Balwyn, Melbourne UFO picture (1966)

J

johne1618

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On April 2nd, 1966 in Balwyn, Melbourne, Australia a young engineer took the following Polaroid picture of a UFO from his mother's garden. Four days later the Westall School mass UFO sighting occurred in a nearby suburb of Melbourne. The pictures come from a Reddit post by /u/nathy_volk.

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Below is a cropped blow-up of the UFO. You can see what seems to be the reflection of the red-tiled roof of the house in the surface of the UFO (left). Actually I think I see quite a lot of green (middle) which might be a reflection of the tree in the foreground.

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It seems to me that as you can see the reflection of the roof of the house and the tree in the UFO it must be above them and a considerable size rather than a small object thrown up in the air in the foreground.

Here is the Reddit post with an interview of the photographer from Out of the Blue (2003).


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/wxultg/a_clear_ufo_picture_where_taken_1966_in_australia/
 
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See my post in that reddit thread.

There is more to the story

For a longer read: http://project1947.com/kbcat/kbpdbalwyn2.htm

It's interesting that Dr B. Roy Frieden (referenced in document above) thought that his copy of the original Polaroid could have been a montage of two photos. I see his point but maybe his copy wasn't very good. Also he says the vertical blurring on the chimney is not matched on the UFO. But maybe the chimney was just out of focus in the foreground like the leaves on the tree?

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The picture looks like a side view of a wall-mounted fire alarm bell, reflected in a none-too-clean window with the exterior view beyond. There are also fairly strong diagonal reflections suggesting a perspective view of the interior of a room, perhaps with something like kitchen cabinets on the wall.
I don't know what the bright blobs are, but they might be raindrops illuminated by the interior light.

The picture shown in the "project 1947" article is much different, suggesting that either your initial photo is not an original, or the one in the article has been cleaned up a lot for presentation.

edit to add: OR ...since we have been going all around the petunia patch with the Calvine photo, maybe the blurring on the chimney (and tree) indicates that the whole thing is a water reflection?
 
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A lot of people have guessed a service bell.
The writeup also noted the possibility of it maybe being a pram hub cap from that era
 
I'm going with "tape a couple of metal bowls/plates from the kitchen together, and toss it in the air." Nothing about it looks like it is large and far away to me, with the admission that my subjective impression has little evidentiary weight.

Reminds me a lot of the supposed landed UFO from Brazil a few years ago.
sopa de ayyyy por los gatos.JPG
 
@johne1618
I think the zig zag different shade sections are IMO, due to the clear film on the polaroid coming off and then ripping off over time. So part of the photo still had the clear film on it, and part didn't.
I live in Melbourne, actually once came close to buying a house in North Balwyn.
I find it hard to believe a UFO would be over Balwyn and seemingly only one person spots it.
 
I'm going with "tape a couple of metal bowls/plates from the kitchen together, and toss it in the air." Nothing about it looks like it is large and far away to me, with the admission that my subjective impression has little evidentiary weight.

Reminds me a lot of the supposed landed UFO from Brazil a few years ago.

But there seems to be some reflection of the red-tiled roof in the surface of the object. Surely it would have to be above the roof and therefore have a diameter at least the width of the chimney (2 ft)? That’s a big bowl to throw above his mother’s house.
 
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But there seems to be some reflection of the red-tiled roof on the bottom of the object. Surely it would have to be above the roof and therefore have a size at least the width of the chimney (2 ft)?
Why "red tiled roof" at all, considering there are red brick buildings around? As to size, I don't think you understand at all what reflections do in a curved surface. Try it yourself with the back of a spoon.09138951-91CE-4F39-9596-D69E4F878694.jpeg
 
But there seems to be some reflection of the red-tiled roof in the surface of the object.
Unless the object is small and closer than the chimney, in which case the reflection on the small close shiny thing is something behind the camera person.
 
Charlie Wiser fairly accurately ID'd this one as a stroller/pram hubcap on her website

It's a possible but not really an exact match. Probably lots of things it could be.

See my post in that reddit thread.

There is more to the story

For a longer read: http://project1947.com/kbcat/kbpdbalwyn2.htm

I'm only guessing but i think the reason you got a dislike here is because you're supposed to post your comment from the reddit thread and quote the relevant section from the link.

Quote from Mick in the "link policy":

While links are very important, they must be treated as additional references and not stand-alone content, so any content in the link that you refer to must also be in your post, quoted using "ex" tags.
 
