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Long Exposure UFO Sighting Photography

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A brief exploration of the hallmarks of "long exposure" photography, from within the context of UFO mis identifications and the Dorothy Izatt photos of streaks of light:

Part 1 - What is long exposure photography:

"Long-exposure photography or time-exposure photography or slow shutter photography involves using a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements."

We've all seen the photos of cars on a motorway, where you see streaks of light caused by the headlights and rear lights. See example photo 1, below.
These sorts of photos are created when the shutter of the camera is left open for much longer than usual, so that instead of capturing a single, short moment in time, it captures (or you could say "collects") ALL movement AND LIGHT over an extended period of time. In our example below (photo 1), the cars are moving down the freeway. Their lights are dragged through the frame, and the camera and surroundings are sitting still. But the same effect of blurred, extended streaks of light, can be produced by having the subject stay still and moving the camera instead. We've all experienced this to some extent when taking photos of something while accidentally moving the camera.. and the result is that the thing we were trying to focus on.. blurs! I'm sure we're all also aware, that in low light conditions, things blur more. Keep that in mind as you read on.

Part 2 - Hallmarks of long exposure:

The main hallmarks of a long-exposure photo that are particularly relevant to this discussion are (1) Moving light sources noticeably dragged and blurred into long streaks (2) Brighter surroundings due to light being collected over an extended period of time (3) blurs caused by the camera operator all move in the same directions, since its not them moving, it's the camera.

During a long-exposure shot, because our camera, or camcorder, is leaving its shutter open for longer, MORE LIGHT comes into the camera, and as a result, not only are moving things blurred, but EVERYTHING in the scene will appear brighter than a short-exposure shot. So, for example, lets say we take two photos of a helicopter in the sky at dusk. The first photo is a very short exposure shot.. The helicopter is sharply defined, not blurred.. And it's background (the sky) is dark, the same as it appears in reality. The second photo is long exposure.. The helicopter itself, AND its rotors, AND its lights are all now noticeably blurred because we are capturing every movement and smearing it all together. Importantly, the sky and other surroundings appear brighter than in reality, almost as if it's earlier in the day, simply because collectively more light has been allowed in and recorded in the one frame. (see photo example 2, below). In that example of a helicopter you can see below, we can say with 100% certainty, that if this had been a short-exposure shot, the surrounding sky would have been more black. Any buildings, reflections, lights.. everything would appear DARKER. But because it's a long-exposure shot, we get the blurring of the helicopter into one long white curvy line, and we also get brighter surroundings.

There are many alleged UFO photos of this type. They are usually declared to be "cigar" shaped craft. Photo example 3 below is one such misidentification from 2012, claimed to be a UFO that was buzzing a Chinese airport. Actually, it's a long-exposure shot of a helicopter using it's searchlight. This is a night shot, but notice how bright the sky and surroundings are. Long exposure=brighter surroundings.

Part 3: Dorothy Izatt's smeared light photos. UFO visitation, or accidental long-exposure of (unknown) light sources?

As was discussed earlier today in a UFO Updates thread about Dorothy Izatt, (which I think I've now been blocked from viewing) it is my humble, amateur opinion, that the similarities between some of her "UFO" stills and other, known examples of long-exposure photography, should not be ignored. They, quite clearly, show the same thing at work: We see pinpoints of light in one frame of a video, and in the next frame, for one frame only, we see what is apparently the same geographical place, but now the pinpoint(s) of light are not small dots, they are large, elongated snake-like squiggly lines, often spreading across the height and width of the frame. In the documentary, ironically titled "Capturing the Light", the experts say this is impossible, because each frame only lasts 1/18th of a second, and nobody can physically move the camera fast enough to produce the blurred results we see. This assumes that those frames were only exposed for 1/18th of a second. If however the camera becomes jammed on one frame, it could be exposed for much longer, and the results we see would not be impossible at all. In fact, they would be entirely expected!

But the camera was inspected and passed all tests, right? True, or not, I'm not going to ignore the possibility that it could still jam regardless, and Izatt herself may, inadvertently or not, have been somehow causing the "fault" that led to such a large volume of single-frame, long-exposure captures taking place.

For the purposes of this discussion I'm not really interested in exploring motivation, experts opinions about camera details, etc. I'm all about sticking to the visuals. How do they compare to known long-exposure shots? I'm only commenting on this at all because I think what we are seeing is incredibly clear and obvious to the trained eye. We are clearly seeing some sort of jamming of the video-camera, which is causing one "anomalous" frame to become a long-exposure shot of the lights she was previously filming. Then, large movements of the camera are causing the same exact effect we see in the freeway & helicopter shots. i.e. In Izatt's case, all of those previously existing light sources are dragged and blurred, ALL IN THE SAME DIRECTION, because its not THEM that are moving, it is THE CAMERA.

This is important so I shall emphasize it: What we see in her smeared light stills is not just SIMILAR to what we'd expect.. it is EXACTLY what we'd expect to see.. if her camera jammed.. exposed one frame for a long time.. and she moved the camera around a bunch. This does indeed take into account the frames before and after the jam. Everything fits.

So, time to end on a quick test of this hypothesis:

IF, I am correct, and the "anomalous" stills of Izatt's are simply long exposure shots, then we should be able to spot not only

Hallmark number 1: Points of light turning into squiggly, elongated snakes..., but we should ALSO be able to see

Hallmark number 2: Everything else in the frame is brighter, due to the fact that not just the pinpoints of light, but EVERYTHING in the scene is being subjected to a long-exposure. Photo 4 below and compare the overall brightness of A to B. (In the case of the second photo from the left, the surroundings were most likely completely black before, i.e. at night with no other light sources nearby.. so there was no more light left to expose, so the surrounding area of both A and B are the same)

But wait.. there's more! We should be able to discern another very important hallmark: If the movements are being caused not by the lights but by the person holding the camera, then the streaks should be seen to be traveling in exactly the same directions, at the same angles, as if traveling in perfect "formation".. In the more busy, confusing examples, this will be easiest to spot at the SOURCE of each streak, i.e. at the spot where the lights were not "moving" in the previous frame. (most obvious areas highlighted in photo 5 below)


The results speak for themselves. Not only are Izatt's "streak" stills similar to what we'd expect. They are EXACTLY what we'd expect from a single frame being exposed for a long duration. All 3 hallmarks I've discussed are present: 1 - the pinpoints of light turn into snakes. 2 - The surroundings are brighter, and in some cases we see details not visible before.. entirely consistent with long exposure of a previously dark scene. 3 - Where we can see the source, we can see the streaks emanating from each one travel in the exact same direction, for the same duration, at the same angle. Everything points to Izatt's "streak" stills being the result of somehow the camera jamming and one frame being exposed for extended periods. The lights that were visible in previous frames as pinpoints, (whatever they are) have been distorted and dragged, as a result of the camera operator moving the camera.. NOT as a result of the light sources themselves actually moving. credit Fin Handley

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