Calvine Photo Hoax Theories

DavidB66

Senior Member
Using photoshop levels adjustment if you move the middle (midtone) slider to around 0.2 do you also see a circle on/around the "front" of the UFO?
(Three frame .gif: original, midtone adjusted, circle annotation.)
CalvineCircle.gif
Hasn't the 'circle' already been mentioned in one of the Calvine threads? IIRC, someone suggested it might be a stain from a drop of water (etc) on the photo.
Personally, I don't see the circle in the un-enhanced version; I see it very clearly when it is ringed in red; and in the intermediate version it is difficult to 'unsee' the ringed version.
Added: I did notice something mildly interesting just now. Previously I had my laptop plugged into power, but when I unplugged it to take it to another chair, the screen switched to a lower-brightness mode, and the circle in the intermediate version suddenly looked clearer. Playing around with the brightness level I can either eliminate the circle or enhance it. OK, that's not very interesting: it just shows that the circle isn't an artifact of Photoshop in particular. But while playing around with the image I also happened to see the lower half of the photo in isolation (without the mystery object in view), and it seems to me that there is another definite circle in the image, to the south-west of the object, and above the middle fence-post. More doubtfully, there is another possible circle to the south of the nose of the object. Is it possible that the MoD Press guy once dripped some tea on the photo?

Apologies if the second (and third?) circle have been previously mentioned.
 

captancourgette

Active Member
Maybe I'm misremembering, but wasn't someone a few months ago going to make a better quality print/scan of the image and release that soon?
I tried searching to back up my recollection but couldn't find anything
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
Maybe I'm misremembering, but wasn't someone a few months ago going to make a better quality print/scan of the image and release that soon?
I tried searching to back up my recollection but couldn't find anything
They were talking about a high res scan being made. But, regardless of how high res it is, one is still depended on the original source material. If this is a nearly 30-year-old photo NOT made on archival grade paper, then a scan can't make up for what's not there. It could help to clarify if things like the above mentioned "circle" is part of the original photo, or a compression artifact related to the versions we can download online.

It seems we were all waiting for Dr. Clarck's big write up in Fotean Times. Apparently, that might have happened back on October 1:

1667411945064.png

Unfortunately, it's behind a pay wall at 3 quid for 3 months, or around $1.15 for an issue. May have to be a big spender and give it a read.
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
They were talking about a high res scan being made. But, regardless of how high res it is, one is still depended on the original source material. If this is a nearly 30-year-old photo NOT made on archival grade paper, then a scan can't make up for what's not there. It could help to clarify if things like the above mentioned "circle" is part of the original photo, or a compression artifact related to the versions we can download online.

It seems we were all waiting for Dr. Clarck's big write up in Fotean Times. Apparently, that might have happened back on October 1:

1667411945064.png

Unfortunately, it's behind a pay wall at 3 quid for 3 months, or around $1.15 for an issue. May have to be a big spender and give it a read.
Before breaking open the piggy-bank, please note that I subscribe to a magazine aggregator service called Readly, and I vaguely recalled that Fortean Times is included in the magazine list! I haven't previously looked at it, but I just checked, and the relevant issue is indeed available. On a quick glance, I see that it mentions (and pooh-poohs) the 'reflection in water' theory, and the 'model (or Christmas tree star) on a fishing line theory'. I'll read it properly tomorrow and post any relevant points. It's quite long (6 pages), so no way am I going to type it all out.
Added: Readly is available with a month or more 'free trial' in the UK, US, and Australia (at least). But I don't know if the magazine coverage is the same in all territories.
2nd added: I checked the US website and the US version does indeed have Fortean Times. Ditto Australia.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
I like the headline: "how the world's best UFO photo was hidden by the UK government for 30 years."

Translation: "how an image one person restrospectively called 'the world's best UFO photo' some years after he'd last seen it (having originally merely called it 'one of the most intriguing cases') was lost or shredded about 28 years ago and then a nice old man turned up with a copy he'd freely shown to quite a few people and kept in a book."
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
I said I would write a note on the main points from David Clarke's article in Fortean Times. This is it.

