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How to take pictures of UFOs

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posted on Dec, 3 2007 @ 10:39 PM
No one seems able to snap even an okay photograph of a UFO. I don’t why.
It’s like there’s this field surrounding the thing that causes people to misfocus, take 1/4 second exposures and hold cameras with arms outstretched.

Taking a good quality picture really depends on what sort of equipment you have and your ability to use it properly. I know nothing about videography, but here is my two cents regarding still photography.
The camera you want to use is a Single Lens Reflex camera, or SLR. The defining thing about SLRs is that when you look through the viewfinder, you’re seeing things through the lens itself, by means of a pentaprism and mirror assembly. SLRs are the industry standard for almost all types of photography, and they have the widest range of lenses. For aerial photography, you would want to be using a 35mm SLR, rather than medium format. 35mm cameras are the normal sort you see everybody using. Medium format is more in the range of people who need to magnify images for commercial purposes, and the equipment is a lot more expensive, cumbersome and requires a fair bit of knowledge to use. Not that people are likely to go out and buy a Hasselblad for this sort of photography, but it’s worth being sure.
Using film – the stuff that comes on rolls, in case you have forgotten – is a given for this sort of thing. It is cheap, readily available, and when someone starts screaming photoshop you can say ‘Ahh, well . . .’
The photographic principals for film and digital are exactly the same. Whatever is said here applies to either type of image sensor.

When taking a photo, there are two things that you have to worry about: Shutter Speed and Aperture.

The Shutter Speed is the single most important thing, the thing all the other things are based around. If the image is blurry or dark or bright or just perfect, the shutter speed did it. You adjust everything else to give you a good shutter speed.
The Aperture is a description of how much light the lens lets onto the film.

These two these things have to be perfectly synchronized in order to produce a good photograph.
To get a fast shutter speed to prevent blurring in poor light, you need a high ISO (The ISO is a rating of how sensitive the film is to light) and a small f/number (number describing the aperture of the lens). But the IS0 can't go too high, or your pictures get all grainy, lack contrast and cannot be properly magnified or enlarged. ISO 800 is pretty much as high as you would want to go with both film and digital. If you can, use ISO 100. You can set the ISO on digital cameras, while film has a fixed sensitivity, and you have to change the roll of film to change the ISO. The ISO number also used to be called ‘ASA’ and ‘DIN,’ if you get confused by odd acronyms, and it is also referred to in terms of speed, i.e. ISO 1600 would be ‘fast’ film while ISO 50 would be ‘slow’ film.

The aperture is entirely dependent upon the lens. Lens aperture can also be referred to as fast and slow, but unlike film a fast lens will not degrade image quality, which is why they are so sought after. Fast lenses will cost a lot more than slow lenses because they are physically larger and harder to make, but having one means you can lower the ISO while keeping the same shutter speed, which increases image quality.
People tend to underestimate the importance of lenses. I can buy a $20 camera body or a $7, 000 one, but stick the same lens on either and I will pretty much get the same result. Lens focal lengths are measured in millimetres. Very basically, anything below 50mm is wide-angle, and anything above 50mm is a telephoto. Above 300mm is 'super'-telephoto, which is what you want. But the longer the focal length of the lens the harder it is to have a fast maximum f/stop, and hence you will be forced to use slower shutter speeds or raise the ISO, both of which are very bad. An f/2.8 lens is really fast for a super-telephoto, and lets lots of light in, while anything above f/5.6 you might want to steer clear of.

Big numbers are bad

All 35mm SLR film cameras use 35mm film (obviously), but digital SLRs – DSLRs – often use an image sensor that is smaller than 35mm film. This is called APS-C format, and is why all digital compacts and most DSLRs have ‘crop factors’. A smaller sensor means that not all of the light coming through the lens is used, and so using only the centre bit of that light (cropping) means that the lens is effectively longer, or has more magnification power. A crop factor of 1.5X means that you will have to multiply the lenses focal length by 1.5 to get a realistic, 35mm-equivalent focal length. As an example, have a look at this digital compact. The lens on the camera itself says 6.4-32mm, while the article goes on to state that it ‘offers the equivalent of 180mm’. This means the camera has a crop factor of 5.6X, which is huge.
You have to be aware of crop factors and what they mean when you’re calculating focal lengths, especially when analysing photos.

