Explained: HomeSteadHow "UFO" Photos [Helicopter]

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It's a long exposure. So the "lights" on top are probably a single flashing navigation light.

Most likely a helicopter.
 

Matt33

Member
He says it was 9:22 pm, around Montello WI (he gives Montello as address in the video description). There was indeed a helicopter flying in that area at that time.
Montello.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Med Flight, an air ambulance - so the type of helicopter you'd see in unexpected situations.
2021-06-25_10-41-30.jpg
Looks like it landed in Harrisville, was there for quite some time, and then flew back to the hospital in Portage.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Interesting. The pictures look a lot like a purported Chinese UFO vid of, as far as I know, unknown provenance, known over on the paranormal boards on some of the "chans " as "That F------- LED Shower Head." Having read this thread, and going back to look more carefully at that vid, the little row of light produced by a long exposure of the flashing light at the top are there, but as discrete persisting lights in the video. I am now wondering if this vid is not an LED shower head after all, but simply FX fakery based on animating elements from original stills of a long exposure helicopter.

(Edited to fix fat fingers hitting wrong bits of tiny phone keypad...)
Source: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmn_dgWI8r0&feature=youtu.be&t=3m36s
 
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flarkey

Active Member
I saw this too and came to the same that conclusion it was the medevac helicopter. I think the only missing thing was the exact location of the homestead. A quick google brings up this map....

Screen Shot 2021-06-26 at 20.19.45.png

Comparing this with @Mick West 's annotated FlightRadar24 map above, it puts them right under the helicopter flightpath.


Screen Shot 2021-06-26 at 20.23.11.png
 

Max Phalange

Active Member
Interesting. The pictures look a lot like a purported Chinese UFO vid of, as far as I know, unknown provenance, known over on the paranormal boards on some of the "chans " as "That F------- LED Shower Head." Having read this thread, and going back to look more carefully at that vid, the little row of light produced by a long exposure of the flashing light at the top are there, but as discrete persisting lights in the video. I am now wondering if this vid is not an LED shower head after all, but simply FX fakery based on animating elements from original stills of a long exposure helicopter.

(Edited to fix fat fingers hitting wrong bits of tiny phone keypad...)
Source: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmn_dgWI8r0&feature=youtu.be&t=3m36s
Yes, looks very like a static long exposure photo of a helicopter with a searchlight, which has had some extra lights and effects composited on.
 

Matt33

Member
The position of the helicopter and the Homestead does not fit well with the time of 9:22 pm. However on the way back, the helicopter was about 2 miles north from the house at 10:22 pm (UTC 3:22). The time of 9:22 he got from some photo info on the computer screen. So I assume the camera was still set to winter time.
 

JodySChandler

New Member
The position of the helicopter and the Homestead does not fit well with the time of 9:22 pm. However on the way back, the helicopter was about 2 miles north from the house at 10:22 pm (UTC 3:22). The time of 9:22 he got from some photo info on the computer screen. So I assume the camera was still set to winter time.
Turns out your hunch was correct! In the pinned comment on the below video, the photographer, Kerry from HomesteadHow, confirms that the time stamp on his camera was off by one hour. I agree it is most likely due to DST.

Source: https://youtu.be/LVTNOT-lsfI
 

JodySChandler

New Member
One other thing, though. I noticed on the original video, it says June 13th. The flightradar24 info says June 14th. I didn't notice a correction on the date anywhere, but frankly HomesteadHow had to have had the date off by a day somehow... because it seems like an unlikely coincidence that such a powerfully explanation would miss by exactly 24 hours.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
It's a long exposure.

Here's what the photographer says about exposure:

my shutter speed was less than 1 sec...pretty fast. I'm sorry to say I dont recall the exact speed (hoping the expert can help me look at metadata to be sure) but it was fast cause the lights from my house would be overexposed if longer AND the UFO was fast you can see in the 4 shots it moved just a bit..I literally click,click,click as fast as I coukd with almost no delay in between.