The picture looks like a side view of a wall-mounted fire alarm bell, reflected in a none-too-clean window with the exterior view beyond. There are also fairly strong diagonal reflections suggesting a perspective view of the interior of a room, perhaps with something like kitchen cabinets on the wall.
I don't know what the bright blobs are, but they might be raindrops illuminated by the interior light.

The picture shown in the "project 1947" article is much different, suggesting that either your initial photo is not an original, or the one in the article has been cleaned up a lot for presentation.

edit to add: OR ...since we have been going all around the petunia patch with the Calvine photo, maybe the blurring on the chimney (and tree) indicates that the whole thing is a water reflection?

I'd never considered a fire alarm bell. I'll look into it.

I did think it might be a reflection because there's a large pond on the other side of the house, per the photographer's diagram at the time (this is from his NICAP report 2 weeks after the alleged date he took the photo), and it's still there on Google Maps today.

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This scan of the photo shown in close-up on James Fox's Phenomenon (2020, interview filmed ~2018) has what might be a wire coming down from the object, so going up from it if it's a reflection. It might also be a scratch or hair introduced when the photo was most recently scanned, as there's no sign of in the lower res scans that researchers were using over the past several years (Fox said that the photographer Kibel mailed him the scan - timestamped podcast from Aug 29, 2022).

Balwyn UFO hi res.png

I'm working on a write-up of a couple of aspects of this case. An Australian researcher is right now (in the next few days) attempting to get the original polaroid to examine or make a high-res scan of, and I don't want to jeopardize that.

Here's a map of the area showing where Kibel claims the object was, which I've included to scale in about the right direction (re. his chimney). Seems highly unlikely it's *his* roof allegedly reflecting in the thing, if it's a 20-35ft object 350ft+ away (his estimates). Red pin is his house, and he was standing in the far corner of the garden.

3d map.jpg
 
Why is the bottom and left border of the Polaroid never visible? You wonder what was cropped out.

Given this seems one of the few ‘decent’ photos, it merits scrutiny, needing a hi res scan, and the zig zag pretty noticeable.

It certainly looks like a 1960s era service bell or something on its side, and being sharper, it looks closer to the camera than the blurred house and trees.
 
Why is the bottom and left border of the Polaroid never visible? You wonder what was cropped out.

Given this seems one of the few ‘decent’ photos, it merits scrutiny, needing a hi res scan, and the zig zag pretty noticeable.

It certainly looks like a 1960s era service bell or something on its side, and being sharper, it looks closer to the camera than the blurred house and trees.

This is a scan of the complete photo, taken from my files (I think Keith Basterfield sent it to me - he along with Paul Dean did a comprehensive analysis of the case a few years ago, although I think they missed a few things).

Australian researcher Bill Chalker told me that in late 2022 he got access to the original (from the photographer's daughter) to have hi-res scans made. He intended to send it for analysis to an "experienced polaroid analyst" who unfortunately was ill and died, but did recommend someone else. Bill said he was trying to organize an analysis with that new person. Our conversation was in April 2023 and to my knowledge Bill has not provided any update. (Can't find anything on his blog.) Given all previous researchers (including James Fox) were working with low-res scans, and finally Bill has hi-res scans, it's odd that nothing has moved forward on this case in the past year.

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It seems to me that as you can see the reflection of the roof of the house and the tree in the UFO it must be above them and a considerable size rather than a small object thrown up in the air in the foreground.

I’m not sure I follow the logic of this. A curved shiny object can very easily reflect objects which are somewhat behind the plane of the object. (I’m not suggesting that is necessarily the case here.)

I can’t find a very good illustration quickly but here for instance you can see that the Christmas tree is reflected even though it is behind the ball. If the object was further away (eg the ball was up in the air) and the angle was less acute then the reflection would be even more visible.

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I’m not sure I follow the logic of this. A curved shiny object can very easily reflect objects which are somewhat behind the plane of the object. (I’m not suggesting that is necessarily the case here.)
Absolutely, the only thing you can't see in a shiny sphere is the stuff in the cone behind it that it's directly obsuring. Of course, the stuff towards the sides is horribly distorted, but you can undo that if it's high enough quality and you process it appropriately.
Some applications, maths included here: "Mathematical Magic Mirrorball #SoME3"
Source: https://youtube.com/watch?v=rJPKTCdk-WI
 
This is a scan of the complete photo, taken from my files (I think Keith Basterfield sent it to me - he along with Paul Dean did a comprehensive analysis of the case a few years ago, although I think they missed a few things).