As stated before, the longer the lenses focal length the harder it is to get a fast maximum f/stop. An f/1.4 50mm lens is quite common, but a f/1.4 600mm lens would have to have a front element about half a meter across. Only a bit awkward – and all but impossible to manufacture.
Hence, if you want a super-telephoto with even a reasonable speed, then you are still looking at a fair bit of money. The el-cheapo telephoto lenses can't let in much light at all (i.e., have a maximum aperture of f/11 or worse).
But if you've got a bit of cash lying around, say, USD $1000, then you might want to consider buying at least a half-decent SLR camera system.
Nowadays, everyone has Canon and Nikon autofocus Digital-SLRs. But before there were autofocus lenses, there were (lo and behold) manual focus lenses. I shoot with Canon, and prior to the current Canon Electro Focus (EF) lens mount and digital cameras, there was the FD mount. The FD lenses were top quality, and today are pretty cheap.
There were a wide range of them, a bigger range of focal lengths than the current EF system, and although they didn’t have fancy ultra-sonic motors or 4 stop image stabilization, the optical quality is easily comparable with today’s glass.
I predominantly use online auction sites or reputable online shop fronts/retailers for my photography-related purchases, including film. Keh probably has one of the best online stores, with reasonable prices and excellent customer service. Your local camera store is unlikely to stock high-quality FD gear, and the chain stores wouldn’t know what an FD lens was if it hit them in the head. The best stores to buy manual focus equipment from are the ones with dust on the floor and an old guy behind the counter who actually fully understands Ansel Adams’ Zone System. If you’re not sure, ask him (bring a chair).

Here are the two most important things:
(All listed prices are $USD)

  • Canon FD 400mm f/4.5 lens ($400)
  • Canon T-90 film SLR ($200-ish)

    The 400mm is an awesome lens. It's not too heavy, and so can be easily handheld for short periods, but it also comes with a tripod mount, which is very handy. It's got a retractable lens hood, which you should always use, as well as having a great, crisp, precise focus ring. These pops up on eBay about once a fortnight.
    The T-90 is a professional-grade SLR capable of 4.5 frames per second for those fast moving UFOs. It's slightly bulky – as all pro-level cameras are - and just feels right in your hands. Don't consider any other camera.
    Around the internet you might see lenses with something like a 1300mm focal length. All I can say is, don’t even think about it. Steer well clear of these poor-quality, cheap unmentionables.


  • Manfrotto 055PROB tripod ($200)
  • OR Manfrotto 190XB tripod ($150)
  • OR Slik Pro 340DX tripod ($100)
  • OR Sunpak 7500 tripod ($50)

  • Bogen 488RC2 Ball head ($110)
  • OR Slik Ball head 800 ($100)
  • OR Bogen 3437 3D Magnesium head ($70)

  • 60-T3 Remote release ($20)

    I have an 055PROB tripod for surf photography, so it might be a bit over-qualified for just holding a camera steady, but it is definitely worth the investment. If you're not too hot on that, the 190XB has had great reviews, and the other two work pretty well. If in doubt, go the 055. Worth every cent. But there are literally hundreds of other tripods out there if you don't like the sound of these ones. Go find em', but don't go cheap.
    One thing a lot of photographers do is carry around a small beanbag. You might forget about it for 5 years, but when you need to rest a lens on the roof of your car or on a handrail, a beanbag becomes invaluable.
    The head is the bit that connects the tripod to the camera. It is vital. For aerial photography I would recommended a ball head, rather than a pan/tilt head, as you’ll soon find out that if the wrong knob is locked off then you are going to miss the shot. A ball head lets you move the camera around and just lock it off anywhere with a turn of a knob, but they can be expensive, and once more you definitely don't want to go for anything cheap in this area. The 3437 3D is a pan/tilt head, while the other two are ball heads. The 488RC2 is probably the best. But again, there are many many more out there.
    A cable release is generally needed for low-light photography, where even the touch of your finger on the shutter release button can cause too many vibrations. You would normally only have vibration problems with a still subject and a telephoto lens, but if the UFO is just hovering, whip that cable release out. You want your shots to be as crisp and clear as possible.

    T90 with 400mm and 3437 Head

    And while that is simply nothing compared to what can be brought today, it does the job fine and is pretty cheap. But if you’ve literally got money to burn, then this is what you would want:

  • Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III ($11, 600)
  • OR EOS 40D ($1, 800)
  • EF 600mm f/4 IS USM ‘L’ lens ($13, 650)
  • 1.4X Teleconverter ($530)
  • WH-200 Wimberley Head ($600)
  • Gitzo 1548 Tripod ($900)

    The semi-professional 40D has a 1.6X crop factor, so a 600mm becomes a 960mm while still retaining the f/4 maximum aperture. Add the 1.4 TC to that and you’ve got a 1350mm f/5.6 lens. Not at all bad. But the professional grade 1Ds has 21.1 full-frame megapixels, none of that APS-C stuff like the 40D. If you just happen to have the cash, it’s up to you. Not that I would seriously expect anyone to actually buy that sort of gear solely for photographing UFOs. The only people that own that sort of equipment are professional photographers.


