Claim: Original Calvine UFO Photo

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Article:
At around 9pm on the evening of Saturday, 4th August 1990, two men on a hillside near Calvine, a small hamlet situated just off the main A9 road, some 35 miles north-west of Perth in Scotland, managed to take six colour photographs of a large, diamond-shaped craft in the fading summer daylight. They watched as it hovered close to their position for some ten minutes, only to shoot off vertically at relatively high speed. When providing their witness statement, the men also recalled seeing what were believed to be RAF jets making multiple low-level passes in the area at the same time. It is still unclear whether the jets were accompanying the strange craft, or just happened to be flying through the area at the time. Calvine lies close to the only main road through that part of the Scottish Highlands, one which is a relatively busy thoroughfare even on summer evenings, and the valley it follows was a popular low-flying route for RAF aircraft. Indeed, Calvine sits in the middle of Low Flying Area 14 (LFA 14) and UAP Media UK member & aviation author Graeme Rendall recalls using various mountainside locations in the general vicinity of Calvine for low-level aviation photography back in the early 2000s.


Article:
retired RAF press officer Craig Lindsay. Craig was involved in the Calvine case back in 1990 as the go-between for the Daily Record and the MOD. During his involvement in the case, Craig acquired an original print of the elusive photograph. Along with the photo, Craig had also kept the original envelope containing the photograph sent by the Daily Record to the MOD. In May 2022, David travelled to interview Craig in Scotland and was shown the original print and in June, Craig agreed to donate the photograph to the Sheffield Hallam University Archives, handing it to Dr. Dravid Clarke and Vinnie Adams. The image now resides in its new home at the Sheffield Hallam University folklore archives.


Source: https://twitter.com/PostDisclosure/status/1558134359768662022


Long a near-mythological image in UFO culture. But what does it show? The original account talks of six color photos, and here we have one (it is in color, but rather washed out). They also discuss it "hovering." It's not being chased by the jet in this photo. I wonder if a simple explanation might be that it was something like a kite?

2022-08-12_11-26-16.jpg


HD Image: https://web.archive.org/web/2022081....wordpress.com/2022/08/watermarked-jpeg-2.jpg
TIFF file: Source: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FCOQiQKciRJsZ4pm26hdrFuVv1uzMk-k/view


Older discussion with more info on the location: https://www.metabunk.org/threads/claim-1990-calvine-ufo.11574/

Thead summary by @Rory
I was thinking 18 pages in it might be nice to have an index of some of the most useful posts. Let me know if I've missed anything important or made any errors (maybe in dm could be best so as not to further clutter up the thread).

Posts on metabunk:

Basic story with links to download the image
Story of how the photographs got to the MoD
Contrast-enhanced image
Colorized image (Photoshop AI)
Comparison of Hawker Hunter with plane outline (also here)
Witnesses' age and why some details still withheld
Summary of Clarke's four articles on Calvine and the Disclosure Team's video
More on Craig Lindsay's interview
December 1990 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine article showing hypothetical hypersonic craft
Hopeless Diamond images and discussion
Related comments by members of the army and air force (some of whom recall seeing the original photo in the 90s)
Insider view on how easily files and documents are discarded
Tree analysis (and reply)
1991 'retask'
Summary of Calvine mentioned in Nick Pope's book
Info from RAF Lossiemouth
Short summary of Disclosure Team Q&A video (full summary)
Short summary of Stu Little interview (full summary)
Short summary of David Clarke's answers to questions put to him via email (full summary)
Pre-2014 classification system
Reflection hypothesis thread
Summary of hoax theories (and their drawbacks)
Animation of reflection theory by Ruan

External links

Disclosure Team photo reveal and backstory video
Disclosure Team Q&A video
Andrew Robinson photo analysis
Comparison of the two versions of the analysis
Mountaintop hypothesis video
Proposed location for the photo (Google Maps)
Location of viewpoint for the Nick Pope recreation
Pope writing about Calvine in 2012
Nick Pope article in The Sun (October 2020)
Also May 2021
Puerto Rico UFO hoax (example of "model on a string")
Video of Pope talking about Calvine in 2017
Chapter of Pope's book containing writing on Calvine and Aurora
Star decoration hypothesis
Stu Little slideshow

