“PREDATOR” IN THE FOREST
JAN’S WEIRD EXPERIENCE
It was Wednesday, September 29, the next to last day in September and hunting season (for deer) in Ohio was just a 4 days old. The day started cool and damp then became a beautiful, warm day with a nice sunset. Jan was anxious to begin hunting. Her method of hunting consisted of waiting and watching while seated in a “tree stand.” The seat of her stand is at the top of a 15 ft ladder. Her seat is in the northwestern corner of a many-acre wood that is surrounded by large planted fields and low density residential areas. Her seat faces the east and is surrounded by on all sides by trees.
She didn't hunt in the morning but she did climb up the 15 ft to the seat to test the newly installed bow hanger. She took a picture of her bow hanging from the bow hanger. She took the picture (and other pictures below) with her Blackberry "Pearl", Model 8130 camera phone. The phone records the date and time of each picture, the spatial resolution (number of pixels horizontal and vertical) and the total "byte" size of the each picture file.
BOW AND HOLDER PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE TREE STAND
SEPT 29, 2010 AT 10:14 AM resolution 1024x768 (404 kb)
Jan had a strange experience while in the trees in the late afternoon and evening.
She went to her tree stand at about 5:30 and sat. A squirrel was dropping nut pieces on her head and animals, birds and crickets were moving and making noise. To occupy her time she was “texting” with her phone (a means of silent communication). At about 6:21 PM she decided to photograph herself in the tree stand. She was facing east with the sun at her back. She held the camera above and to her left. The sun was behind her, low in the west, with the light filtering through the tree branches. She took the first photo with the camera a bit above her head and to her left so she could get a photo looking down past her to the ground. She then decided to take a second. She took the second photo and didn’t like it so she deleted it.
FIRST SELF-PHOTO OF JAN IN THE TREE STAND
SEPT 29, 2010 AT 6:21 PM Resolution 1024 x 768 (260 kb)
Suddenly the woods went quiet. Noise stopped. The silence was “weird.” It so surprised and unnerved her that she wrote a text message to her friend (thereby documenting this event):
Something is wrong. The woods just went to a dead silence. No squirrels, no birds, no crickets. Is odd! (6:23 PM EDT)
She thought a coyote or maybe a black panther or some predator animal caused the quiet as she knows (as hunters know) that when a predator such as a bear, for example, enters an area the other animals tend to become quiet. Then she became aware that a weird visual “effect” was moving rightward across her field of view at an apparent distance of maybe fifteen to twenty feet. She described it as if looking through "saran wrap." Perhaps a more apt comparison would be like looking at a mirage above a hot road. She compared this distortion of the scene as being somewhat like the effect of the invisible creature in the PREDATOR movie! This distortion was at a higher altitude than her 15 ft above the ground, perhaps about 25 ft above the ground.. She took her glasses off and rubbed her right eye thinking at first she had a floater (a mote in the eye). But after rubbing it was still there and not a floater.
It moved to her right from about 15 degrees to the right of straight ahead to about 45 degrees to the right (see the diagram below, not to scale). Then it disappeared...things looked normal and she could hear the normal sounds again.
As she recalls it, she held the camera in her right hand, about a foot and a half from her face (so that the scene in the viewing screen would be in focus for her eyes), pointed the camera in the direction of the distortion and took a picture. As she recalls it the picture was taken immediately after the distortion disappeared. The picture should show the nearby trees. That’s not what the picture shows!
PHOTO TAKEN IN THE DIRECTION OF THE DISTORTION WHEN
LAST SEEN SEPT 29, 2010 at 6:23 PM Resolution: 528 x 400 (43.2 kb)
A minute or so later she took two more pictures of herself, one of which is shown below.
THIRD SELF-PHOTO OF JAN IN THE TREE STAND
SEPT 29, 2010 at 6:23 PM Resolution: 1024 x 768 (306 kb)
After sitting for an hour and a half more, she left the tree stand about 7:45 and came to dinner with our guests for the evening. She didn’t think to mention her strange experience.