    One thing that consistently wrecks possible UFO photos - and always weeds out the fakes - is metering. Metering is the term used to describe how the camera works out the correct combination of shutter speed and aperture, given an ISO speed.
    Have a look in these two posts: ATS1 and ATS2. What you see there is the EXIF data, which stores all the information about the settings of the camera as the photo was taken. As you can see, the metering modes are respectively listed as 'pattern' and 'matrix'. These are the two most common modes you will come across. Both do pretty much the same thing; they take meter readings from a whole range of different points throughout the frame and then average them out to give you what should be a nice, properly exposed photograph. But alas, since most photographed UFO's take up approximately 1/100th of 1% of the frame, you aren't going to get a good exposure for the mysterious black thing; all you'll get is a nice background. You need to learn how to make the camera do what you want it to do, which is the crux of good photography anyway.
    To have proper control over your camera you don’t need to intricately study the practise of taking photos. All you need is a solid understanding of photography basics and the knowledge of how to physically operate your camera without taking your eye from the viewfinder.
    The best way to learn how to do this, as with anything, is to practise. Read the manual, learn the theory, and then get out there and test that knowledge. Air shows are useful in this respect, but be prepared to have turf battles with other photographers, who will usually have much bigger and fancier looking setups.
    Outside with jets roaring past 100 metres away you will learn how to use your camera and set settings quickly, and you will have consistent subject matter to shoot, as the aircraft will all be flying in the same general area. It will also help your man-made aircraft recognition skills, so not everything you see will be labelled a UFO. Turning radiuses, exhaust characteristics, reflection patterns, sounds, etc can all be seen at air shows.

    Focusing manual focus lenses is very easy, thanks to some ingenious engineering. There is a piece of ground glass inside the camera, called a focusing screen, that displays the image exactly as the film will see it. In the centre of the screen there is a little circle that will split the image up if it is out of focus. All you have to do is twist the focussing ring on the lens until the upper and lower halves of the split image line up, becoming one unbroken image.

    Twist the ring in the direction that will ‘fix’ the split image, i.e. anti-clockwise for the image above.

    Manual focus cameras are especially handy for UFO photography, as the object of interest will usually be so small that the auto-focus system of modern cameras will not recognise it. Focussing screens on the T-90 are interchangeable, but the ‘E’ screen is most common, and the super-imposed images of this particular screen are shown above exactly as they will appear, although the lines are a lot thinner.

    One trick for finding aircraft though a telephoto lens, which can be surprisingly hard to do quickly, is to have both eyes open, one looking though the viewfinder and the other peering out the side of the camera.
    Suppose your right eye is looking though the viewfinder. Look at the aircraft with your left eye, then move the camera so the middle circle of lines on the focusing screen (which should be slightly out of focus) goes over the aircraft. Close your left eye, and the aircraft will be in the exact middle of your viewfinder.

    Click to enlarge

    I cannot find this method documented anywhere else on the internet, but it is very very effective once you get it down pat.

    While air shows do provide good practise, the best possible thing you could do is attempt to take photos of birds. Birds are small, unpredictable and damn fast. Try and take some pictures of them (flying, you slacker) and you will see that your shots are generally poorly exposed, once again, because the camera doesn't realize that the black blur is actually what you want to take a picture of. One possible solution to this is using 'spot' metering, which calculates exposure based on the centre 2.7% of the frame, at least with the T-90. But while 2.7% may sound like a tiny bit, it is actually quite a lot, and the subject generally has to be dead-centre for this to work. The T-90 has a few tricks up its sleeve, but you cannot just rely on the cameras metering programs to solve your problems. Sometimes you have got to take manual control, and that's where the experience you will get from bird photography will come in. You can read how to use the selectable multi-point spot metering on the T-90 here.
    Bird photography will also introduce you to ‘panning,’ or following a moving subject as you take a photo. This is a good technique for when your shutter speed falls too low.