Australian researcher Bill Chalker told me that in late 2022 he got access to the original (from the photographer's daughter) to have hi-res scans made. He intended to send it for analysis to an "experienced polaroid analyst" who unfortunately was ill and died, but did recommend someone else. Bill said he was trying to organize an analysis with that new person. Our conversation was in April 2023 and to my knowledge Bill has not provided any update. (Can't find anything on his blog.) Given all previous researchers (including James Fox) were working with low-res scans, and finally Bill has hi-res scans, it's odd that nothing has moved forward on this case in the past year.

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Thanks, but the link is a 404.
 
But there seems to be some reflection of the red-tiled roof in the surface of the object. Surely it would have to be above the roof and therefore have a diameter at least the width of the chimney (2 ft)? That’s a big bowl to throw above his mother’s house.
Enlarging the object and messing with it in Photoshop suggests the reflection on the object is a tree.
 

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One of the UFO researchers went to the property and seemed to find the spot where it looks like the pic was taken from. There are trees there (this was more recent, so trees may or may not have been there at the time)

My rough calcs I did, suggested if it were a bell thing, then it would need to be about 6 - 10 feet from the camera.
 
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Enlarging the object and messing with it in Photoshop suggests the reflection on the object is a tree.

In which, case, going back to the original photo, if it was a distant object at altitude, there’s no way that the reflection of a tree would be so large on it.

Which just points to a small mer object that was photographed nearer a tree, composited in.
 
In which, case, going back to the original photo, if it was a distant object at altitude, there’s no way that the reflection of a tree would be so large on it.

Which just points to a small mer object that was photographed nearer a tree, composited in.
I don't know if we have ever seen an "original photo" at all. There's some confusion on that point among those who examined it, according to the Project 1947 article.

I'm curious about what appears to be a dark reflection along the top curve of the object, which I don't think should be visible in that landscape view. The house behind is well below the object, so it shouldn't be that.
 
I don't know if we have ever seen an "original photo" at all. There's some confusion on that point among those who examined it, according to the Project 1947 article.

I'm curious about what appears to be a dark reflection along the top curve of the object, which I don't think should be visible in that landscape view. The house behind is well below the object, so it shouldn't be that.

At that angle of view to the upper edge of the object (I'm assuming that's what you mean by the "top curve"), it would be the sky being reflected there. The only reason it appears dark is due to the object being photographed against a cloud which is lighter than the sky.

I made a copy of the object (the upper one in the image below) to show how it looks against even a slightly dark part of the cloud and the "dark" upper part then appears at least as bright as the thin cloud behind it.
Untitled-1.png
 
Hmm.. I'd think it would be more of a graduated tone if it was simply due to it being backlit. The change in background does reveal the reflected / ambient light at the edge. Still looks a like a reflection of some sort, but perhaps that is indeed due to backlighting and the reflectivity of the object.
 
Thanks, but the link is a 404.

Sorry, don't know what happened there. The image uploaded fine and was visible after I posted, but now it's gone weird. Here it is:

Balwyn_pic_17-1.jpg

And this is from James Fox's film The Phenomenon (2020) where we see either him or Kibel holding the photo for the camera:

1707211551033.png
 
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I don't know if we have ever seen an "original photo" at all. There's some confusion on that point among those who examined it, according to the Project 1947 article.

I'm curious about what appears to be a dark reflection along the top curve of the object, which I don't think should be visible in that landscape view. The house behind is well below the object, so it shouldn't be that.

That analysis is a few years out of date.

James Fox interviewed the photographer James Kibel for his 2020 film The Phenomenon, where we see him handle the photo. He says Kibel sent him a scan of the photo at a later date, so apparently Fox didn't do more than view it for a few seconds. Screenshot from the film:
1707211096858.png

Kibel said the photo had been the only thing stolen during a break-in a few years earlier. It showed up in time for this interview. From Dean & Basterfield's article:

In April 2016, Jim Kibel was interviewed by the Australian Channel 10 television network. During the televised program, the individual reporter who interviewed Kibel, states that Kibel’s house was broken in to and that the Polaroid picture was the only item taken. One of the authors confirmed this, during an interview with Kibel in July 2016. In short, the original Polaroid picture is not available today [2016] for re-evaluation.
Content from External Source
Source

Bill Chalker obtained the photo in 2022 and had hi-res scans made, but has gone silent on the subject since I asked him about it a few months later when he was looking for someone to analyze the scans.
 