Basic info
  • Photo allegedly taken around 9pm on Saturday August 4th 1990 (one of six; other five missing)
  • Sunset in Calvine at 21.22 that day (light conditions in photo very possible)
  • Area used by military planes for low-level flying - but not on weekends
  • Photographer likely 18ish at the time, therefore around 50 now
  • Holiday workers in a kitchen in a hotel in Pitlochry, English accent according to Craig Lindsay (who interviewed one on the phone)
  • Often reported as the Atholl Palace Hotel but apparently this is incorrect
  • Photos sent to Scottish Daily Record and from there to MoD
  • Name known to Clarke & team and they have contacted over 200 people
  • Photo was never classified as far as we know (photocopies and other related documents weren't)
  • Photos and story not published (hypothesised as being due to a standing D-notice; Daily Record editor was on the committee)
  • MoD says negatives returned to Daily Record (disputed by some)
  • Apparently seen there by photographer Stu Little in 1993 (who says the whole photo is out of focus due to the way it was copied)
  • A copy of the photo is now archived at Sheffield Hallam University
 
Last edited:

saucerpilot

New Member
What do you make of the objects at the bottom of the full picture? It appears to be a fence. But the perspective is weird. It looks like the camera is pointed at a downward angle.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
What do you make of the objects at the bottom of the full picture? It appears to be a fence. But the perspective is weird. It looks like the camera is pointed at a downward angle.
It's a barbed wire fence, they can be at all kind of angles.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
They also discuss it "hovering." It's not being chased by the jet in this photo. I wonder if a simple explanation might be that it was something like a kite?
Possibly, though the pink/yellow one you found is a fighter kite, and they are more skittery/maneuverable than being good at hovering in place. On the other hand, reflective foil decorative reinforcement points would be pretty common on a fighter, and might be about where the lighter patches are along the CL (the spine, if it is indeed a kite.) Can't find a good picture with a foil patch where the cross-spar and the spine interject, but I've seen one placed there "in real life." But here's a pic just to show the general idea. (If UFO is a kite, it is probably a lot less ornately decorative than this one.)

e0f99a8dac8fca5cca6ca353bdbf2e16--homework-ideas-volants.jpg

Just to look at, the UFO appears to be much closer than the jet, I wonder if there is indeed a string involved, but perhaps going up towards those tree branches or a "fishing pole" rather than down towards a kite flier.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
What do you make of the objects at the bottom of the full picture? It appears to be a fence. But the perspective is weird. It looks like the camera is pointed at a downward angle.

These guys here reckon they've found a candidate for the fence, about half a mile outside the village:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgekUVzMSCc&t=2100s&ab_channel=DisclosureTeam

The one in the photo looks to me more like the angled top part of a chain link fence though, like this:

1660330211713.png

If it was actually a kite then that must mean it's a hoax, right? And if it was a hoax then there's no reliability on the time or location of when the photo was taken.
 
Last edited:

Ravi

Senior Member.

Attachments

  • dfzdf.png
    dfzdf.png
    125.7 KB · Views: 44

Rory

Senior Member.
There's some very nice fence analysis on the link that Ravi posted. Steers more towards a standard farmer's fence (including highlighting what may be little tufts of animal fur caught on it).

It is an odd angle to take a photo from. The fence the guys in the video identify looks to be about three feet high. If so, the photographer would have been on his knees, very close to the fence, and leaning back.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
There's some very nice fence analysis on the link that Ravi posted. Steers more towards a standard farmer's fence (including highlighting what may be little tufts of animal fur caught on it).

It is an odd angle to take a photo from. The fence the guys in the video identify looks to be about three feet high. If so, the photographer would have been on his knees, very close to the fence, and leaning back.

He could also have been on a lower part of the trail/road/mountain? Cairngorm area is very rough, rocky terrain.
 

Robert Sheaffer

New Member
What's odd is that it appears that the "UFO" is the only thing actually in focus in the photo. The nearby tree branches, and the distant jet, are all out of focus. That doesn't make sense, unless the UFO is close to the camera. If the object were at least (say) a few hundred meters distant, that would almost certainly be close enough to the camera's infinity focus so that the jet would also be in focus. Most plausible explanation: the UFO is small and closer to the camera than anything else in the photo, and the focus was set for it.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
Given the fact the MoD reacted a bit weird with the photo, I am sure it has to do with something military related testing. I was thinking, as it looks like it has some flat panels at odd angles, can it perhaps be a "radar / stealth dirigible" that was floating there?
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
My first impression of the photo was that the UFO is rather dull. My second impression, after seeing 'blown up' versions of the object, is that it looks tatty. Both the upper and lower edges of the object appear ragged, and someone or something has taken a bite out of the upper vertex of the diamond shape (query: was this anywhere near Loch Ness?) Whatever it is, it does not look like a piece of super-hi-tech aerospace equipment, whether human or alien in origin. What it does somewhat resemble is a piece of rather crudely folded paper or cardboard, like the paper darts, hats, boats, etc, made by school children.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
except for what looks like a pearl on the top of the clasp, it reminds me of an arrow head. but england probably doesnt have arrowheads.

so then i thought wire frame earring
1660335626015.png

then i remembered, The Detectorists, and that you guys probably have alot of old spear tips. although they would be harder to hang horizontally than jewelry. plus it doesnt really strike me as metal, more like brown packing paper.
8697707.jpg
 

saucerpilot

New Member
1660335814387.png
Is the plane a harrier, and can we use that to determine sun angle, or is the light too diffuse through overcast to make an assessment?
 

