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Hunting for UFOs

The Best Gear to Have For Recording a UFO:

Ever since I had my sighting back in 1998, I’ve wished that I had a camera at the time. I believe it would have been one of the closest photographs we have of an alien craft and yet I didn’t have a camera with me. It was 1998 so I didn’t even have a cell phone, not to mention one that could take a pic. Although cell phone images of the night sky are pretty terrible anyway. Even if I had a camera that night, I don’t think I would have had the sense of mind to take a photograph. The experience was so mesmerizing I doubt I would have taken my eye off of the three orbs to try and get a pic, and if I did it would have needed to be an SLR set in manual mode.

One of the reasons I think we have no excellent images of UFOs is that the best UFO encounters are so mesmerizing and spectacular that a pic is the last thing people are thinking about. The thoughts going through their mind as their entire worldview is changed is not about recording the event; and the photographs we do get are far enough away that the people taking the pics kind of just don’t know what the object in the sky may be and so they’re much more casual about the encounter. This means the majority of images we actually get are terrible, or they’re cases of mistaken identity, etc. So what’s the best equipment if you want to catch images of an alien spacecraft? There’s actually no easy answer. It’s really impossible to be lugging around expensive gear all of the time in the off-chance that an alien craft pays you a visit. Naturally this changes if you’re heading into the woods for a weekend of sky observation. Here is a list of gear starting with the basics and moving up towards the ridiculous:

1. A smartphone: Your smartphone may be the only camera you have with you when your sighting occurs. This is the most basic and limiting recording device for a few reasons. The first problem with smartphones is the amount of time it takes for you to take a photograph. By the time you get the phone out of your pocket, unlock the screen, navigate to the camera app, choose either photo or video mode, and take the pic, the sighting may be over. Knowing this limitation may cause you to forgo taking a pic altogether, and instead decide to keep your eyes fixed on the event. The second problem with smartphones is their small lens and sensor size. This makes them pretty bad in low-light conditions, and there’s really no way to control camera settings. The camera will try to adjust to illuminate the entire scene, and therefore overexpose a light in the sky, robbing you of any detail of the craft itself.

2. A point-and-shoot camera: This would be a step above a smartphone. A point-and-shoot camera is the typical camera you’ll find at places like Walmart and Target. They are dedicated cameras, typically with video capabilities. The downside to a point-and-shoot camera is that you’re still limited to one small lens and sensor, which isn’t going to let in much light, nor will it handle high ISO very well, leading to grainy images.

3. Cameras with changeable lenses: This could include film SLRs, Digital SLRs, and Mirrorless cameras. These are the cameras that allow for different lenses. There are benefits and disadvantages to each of these three camera types. One benefit of film SLR cameras is that they may still function under a drain of power since most only take a small watch battery if any battery at all. Some witnesses of alien encounters have reported their vehicles and electronic equipment being drained of power during the event. Digital SLR’s and mirrorless cameras would not function if this occurred; however both are more practical for other reasons, such as higher ISO abilities and the ability to backup the files instead of having to find a place that develops film and hope the negatives don’t get exposed before development. Mirrorless cameras have one disadvantage over SLR cameras, and that is startup time. They don’t instantly turn on. You may miss the shot waiting the second or two it takes the camera to power-on when every second counts.

A subset to #3 would be the lens you choose to have on the camera. A lens with a fast aperture works best, and a medium telephoto to telephoto focal length. I shoot Nikon but the focal lengths and widest aperture will still apply to other manufactures. I’ve found that focal lengths from 50mm to 180mm work best, with an aperture not exceeding f2.8. Anything longer and you may have trouble finding the object in the viewfinder, anything shorter and you’ll have a difficult time resolving detail of the craft unless it’s an extremely close sighting. My sighting occurred 50ft above my head. Three orbs about the size of large beachballs. With a 50mm lens I would have gotten some of the surrounding trees and houses in the photograph, along with highly detailed images of the orbs themselves. Had I had Nikons 180mm f2.8 lens with me I don’t think I would have been able to track their motion well enough to get useable pics, and if I did manage to, there would be no context to the photograph. Just a ball of light against a dark sky. The problem of sighting distance being unpredictable means a 70-200mm f2.8 could be a great choice. It fits the focal range nicely and is still bright enough at f2.8 to be useful. I wouldn’t bother much with nighttime photos of lights in the sky that are too difficult with to resolve with a 200mm lens unless you own some exotic pieces of glass like a 400mm f2.8 and have gone out with a tripod for the explicit reason of filming UFOs. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with points of light in the sky that really give no info and could be airplanes or satellites. You may know they weren’t, but your photographs won’t show anything different. If you’ve ever shot a pic of the moon with your cellphone, you’ll know what I mean.