In which, case, going back to the original photo, if it was a distant object at altitude, there’s no way that the reflection of a tree would be so large on it.

Which just points to a small mer object that was photographed nearer a tree, composited in.

Kibel said the UFO was 150ft up, 350-400ft away, and variously 20-35ft diameter. It should be reflecting half the street. Apologies for the low quality images below.

Excerpt from the write-up by Kibel's friend Peter Norris (both of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society), quoting him using the pseudonym James Brown:

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From this article:
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From the Herald (major Melbourne newspaper):
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From this article:
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The smoking gun of this hoax is IMO in the statement from the carpenter working at the house who watched the polaroid develop over Kibel's shoulder. He wrote the statement below a full month after the alleged date of the sighting, although I strongly suspect he was coached to misremember the date and the sighting was actually a week later. Can't prove that, of course, but I think Kibel created this hoax after hearing about the Westall school sighting on April 6th. (It was reported by a student to the VFSRS, the very society of which Kibel was a member.)

Kibel rushed to D. English after allegedly witnessing a huge bell-shaped UFO bounce around over his garden then shoot off like a bullet, but the words out of his mouth while waiting for the polaroid to develop were: "It may have been a bird."

This makes absolutely no sense unless Kibel faked the photo and assumed it would be blurry. When it came out clear, he invented a giant bell whose reflected light lit up the garden causing him to look up, and invented its amazing movements.

It's implausible that what he later described could be mistaken, while he was snapping the shot, for a bird.

I would speculate that the loud boom was either a fortuitous backfiring car, or perhaps a ladder Kibel had set up to fall. Its timing doesn't match his story, since the bell had already shot off before he even went to find English. The source of the boom (the UFO) would therefore have been miles away and if he heard it, several neighborhoods would also have heard it.

I believe he orchestrated the hoax in order to have a witness (of sorts), to mitigate the obvious criticism that he chucked a desk bell in the air. I think the famous Salem lights photo (1952) was similarly constructed in order to have a witness. (In that case, it was a "Here's one I prepared earlier" situation.)

I have the statement in my files from Keith Basterfield. It's transcribed in his 2016 report. (Date is Aus format.)

1707213498326.png
 
Sorry, don't know what happened there. The image uploaded fine and was visible after I posted, but now it's gone weird. Here it is:

Balwyn_pic_17-1.jpg

And this is from James Fox's film The Phenomenon (2020) where we see either him or Kibel holding the photo for the camera:

1707211551033.png
The top and bottom prints don't match. Look at the paper. The crenulated edges.

Top print - crenulated edge on top and bottom.

Bottom print - crenulated edge on top only. No tear on lower right hand corner.

What caught my eye immediately about these prints...

Neither one is a polaroid print. I've never seen a crenulated edge on a polaroid print. Neither is it an amateur print. The crenulated edges on professionally done prints serve no functional purpose and are purely decorative.

1965 advertisements

il_794xN.3384645194_qg65.jpg


My best guess is that these are - at best - first generation copies done by pointing a camera loaded with color negative film at the original polaroid print. The film was sent off for professional processing, and the print came back with one or more decorative crenulated edges.

Once you have a negative, you can make unlimited numbers of prints, of course. My best guess is that these are different prints made from the same negative. The prints were made at different times, so the crenulated edges don't match.
 
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he prints were made at different times, so the crenulated edges don't match.
Quite possibly -- or possibly the lower edge has been trimmed by the time the lower image was taken, perhaps in an effort arrest whatever was damaging the lower right corner, or for reasons unknown.

The peeling of some sort of protective sheeting at the corners is interesting -- is that a feature of an particualar sort of photo developing process, that clear coating/layer?
 
No tear on lower right hand corner.
The visibility of the small tear in the corner depends entirely on the direction of the lighting. Observe the difference in visibility on the damage in the upper right corner.

However, it looks like there are different creases in the paper, observable as horizontal lines in one image, and a hook from left towards the center with crinkles radiating in the other.
 
observable as horizontal lines in one image
I took those to be some sort of artifact in the scanner, assuming it is a scan of the original rather than a photograph of the original, or something similar. They don't look like physical creases to me. I don't insist on it, but it is my impression.
 
