UFO Conjecture(s)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Trent (and other UFO) Photos [REDUX]


We’ve always thought that the 1950 Trent/McMinnville photos were fakes, based upon the amount of time that the “flying saucer” stayed in view – long enough for farmer Trent to snap two pictures, without the UFO traversing much distance between shots. (Trent must have had a fast shutter or fast shutter-finger.)

However, the comparison of a 1954 photo (above) from Rouen, France with one of the Trent photos, France in UFOs 1968 magazine gives us pause.

There is also this photo from a man in Germany that duplicates the Trent “saucer:


While many (most?) flying saucer/UFO photos are fakes, some are not.

UFO researchers might seek out those similar UFO photos that are not connected by locale or time for information that integrates with other UFO accounts to see if there are elements that might provide clues leading to a clarification of the UFO mystery.

Certain photos, such as the Heflin polaroids, the Trindade set, and others which are unique in constructive value can be dismissed. But photos that seem to be free of fakery, including even (yes) some Adamski-like "saucers" should be scrutinized by qualified photography and CGI professionals.

The problem with previous photo analyses is that most have been looked at by photography tyros or amateurs and, thus, are virtually worthless.

But a new crop of savvy photogs and CGI mavens, tackling new and older photographs and videos, could bring serious enlightenment to the UFO riddle (perhaps).

An article in PIC magazine, June 1954, “I proved flying saucers are real” about U.S. Marine Ralph Mayher’s movie film (taken July 29th, 1952) of a moving light (saucer?) seemed authentic to this writer at the time, and still resonates as authentic today.


An analysis, by a credible, professional researcher, would go far to validate that film and others.

The lack of such analyses – we’re dismissing Bruce Maccabee’s woefully inadequate and biased analyses – has caused media, science, and academia to place UFOs and their photographic evidence in the collective fringe basket.

But the UFO camp could and should provide its own real experts to look at past and present images of UFOs (flying saucers), instead of letting a handful of pretend-experts make the call.

We’ll be following up on this matter, upcoming…..


  • This is what I've spent the majority of my time in this subject doing - examining video and photo evidence (I've worked in digital an analog imaging / composite / photo manipulation full time for my entire professional career).

    Sadly I don't see much need to examine the visual data anymore. It adds to a growing body of data, and can help validate eyewitness testimony - but visual data does little in the way of answering the real issues:

    What is it?
    What's it made of?
    Where did it come from?
    Who is inside?

    Visual data has been reduced to "oooh ahhh" factor and little more than something to ponder in the easy chair.

    By Anonymous Jeff Ritzmann, at Thursday, September 02, 2010  

  • Jeff:

    It's not the photos per se that provides information but, rather, the attendant information or accompanying information/data that might provide some peripheral but essential clue that we're proposing researchers look for.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 02, 2010  

  • RR-
    Yes sir, absolutely right. It's only a piece, but sadly most people put much more weight upon the visual than any photo or video can possibly hold.

    I'm curious why you see the Trent photos suspect - you mention the duration of sighting, but does that really sway you that much? There must be more, yes? Just curious.

    By Anonymous Jeff Ritzmann, at Thursday, September 02, 2010  

  • Jeff,

    There is a protracted excursion here at this blog or one of our other blogs where we deal with the Trent photos.

    But in essence what disturbs me, besides the duration of the UFO in the vicinity of the Trent farm allowing him to take two snapshots, is the strange flight pattern.

    Looking at the second photo indicates, to me, a bizarre trajectory for a construct in flight.

    Even allowing for an alleged alien craft, the flight direction doesn't seem to fit the physical laws of "normal" aerial flight.

    The craft is off kilter in the first shot and even more so in the second shot.

    An airfoil would seem likely to take an aerodynamically sound trajectory, regardless of its origin or propulsive properties.

    That is the craft would fly away in a way that isn't as obtuse as that which the Trent photos show.

    If aliens are piloting their craft in such a bizarre way, then it's not hard to understand how they might end up crashed in Roswell.

    (I jest, sort of.)

    The ship in the photo that mimics the Trent photo, not the Rouen photo, is really off kilter for a craft in flight, so one can dismiss that craft/photo as illegitimate, probably.