    Don’t attempt bird photography with anything other than an SLR, as compact cameras have something called shutter lag. With the latest professional DSLR, the shutter lag is 55 milliseconds, which means 55 thousandths of a second elapse between the time you depress the shutter release and the time the shutter fires. With compacts, this lag time is vastly increased, and can sometimes even go above 1 or 2 seconds. This makes them virtually useless for proper aerial/bird photography, when you need the shutter to fire virtually instantaneously. Also, lenses in compact cameras are very poor quality, having both bad optics and a slow maximum aperture. Any extra movement of the camera is going to cause awful blur due to the poor speed of the lens; and the camera itself will move a lot, as compacts usually weigh around 200-500 grams. On the other hand, SLRs with heavy, interchangeable lenses are going to jerk around a whole lot less. Inertia is a form of image stabilization: the heavier something is the harder it is to jolt around.


    One absurd thing people tend to do is use their on-camera flashes. Thankfully, the T-90 doesn’t have one, but a lot of consumer SLRs and DSLRs have small flashes. These generally have guide numbers of 10 or 12. I’ve got a portable flash with a GN of 140, and it is an absolute beast. If I don’t have a 500 volt recharge pack it takes about a minute to charge to full power, but even that isn’t going to help me with aerial photography, as the power of a flash is governed by the inverse square law, which means if you double the distance from the flash, you will get ¼ of the light. This limits flashes to very short ranges. To find out what the maximum range of your flash is in metres, divide its guide number by the f/stop you are using. So a flash with a GN of 12 used with a lens set to f/5.6 would have a maximum effective range of 2.14 metres at ISO 100. If you double the ISO you double the range, but as I said before you don’t really want to increase the ISO all that much. At sports events you always see hundreds of flashes going off at any one time in the stands, but little do these people know that their flashes are doing absolutely nothing. You never see the pros using flashes, and they are sitting right on the sidelines.

    If you happen to be in the middle of taking a sequence of photos of a UFO, then it is well worth partially obscuring the UFO with an object in the foreground, such as leaves or the edge of a building. Also, if you have the time to swap lenses or if the UFO is close to the ground, take reference shots of the surrounding area with the UFO visible in the frame, on the same roll of film. This makes it a lot easier to both prove that the photographs are real and to analyse them later. There are many other things you might want to capture in the frame, such as people pointing, or running towards/away the object. The more frames you can capture of these events the more convincing it will be.
    Once you have taken the pictures, immediately rewind and remove whatever film you have used. If any of your friends – or even any strangers - took any pictures, try and get their film or memory cards as well. Stash it safely. Get it all properly developed and scanned onto a computer at the highest resolution possible by a professional. Then make copies of all the digital files, transfer them to multiple CD/DVDs, and send them to relatives and friends. This is a technique wedding photographers use to safely backup irreplaceable images. The film itself is much more valuable than any digital image, and you must hang on to this at all costs. If anyone asks to see it, watch the film at all times. Let them hold one row at a time and keep the rest. Film cannot simply be copied, and it is far more effective at proving a UFO than a digital image. And since not many people know how to handle film in these modern times, don’t touch the surface, don’t store the film touching like the pages of a book, don’t leave it in the sunlight or heat it up, don’t bend it, and don’t wipe it with anything including optical-grade lens cloths or tissues of any kind. Always keep it in the slips it comes back in from the developing shop. If any weird liquids get on it delicately wash the film in clean luke-warm or cold water, and hang it to dry out of direct sunlight.

    You will want to report your sighting as soon as possible. There are a wide range of agencies for this, and Wikipedia lists the majority of them here. Most have online report forms, so just select the one relevant to your country. This ATS thread, How should I report a UFO sighting?, also has a few handy pointers.

    And that’s it. Have fun making history.

    [edit on 3-12-2007 by sanctum]

  • posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 12:34 AM
    That's all fine and well but most people tend to take photos with what they have on hand. Not everyone can afford an SLR. Some of the Digicams also allow you to view through the lens.

    UFO's aren't always real cooperative about where they are relative to here you are. I've photographed them on four occasions now but in all four instances they were very distant from me and 420mm of zoom just wasn't enough to get a good high resolution image.

    In addition, the "orb" type UFOs have an inherent blurriness around them that is an inherent part of the object, even seen through a high power telescope this is evident, as well as in some satellite images that they were captured in. In those images you can see the ground below clearly focused but they are not.

    Unless you're one of these people that can "call" them, generally they don't appear on demand and as a result even if one is physically prepared one is often not emotionally prepared.

    I've been ON a UFO when I was ten, and still when they appear it's exciting, rattling, scary, all at the same time because I know whatever they are has technology way beyond what I'm familiar with and I don't know their intention.