I took those to be some sort of artifact in the scanner, assuming it is a scan of the original rather than a photograph of the original, or something similar. They don't look like physical creases to me. I don't insist on it, but it is my impression.
I'd agree if they were perfectly horizontal, but they're not.
 
Kibel said the photo had been the only thing stolen during a break-in a few years earlier. It showed up in time for this interview. From Dean & Basterfield's article:

In April 2016, Jim Kibel was interviewed by the Australian Channel 10 television network. During the televised program, the individual reporter who interviewed Kibel, states that Kibel’s house was broken in to and that the Polaroid picture was the only item taken. One of the authors confirmed this, during an interview with Kibel in July 2016. In short, the original Polaroid picture is not available today [2016] for re-evaluation. Content from External Source Source

Bill Chalker obtained the photo in 2022 and had hi-res scans made, but has gone silent on the subject since I asked him about it a few months later when he was looking for someone to analyze the scans.

I'm confused here. In 2016 someone broke into his house and the only thing stolen was this one photo so that it was NOT AVAILABLE for reevaluation. But then it "showed up" again when 2 rather pro UFO guys, Foxx and Chalker, wanted to study it?
 
The peeling of some sort of protective sheeting at the corners is interesting -- is that a feature of an particualar sort of photo developing process, that clear coating/layer?

This will have to be anecdotal, and I might have misremembered (and therefore be completely wrong) but I vaguely recall some of my parent's photos from the 1970s bubbling and peeling, I think if left in sunlight for a long time. The surface layer at the corners sort of rolled up away from the backing and was transparent, if IRC. Some (maybe all) were probably taken with their Polaroid camera.

I don't know if this is related- or helpful- but peeling the emulsion layer (with the image) from instant photographs is a thing:

"Make a Polaroid Lift", Eva Louisa Jonas, Photoworks website
https://photoworks.org.uk/learn/how-to/make-a-polaroid-lift/

"How to create Polaroid emulsion lifts", Matthew Parry, Emulsive website
https://emulsive.org/articles/how-to-create-polaroid-emulsion-lifts-by-matt-parry

"HOW TO DO POLAROID EMULSION LIFTS BY ALEKSANDRA WOLTER", Aleksandra Wolter, Shoot it With Film website,
https://shootitwithfilm.com/how-to-do-polaroid-transfers/

"TRANSFER YOUR POLAROID PHOTOS ONTO OTHER MATERIALS USING EMULSION LIFT TECHNIQUES", John Aldred,
DIY Photography website,
https://www.diyphotography.net/tran...nto-materials-using-emulsion-lift-techniques/
 
The top and bottom prints don't match. Look at the paper. The crenulated edges.

Top print - crenulated edge on top and bottom.

Bottom print - crenulated edge on top only. No tear on lower right hand corner.

What caught my eye immediately about these prints...

Neither one is a polaroid print. I've never seen a crenulated edge on a polaroid print. Neither is it an amateur print. The crenulated edges on professionally done prints serve no functional purpose and are purely decorative.

1965 advertisements

il_794xN.3384645194_qg65.jpg


My best guess is that these are - at best - first generation copies done by pointing a camera loaded with color negative film at the original polaroid print. The film was sent off for professional processing, and the print came back with one or more decorative crenulated edges.

Once you have a negative, you can make unlimited numbers of prints, of course. My best guess is that these are different prints made from the same negative. The prints were made at different times, so the crenulated edges don't match.

Let's also talk about aspect ratio. The image on the original polaroid print would have been almost square. The aspect ratio on these copies is consistent with 35mm prints. So there's some areas of the image that are missing in these copies. Important parts? Probably not.

Not likely that the original was ever shared. Everyone was looking at/analyzing copies.
 
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Do I think it was some kind of composite? Not likely.

Most likely he tossed something in the air and was tracking it with the camera. That would explain why the motion blur on the object doesn't match the motion blur elsewhere. It's a well known artsy effect. Though he wasn't looking for the effect intentionally. It was just a byproduct of getting a "hanging" UFO with no strings.

motion-blur-motorcycle-highway.png

The camera had a wide angle lens, which would help keep the nearby object in frame, but he probably burned through quite a few frames to get a good one.
 
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