Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Where are the flying saucer pics?

My UFO photo, possibly concealed by the MOD/FBI*
On Sunday I appeared on that interesting internet literary radio programme, Litopia After Dark (it's the 21 October show, not yet uploaded when this post was published). I was slightly thrown as I expected to be talking about publishing and books, but because of the closeness to Halloween, the topics were primarily the supernatural. At one point this strayed into the matter of flying saucers. One of the other guests was asking, if a flying saucer landed on your lawn and an alien came in for a cup of tea, what would you do? Would you tell people?

This started me on a different train of thought. Flying saucer photographs. As Fermi once asked about  visitors from another world, where are they all? You might say that there are plenty of photos of flying saucers. In fact I recently reviewed a whole book of them. But in a way, these emphasise my point.

Most flying saucer pictures are really, really bad or look fake (or both). I know a little about such fakes as I went through a phase of making them in my teens. (Just for fun.) Broadly there were two kinds. A relatively detailed model, suspended against the sky with fishing line, which typically had to be a little out of focus to cover up that this is what it was, or a hubcap or metal plate, thrown high in the sky, frisby style.

The trouble with this second approach is that the thrown object usually travelled at an angle that made its flight look totally unrealistic. And fascinatingly, several of the 'UFOs' in the book I reviewed had exactly the same problem - they were flying at a weird angle, just like my hubcap. I was also amazed that the book included a famous picture of UFOs over the nighttime Capitol building in Washington. It does look impressive. A formation of flying lights apparently close over the dome of this impressive structure. That's what you see in the book. But if you take a look at the uncropped version of the photo, there are a series of street lights on the steps in front of the building. In exact mirror formation to the 'UFOs'. The UFOs are just the camera producing a reflection of the bright lights on the dark sky.

The point that occurred to me during the radio show was this. The reason UFO photos are universally so awful is that the vast majority of the people who claim to have seen them didn't have cameras with them when they come across a UFO. So it's just that 1 in a 1,000 time someone did have a camera that we get the shots, and there are sufficiently few that most are rubbish. At least, that's the argument. Only it's not like that anymore. These days I never go anywhere without a camera and video camera. It's on my phone. And the same goes for many millions of others. So why haven't we seen a sudden burst of vast quantities of good photographic/video evidence of UFOs and little grey men?

Sadly, the answer seems straightforward. Because they were never there in the first place.

* I had hoped to illustrate this with one of my old fake UFO photos, but my albums are in boxes in the loft and the relevant albums weren't in any of the easily accessible boxes. Coincidence? Or conspiracy?!?

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