Monday, August 27, 2012

A Mystery To Solve.

OK, folks, it's your turn to solve the mystery. What is the "thing" in the photo? I'm not playing any game; I haven't a clue.

Background: I finally had finished all the necessities on this latest Back Home trip, and decided to see if some "fun" was possible. I hauled down one of the 30 or so unsorted boxes-full-of-paper from the SITU collection, and began turning the pages. Most [95%?] were news clippings about UFO cases, so it was a little more entertaining than most. Buried within the clippings was this.

An accompanying letter [not overwhelmingly clarifying, but perhaps all the writer could do at the time] said that this was a photo taken at Crater Lake [I assume Oregon] in the summer of 1971. The photo was shot as a "postcard-type" beauty shot, which makes the next thing part of the puzzle: the photographer [and friends] saw nothing of the sort next to the pine tree while photographing [nor anytime else]. This then is one of those "where the heck did THAT come from?" photos.

Just so everyone starts at the same place with any speculations: Both the photographer and the correspondent looked closely at the negative and can see nothing funky there. Supporting the not-a-problem-with-the-negative position is the striking fact that the "object" shows, pretty clearly that it is right next to the tree and has the tree's shadow marked on it.

So, at first glance, we have a rather large object, which no one saw, nevertheless photographed, which does not seem to be a camera or film problem, but rather existent in the outside world. Hmmmm.... something's weird at Crater Lake.

So...... what??????

"I'm telling you, Bullard, there's weird goings-on at Crater Lake!!"


  1. Hello,

    The 'shadow' appears to be at a right angle to the tree that cast it. Can't explain that, either. Curious image.


  2. Is there a date for when the photo was received? It'd be helpful to know what state of technology was available to the person sending the image.

    My immediate impression is to suspect a manipulated image. The reflected landscape on the apparent sphere isn't right. The landscape should be mapped across the reflective surface in the direction of the observer. Instead it's reflecting the landscape from a left perspective. I don't know the correct terms to be exactly clear, but the reflection should conform to lines of longitude and latitude and spread out from the centre.

    To put in the best way I can think of, if you look directly at your reflection in a sphere the nose is central, enlarged and the rest of the face is diminished. In this image, your face would be seen from the side; the perspective is wrong.

    1. July 23, 1971. The letter writer speaks to the letter recipient as if he is a friend. That second person [ "Vern F." ] then passes the thing on to Ivan, but there is no letter for that second passage.

      As to "reflection": my eye cannot distinguish enough of the surface quality of the alleged object to comfortably claim that it is reflective at all. All that I think that I can surely say about the thing is that the tree's trunk is shadowing it darkly in a narrow band up and down, the tree limbs protrude between the eyeballs and the object, and that the surface seems to have a striated or banded texture to it.

      As to the dark "polygraph-like" markings which run more or less horizontally: I cannot honestly say that they are not part of the object's structure or a shadow effect from a non-smooth aspect of its structure, or an actual ragged hole in the thing.

  3. The mystery object is high contrast and in sharp focus. This suggests to me a small sphere relatively close to the camera. The trees are slightly out of focus, and their images are lower contrast placing them significantly further away from the camera. I still haven't a clue what the object might be, but if it looks like a toy ball, and if it's a similar size to a toy ball........maybe it's a toy ball?

    1. I thought of that, John, but gave it up as the tree limbs protrude in front of the "ball".

  4. A quick look suggests a drop of fluid on the lens refracting the landscape.

    1. Hi Barry. I'm pretty amateurish about such things, but could that happen and we still get
      1). the illusion of the tree trunk shadow down the vertical "center" of the "ball"?, and
      2). the illusion of the tree branches extending in front of the "ball"?

      I can just imagine #2, but a "shadow" shouldn't be able to form on a fluid drop not in its vicinity.

  5. Looking at it more it could be a developing flaw. Are you sure the tree limbs are in front of it or being seen through it? Are they saying that the negative was clean but this came out on the print after exposure? I hate these pictures where the image is cool looking but no one saw it despite it being clearly in view. It almost always suggests something on or in the camera or developer issues.

    1. I've been thinking a bit more about your idea. What if you're correct about a drop of something on the lens, and then we ARE seeing the tree limbs through the image? Then the only problem left is the tree shadow. But what if it ISN'T the tree's shadow? What if it's a shadow of the edge of the camera's "nozzle" itself on the "drop" itself? If that's possible, then most of this is in a "mundane" place. The only minor thing to me then would be why the "drop" looks like it does [i.e. the regular striations] ?

    2. Hello Professor and everyone, I enjoy this site immensely. I had a fine time figuring this out, although my solution may bring disappointment to you. It would be wonderful if this were a real object, it’s so clear and detailed.