Rory

Senior Member.
My second impression, after seeing 'blown up' versions of the object, is that it looks tatty. Whatever it is, it does not look like a piece of super-hi-tech aerospace equipment, whether human or alien in origin. What it does somewhat resemble is a piece of rather crudely folded paper or cardboard, like the paper darts, hats, boats, etc, made by school children.

It doesn't seem tattier than it should do to me, given the quality of the photo. Also pretty symmetrical:

calvine.gif
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
So then i thought wire frame earring
1660335626015.png
The dark spot's in the middle, and there appears to be a dark streak descending (in this 90° rotated view) from each edge of the spot. Those, your "pearl", and also the whitish places toward each narrow point, look much more like a reflection in the water than an object.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Long a near-mythological image in UFO culture. But what does it show? The original account talks of six color photos, and here we have one (it is in color, but rather washed out). They also discuss it "hovering." It's not being chased by the jet in this photo. I wonder if a simple explanation might be that it was something like a kite?
quote from the analysis

"Given the image has been taken on black and white film which couldn’t record the any chromatic aberration present in
the cameras lens this must be chromatic aberration produced by the enlarging lens during the printing of the image."
 

Rory

Senior Member.
england probably doesnt have arrowheads.

I think arrowheads are pretty much worldwide: iirc the oldest ones were found in Africa and Asia while Europeans have used bows and arrows for many thousands of years.

PS I know you meant "Scotland". ;)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
quote from the analysis

"Given the image has been taken on black and white film which couldn’t record the any chromatic aberration present in
the cameras lens this must be chromatic aberration produced by the enlarging lens during the printing of the image."
That's puzzling, as it looks like there is color, and not just B&W negative printed on color paper, but actual color. The trees look greener, the

2022-08-12_13-59-48.jpg

Sepia is more like:
2022-08-12_14-01-53.jpg
But maybe the color paper somehow has that effect?
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Approximate matching the original photocopy/fax to the new photo gives the same relative position for the jet, indicating they are from the same photo (ie only one photo, rather than 2 different ones)

Although the jet is bolder in the photocopy/fax version which is probably because of some overbleed on the scan/print on a photocopy/fax.


1660339629003.png
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
It doesn't seem tattier than it should do to me, given the quality of the photo. Also pretty symmetrical:

calvine.gif
I'll think about this further tomorrow, but I thought this was being touted as a good quality image? The photographic analysis report states that the 'object' is the best-focussed part of the photo, and that the grain in the area of the object is fairly fine and uniform.
It seems to me (no photographer, of course) that the irregularities in the image go beyond random noise. For example, there is a large dark blotch to the right of the centre of the object, and light patches towards the right and left ends which don't appear due to lighting conditions. The photographic analyst seems to regard these as genuine. The top of the 'diamond' is also asymmetrical. I described this as a 'bite' out of it, but there is also an area of protrusion just to the right of the top. It almost looks like something has been pushed down along the top right edge of the object. I wonder if this could have been modelled out of clay or plasticine? These aren't the only irregularities, but they are the ones which seem least explicable by mere poor quality in the image.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
That's puzzling, as it looks like there is color, and not just B&W negative printed on color paper, but actual color. The trees look greener, the

2022-08-12_13-59-48.jpg

Sepia is more like:
2022-08-12_14-01-53.jpg
But maybe the color paper somehow has that effect?
It could also be down to the scanning method.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I'll think about this further tomorrow, but I thought this was being touted as a good quality image?

Ah true, if it's in relation to that claim then it certainly is "tatty". For me I just think it fits in with the quality of the rest of the photo (which isn't great).

I read at some point a high resolution image will be released so perhaps more of these questions will be answered then.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
quote from the analysis

"Given the image has been taken on black and white film which couldn’t record the any chromatic aberration present in
the cameras lens this must be chromatic aberration produced by the enlarging lens during the printing of the image."
Boosting the contrast a lot it does look like there's a graduated red-green color cast across the image, and the trees just happen to be in the green/blue bit.
2022-08-12_14-12-12.jpg
 

UnkownPerson

New Member
I am new here. I've tried to colorize the picture a bit. Hope this helps in any way.
 