There is a lot of overlap with Clarke's previous articles, interviews, and YouTube appearances. I will only mention those points in the article which seem new. I haven't checked them line by line against the previous material, so I may have either missed some new points or repeated some old ones.

The article is in Fortean Times Issue 423, October 2022. Note that this is not the latest issue, so if you look for it at a magazine outlet you may be unlucky.

A bold headline on the front cover reads

UFO: Cover-Up at Calvine: how "the world's best UFO photo" was hidden by the UK government for over 30 years.

The article is also mentioned in a brief editorial on page 2.

The article itself runs from pages 30-35 inclusive. David Clarke is credited as the author, and I assume that he is responsible for its contents except where explicitly quoting from someone else. Comments in square brackets are by me.

Points of interest:

Page 30 begins

A dramatic photograph showing a huge UFO hovering above a Scottish glen has been found after a 32-year cover-up. The elusive photographs [sic] were taken by two frightened hotel workers...

[Implicitly assumes the story is not a hoax.]

The Press Officer Craig Lindsay is quoted as saying "This story has been with me for over 30 years... now I just want to know the truth". [Classic tabloid journalese.]

There is not much new on page 30. Clarke says that

I tracked down Craig Lindsay in August 2021, but mystery still surrounds the identity of the photographer and his friend.

[This is a bit rich, as we know that Clarke has the name of the photographer but presumably can't use it.
Later he quotes Lindsay as saying "...now I hope the two witnesses will come forward and tell their own stories." ]

Page 31 is an imaginative mock-up of Nick Pope's office in the MoD, with someone (presumably intended to be Pope's boss) taking down the notorious picture from the wall.

Not much new on page 32. It prints Clarke's photo of the view from Struan Point, describing it as the 'most likely' location for the 1990 photo. No reason given. Surely the mere presence of a fence and trees is not sufficient? One other point on this page:

...when Lindsay retired in 1999 the 'best image' remained in his desk and he decided to take it with him, keeping it safe inside his copy of Great Aircraft of the World.

[Arguably theft. When employees retire, they can't just take whatever they like from the workplace! In this case, it was a possibly unique, historically important, and commercially valuable item. Taking a copy of the photo, as a precaution, might be excusable, but taking the only known original, apparently without consulting anyone, is somewhat mind-boggling. I note incidentally that the version of the photo printed on page 30 in the article is captioned 'With permission of Sheffield Hallam University/Craig Lindsay'. Is Lindsay claiming copyright?]

Page 33 recounts the history of David Clarke's own involvement in the case from 2009 onwards. Describes his efforts to track down the 'witnesses' to the Calvine object, until "thirteen years and many dead ends later, a lucky break led me to call Craig Lindsay..."

[The nature of this 'lucky break' is not explained here, or elsewhere as far as I recall. It would presumably be a tip-off from someone who knew of Lindsay's involvement, more than 22 years ago. But who? We have a right to know the truth!]

On page 33 Clarke also makes much of the MoD's decision to conceal the identity of the witnesses:

The Ministry of Defence must now explain to the public why, if there are no such things as UFOs, they can justify keeping their identities secret for a further 54 years. [i.e. from now to 2076]
Yet on page 34 Clarke himself explains the legal niceties:

Before Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act arrived in 2005, the photographer's identity would normally have been released after 30 years - on 1 January 2020. [Under the standard 30-year rule for release of official documents in the UK. But note that there are various exceptions to the rule, and also that many documents are routinely destroyed long before 30 years. Only those deemed of long-term value are archived.] But MoD and The National Archives continue to insist it must be kept secret for another 56 years, until 1 January 2076, because of privacy concerns. UFO researcher Matthew Illsley is challenging the extended closure decision that he says is unjustified.
[Note the fact that the National Archives as well as MoD are resisting release of the name. The National Archives have no policy responsibility for UFOs, so they are presumably just following what they see as the legal requirements on privacy.]