    Most people just aren't going to take the time to carefully focus, set the exposure, etc.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 01:04 AM
    Like nookster said, the events are so few and far between that people use whatever they have on them at the time. I am a photographer and spend many hours outdoors with a digital slr and a sony recorder but i have never seen a ufo in my life. Even then i would probbley have the wrong lens with me at the time.
    Very good tutorial on using a camera though. Another point to remember is that unless the ufo fills most of the lens you will have to open up a stop or two to get the correct exposure.

    [edit on 4-12-2007 by jon1]

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 01:30 AM
    You wouldn't happen to be a canon sales rep?

    Good post, little missleading in my opinion to say that shutter speed is most important though. It's important that it's fast enough, but after that you can fiddle around with the aperture all you want.
    If you're ufo hunter with a big wallet I'd go for the Nikon D3, boost up the ISO to 6400 (or 12 600 in low light) and shoot away
    It's lenses also include the famed 600mm.
    For film there's tons of Good nikon bodies out there, the F6 being the top choice.
    Ironically I have documented this method of aiming with your both eyes In my avatar

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 03:40 AM
    Thanks for the very informative post WTR.

    It's funny that you linked to the Olympus Mju ("Stylus" in the U.S.) digital compact; I've had the 740 model for almost a year, and I've really enjoyed it. The main difference, between the 740 & 750, is that the 750 has dual image stabilization while the 740's is strictly digital. It's amazing how fast digital tech advances; when I got it a year ago it was almost "top of the line".

    Anyways, I've gotta say that I'm a bit disapointed with the owners manual. While it does say a lot by way of introducing one to the "preset" image guides, it only briefly touches upon the manual settings like ISO. I know my way around the menus well enough, and how to change things manually, but I've gotta admit that I'm at a bit of a loss as to how far, and when, to adjust the ISO settings.

    As for "Image Quality", I use an xD picture card H 1GB, so I always keep it set at "SHQ 3072x2304" (since memory isn't much of an issue). When I purchased it, they hadn't made/released the H 2GB yet, but I definitely wanted the improved write speeds of the "type H" series.

    I've gotta say that I'm a bit confused regarding Shutter Speed and ISO. You say that "The Shutter Speed is the single most important thing..." and "You adjust everything else to give you a good shutter speed.". Yet you also say that "To get a fast shutter speed... you need a high ISO" and "ISO 800 is pretty much as high as you would want to go with both film and digital." This is all followed by "If you can, use ISO 100.".

    That last part gets me confused. I can manually set my ISO to 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, or 1600. If I want a fast shutter speed, above all else, wouldn't I want to set the ISO higher than 100?

    According to the brief explanation in owners manual, "A low value lowers the sensitivity for daylight shooting of clear, sharp pictures. The higher the value, the better the camera's light sensitivity and ability to shoot with a fast shutter speed and in low light conditions. However, high sensitivity introduces noise into the resulting picture, which may give it a grainy appearance."

    This seems somewhat contradictory to me. I always thought cameras needed a longer exposure in low light conditions, yet this seems to state that you want a faster shutter speed in low light. I know that my shutter speed ranges from 1/1000 sec. – 1/2 sec. (up to 4 sec. in Night Scene mode); so any further tips/clarification regarding the ISO settings would be greatly appreciated.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 04:37 AM
    Hmm. I spent about 4 weeks trying to avoid any confusion redmage.

    Instead of a 'good' shutter speed, I should have said 'one appropriate for the situation.' Ideally, the rule goes that the shutter speed should be at least equal to 1/the lenses focal length. So with a 400mm lens the shutter speed should be at least 1/500th of a second, the closest value. Using a tripod or bracing the camera enables you to lower the shutter speed without introducing blur.
    You don't show the full quote, which is perhaps why you are getting confused: 'to prevent blurring in poor light, you need a high ISO.' So if it's dark, jack the sensitivity up. If you can get away with using ISO100 without sacrificing shutter speed, then do it.
    Your owners manual is just saying you are going to have to increase the ISO at night to have acceptable shutter speeds, and not that shorter shutter speeds are needed at night. As you said, longer ones are.

    And PsykoOps, I'm not a Nikon buff, but I thought the D3 went up to about ISO25000 in extended mode? I guess it does sound like a Canon sales pitch, but since all this stuff is second hand, Canon doesn't get a cent. I've never really shot with Nikon. In fact, I was just looking at the D2X the other day. It looks so complicated compared to the Canon 1Ds series that I would be lost using it!

