Sunday, September 11, 2022

Whither Calvine??

In the last post, we looked at the legendary, long-lost Calvine UFO photo, one print of which has just recently been found! As you might imagine, there have been a lot of people spending a lot of time poring over that photo. Higher-resolution, non-lossy scans are now available. However, they still do not show much detail. What are the latest findings based on expert analysis? There is no generally-accepted explanation as of yet. There appear to be three categories of explanation for that "UFO" at the present time.

From a higher-resolution, non-losssy scan of the print, I greatly enhanced the contrast and sharpness. Still not much detail is seen.

1. Unknown or Experimental Aircraft. Dr. David Clarke, whose research led to the discovery of the lost Calvine photo, is presently in that camp. Supposedly, it is a top-secret American supersonic experimental aircraft named "Aurora," which has been widely speculated about, but never shown to actually exist. And frankly, if some advanced aircraft was supposedly developed over thirty years ago, and has not been seen openly before or since, that is excellent reason to doubt its existence. One reason people accept this is simply that it was reported to be the conclusion of the UK MOD Intelligence officers who examined the photos. Perhaps some people see this as convincing, but if the UK MoD "experts" are anything like the Pentagon's UAP "experts," remember that the "chief scientist" for the US DOD UAP task force is a guy from Ancient Aliens. So don't be too awed by "experts."

The photographers told investigators that the object hovered motionless for about ten minutes, then rapidly shot straight up. If that statement is true, it rules out any advanced aircraft of human construction. Supersonic aircraft do not simply hover in place for minutes at a time. And if that statement is false, the case must immediately be considered a hoax - Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. If a witness lies about one aspect of the case, everything else he says about it is dubious.

2. Reflection in Water Hypothesis. This explanation seems all-too-clever, is counter-intuitive, yet it is attracting lot of attention. At first it seems impossible, but when properly understood it is indeed possible. Whether it is likely, however, is another matter.  

The 'reflection hypothesis,' as illustrated by Mick West on Metabunk.

Mick West's illustration shows how such a reflection might be possible. If the photographers happened to come across a pond reflecting the scenery as above, and if there happened to be a big rock sticking out of the water, then the rock, and its reflection, would appear to be an object in the sky, at least if we looked only at the reflection. They need just wait for the military jet to be in the right position, then "click." But it seems rather unlikely that random hikers would run across such a scenario (The site where the photo was taken is not known with certainty. David Clarke published a photo by Giles Stevens, purporting to show the actual location of the Calvine photo. No pond is there.)  Also, the surface of the water would have to be exceptionally still, to avoid seeing any ripples whatsoever in the water. Not impossible, to be sure, but very unlikely. I'd say, this hypothesis is too clever by half.

Another fact arguing against the reflection hypothesis is the matter of camera focus. The UFO is in better focus than anything else in the photo. This almost certainly means that the UFO is closer than everything else, and the camera was focused upon it. Now we do not know what kind of camera was used to take this photo, and what kind of lens, or what f/stop was used. So it is not possible to make definite depth-of-field calculations. According to the photo analysis by Dr. Clarke's colleague Andrew Robinson, the camera used was most likely a 35 mm SLR, with a lens focal length between 35mm and 105mm. (That is a pretty large range!) Listing the possibilities, a camera like the one below is his first choice: a 35mm SLR, using a 50mm lens (which was standard on such cameras).

The Calvine photos were most likely taken with a camera and lens like this, an 80s vintage SLR with 50mm lens.

This lens helpfully has a depth-of-field indicator (center dial). If we choose f/8 for our f-stop (inner ring), we then rotate the outer focusing ring to where the "infinity" symbol is at f/8. On the other side of the center dial, we find that f/8 gives us good focus on objects as close as about 4 1/2 meters. This ensures that every object from about 4 1/2 meters to infinity will be in sharp focus. So if the camera at f/8 is focused on a nearby object, rendering distant objects out-of-focus, that means that the camera must be focused on an object about 4 meters or less distant. If f/11 is used, the depth of field extends from to 3 meters to infinity.

Using this 50mm lens at f/8, objects from 5 meters to infinity can be in sharp focus.

In the reflection hypothesis, the rock would need to be at least 10 meters or so from the camera. In such a situation, the focus for the rock would not be different from that of distant objects. This seems to rule out the 'water reflection' hypothesis.

3. Small object near the camera. This is, in my view, the most likely explanation. There are a number of different ways that it could be done. The Belgian investigator Wim van Utrecht thought that the object looked like a Christmas star set on its side. 

He decided to test that hypothesis. Photographing that star from the side, this was the result. I'd say that this is an excellent match-up for the object seen in the Calvine photo.
A Christmas star, photographed from the side (Wim van Utrecht).



Researcher James A. Conrad suggested that  the object might be produced using the "glass shot" technique, where an object is painted, or affixed, to a glass screen. He writes that this technique "has been used by filmmakers and photographers – and possibly some hoaxers – for over 115 years."

Over on Metabunk, user NorCal Dave has been attempting replications of the Calvine photo using various techniques. The photo below uses a paper model. It definitely looks like he is on the right track.

NorCal Dave's replication of the Calvine photo, using a paper model. Note how the "UFO" is in better focus than anything else.


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