on The Biggest Secret Forum.

Of course, one may think unnecessary to debunk such photos. Who would believe them in the first place?

Well, Fox Mulder wanted to believe, as the poster on his office was a cropped version of one of Meier’s photos.

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Meier’s original shot is here, and Langdon’s remake of that classic shot is here.

The Meier case is quite interesting, as besides using a garbage can lid as part of an alien spacecraft, he sold photos of TV dancers as beautiful humanoids from the DAL-Universe and illustrations as shots from space, the future or the past.

Note two of the previous links go to Meier’s explanations to such exposes, where he actually claims that the original sources were created a posteriori to discredit him, and/or that the photos he sold were switched with hoaxed ones without his knowledge by Men in Black.

It sounds like something out of the plot of the final seasons of X-Files. Which is not good at all.

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