    Plus, this is just a guide. Nowhere have I stated that UFO's are just going to start whizzing around anywhere as soon as you walk outside with a telephoto lens.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 07:28 AM
    Oh yeah D3 does that, I totally remembered that wrong. Native ISO went up to 6400 and boosted 22 500.
    I know how you feel about nikon. I feel the exact same way about canon, too confusing

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 07:35 AM
    reply to post by watch_the_rocks

    An excellent post, clearly the fruit of time, trouble and a great deal of photographic expertise. And yes - even though almost nobody uses it in these degenerate days, film is still the standard.

    Still, you do seem to have left out the most important instruction, which might be rendered in the apocryphal words of Mrs. Beeton: 'first, catch your hare'.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 09:04 AM
    reply to post by watch_the_rocks

    This is a great post. My only question comes when you write:

    Using film – the stuff that comes on rolls, in case you have forgotten – is a given for this sort of thing. It is cheap, readily available, and when someone starts screaming photoshop you can say ‘Ahh, well . . .’

    I do prefer film. In fact I didn't get a digital camera until I began finding that film was getting harder and harder to find. I used to use both a Minolta X700 and a Yashica T5 (a GREAT little 35mm pocket camera). But when it got to the point where I had to find a dedicated photo shop to get film, I finally broke down and got a Canon A540. I would have liked to have gotten a DSLR, but just didn't want to plunk down that kind of money for something that would probably be obsolete in a couple of years.

    Going to the dedicated photo shop for your film is fine when you're at home, but if you're out-of-town and need film it can be a bit of a pain not being able to pick up a few rolls at K-Mart.

    Again, good post.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 09:27 AM

    Originally posted by watch_the_rocks
    Hmm. I spent about 4 weeks trying to avoid any confusion redmage.

    I appreciate the effort, and appologize for any additional hassle/headaches. I'd gladly send ya some asprin in exchange for a bit of personal clarity.

    I realize that digitals may not be your forte, but I assume some of the basics still apply. If I'm barking up the wrong tree, just let me know.

    Instead of a 'good' shutter speed, I should have said 'one appropriate for the situation.' Ideally, the rule goes that the shutter speed should be at least equal to 1/the lenses focal length. So with a 400mm lens the shutter speed should be at least 1/500th of a second, the closest value. Using a tripod or bracing the camera enables you to lower the shutter speed without introducing blur.

    This part is a bit tricky for me. I don't have the option of interchangeable lenses; however, I've got 5x Optical Zoom + 5.6x Digital Zoom(seamless to 28x). This equates to 6.4 – 32.0 mm, or 36 – 180mm equivalent in 35mm photography. I guess I'll need to take the crop factor of 5.6x (at full digital zoom) into account; however, I tend to stick with the 5x optical for most distance shots. "SHQ 3072x2304" shots at 5x optical zoom still allow for very clear cropped images, of most subjects, without any further enlargement needed. Also, without a tripod handy, it can be a bit difficult to keep the camera still enough for a clear image at 28x.

    You don't show the full quote, which is perhaps why you are getting confused: 'to prevent blurring in poor light, you need a high ISO.' So if it's dark, jack the sensitivity up. If you can get away with using ISO100 without sacrificing shutter speed, then do it.

    That may be part of it. The full quote was "To get a fast shutter speed to prevent blurring in poor light, you need a high ISO (The ISO is a rating of how sensitive the film is to light) and a small f/number (number describing the aperture of the lens)."

    As for f/number, the aperture ranges from f3.3 – f5.0.

    I guess the part that's confusing me is that there is no manual shutter speed on the camera. I believe it just takes into account your chosen ISO, and the ambient light sensed by the camera, then automatically adjusts the shutter speed to fit; so I'd like to gain at least a moderate grasp regarding ISO settings. So would a high ISO only increase the shutter speed in low light conditions, or would the increase just not be necessary in normal lighting?

    Your owners manual is just saying you are going to have to increase the ISO at night to have acceptable shutter speeds, and not that shorter shutter speeds are needed at night. As you said, longer ones are.

    I thought I might be starting to "get it", but I think something in my brain just melted.

    Ok, so would the ISO inversely, or directly affect the shutter speed? That's what's been confusing me. Would a higher ISO increase the shutter speed in normal/bright light as well (just not to the benefit/clarity of the picture)?

    Hmmm, I'm getting that I want a lower ISO in daylight, and a higher one at night, but I'd still like a better understanding as to "why", and how it's affecting the image.

