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Analysis of a UFO photograph, 1981

Posted on:October 8, 1981 at 12:00 AM

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This report reviews various investigative activities and analyses surrounding a photograph of a purported unidentified flying object (UFO) taken on October 8, 1981 at about 11:OO a.m. local time on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The evidence consisted of a single frame of 35 mm color film which showed a sharply focused disc-like object against a clear blue sky with wooded mountain peak nearby. Analyses of the original negative included micro-densitometry, computer enhancements, and other measure- ments intent upon showing a support thread, atmospheric disturbance, or other evidences of a hoax. These analyses suggest that the disc was a three dimensional object located at a distance of at least 30 feet from the camera; the object’s surface albedo was diffuse and of lower luminance than sunlit cloud. Extensive interviews with the photographer (who never saw the aerial object), her husband and daughter and site survey tended to support the entire narrative account. The identity of the disc object remains unidentified.


Contrary to common belief there are many photographs of alleged UFOs. Of course the problem lies not so much with the details of the photograph and its negative as with the photographer and the equipment used. It is for this reason that one must be careful to fully document seemingly unimportant details concerning the person taking the photograph, the social situation which surrounded the photograph(s), the camera lens film data, the developing printing enlarging activities and the manner in which the photograph came to the attention of the investigator. Since such a photograph image is only as credible as the photographer who took it, one must exercise “due diligence” in each of the above areas. Many older UFO photographs remain useless artifacts of the UFO enigma because the investigator did not or could not obtain all of the relevant background information. As will be made clear, the author attempted to consider all of the above factors. Length restrictions of this paper impose certain practical limits upon the depth to which these facts can be documented, however.

The remainder of this report will cover the following topics:

Mountain and Disk


In summary, this investigation has shown that a mature adult with high credibility and little or no interest in UFO phenomena obtained a single, colored, sharp imaged photograph of an unidentified aerial disc like object. Her subsequent reactions to seeing the disc’s image on her photograph pro- duced surprise and dismay as well as the normal array of “answer-seeking” behavior. She has not capitalized on having such a photo and still act ssome what embarrassed at having taken it without seeing the disc. The disc’s identity has not been identified to date.