      I was drawn particularly to the fine grain of the object’s detail, so different from the smooth and featureless bodies of the better UFO photos I’ve seen. It has a banded pattern I saw at first as ridges or ribs wrapped around the object, but the curves aren’t quite right for them to be wrapped around a (near) spherical body, and a corrugated body should have a wavy edge; this is hard and smooth. And the fine splintery grain doesn’t bulge with the object, it looks flat, despite the curving bands. There’s also a faint choppy horizontal banding across it, also un-bulging and flat.

      I think what we’re seeing is simply a hole in the photograph, with a wooden board showing through behind it. Once you read the grainy detail as actual wood grain it all makes sense. The faint ragged horizontal banding is the mark of the saw that split the board. This photo-with-a-hole was rephotographed, and that’s the Professor’s photo.

      Look at the curved shadow zone on the object’s upper right side; It’s easy to see this as the tree’s shadow falling across a curved object, but the shadow’s not quite right for that. Notice the ragged dark edge of the object there, the particular shape of the ziz-zag edge. Look below and you’ll see it mirrored in the lower edge of the shadow zone: the hole is a bit ragged, and light upon the photo (coming down from the right) throws a ragged shadow that matches this ragged edge.

      It’s the darkest thing in the photo, darker than the darkest daylight shadows in the scene, it doesn’t belong to the landscape’s light, it lacks the blur and dimness of the rest of the detail. Once you see it as a hole in paper with a bit of plywood behind it stops being a UFO. Any thoughts on this?

    3. Interesting theory by Monty there. Sounds very plausible. I'm not sure I fully understand what the picture taker had to do to pull that off, but does the fact the the tree branches (not their reflection) appear to be visible INSIDE the object's dark right-hand border have any bearing on the plywood explanation?

      To me it looks like those branches -- located within the 'object', at 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock from its center, and occupying maybe 10% of its width -- are clearly distinct from the stark black border and shading areas, with the branches being lighter and softer.

      I've not seen old fingerprint photos in a long time, but I know the fingerprinting procedure used to be pretty comical, often having to be repeated several times, due to inconsistent finger pressure on the ink pad or the paper, leaving weird bands, shading, and often a bit of running ink... which MAY explain the upper right hand corner jaggedness. Ink could also explain why the dark portions of the object are so much darker than anything in the background image.

      I just don't know. I do know that the anomaly in the picture looks less and less like an actual 'object' the more I look at it. My own limited perceptions do not act to preclude possibilities, of course, but I'd have to say that I'm leaning towards a Kandinsky or Monty or fingerprint-related explanation right now... without more information. There's just too much I don't know about the mechanics and practicality of the above possibilities AT THAT TIME.

  6. I'm edging towards it being a photo-montage with the 'object' being added to an original photograph and then re-photographed. In your enlargement, the edges along the top surface are rough and uneven which could be evidence of the sphere being cut out with something like a craft-knife.

    If you open the enlargement in something like Windows Photo Viewer you can rotate it. Rotating it makes it look less like a reflective (oblate) spheroid and more awkward to account for. I'm artistic by nature and you'll understand me on this one Prof being artistic yourself. When we try to free-hand shade a sphere to make it look 3-D, it's very difficult to sketch those arcs correctly - the curvature often comes slightly wrong. In rotating this image, I wonder if it's been inked and the artist likewise struggled to get his curvature (striations) spot on?

    It's a most peculiar image and generating quite a few ideas. Good work!

  7. Here's a clue. Some cameras of the time mentioned used leaf type irises. A pinpoint of moisture on the lens double reflects light at the moment of the iris' largest opening, or F stop. The image has to be in the exact center of the photo for this phenomena to happen.

  8. Strange looking object....

    I agree with Kandinsky; those rough edges at the top right are odd, and may suggest tampering.

    After a few looks, I can say that the 'object' reminds me of a fingerprint in some ways. If you look at the 12 o'clock and 5 o'clock edges of it, you can see where the seemingly parallel ridges converge to form what looks like a 'Y'. I think these are called deltas or forks in fingerprint science.

    But then we must address a few more concerns:

    First, what explains the very shaded, arcing vertical lines? Could some chemical or substance have attached itself to an oily smudge and turned parts of it dark like that? I have no idea.

    Second, if the 'object' is in fact fingerprint-related, what might have caused the jagged edges at the top right (already mentioned by another user)?

    I did look at the pads of my fingers, and some of them (the pinky, especially) do appear to have larger than expected regions where there are no Y-intersections or swirlies, but only 'concentric arcs.' (Yeah, I know, but let's just pretend that phrase does make geometrical sense, okay?!)

    I'm just offering up one more possibility for that weird-looking object, even if it's a remote one.

    And I'm NOT a debunker, by the way. I had an interesting experience myself several years ago, with several other people present, and have been fascinated by UFOs ever since. So I don't consider myself a "believer", either. I know what I saw, what we all saw, very plainly, and it was clearly mechanical, clearly under intelligent control, and clearly moved in ways well beyond human capabilities in both its method and characteristics of flight. Therefore, though it's cliche', I consider myself a "knower", not a believer.