    Is there ever a time when I'd want to use an ISO of 80?

    If I were using a tripod to take pictures of the stars, would I want a high ISO, or would the faster shutter speed be somewhat unnecessary since the "subjects" are relatively still?

    Again, thanks for the thread, and all the help you've provided so far.

    [edit on 12/4/07 by redmage]

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 10:26 AM
    Very interesting thread. I like getting camera tips written so I can understand. I disagree that there are no good photos of UFOs around though. There are plenty of pics but the good ones are branded fake and the rest "not clear enough". Also, to get the best photo you'd need to have your camera in hand, already switched on and the settings correct when your craft arrives. Your greatest photo opportunity can vanish in a couple of seconds, (or even faster). It's happened to me.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 11:14 AM
    reply to post by watch_the_rocks

    Good post. I'm not going to buy a new film camera (although in skilled hands, very fine results can be obtained with these), but am considering a range of options, including the Nikon D40X and the various Canon offerings, up to and including the EOS 40D, if I want to make optimistic assumptions about my kids winning generous scholarships....

    Your point in manual focus is well taken, but against a sky or cloud background, trying to focus fast, it isn't clear that the focusing screen will be much help. Your example shows a vertical mast available in the subject to clearly show alignment. What you typically need for an aerial object is to be able to focus at infinity really quickly - which my old manual focus lenses did support, and autofocus can make very tricky. If there is a tree or building in the foreground, you're likely to find yourself focused on that.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 04:56 PM
    I'm not familiar with Cannon as I shoot with Nikon only. The D2x has Forensics features and can be used for evidence. The data can not be altered without it being apparent. I use mainly a D200 right now and you can get VR lenses which would be perfect. The VR (Vibration Reduction) is the equivalent of 3 full stops. I shoot with a 300 mm VR and I love it. I can shoot wildlife shots hand held and get great results. I shot some handheld shots of the moon with it and got sharp features.

    Digital is just as tamper proof as film due to the Exif Data. If there is no Exif Data and the original file is not available just consider the photo a fake and there is no reason to bother with it. Honest people have no reason not to provide the original file. Even RAW files can be emailed to a Yahoo account if you don't have an account that allows large files.

    No camera will turn a bird into an Alien Vessel though. Or a toe into an Alien

    You put a lot of work into that post

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 04:59 PM
    reply to post by Blaine91555

    I know this is off topic...but id love to see some of your AK pics. I have a ton....but I dont have a "super" camera like you....I bet your pics outshine mine!!

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 05:04 PM
    reply to post by PsykoOps

    The D3 and the D300 pissed me off. Had I known I'd have waited a year longer. Oh well. The D3 series uses those new VR Lenses that compensate for shutter bounce on the Tripod but you have to have a D3 or D300 for that feature I think.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 05:07 PM
    reply to post by greeneyedleo

    Thats why I live here

    There is a place in BTS for that I think. I'm overwhelmed at work until after Christmas. When it calms down I'll post some on there.

    I'm more artist than photographer so my shots tend to be more on the artsy side, so don't expect lots of typical wildlife stuff.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 06:15 PM
    Unfortunately, most UFOs are captured by accident and found in the photo once it's uploaded to the computer. It's a rare event indeed to see one on the ground, one hovering motionless nearby, or even being able to see one at all. Good nightshots of an object in motion are next to impossible to obtain.

    The only UFO I ever managed to take a picture of was shot with a Nikon DSLR (the D70) and the standard 18-70mm lens. Given I only noticed the object weeks later in the photo, the results were less than desirable. It can be seen here:

    If I had known that such an object would be within my view at exactly 09:39:46 on August 26, 2004 in Port Vila, Vanuatu -- approximately 50 degrees above the horizon & SSE from my position, I would have been much better prepared.

    My 'Limitless Money (airy-fairy) Professional's Dream' option: If I had prior knowledge of the sighting and had time & money to prepare, I would have rented some major equipment as well as hired a few helping hands. I would have arrived early and set up a number of cameras trained towards that particular patch of sky, including 1 film SLR, 3 DSLRs, 2 HD video cameras, and an Infrared camera.

    *I would have (2x) 39 megapixel Hasselblad H3D DSLRs, one with the wide HC 2.8/80 lens (for a wide shot to capture the object's position in relation to the ground), and the other with the HC 4.5/300 for a closer shot (hopefully capturing some of the detail in the surface of the craft).