    The Trent bottom shot -- the second photo -- shows a craft that has flipped itself slightly, not to land, but to fly off.

    That doesn't make aeronautical sense to me.

    But it's the duration of the ship in the air, long enough for Trent to take two shots that doesn't ring true, without any blurring or camera movement in evidence.

    As a photography expert, you, Jeff, remember how long it took those old cameras to respond to shutter presses,and how steady one had to hold cameras to get a good still shot.

    Did the Trent ship stop and hover for a moment or longer, allowing farmer Trent to get two clear shots ?

    I don't think so.

    The Robert Sheaffer "exegesis" at
    http://www.debunker.com/trent.html also sways me to dismiss the Trent photos as authentic.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 02, 2010  

  • "That doesn't make aeronautical sense to me."

    Well, these things often don't make any sort of technical sense, especially not aeronautical sense. If you think of this phenomena as manifestations or mirages rather than rivet studded aircraft aeronautics really don't mean much. In truth, these things may not even be "flying" - but that's certainly our perception, as flawed as our perception can be by this sort of thing.

    "Did the Trent ship stop and hover for a moment or longer, allowing farmer Trent to get two clear shots ?"

    Yeah, the old cameras were a pain and were a different animal - but, I'm not willing to take the leap and say that this was a chance event. It could have been a staged event - but I don't mean one by the Trents. If this thing represents the phenomenon, then it's simply another insertion into public awareness. I don't think duration is out of the question and certainly not reason to dismiss it. I mean really, who are we to say how long something should or did hang about. Nothing is off the table with this ambiguous presence. Ambiguity is the only real constant in it. ;)

    By Anonymous Jeff Ritzmann, at Friday, September 03, 2010  

  • Ah, Jeff, I get your point.

    If UFOs are not tangible craft (alien craft or some top secret Earth craft), analysis of an "engineering" kind doesn't do much.

    So one should look at the phenomenon as something amorphous, evanescent even...or as something much more bizarre that bolts and nuts constructed vehicles.

    I was caught up in the ET interpretation evidently.

    The photos cause one to be biased in that way I think.

    If the Trent photos are not fakes, and the "saucer" is not a tangible artifact, then I (and others) may be incapable of discerning exactly what Trent photographed.

    That's when the attendant information may be important.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, September 03, 2010  

  • RR-
    Here's a thing I've really noticed over the years about the photos of strange things in the air.

    Take a look at some of the ones from the 50's. You'll find ones that passed the sniff test small of course, but what is there has an interesting characteristic: fins. Fins were a heavy design element in that decade, and the phenomena seemed to reflect it.

    Of course many fundamentalist skeptic would deduce that they are hoaxes because they seem to reflect human design elements - but the paranormal will always have an escape hatch of sorts making it hard to nail down in any definitive way.

    Many in the late 50's, early 60's reflected "modern art": tapered posts with spheres, and nu deco elements.

    Fast forward to today: smooth, multi-lobed chromic or matte objects - almost what I refer to as the "iUFO" as if they reflect modern aesthetics. Today they seem smooth, and minimalist but technically superior - just again reflective of our own cultural filters of the day.

    This to me, explains why so many types of UFOs are witnessed. The manifestations (if that's what they are) seem reflective of culture. I'm trying to put together a paper that goes the history of unexplained visual data in comparison to the time period and different cultures.

    I think the Trent's UFO reflects the time period rather well actually - whether it's legitimate or not remains to be seen, but I have always thought it a strong possibility.

    As a side note, I really wish I could talk you in to being a guest on our program. You have some fascinating thoughts and I have always very much enjoyed your take on the subject and the "community". Let me know if there's ever a chance you'd do it.

    By Anonymous Jeff Ritzmann, at Friday, September 03, 2010  

  • Thanks for the Paratopia offer.

    I'll give it serious consideration but I think there are better candidates for your esteemed show.

    I also think the idea of UFOs reflecting the culture (or the zeitgeist) during which they appear has great merit.

    For me, UFOs, which I've seen three times, are a damnable, baffling phenomenon.

    To discover exactly what they are or have been will take an epiphany of a great kind.

