July 3, 1999


On a chilly November night in 1964, I was taking time exposure pictures
of the infrequently clear skies over Ann Arbor, Michigan. When the
35mm slides were developed, I was initially disappointed to have not
captured any meteors or satellites for my school science project. What
did appear on the intriguing image was an apparent formation of UFO's!
Needless to say, the science project changed from meteors to unidentified
flying objects...a line of inquiry that fascinates me to this very day.


Information regarding the original image demonstrates just how rudimentary my technology was as a teenager in 1964. An old Argus C-3 camera, a tripod, Kodachrome 35mm slide film, and a fat rubber band over the shutter button to keep the lens open while I was inside keeping warm.

The exposure was perhaps 45 minutes long...but annoyingly, the rubber band slipped off the shutter button several times at the beginning (for various short durations.)

Take a look at the slide image, professionally scanned at a local studio.

Image 1.
An enlargement of the scanned slide jpg image.

Image 2.
View the entire 1536 x 1024 image. (1.6 MB)


It soon became evident I would never acquire a decent enlargement of such a small area of the image...without some fancy footwork. I recalled that, (some thirty-five years ago,) how detailed the anomalous objects appeared when viewed at 40 - 50 feet with a slide projector. So the task at hand was to borrow a quality slide projector, view the image at various distances and somehow capture the objects on 35mm film.

I can only imagine what the local police thought when they drove by my house that night. I had positioned a step ladder in the front yard, on which there was a clip board, tape measure, extension cord, a cold beer...and the slide projector which was hurling a tunnel of eerie blue light through the front door, down the hallway of the blacked-out house, and onto the whitest, smoothest surface I could find -- the inside of my scanner cover, which was cleverly mounted on an easel. Along side the easel on a tripod was my trusty Minolta 5000 Maxxum and a fresh roll of 400 ASA film.

The quest was on!

I'm sure the cops scratched their heads and dutifully cruised on into the night. The challenge for me that evening was to somehow capture a few good images of the haunting images that piqued my curiosity as a teen...but I needed a helper. Certainly someone would have the patience to make the minute adjustments in focus on the equipment while I tinkered with numerous exposure times and lens apertures. I gave Woodlock a call who eagerly agreed to assist in the shoot.

We devised a flashlight signaling system, rather that yelling at each other at such a late hour. I set up the Minolta at the closest possible distance to the scanner cover on which image would be projected and began to fire away. The exposures ranged from 1/10 sec. to two seconds. The aperture ranged from F-16 to F-1.7 The image was projected at distances ranging from 30 to 75 feet.

Here's one of our first attempts. The Minolta is permanently positioned at a distance of 1.5 feet. The star trails are evident, however the anomalous objects are over exposed and even suggest there was a resulting glare.

Image 3.
ufo 30.jpg

View Full Resolution Image 3 - (.8 MB)

The next series of shots were at 48 feet. Image 4 has perhaps the best clarity and exposure. It is still a little over-cooked compared to the appearance of the live image.

Image 4.

View Full Resolution Image 4 - (1.0 MB)

Image 5 was captured from the same distance as Image 4,
but with a higher F Stop setting.

Image 5.

View Full Resolution Image 5 - (1.1 MB)

The final shoot took place a 70 feet. You can tell we nailed the focus on this one, as evidenced by the appearance of a stubborn piece of lint. This exposure was at 1/10 sec. and brought out many details. However, the fainter of the objects are barely visible.

Image 6.

View Full Resolution Image 6.

Here's the last image worth examining. The exposure was a little longer, but it wiped out the detail of the brighter objects. The fainter objects exhibit what detail they can.

Image 7.

View Full Resolution Image 7 - (1.1MB)

Lastly, here are three attempts at scanning the last and faintest object by itself, at 600 dpi. As in all of the above images, there was no tinkering with colors, contrast, etc., after scanning.

Image 8.

Image 9.

Image 10.


To be honest, I can't conclude much because I didn't see whatever it was in the sky. I must have been indoors at the time. It may have been a number of objects that were captured while I fiddled with the rubber band that kept slipping off the shutter button, (creating a snap shot effect.) It could have been a single object that flashed or strobed several times while moving through the sky. No deductions can be made regarding distance or size...or speed. I can safely say the objects are not merely a lens flare, as there were no nearby bright sources of light.

At some point after I began the science project, I mailed a duplicate slide and a brief letter to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. It had come to my attention certain people at the base might investigate the image and provide some competent research data. After several long weeks, I received a letter from WPAFB. They said they preferred to analyze the original slide, and...would I be kind enough to forward it. After noticing the condition in which the duplicate slide was returned, I decided to hold on to the original.

Image 11.                                             Image 12.

It was obvious the slide had been taken apart and reassembled. The cardboard around the film was returned wrinkled and dirty...as if it had passed through many hands.

* * * * * *

If anyone has a record of UFO sightings in southeastern Michigan during November of 1964, I'd be interested in comparing notes.

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