I've had an interest in 3-D, or "stereo," photography for quite a few years, and lately I've been interested in what I guess you could call
"found" 3-D, created accidentally when someone takes two consecutive photos of the same scene but slightly separated horizontally. The resulting
stereo pair instantly provides you with depth information you would not have with a single photo, and gives you a way to estimate approximate sizes
and distances without having to guess at focal depths or atmospheric haze. This works particularly well with old UFO photos if you can get good
I recently came across an analysis of the 1965 "Top Hat" UFO photos taken by Rex Heflin in Santa Ana, California. These photos have been the
subject of 40 years of debate and analysis, since the photos themselves are of relatively high quality and there's a sequence of them. Heflin took 4
photos, 3 out the window of his pick-up truck, showing a flying saucer, and one that shows a dark, irregular ring in the clouds that supposedly
appeared when the saucer vanished.
It turns out that 2 of the 4 four photos are taken out of the side window of the truck, relatively close together, and (by chance) slightly
horizontally offset. BINGO!
So I've taken the 2 photos and placed them together in such a way that they can be "free viewed" as a 3-D stereo pair by crossing your eyes and
bringing the image back into focus. I've even provided a little caption guide to help with this little visual trick. Here are the results. Click
on the image for the larger version.
Other than crop, rearrange, and slightly adjust the brightness of the images, they're pretty much as Heflin took them.
Once your eyes get used to viewing the center image in 3-D, you should be able to see how the depth changes from the close-up window frame, to the
mirror, to the bushes in the ditch at the side of the road, and finally all the way across the field to the hazy trees in the distance. So we're
getting some good visual depth cues here, even though the distance between the 2 photos might not have exactly been the average 5 or so inches between
most people's eyes.
Now, by getting used to how you have to focus to see at various depths, you can get a rough approximation of about how far away things are in your
field of vision. The mirror is only a couple feet away. The ditch is maybe 20-30 feet. I suppose by knowing exactly how wide the mirror post is,
you can figure out exact distances, sizes, and how far apart the photos were taken. But that's not necessary here.
What you need to look at is the saucer. This is a little tricky, since they're not exactly the same in both photos. One has more of a tilt. But
try to ignore that, and only concentrate on where the saucer is located distance-wise in the picture. That is, when you focus on the far-away
trees, do you have to do the same thing when you look at the saucer? Or is the saucer maybe a little closer than that?
If it's relatively big and far away, then you'd have to focus your eyes on it in the same way you would when you look out past the bushes and into
the center of the field. So pick a spot you'd think might be 75 yards out or so and focus on it. Does that make the saucer line up? No, it
If you play with the image, after a while, you'll probably notice, as I did, that the saucer is actually more aligned and in focus when you're
focusing on the truck mirror, which is obviously pretty close to the truck. What does that mean? Well, it means that the saucer is also probably
pretty close to the truck, and not floating in the sky halfway across the field. And if that's the case, then it probably isn't very big,
My very, very rough estimation is that the saucer is maybe 2 or 3 feet away from the roof of the truck, and only a couple of inches across (in
diameter). An exact measurement can be determined by somebody who is a better photo analyst than me.
Of course, I could be wrong about the size and the distance. Because if the saucer moved in the sky relative to when the photos were taken, it's
possible that it will appear closer than it really is. Does that make sense? If, for instance, the first photo taken was the left one, and the
saucer moved to the right a little before the right one was taken, the depth won't be accurate.
But here's the deal. See how well the two saucer images line up with each other in the different photos? In order for them to do that, it would
have to have made a nearly perfect lateral motion from one photo to the next, in line with the camera. If it moved farther away, the width of the
saucer would be different in the two pictures. It can't have gone up or down in altitude, or it wouldn't match up at all. The chances of the
saucer making an absolutely lateral move between the two photos is very, very unlikely.
So that leads us (or me, anyway) to a relatively simple conclusion. That the UFO in these pictures is probably a small model, a few inches across,
maybe suspended from a string by a pole extending from the cab of the truck.
Play with the images a little. See if you don't see the same thing I do. I'll also try to create a blue-and-red analglyphic 3-D photo from the
pair, so you folks with 3-D glasses might be able to see it better. I've read that nearly 30% of the population can't see in 3-D at all, and
free-viewing is a bit tricky. I'll see what I can come up with to make it easier.
And if you can analyze the photos better than I can, let me know what you come up with. I'd rather have the thing be "real," and not a hoax, but
the proof is in the pictures. At least a little more with 3-D, anyway.
[edit on 19-5-2006 by Enkidu]