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How to take pictures of UFOs

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posted on May, 9 2008 @ 06:46 PM
It was only the 10 megapixel 1D Mark III, not the 1Ds Mark III. That one doesn't work well for night sports.

Tonight I'm going to come up with some tables for proper exposure of things at night so anyone who expects to do a manual exposure of a mysterious light in the sky will have general exposure to start with and can bracket from there.


posted on May, 10 2008 @ 12:31 PM
reply to post by scowl

I have had some results photographing unusual activity at night with three cameras ( plus 2 x video cameras which I won't discuss on this thread...) since 2000.

1) Nikon Coolpix 950. 2 meg. An early camera that I used with a 2 x tele converter, 3 x tele converter, telescope/adaptor, and of course a tripod.

2) Nikon Coolpix 5000. 5 meg. Better quality images with the same lenses.

3) Panasonic FZ50. 10 meg camera with fast 12 x Leica zoom lens ( 2.8 35-420mm. )

The shutter speeds I use at night vary ( a lot slower than day shoots...). I have got results in the 1/4 second- 8 sec exposure range with the lens wide open. While these are very slow shutter speeds for such a bright subject, if the lens is a strong tele it will lose light, so it all needs experimentation. The long exposures will also show subject flight movement, so you may capture some aspect of the objects behaviour as well. It is for this reason that I prefer the night shoots.

I would never consider braketing images, and I consider shooting Raw the best way to go. This way you can give yourself more or less exposure after viewing the results.

I hope this helps....chris

posted on May, 12 2008 @ 12:26 PM
The purpose of bracketing in this case isn't just to avoid overexposure but to also avoid camera shake. If you point your handheld camera at a UFO and it picks a 1/20th second shutter speed when a 1/60th second would expose it properly then not only are you going to have an overexposed UFO but you'll have more camera shake than would have been necessary. Most consumer digicams don't have RAW mode and even with my high end DSLRs it will only save me from a stop or two of overexposure.

My carry around camera is a Canon SX100. It's advantages are:

  1. It's cheap.
  2. It has a very long zoom, the equivalent of a 350mm lens on a 35mm camera.
  3. It has completely manual operation including exposure and focus.
  4. It has a surprisingly effective image stabilizer.
  5. Did I mention it was cheap? Oh yes I did.

The disadvantages:

  1. It's as noisy as any consumer digicam available today.
  2. No RAW mode.
  3. The multicontroller wheel is hard to use.
  4. The lens is foggy wide open with bright lights in dark backgrounds, the most likely thing you'd be taking a picture of.
  5. No automatic exposure bracketing.

My experiments with it last night should give you some idea of what you'll have to deal with when a once in a lifetime UFO event happens in front of your camera.

The easiest night target to start with is the moon. It's easy to see if your camera is getting it in focus and exposing it properly. The first shocker was the SX100 refused to focus on the moon! The focus system apparently wasn't getting enough contrast for it to lock so I manually set the focus to infinity. The exposure was off too so I did that manually as well by leaving the lens wide open and adjusting the ISO until I saw craters on the LCD. The best thing was the image stabilizer is very effective and I was able to take this shot at maximum zoom (f4.3) with a 1/15th shutter speed (ISO 200).

Not great but acceptable. Even at ISO 200 you can see chroma noise. By increasing the ISO to 1600 (not recommended) I was able to take shots of dim lights in a stairwell in an apartment building 500 feet away:

The noise reduction blurs it pretty badly but it gives me some hope that it might give acceptable results for any dim objects I might want to shoot.

On the other end of the exposure spectrum, here's a colorful UFO that unfortunately is only a street light. I decreased the ISO to 100 but it was still overexposed. I definitely should have bracketed.

So that gives you some idea of the range of exposures you'll be dealing with for stuff in the night sky. Of course a real 35mm camera would work better but that's more to carry around and lenses with that much reach are either going to be slow or large. All the times I've seen something unexpected in the sky, I had no time to set up any kind of camera support so the image stabilizer is a great feature.

posted on May, 16 2008 @ 05:39 AM
reply to post by Ice Nine

I'd still go for D3 anytime. Bigger pixels are the key especially in low light situations. You can boost the ISO way up and get low noise and good colors too which is important for details.

posted on May, 16 2008 @ 06:41 PM
But carrying around a 35mm DSLR with a decent telephoto lens with you all the time is a pain. This tiny digicam will let me take decent shots handheld at 1/15th of a second with the equivalent of a medium speed 350mm lens.


posted on May, 17 2008 @ 09:03 AM
reply to post by scowl

The following image is taken with a Nikon Coolpix 5000 and 3 x tele converter. It was shot Raw with a two second exposure (which wasn't enough in itself), and then pushed two stops further to get what you see......

A preliminary Scientific report regarding unusual activity, which mentions the equipment I use, may be found here:

posted on May, 17 2008 @ 03:59 PM
I should have read this thread yesterday.

I bought a Kodak Easyshare v1233. Last night I decided to see how lights in the night sky would film with it. I did everything wrong, or almost everything wrong, that this thread details.

This was taken with arms extended above my head. No intent of a hoax, this is a fake that shows all the mistakes someone unfamiliar with a new camera can make.


But a great thread for anyone who wants to learn How to do it right.


posted on May, 19 2008 @ 08:50 AM
reply to post by garyo1954

Nice experiment. I have a collection of IFOs I've taken over at Flickr. Some are obvious, but many are quite less so. I have a number of others I think are probably birds, but I am not completely sure. There is another sequence that I thought was a plane when I snapped it, but didn't end up looking like a plane ( a probable case of severe overexposure).