Attachments

  • Calvine Ufo.jpg
    Calvine Ufo.jpg
    517.1 KB · Views: 35

Robert Sheaffer

New Member
I think that the color is just an artifact of printing a black-and-white photo on color paper. The paper needs to combine the colors it has to make black, which is probably not the same as "true black".

I see a similar effect when I scan a black-and-white document or photo using a "color scan" setting.
 

Robert Sheaffer

New Member
Let me suggest a straw-man hypothesis for the Calvine photo, let's see if it can be torn down. It's based primarily on the focus of different objects.

1. Closest to the camera is the "UFO," a small object held up by one or more strings. Possibly a small kite. The camera's focus is set for this object.

2. Next closest to being in focus are the tree branches, farther away than the UFO.

3. Next closest is the fence, well beyond the tree branches.

4. The most distant object seen, the Harrier jet, is out of focus.

The principal take -away is, the presumably distant UFO is in focus while the actually distant jet is not. We still don't know what kind of camera and lens was used, so we can't quantify the depth of field. We also don't know the f/stop used, which determines the depth of field. The analysis of Andrew Robinson suggests that it was probably taken with a small 35mm camera, with a lens around 50-110mm focus. In other words, very ordinary.

If the UFO were at least as far as the tree leaves or the fence are from the camera, it, too, would be out-of-focus.
 

jackfrostvc

Senior Member
Also, how do we know what we are seeing is objects against all cloud as opposed to objects against clouds(top half) and fog (bottom half)
Say for example a situation like below where a distant hill is visible amongst the cloud and fog. And a plane is say flying in the valley

1660367199030.png
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
Also, how do we know what we are seeing is objects against all cloud as opposed to objects against clouds(top half) and fog (bottom half)
Say for example a situation like below where a distant hill is visible amongst the cloud and fog. And a plane is say flying in the valley

1660367199030.png
I would like to think in that direction, but look at post #25.. I cannot see anything else but clouds....
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
We seem to be generally accepting the expert's 'considered opinion' (his own words) that the image is the result of a monochrome (black-and-white) negative printed on colour film paper.
This may be correct, but his grounds for the conclusion are not overwhelming. They seem to be essentially that the areas of the image that we would expect to show colour (sky, trees, grass) don't show 'true' colour. I will refrain from jokes about 'true' Scotsmen, but I wonder how much colour we would expect to see in the sky in Scotland near sunset? Having concluded, on these rather weak grounds, that the original negative was black-and-white, the expert considers the kinds of film stock available (remember that this was 1990, when B&W photography was a rare speciality), and draws the important inference that the photographer was probably relatively knowledgeable about the subject.
I don't think we should swallow this whole. The alternative is that the photographer used bog-standard colour film which due to lighting conditions and camera settings produced a dull, washed-out image.
However, supposing that the expert's opinion is correct, there is a further inference to be drawn: that someone (the knowledgeable photographer?) chose to have the negative printed on colour paper, which was bound to introduce some artifacts, rather than getting a monochrome print. Since this was potentially the photograph of the century, this is unfortunate.

[Added: I found an earlier article by David Clarke which gives a lot of detail about the MoD involvement with the case.

https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/secret-files/the-calvine-ufo-photographs/

I notice that according to a hand-written note on the MoD file
a series of six colour photographs were taken by the informant
This supports my suspicion that the original photo really was taken in colour, but it may of course be mistaken. ]
 
Last edited:

Mendel

Senior Member.
What's odd is that it appears that the "UFO" is the only thing actually in focus in the photo. The nearby tree branches, and the distant jet, are all out of focus. That doesn't make sense, unless the UFO is close to the camera. If the object were at least (say) a few hundred meters distant, that would almost certainly be close enough to the camera's infinity focus so that the jet would also be in focus. Most plausible explanation: the UFO is small and closer to the camera than anything else in the photo, and the focus was set for it.
If the jet has motion blur, it may be in focus.
 

Liptrot

New Member
It is pretty unusual - outside major exercises - for RAF / Fleet Air Arm (FAA) jets to be flying on Saturdays at all, never mind Saturday evenings; at least, since the end of the Cold War.

Can any of you photo. interpreters give an idea of whether the aircraft is a 1st or 2nd generation Harrier? The wing platform is quite different.