After dinner cleanup and a movie the guests were about to leave when I checked my Facebook messages and saw one from Jan’s nephew, a high school student: there was a sighting by a number of students and faculty at the high school during band practice just before dark. The high school is about a mile north northwest of the tree stand. He wrote,
We were playing tonight on the field, and just as it was starting to get dark, a huge bright light appears over the field and begins to move sideways, then in a matter of 5 seconds or so it disappeared, getting smaller almost every second. About 5 minutes later it reappeared, this time it was Amber in color. I know of 4 people who saw this, and according to an upperclassman, the same thing happened last year and they actually stopped rehearsal.
I asked him what time this was and he responded “7:50 – 8:00 PM” or about an hour and a half after Jan’s “phenomenon.”
Whether or not this high school sighting was connected with what Jan saw, the fact is that it had an immediate effect on her when I mentioned this to Jan and other guests at the house. She suddenly realized that she hadn’t told anyone of her own experience. She then described in considerable detail what she recalled about the forest going silent and then the appearance of the moving “distortion.” Later on, in further discussion, she recalled that she had actually emailed a brief description of the forest going silent to her friend. She also recalled that her ending phrase, “Is odd” (see text above) was an oblique reference to the moving distortion. But she did not describe the distortion effect to her friend because she knew it would take a lot of text to fully explain what she had seen. Instead she felt that she should stop texting and return her concentration to hunting.
During a further discussion the following day she recalled that she had taken the strange picture in the direction of the distortion after it seemed to have disappeared.
ANALYSIS OF THE PHOTOGRAPH
The sudden silence in the forest was strange but nothing compared to the strangeness of the optical distortion that moved through the trees. Whatever that was, it appears to have left its imprint in the photo Jan took. Below is the above picture after some brightening. The distortion moved from left to right near the top of the picture.
DISTORTION PHOTO AFTER SLIGHT BRIGHTENING
This picture below shows the scene as photographed under normal conditions the next day but an hour earlier.
COMPARISON PHOTO TAKEN UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS
SEPT. 30 at 5:36 PM resolution: 1024 x 768
As can be seen, the distortion photo should show trees and foliage in the forest at distances from about 10 ft to about 50 ft (and beyond). The tree images should be sharply focused as they are in the preceding and following photos of herself. There is just no way that the normal operation of the camera under normal optical conditions of the scene could result in the distortion picture.
There are two other anomalies. First, all the other pictures were taken are at a spatial resolution of 1024 pixels (horizontal) by 768 pixels (vertical), yet this single picture was taken at 528 x 400. Second, the other pictures had a "byte" size over 200 kb whereas the size of this picture is only 43.2 kb
Consider first the resolution. The camera has three settings for spatial resolution: "large", which corresponds to 1600 by 1200 pixels (ratio: 1.333), "medium" which corresponds to 1024 by 768 pixels (ratio: 1.337) and small, which corresponds to 640 by 480 pixels (ratio: 1.333; NTSC standard television resolution). However, the spatial resolution of the anomalous picture, as recorded by the phone, was 528 by 400 (ratio: 1.320). This is an abnormal spatial resolution. Jan did not try to change the resolution (she didn't even know how until this investigation determined how it is done with this camera) but even if she had tried, she couldn't have set the camera for 528 by 400! So, how did the camera get set to this unusual resolution?
With regard to the image size, note that the total image size in bytes is typically 200 kb or more for pictures at the "medium" resolution. However, the anomalous photo has a much smaller “byte size” and this isn’t just a result of the lower spatial resolution. The pixel resolution ratio of the medium size to the anomalous size is (1024x768)/(528x400) = 3.7 whereas the “byte size” ratio is (using the 306 kb picture that follows the distortion picture) 306 kb/43.2 kb = 7.1. The difference in the byte size ratio must be a result of reduced number of brightness levels, i.e., the “brightness scale” of the anomalous photo is considerably less than the same scale for the normal pictures. (The photo processing program shows about 100,000 color levels for the normal pictures but only 27,000 for the anomalous photo.)
A “HAIRY” EXPERIMENT
The distortion picture looks like a collection of elongated reflections from a filamentary surface such as one might find in a photo of hair. That’s not to suggest that Jan’s hair was in front of the camera because it couldn’t have been. Jan’s hair was tied in a pony tail and she wore a cap over it. The longest hair was draped over her shoulders and onto her back, as the pictures above show. She held the camera about a foot and a half in front of her and to the right. Aside from the fact that most of her hair was under the cap, her hair isn’t long enough to reach in front of the camera at a distance of 1 ½ ft. Hence there is no way her hair could have been in front of the camera.