    You seem to intuit the same kind of thinking about the things.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, September 03, 2010  

  • I agree with Jeff regarding the design elements, something too often overlooked when calibrating the authenticity of various sightings. As a graphic designer by trade, I am keenly aware of what motifs telegraph different periods and you can watch as these are reflected in the ever-evolving descriptions of UFO's. When "saucers" became quaint and the public more savvy, UFOs came to reflect what modern society viewed as "high tech", thus betraying their origins. Or at least that the descriptions witnesses give can sometimes be heavily informed by references from the world around them.

    Oh, and the off kilter "trajectory" of the saucer in question is caused by suspending it from a single from the top of the "craft". I'm just saying... I know this because I designed one for a low-budget short film by a friend of mine. I quickly learned that if there are not stabilizing lines as well, the whole thing wobbles like top.

    By Blogger Cullan Hudson, at Sunday, September 05, 2010  

  • I was scrolling down the page and just saw the first and second pictures with no other context. I simply thought that it was a Stealth Fighter. Think of it not as a flying saucer but as an angular aircraft banking to the left. The part that appears to be sticking out of the top is actually the far wing tip showing above the body of the plane. Didn't the Nazis design a simular plane? To me this makes far more sense than a "flying saucer piloted by aliens.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, September 06, 2010  

  • In 60 years why haven't any skeptics duplicated the Trent photos? Proof that they could be fakes is not the same as proving they are fakes, but it would take the mickey out of that idea. Obtaining an old folder similar to, if not the same model as, the Trent's is easy enough. Both Efke and Adox make ISO 50 films for medium format today. Go to Sears or a similar store and buy what is needed (as long as the materials are what would have been available to the Trents in 1950) for the hoaxing and pick a site similar to that of the Trent photos.

    Let's see what the "savvy photogs" and "CGI mavens" come up with.

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 07, 2010  

  • > In 60 years why haven't any skeptics duplicated the Trent photos?

    Because they already look so fake?

    I was genuinely surprised when I read recently that these were among the best UFO pics.

    By Blogger terry the censor, at Wednesday, September 08, 2010  

  • Terry:

    I think you have it right pretty much.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, September 08, 2010  

  • "Because they already look so fake?"

    Everyone has their opinion. The issue is, if they are fake, then it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to duplicate the (assumed) Trents' hoax. Matching a closely as possible what was available to the Trents should cost the debunker not much more than a hour of his or her time and maybe 50$. I can recommend several cameras and films. Do it for science.

    Where are the negatives these days? I don't recall any of the analyses of the photos considering the different tonal qualities of panchromatic and orthochromatic films. I see discussion of issues that, in order to have a good grasp of the technical matters, requires knowing which kind of film was used. The rebate of the negative would give us that information.


    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Wednesday, September 08, 2010  

  • Forgot to include this in my last.

    For those unfamiliar with the different looks of ortho and pan films (both were commonly available to consumers in 1950), this comparison is useful.


    As you can see, some of the technical opinions about the Trent photos cannot be accepted until we know what film was used.


    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Wednesday, September 08, 2010  

  • The following might not apply to Sourcerer personally, but I throw this out as a general response to UFO enthusiasts, who seem to think rhetoric is a physical science.

    > In 60 years why haven't any skeptics duplicated the Trent photos?

    Why haven't any UFO believers duplicated the Trent photos?

    Why do believers use "debunker" as a smear instead of shaking out the bunk themselves?

    If believers want to be taken seriously by scientists, they should practise the scientific method once in a while, rather than reducing everything to party talking points.

    By Blogger terry the censor, at Wednesday, September 08, 2010  

  • I saw a UFO that looked exactly like this one in Birmingham Alabama in 1959 along with 350 other people who called and reported the same UFO at the same time I did.
    UFOs are real. They exist. I sincerely wish that "they" did not exist, but, sadly, "they" seem to be here to stay.
    I sincerely do not think that "they" are friendly..

    By Blogger Susiq2, at Thursday, September 09, 2010  

  • Susiq2:

    You are smart to be wary of UFOs.

    They may be good OR bad. Who really knows?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 09, 2010  

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