    *I would also have a 12.1 megapixel Nikon D3 (as mentioned above) to make use of its 9 RAW frames per second burst. The distance travelled by the object between frames would reveal its speed and trajectory. VR lens is a must (as stated by Blaine91555).

    *A tripod-mounted Nikon F5 with Fuji Velvia ISO 50 film would also be set up. I would try to get 4 or 5 frames of the object on film (just for something a bit more concrete than pixels).

    *A Panasonic AJ-HPX3000 HD video camera mounted on a fixed tripod would record the scene with both ground & sky in view.

    *A Sony HVR-Z1U (with its 12x optical zoom) would be zoomed in fully on the expected path of the object. I would also like to be able and track the UFO while zoomed in on it -- (if possible) the cam would be mounted on a fluid motion tripod controlled by tracking software. The expected trajectory would be programmed in a computer and activated when the object enters the frame.

    *A ThermaCAM P640 would also be set up to record any interesting heat anomalies associated with the object (and also to display anything invisible to the naked eye that might be present around the object).

    Since preparedness and having crazily expensive equpment is really not an option in most instances, chance (and good luck) plays the biggest part. It would obviously help if you are zoomed in, focused on the object, and have the ground or other objects in the shot as well so the UFO's position and size can be ascertained.

    Unless we all wag around a fat DSLR all day (everyday), we'll just have to expect more shots from bewildered people caught with only a camera phone in their pocket.

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 06:17 PM

    Originally posted by watch_the_rocks
    No one seems able to snap even an okay photograph of a UFO. I don’t why.
    It’s like there’s this field surrounding the thing that causes people to misfocus, take 1/4 second exposures and hold cameras with arms outstretched.

    Ah yes my pet Peeve

    Fantastic info on how to use a camera to be sure... BUT here are a few things to think about

    1) Most people that suddenly see a UFO are NOT out hunting them and if they even carry a camera its more likely to be a camphone these days

    2) Most people that actively hunt UFO's have too much equipment to get it ready in time for a brief few second fly by..

    3) Those that see a UFO not expecting it are generally over excited and could not hold a camera still if their life depended on it... much less focus a camera..

    A great Case in Point is here...

    (These girls actually WANT to get abducted its quite funny)

    What I would like to see is a course in how not to panic take a deep breath and lean your arm on a car or a tree to steady your hand

    4) Yes the UFO is surrounded by a 'field' This 'field' is generated by the massive electromagnetic forces needed to create 'anti gravity' 'gravity shielding' and the ability to 'warp' space (make jumps)...

    In the day time they would appear fuzzy like when you look through heat waves over a radiator or on the ground... At night they would appear to be colored lights because the field gives off some visible light energy (no system is perfect)

    If you look at reports of UFO's the slow moving ones the hovering ones are generally glowing reddish orange or yellow.... the fast ones are bright white and blue/white....

    Show me a photo of a UFO in flight that is sharp and clear and I will call it fake
    A clear picture and an Anti Gravity Drive
    Think about it you can't have it both ways

    And if you take pictures of certain stealth aircraft under certain errrr 'conditions' you will see the same thing

    [edit on 4-12-2007 by zorgon]

    posted on Dec, 4 2007 @ 06:36 PM
    The best thing about a DSLR is when you hit the button it takes the dang picture! No more waiting for the camera to decide when to take the picture. I have a Nikon D70 and as far as i can tell it's a great camera. I have a bunch of sky lanterns maybe I'll practice my UFO photography this weekend.


    posted on Dec, 5 2007 @ 06:52 AM
    Actually, I find this guide to be very wrong.

    If shooting during the day, you want to close your aperture to probably F8. Closing the aperture will give you a sharper image, less chromatic abbreation, and IQ. During the night, all you can really shoot with is a High ISO, and a very open aperture. A 200 F2L from Canon with a 1.6x crop body would give you around 280mm of focal length. Shooting a High ISO film, or High ISO on a digital body would guarantee you faster shutter speed for moving objects.

    Don't use automatic mode at night (try to use manual all the time though, if you can)...use manual and set your shutter speed. If it's matrix metering you'll definitely want to use manual as the meter will not give you a correct measurement of the "UFO" and most likely try to expose the "UFO" and the black sky, making the "UFO" completley overexposed.

    Also, another suggestion I have, is learn your planets. Learn where they are and learn your constellations. A lot of "UFO's" I have seen can easily be debunked just by looking at the little dot on the video looking like flames and changing colors because Venus is low on the horizon & distorting from the atmosphere. I'd guess 80% of "dot" UFO videos are actually Venus.

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