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 09:05 AM
reply to post by scowl

I'm a Canon EOS 40D owner. When shooting against a dark or darkish sky, I like to use shutter speed priority (Tv), with the ISO cranked to 3200 (remarkably low noise on the 40D).

A monopod helps too. These are tall, much easier to carry around than a tripod, and give you more agility, with the tradeoff that there isn't as much stability about one axis.

posted on May, 19 2008 @ 02:59 PM
reply to post by disownedsky

Shutter speed priority works well. You will automatically be shooting wide open which is what you will want. Be sure to bracket your exposures at different shutter speeds (does the 40D have automatic bracketing?).

Sure, a monopod works great but who wants to carry a monopod around with them every day? If you're going to go out intending to take pictures of UFO's you're probably better off bringing a full tripod for maximum stability.

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 12:53 PM
reply to post by scowl

People who know the night sky will generally not see UFOs when they go looking for them. People who have no idea what they are looking at, sure, they can ssee something strange in the sky every day if they want. In fact, a repeatable UFO almost certainly isn't.

So, you just have to have the kit and be ready. Whatever you have with you had better be highly portable, and better set up fast, because you're unlikely to get a window of more than a few seconds.

in fact, rather than a camera, I'd rather have some small, decent quality binoculars with me. In fact, I always have a pair in the car, and I can deploy them in about three seconds.

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 12:56 PM
reply to post by scowl

The 40D (and I think, all the Canon DSLRs) can be quickly set up to autobracket. It can also shoot 6.5 frames per second, so that's two fully bracketed 14 bit deep, 10 MP wide exposures per second.

posted on May, 22 2008 @ 02:54 PM
reply to post by disownedsky

I've gone through almost all of the cases at and I'm surprised at how many sightings have lasted several minutes. The "here then gone" cases are less common.

My thirty second sighting was twenty seconds of me thinking, "Wow, that plane has a lot of bright strobe lights." By the time it passed over the car and I realized it looked like an extraordinary plane, there was no time for me to pull out my heavy DSLR. If I had had the little digicam at the time, I might have gotten a shot off. That's why I bought it.

posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:22 PM
reply to post by watch_the_rocks

Thanks for the info but i think you should read the thread UFOs angels or demons they are demonic manifestations and I wouldnt want to tke a pocture of them you should also know tha that is the reason that they are blurry thay are demonic

Mod Edit: All Caps – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 19-6-2008 by Gemwolf]

posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:34 PM
Now that we know how to take pictures of UFO's the bigger question seems to be.




posted on Jun, 18 2008 @ 12:40 PM
reply to post by iesus_freak


Jesus Freak,

What makes you say the pictures go blurry because they are demonic?

Do you have any particular reasoning? Evidence, proof just curious...

Most people need to believe that ufo's are demonic or the DEVIL in my opinion because ET's visiting earth with flying saucers much more advanced than us doesn't seem to fit into the bible way of things or religions and it makes one feel much more secure believing they are just of the devil.

They are of the devil and demons and THAT IS THAT.

But we have 1000's even millions of very religious people wish stories and claims of abductions why would they be taken.

SHUT UP, it doesn't happen. THEY ARE DEMONS.

Those religious folks being abducted must have sinned.

I don't know what do you think?

posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 02:05 AM
I would like to remind some of our newcomers that posting in ALL CAPS are not allowed.

All Caps – Please Review This Link.

posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 06:38 AM
reply to post by watch_the_rocks
No one seems able to snap even an okay photograph of a UFO. I don’t why...

thats kindof self explanitory the main reason is because half of them are hoaxes but then the genuine ones the really amazing ones or the ones where these people were dismissed as crackpots may be demonic manifestations therefore may not ever get good pics

posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 06:52 AM
reply to post by ET_CONTACT
they may be demonic they could be angels btut thay are leading people away from God so i think not and i think that this may sound narrow minded but there are only a few races in the universe there are angels man God Giants thats it but demons are bound to this earth and its atmosphere fallen angels are probably in heaven to test the other angels giants died and became demons that leaves men and angels to go to other planets angels inhabit other planets and such and before the fall theat was ou r privelage we will once again be able to do so when He comes back so that kindof replaces them and this is not a thought of and new idea it is stated in the bible and has been belived for thousands of years

and think about this if there are other civilizations out there than jesus would have had to die for that race too on another planet and that would be contrary to sripture and i dont think he went wrong on this verse

remember the bible has never been wrong just misunderstood

if you think you can prove otherwise try me

and im not trying to fit it to my beliefs that was already in there any other power from God is from satan

posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 07:08 AM
Photography is a hobby for me. Having once missed a great shot when I was between cameras, I now carry it with me everywhere.

In regard to taking UFO photos, while I've never been so fortunate, what I have done is practice taking stills and video of known conventional aircraft. If you practice this a bit, you'll get more adept at quickly locating it in the viewfinder, tracking it, especially with high zoom.

Also, with sites like, you can find out when known satellites/ISS, etc. are going to flyover. These are consistent-velocity satellites, and are great for fine-tuning your nighttime settings on a moving brightly-lit object.

I keep the camera in a (hopefully) me-proof Pelican box (cheap, strong and weatherproof) as well as an extra charged battery, lenses/filters and ..... very important..... extra memory cards.

Readiness is all

Thanks much for all the great tips. Excellent thread.

[edit to add the satellite stuff]

[edit on 19-6-2008 by argentus]

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