  9. Ted Serios at work?

    I can't imagine a waterdrop looking like that. Oil drop maybe.

  10. Prof I strongly suspect it ain't a drop of fluid simply because even on only slighter closer inspection it's very easy to see it isn't the sort of perfect ovoid it initially appears to be. The outline's got precisely the sort of chunky little irregularities you'd expect if someone'd cut it out say from a magazine.

    Saying that I don't think it has been cut out simply because if you look even closer you can just make out not only what appears to be a brighter reflective area's actually the lake 'behind' the anomaly plus a bit of branch from the tree also 'behind' but more of the same branch as well other lower branches're threading their way 'through' the hypothetical 'tree shadow'.

    There's also a hint of what almost appears to be a 'heart' shape near the foot of the 'tree shadow' with three figures in it: one I can't make out plus a 3 and a B which might've come about from someone inadvertently jotting down something on a piece of paper unaware they were leaning on a photo which hadn't had time to sufficiently dry out. Alternatively the 'heart' might be on the base of an object like a cup with an ovoid base which someone's unwittingly pulled towards them much like someone once did on a watercolour painting of mine producing a very similar smudged curving striations effect.

    What baffles me though is you can see flakes of snow falling in the main picture and there seems to be something in the chunky ovoid which looks very much like flakes of snow which've also been 'dragged' until they've streaked though because they're mostly straighter the impressions given this was a quite separate incident.

    The mother of my kids used to be an industrial photographic 'spotter' whose job was to use chemicals on a paintbrush to normalise details like glowing eyes and paint out random blobs occurring during the development process and to go by her it's possible someone was in a rush or not properly trained.

  11. Comparing the focus on the edges of the mystery object to the edges of the trees and other surroundings, I would guess the object was not photographed at the same time as the background

  12. The light on the object is wrong, whatever it is it is not in the surroundings in which it appears.

    Professor, I am a contributor to another paranormal blog site and would like permission to bring this story to our readers, giving you full credit and linking back to this site.

    Please feel free to contact me:

    1. Henry, you are most welcome to share whatever mysteries we explore here with others. This site doesn't ever try to "make money" on anything, so even if I was a greedy person [I am not] there would be only gain in sharing. Some bloggers seem concerned over "their" stuff --- I'm not. There is no "fame" in the pursuit of truth as such a concept [fame] is a foolishness, and the best of the human race is when we share. I do like the offer of a mention of this site, though, as it might aid in all of our sharing of our knowledge pool on these important glimpses we occasionally get of a bigger world.

  13. To the general "discussion floor": this is all pretty amusing isn't it? Having fun as adults is OK in my book. One brief comment: note that many of us are convinced that there is nothing really anomalous about the picture, but everybody's "solving" it in different directions.

    Hmmmmm..... meditation time???

  14. One of the first things stressed long ago when the earliest manifestation of the MUFON Investigator's Manual appeared was that all such reports should first be viewed as non-exotic until proven otherwise. This is something that is not done enough in this subject. With this picture, we are obviously limited in the facts so a certain amount of fishing needs to be done. Another random thought on the picture: Did anyone see the development process? I suspect not as the photographer probably received it from a processing firm. Could a worker have dropped a substance on the negative, have attempted to wipe it off (the curved striations)and put a coat on the negative to repair? No one saw this in the air at the time so it had to be internal to the camera and film. Unless the picture was taken by Trevor James!

  15. Ha!! Yes, of course, Trevor James Constable's space creatures. Ivan decided [rather foolishly --- you should read his disjointed talk to the infamous Moseley convention which Condon went to in 1967 on this topic] that space creatures were the way to go. I wonder if that's what he thought this was.

    More seriously [?] I think that we have to assume one of two things: a). the photographer and the letter receiver are telling the truth, and the thing wasn't seen and came out in the photo as a genuine surprise, or b). both the photographer and the fellow who gave this to Ivan as a mystery were deliberately hoaxing. "B" does not ring at all true to me --- doesn't fit either the tone of the letter [where nothing is being claimed or pushed] nor any motivation [as there isn't even a request by "Vern F" to publish the thing.] My preference is to dump the "hoax" concepts, and even the "repaired negative" concept, as both men said they separately studied the negative with a magnifying glass. I am left with a drop of fluid on the lens, a shadow caused by the camera's edge, and striations maybe by the wind. .... or..... [sinister music stage left].

  16. a nice photo, thanks for sharing. my personal opinion this is not 'that' kind of phenomena , more like some kind of photographic defect somewhere along the line (droplet , dust, impurities , negative processing) and the possibilities already discussed in the commentary posts.

    what im (still) curious about is the lago de cota photograph , whats your take on that prof? its a disc like object photographed by costarican goverment mapping plane and its been analyzed (including the negatives) and still no explanation today.

    1. that photo is recently heavily disputed... as I'm no expert on the case, and don't know how to become one, I'll just ignore the thing.

  17. Perhaps it's a portal to a parallel world.



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