1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member


    These photos claim to show some kind of circular craft spraying a trail.

    But what we seem to have here it's a very bright reflection off a shiny curved spot on the plane, and it's slightly out of focus. The unfocussed highlight reflection is know as "bokeh", and this can be much bigger than the actual object, depending on the degree of focus.

    Here's a demonstration with a reflection off a car. Only the focus is changed, not the zoom:


    To more closely replicate the effect, I set up a very bright flashlight, and pointed it a steel rule, with a small round magnet at the end. The round magnet would simulate the curved surfaces of the plane, and give a nice highlight.

    I then took photos of this at various focus levels. Again there is no zoom here, only the focus is changing.

    If we adjust the contrast like in the "UFO" photos we see a similar ring around the out of focus highlight:

    Here's the first and last frames overlaid, so you can see how big the bokeh is relative to the highlight.

    [This posted was updated Sep 1 2014]


    ( Gif by @Trailspotter https://www.metabunk.org/explained-...rail-and-motion-blur.t8284/page-2#post-198134 )
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
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  2. Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2013
  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Here's an image sequence I made a while ago that shows how you can get bokeh from something that is out of focus. Carnicoms images are just a regular plane, reflecting the sun, and out of focus.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  4. Hi Mick,

    this is a good exlanation indeed.
    How did you make this effect?
    Thank you!
  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    It's not really an effect. It's just what happens when a small bright light source is out of focus. I made the images above by focusing on the cars in the distance, and then taking successive photos with the focus just off slightly, done manually.

    The size of the bokeh is related to the size of the frame, and not the object. So for a far off plane, closely cropped, it's easy to get bokeh that's bigger than the plane.
  6. Thank you Mick!

    Can I use your pictures in a post of my blog?
  7. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Sure! You can always use my pictures.
  8. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    "Bokeh" - "the aesthetic quality of the blur".
    Did not know.
    Amazing the supernatural yearnings projected onto shiny things.
  9. stars15k

    stars15k New Member

    Great debunk of "spirit orbs", especially in the outdoors, as well!
    I did a pixel count on an "invisible plane" once, using several different pictures of "invisibility proven" claims, and found that each plane would have been completely imaged in less than four pixels (lengthwise). Similar counts of the "no windows, no marking" secret planes fared just a bit better; the I think the average number was eight. Informing people that you can get nothing but a vague shape at such a low resolution got me blocked.
  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Saw this crop up again recently, so updated the OP with a new demonstration.
  11. Great! Thank you Mick