Cameras are more powerful and faster than ever before. Almost everyone has a camera of sorts in their hands these days. Why, then is it that getting a clear shot of a UFO is still such a challenging task? Given the recent House hearings on UFOs and UAPs, we asked a few photographers and UFO experts for their thoughts on the topic. Specifically, the Phoblographer spoke to some aviation photography experts and people who’ve seen and photographed UFOs to understand more about this. In fact, even the CIA has some information on how to do this.
The lead image is by Christiaan van Heijst and is used with permission
“If you see an anomalous craft, I would recommend that you just get as far away from it as you possibly can, and leave the area. This is not a game; these things are dangerous, and so are the entities inside them.”
Table of Contents
Are We Truly Alone?
The year was probably 1997. A visit to a doctor with tapes of Area 51 and alien lifeforms turned a curious teenager into a full-blown alien enthusiast. The TV show X-Files had already piqued my interest in extraterrestrials, and the good doctor was kind enough to show me some tapes he had sourced from around the world. While I could never verify the authenticity of those tapes, viewing them always left the question lingering at the back of my head – are we truly alone in this world? A question that I still think of every time I view an image of the stars and the night skies.
The CIA Takes Sighting Reports Seriously
Government studies on UFOs began nearly 60 years ago. This was soon after a series of sightings began being reported — so much so that the CIA even released a set of guidelines on how to photograph them. We detailed this in an article a few years ago:
1. Have camera set at infinity.
2. Fast film, such as Tri-X, is very good.
3. For moving objects shutter speeds not slower than one hundredth of a second should be used. Shutter and f-stop combination will depend upon lighting conditions; dusk, cloudy day, bright
sunlight, etc. If your camera does not require such settings, just take pictures.
4. Do not move camera during exposure.
This guideline was meant for cameras made many decades ago. Since then, camera technology has improved in leaps and bounds. So much so that people can get amazing photos of stars and galaxies from their backyards. One would think, then, that capturing UFOs on camera would be a relatively more straightforward task now. Yet we still don’t have clearer pictures of UFOs that can clearly confirm the existence of intelligent life outside of our planet.
Christiaan van Heijst – Pilot
Christiaan is a highly experienced commercial airplane pilot. He has two decades of flying experience and over ten thousand flying hours under his belt. It’s safe to say he’s spent many hours cruising the skies. I asked him whether he’d seen any unidentifiable things in the air during his time as a pilot. “I have seen nearly everything there is to see ‘up there’ during all those flights, from burning space debris, rocket launches, missiles, drones, military aircraft, and all sorts of meteorological phenomena,” came the reply.
But what did he see that was quite unexplainable? “Twice, I’ve seen a bright ball of light moving vertically down with incredible speed,” he explains. “Once at night over Germany, where it disappeared in the clouds below us. Once over the Adriatic Sea during the day, where the light seemingly fell from high up in the atmosphere down into the sea in a matter of seconds.” He continues that he’s seen a very bright light appearing in the night sky, disappearing and reappearing multiple times with a slight distance between the reappearances before shooting off with instant and literally unbelievable speed. Specifically, he described it as not even accelerating – just instant speed and going up into space.
This happened while the US carrier group with the USS Theodore Roosevelt was passing close by, but he admits that they have no clue if this light phenomenon was related to their presence. That wasn’t the most unusual spotting for Christiaan though.
“A fourth time was over Spain, where we noticed a dark ‘object’ far ahead of us while and far above our cruising altitude. The shape and position of the object was extremely peculiar, since we were already flying at 41,000 ft and there is hardly any traffic that can sustain higher levels so consistently, let alone the fact that we were not even on an airway and thus no traffic was supposed to be ahead of us.Christiaan van Heijst about the lead image of this article, taken by him
Madrid Air Traffic Control confirmed there was no other traffic ahead of us over the entire Spanish peninsula and urged us to contact the military air traffic controller who was extremely interested in our sighting and confirmed that no military or civil (nor weather balloon or anything else) was known to him over Spain. We saw the object for over an hour until we descended into the clouds near Malaga, the object still visible far south of our position and at extreme altitudes.”
UFOs are out. UAPs are in
I asked Christiaan if there was any way of capturing usable footage or photos of such UFO phenomena. “There was no way of knowing they would show up, so taking pictures of them is near-impossible unless you have a camera continuously recording,” he clarified. He also noted that many of these cameras lack the sensitivity to record clearly at night. Christiaan did correct me on one point. He noted that “the term UFO is replaced by the official term UAP: Unexplained Anomalous Phenomena. This covers a wider range of sightings and gets rid of the horrible stigma attached to UFOs.
Possibly The Clearest Ever UFO Photo Taken
Aerial photographer Sergio Loaiza was taking photographs for The National Geographic Institute of Costa Rica back in 1971. At an altitude of 10,000 feet, he activated his onboard camera, which began taking images at 20-second intervals. It was only days later, when observing the images for research purposes, did the institute observe something unusual on the 300th frame taken that morning.
UAP Media UK has made a high-resolution drum scan of a contact copy of the original negative available to the public. The below photograph is a resized version of this.
And below is a 100% crop of the UAP observed in just one shot of hundreds taken that day.
Skeptical or not, there’s something in that image that no one around that day was aware of or had seen before. Various experts have analyzed the original image over the years. UAP Media UK reports that all of them have concluded that the image and certainly not a fabricated image or a double exposure.
John Mooner – Chief Investigator World UFO Photos
John is a British ufologist with over two decades of actual ufological research. He’s been able to capture various images of UFOs near his home in Devon, England. Unlike most of us, he’s experienced enough to easily tell the difference between civilian and extraterrestrial aircraft. I asked John why most images of UFOs, even today, are still blurry and soft. “These anomalous craft have the ability to blend in with the sky and can become completely invisible to different spectrums, and they move at tremendous speed; that’s why they are mostly blurry,” he tells us. “I recommend setting your camera to burst mode with a high shutter speed. And there are plenty of clear alien craft photos on the web.” Of course, the clarity of the UFOs in the image depended on how far they were from the person photographing them.
“It all depends on the distance from the object. A good camera with a telephoto lens is always best, but smartphones can sometimes be used.”John Mooner, World UFO Photos Chief Investigator
Keep A Safe Distance
Given the risks involved with being spotted by alien beings, John suggested the Nikon P900 as a camera that could photograph them from a safe distance. But this suggestion came with a strong warning. “If you see an anomalous craft, I would recommend that you just get as far away from it as you possibly can, and leave the area,” he says. “This is not a game; these things are dangerous, and so are the entities inside them. But, if you do want to put your life at risk, then I would highly recommend a Nikon P900 Camera so that you can photograph them from a safe distance.”
We suggest the Nikon P1000 as a better option since it has a 125x optical zoom and 4K video recording. The relevant specs are far superior to the P900 model. Of course, if you’ve got a good DSLR or mirrorless camera, that would be far better. John agrees that the best way to get pictures is with a professional camera and a telephoto lens.
The Truth Is Out There
With more and more information on UFO sightings being made public, it’s probably sooner than later when we’ll start to see more verified sightings and clearer UFO photos taken by amateurs and professionals. You’ll probably need an excellent optical zoom smartphone or at least a 300mm (full-frame equivalent) lens to get sharp images of them. But just as John recommends, whenever you point your lens to the skies, stay aware of your surroundings and stay safe.