If it's a 1st generation Harrier (RAF GR1 / 3, FAA FRS-1 / FA-2, USMC / Spanish / Thai AV-8A) the RAF had replaced these with 2nd gen Harriers by 1990, and the aircraft on the pic, if taken when it was said to have been, must be a FAA machine (probably a FA-2)

If a 2nd gen Harrier, could only be an RAF machine in 1990.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
Let me suggest a straw-man hypothesis for the Calvine photo, let's see if it can be torn down. It's based primarily on the focus of different objects.

1. Closest to the camera is the "UFO," a small object held up by one or more strings. Possibly a small kite. The camera's focus is set for this object.

2. Next closest to being in focus are the tree branches, farther away than the UFO.

3. Next closest is the fence, well beyond the tree branches.

4. The most distant object seen, the Harrier jet, is out of focus.

The principal take -away is, the presumably distant UFO is in focus while the actually distant jet is not. We still don't know what kind of camera and lens was used, so we can't quantify the depth of field. We also don't know the f/stop used, which determines the depth of field. The analysis of Andrew Robinson suggests that it was probably taken with a small 35mm camera, with a lens around 50-110mm focus. In other words, very ordinary.

If the UFO were at least as far as the tree leaves or the fence are from the camera, it, too, would be out-of-focus.
The jet, of course, is moving, which would explain why it's out of focus, and it's possible that the tree branch was also in motion.

If the photographer were actually trying to get a quick picture of a low-flying jet that he saw approaching, he might have focused on the object then snapped the photo just when the jet reached his position.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
However, supposing that the expert's opinion is correct, there is a further inference to be drawn: that someone (the knowledgeable photographer?) chose to have the negative printed on colour paper, which was bound to introduce some artifacts, rather than getting a monochrome print. Since this was potentially the photograph of the century, this is unfortunate.

According to David Clarke here:

1. The photographer sent the negatives to the newspaper
2. The newspaper sent them to the RAF
3. The MoD had them printed
4. They returned the negatives to the newspaper
5. Neither the newspaper nor the MoD retained the negatives

According to his article in the Daily Mail though:

1. The photographer sent photographs to the newspaper
2. The newspaper passed these photographs on to the MoD in this envelope:

1660407351592.png

3. RAF Officer Craig Lindsay took a copy of the best image before sending the case dossier to the MoD in London
4. Later in the article Clarke writes that "Lindsay arranged for the negatives the men had handed to the Daily Record to be collected"
5. Lindsay then says that the MoD's UFO-desk in London asked him if he could get the negatives

So there seems to be some confusion about whether the newspaper received negatives or photographs. But going by the above I would think it most likely that the photographer sent photographs and that these were passed on to the MoD, with negatives being collected later, because: i) I would expect the photographer to have had his photos developed; ii) the size of the envelope and the label; iii) what Lindsay said.
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
What's odd is that it appears that the "UFO" is the only thing actually in focus in the photo. The nearby tree branches, and the distant jet, are all out of focus. That doesn't make sense, unless the UFO is close to the camera. If the object were at least (say) a few hundred meters distant, that would almost certainly be close enough to the camera's infinity focus so that the jet would also be in focus. Most plausible explanation: the UFO is small and closer to the camera than anything else in the photo, and the focus was set for it.
It should be noted that the photography expert, Andrew Robinson of Sheffield Hallam University, has revised his report analysing the photo. Most importantly, he includes an entirely new 'conclusion' and section on the apparent physical size of the object. The conclusion is that it is probably between 30m and 40m in length, and between 8m and 12m in height. This is based on a simple interpolation of linear size between the known length of a Harrier jet and the most likely size of the distance between barbs on the fence. It assumes that the object is between the fence and the Harrier, and takes a range of distances for the object at 33%, 50% and 66% of the distance between the fence and the Harrier. He then says 'assuming the position of the unidentified object is (as it appears to be) closer to the Jet in the background than the fence in the foreground...' and reaches the 30m-40m estimated size range. As far as I can see, he gives no reason whatever for saying that the object 'appears to be' closer to the jet than the fence. One might expect there to be some additional discussion of focus in this context, but as far as I can see this has not been amended from the previous version, which merely noted that the object appears to be in better focus than either closer or more distant objects.

It may be noted that Andrew Robinson
https://www.shu.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-profiles/andrew-robinson#firstSection
and David Clarke
https://www.shu.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-profiles/david-clarke#firstSection
are both academics in the Department of Media Arts and Communication at Sheffield Hallam University. As an Associate Professor Clarke is probably ranked higher than Robinson (a Senior Lecturer).

This is a link to the revised report as I found it linked in a tweet:

Source: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QPqd-G9f7vMW77orEHlvQHagrxm3uZ9r/view
 

Latest posts

Top