Nevertheless, it is instructive to compare photos taken close to her hair with the distortion photo. Two such photos are shown below. They were taken with her hair rather spread out. The first of these photos shows what the hair looks like in varying levels of illumination by the sun which was low in the west. At the left side and center the hair is thick but at the right side it is “transparent” and one can see through the hair to the well focused background. For the second photo the camera was held only an inch or so from her hair.
EXPERIMENT WITH SOLAR ILLUMINATION OF HAIR
The camera was about a foot from her hair
CLOSE-UP PHOTO OF HAIR
The camera was only an inch or so from the hair.
Examining the “hair photos” one can see a “stranding” effect that is somewhat similar to what appears in the distortion photo but there is very little of the color fringing or “rainbow” or “spectrum” effect (colors separated as with a glass prism) that appears everywhere in the distortion photo. Where the hair is thin enough to be somewhat transparent one sees the background, perhaps dimly, but undistorted. Thus one might conclude that if something like hair (fine strands) were placed in front of the camera the strands themselves would be out of focus but the background, if visible through the strands, would be in focus.
Occasionally there have been reports that suggest the presence of a strong magnetic field in the vicinity of a UFO. Hence I tested the effect on the phone of a strong Alnico bar magnet. The upper part of the Blackberry contains the viewing screen and the lower part contains the control buttons. Placing the end of the magnet at the top of the phone had little or no discernible effect on photos taken. When the magnet was moved to the lower half the camera “turned off,” the screen went blank and no photo could be taken, as if the magnetic field effected the electronics in the camera. When the magnet was removed (moved several inches or more from the camera) the camera resumed normal operation. On presumes, then, that if the camera had been immersed in a strong magnetic field due that accompanied the distortion, it would not have been able to take any picture. This suggests then, that if the distortion were some sort of “impossible” magnetic effect, this effect was confined to a small volume of space at a distance from the camera..
There is no conclusion as yet. This is offered as a reasonably well documented observation (with photo) of a strange optical effect combined with some strange effect on the camera.
(Note: the following sighting occurred between 7:50 and 8:00 PM, about half an hour after sunset. The following provides further details of the sighting reported in the text above.)
This particular event took place on the 29th of September, Wednesday night, at an outdoor high school band rehearsal. It was dark behind us all and we had been practicing the same drill move maybe eight to ten times. I remember feeling that this was monotonous and I could tell by the groans and expressions of those around me that the monotony was getting to them as well. I remember the music being played was the last few measures of the song, "The Heat Is On In Saigon" from the Broadway musical, "Miss Saigon." The saxophone section stood right about the center of the field with the clarinet section right behind us. (You'll see why this is important.) All of a sudden I began to notice a bright light in the sky. There had been plenty of airplanes about earlier so I think my mind dismissed it as an airplane but, when the guy standing next to me yelled, "What the hell is that?" I knew it was something else (not an airplane). I looked up and the two of us followed it for about 3 to 5 seconds. Whatever this thing was, it moved to the right and got smaller as if it shrank more every second and then it was gone, as if it had never been there. I actually remember looking over at the guy next to me, just as he looked at me, with his mouth agape and my eyes were probably wide open. The thing is, we were dumbfounded. It all happened so quickly our minds couldn't process it. I think I was trying to rationalize when my mind said "airplane" but then I said to myself, "No, airplanes don't disappear and they aren't bright white circles." A few minutes had probably passed by this time and I don't even think the two of us (my friend and I) even played for a while. Instead, we kind of just stared at the sky. By this time the fellow next to me had started asking people around us if they had seen it. He asked the girl saxophone player who stood in our row if she had seen it. She just got a sort of worried look on her face and went back to marching, dismissing what she had just heard. By this time I'd say 5 to 8 minutes has passed since the initial light had disappeared and suddenly is appeared again. This time it was smaller and amber in color. It continued to travel on its course (to the right) and disappeared into the starry night. We saw nothing else after this but every once in a while I felt I would see something out of the corner of my eye, but I was probably just imagining things.