4. Night vision and thermal: I hesitate to put this as number 5 but if you have the money, you might be tempted to delve into enhanced vision devices. I don’t really recommend this except in a few cases. My reason against night vision (Gen3 military grade goggles, monoculars, binoculars, etc) is that everything looks like a UFO through them! It’s very difficult at night to distinguish the flashing light of an airplane with the flashing light of a potential alien craft, when all lights bloom with night vision. Blooming is when the light loses all detail and appears larger than it actually is. Not only does blooming occur, but you’ve also lost all color data because night vision is either green phosphor, or white phosphor; it’s like looking at a black and white tv screen. It’s great for identifying friend from foe on the battle field, and that is what it was intended to do. It was never meant to be used for identification of aircraft at night. They are wonderful for astronomy, but I’ll save that for another topic. I’ve had gen3 PVS7s and PVS14s. I once thought I had captured an alien craft and it was just a bat. Looked exactly like an alien craft darting around at high altitude. I held my Iphone up to the monocular and recorded a video. Since the resolution of the phosphorus screen in the monocular was so high, and the Iphone was 4k, I was able to zoom in on the video. That’s when I could clearly see the form of a bat with its wings flapping. My point here is that things can really look strange under light amplification technology and it doesn’t really provide any additional data. One recent example is the night vision video of what appears to be a triangular craft when really it was just an airplane but the particular night vision had an iris that caused triangular bokeh. If you have the extra money for Gen 3 night vision its certainly great for many things, setting up camera gear at night, night navigation, night hikes, security, etc; just not UFO’s.

Thermal imaging: I use thermal but not to search for UFO’s. Thermal imaging such as a decent thermal monocular is great for detecting wildlife and people while you’re out in the woods. I’d recommend it for personal threat identification, but not so much for looking for UFO’s. Thermal imagining, just like night vision, can make things look very strange, and doesn’t really provide additional data over the visible spectrum. There have been reports of craft only showing up on thermal, but it’s not really practical to spend your days looking up at the sky with a thermal monocular in the hopes of finding one of them. Recent UFO sighting testimony by Navy personnel has demonstrated that the craft also show up in the visible spectrum. Wherever those visible color spectrum videos are, I’m sure they’re of much higher quality than the thermal videos.

Tips for taking UFO photos:

Manual focus:

Let’s assume you’ve got, or will purchase a DSLR or mirrorless camera. These are really the best for capturing ufos, especially at night. One caveat is that you should try to get fairly proficient with using manual focus, if you aren’t already. This is because all cameras have a problem focusing in dark conditions. Your keeper rate of useable pics will be much higher if you take over the focusing of the camera. Another benefit of focusing manually is that many of the lenses are very inexpensive. I made the switch into mirrorless with the Nikon Z6 and use old manual focus lenses with an adapter. The company 7artisans makes a whole line of lenses for the Nikon Z mount with apertures of f1.2 for a little over $100! I also use old Contax-Zeiss lenses with an adapter. These are premium lenses at non-premium prices on the used market.

Manual mode or at least negative exposure compensation:

A big problem with night photos is that the camera wants to expose the entire scene when really you want proper exposure on the ufo, ball of light, light source, or whatever it may be. You could set the camera to meter only the central dot and then hope you get the UFO perfectly in the center, or just set your exposure manually. Manual mode can work great if you’re really proficient and experienced with lighting levels. Thinking back on my sighting, I could have shot the orbs at ISO 400 with a 1/300sec shutter speed. The homes and trees would have been dark but not indistinguishable from the background, and the orbs would have been nicely exposed without overexposing, since they were fairly bright. An easier method may be to let the camera meter the entire scene, not just the center, and set exposure compensation to something like negative 2 or even -3. This way the camera will not be trying to bring the dark scene to daylight conditions and overexpose the orbs, UFO, or light source you’re trying to identify. These methods only work for bright UFOs at night. For daytime sightings you’re better off letting the camera handle exposure, and only worrying about using a shutter speed fast enough to not introduce motion blur. That will depend on speed of the craft and lighting conditions. If you’re new to photography I’m probably not helping much.

Hunting UFOs - My UFO Encounter