Page 34 also includes an inset section credited to Andrew Robinson, summarising his photographic analysis. Otherwise, page 34 and 35 are mainly concerned with Clarke's currently favoured theory that the Calvine photograph shows an American 'experimental aircraft'. He describes the various rumours about the Aurora project and the Northrop Black Manta. He points out that the MoD-commissioned 'Condign Report' of 2000
...includes an image of the SR71 [the 'Blackbird' spy plane] but photographs and descriptions of two other secret US experimental programmes have been redacted. Do these censored images show the UFO captured on film by the two young chefs in the Scottish Highlands? We may never know, as earlier this year the MoD revealed it had 'accidentally destroyed' the single surviving unredacted copy of the Condign report...
[Very sinister, unless it is just a further sign that the MoD have little interest in UFOs! Edit: I have looked at relevant portions of the (redacted) Condign Report, and I don't see how Clarke knows that the redacted portions contain 'photographs and descriptions'. The most likely relevant portions are redacted so completely that there is no way of knowing what is missing. But I may have overlooked some clue to their contents. Edit 2: I did miss a possible clue. The most likely place for discussion of secret US experimental planes is in paras 3 and 6 of Working Paper 9, dealing with ''"Black" and other aircraft as UAP events'. These paras are entirely deleted from the redacted report, but they both have the note 'S.27' against them in the margin. The 'clue' is that there is an appendix containing illustrations, and in this 'Figure 2' has been deleted, but has the note 'S.27' against it in the margin. I suspect that 'S.27' refers to Section 27 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which provides an exemption from the Act for information whose disclosure would be prejudicial to relations with another country. In this context the other country would most likely be the United States. The deletion of paras 3 and 6 of the paper, and figure 2 in the appendix, therefore may well indicate a reference to some sensitive US project or projects. Whether it includes 'photographs and descriptions' is not clear. ]

Finally, at the end of page 35 Clarke considers the possibility of a hoax:

Since the Calvine image went viral on social media, the internet has been buzzing with competing and contradictory theories and explanations that seek to debunk the image as yet another fake UFO photo. Perhaps the most bizarre explanation suggests the photo is actually an inverted image not of an object hovering in a cloudy sky, but of something partly submerged in a body of water. The promoters of this theory believe the UFO is actually a small island or rock in a Scottish loch, and the bottom of the 'diamond' is actually a reflection of the island in the still water! Photographer Andrew Robinson, who produced hi-resolution images of the print in Sheffield Hallam University's photo labs, says the photo does superficially look like a reflection of a flat object sticking up from a body of water. "But your gut instinct tells you this isn't an inverted image", he says. "The other items in the image and all the angles are wrong for this to be a reflection."
Sceptics say the most straightforward explanation is that the diamond-shaped object is actually a small model hanging from a thin thread near the camera. Belgian sceptic Wim van Utrecht believes he has identified the object as a five-pointed cardboard 'Christmas star' ornament suspended from the overhanging trees. [It's a pity this is not illustrated: it looks a great deal more like the Calvine object than any of the 'artist's impressions' of secret experimental planes!] A similar theory was proposed for the classic McMinnville photograph, taken in 1950... But as the Calvine photo shows both the large UFO and a tiny Harrier jet, a more ingenious arrangement is required. According to Utrecht, the two pranksters, after hanging the ornament from a tree, produced a fishing rod and while one of the men "moved the small model round the 'saucer', his companion snapped the pictures". As of writing, scrutiny of a high-resolution TIFF version of the Calvine image has failed to detect any evidence of strings, wire, or other suspicious anomalies (although experiments by Utrecht have found that fishing line is very difficult to detect in any camera image).
The article ends there. I won't comment further here, except to note one important omission: it does not mention that two named senior MoD officials have previously stated that the incident was eventually identified as a hoax, even though one of them (Air Commodore Baldwin) is mentioned in the text.

If some of my comments above may seem snarky, I should stress that I have a high regard for David Clarke's work. His book The UFO Files is excellent.

There is correspondence on Clarke's article in the subsequent issue number 425, with a reply by Clarke.

I must say this is the first time I have read Fortean Times. I have heard of it before but may have been put off by the lurid and National-Enquirer-esque covers. In fact it is enjoyable and interesting, and I will be reading more. UFOs and other areas of Metabunk interest are frequently covered. The Readly service has back numbers from December 2017 onwards.
 
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