(from the comments under the pinned YouTube comment, already linked)

That was posted about a month ago so you'd think he'd have had the metadata looked at by now, but perhaps not.

He also posted a video yesterday saying how he's been talking with a producer from a Discovery Channel UFO program (UFO Witness) about getting his pictures analysed by one of their "experts". I guess he's still really going with the "something unusual" angle.

In YouTube comments he's very adamant that he didn't "fake" these pictures - believable - but I do have to wonder why there are only FOUR, given that he was "clicking as fast as he could" and apparently took about 700 photos that night.

Maybe it's "faking by omission of details" like the Devon moon guy. And I do notice in some of the comments that people are mentioning he somewhere says he heard it and described the sound as "something like a plane engine".
 
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jarlrmai

Senior Member
ah! thank you, I should have realized!
I've been reading the comments on the YT videos I can see your conversations with the true believers about this one, frustrating eh.

This feels like a little like a "soft" hoax rather than a genuine "I don't know what I took a picture of." I wonder if this being the most viewed video on the YT channel for quite a while might have anything to do with it.

and also, not sure exactly what this means but its doesn't feel very pleasant..

1627125702671.png
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Can any photography literate folks here speak to the idea that an exposure of less than one second is "pretty fast?" Depending on how close to one second we're talking, that would strike me as a pretty long exposure when photographing a moving helicopter, but since I amd a SLR guy my impression may be invalid.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
1 second is a very long time in regular handheld photography. Especially for moving targets. When I shoot birds in flight I need 1/1000+ 1/2500 if I am shooting fast flight. 1/500 might get a you a fairly non motion blurred helicopter, obviously speed matters etc.

However it is low for pure dark skies astrophotography where you use longer exposure times generally 20+ seconds, depending on the lens aperture and how the need to avoid star trails.

I'm not sure 1 second or 20 is right for this shot though, but we would need ISO/aperture etc to know fully. Obviously releasing the full RAW photos is something any one who really wanted people to get to the bottom of this would do.

1 second makes no sense really, you wouldn't use it for astro and if something odd and bright flew over you'd need a faster shutter really. Unless you panicked.

Here's a shot I took in similar conditions, i.e. not really dark enough sky for the milky way in fairly local light polluted surrounds getting a similar number of the brighter local stars, the exposure time is 8 seconds at 3200 ISO probably f/4 as that's the max aperture of my manual wide angle.

IMG_2390.jpg

Is it confirmed there are 4 different photos? Have they all been shown?

There are 8 blinks to the red light (helicopter anti-collision (AC) strobe?)

FAA says "an effective flash frequency of not less than 40, nor more than 100 cycles per minute." for AC strobes

I used a tempo tap timer to time the AC strobe in this video of a H145

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-4izzGafrU


I got ~44 per minute or 0.733 every second meaning for 8 blobs to appear you would need an exposure time of ~11 seconds.

If it is an AC strobe then the exposure time is between ~12 seconds and ~4.7 seconds according to the FAA.

I wonder if strobes are set on aircraft by the manufacture or adjusted locally by the operator.

@Mick West I wonder if Mick has the exposure time for his helo shot.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
@Mick West I wonder if Mick has the exposure time for his helo shot.
Sadly no. I can't find the original, which bugs me no end. I suspect it was a few seconds though, as there are multiple red flashes.
Is it confirmed there are 4 different photos? Have they all been shown?
There were four photos shown in the video around 4:45
2021-07-24_13-00-35.jpg

Note the red does NOT show up in each image, suggesting that the exposure is actually relatively short, the helicopter is moving reasonably fast (mine was slowly circling)

i.e. the red streaks we see here are individual flashes. The in-streak variations could be some kind of flicker from dimming the light.
 

FatPhil

Active Member
Can any photography literate folks here speak to the idea that an exposure of less than one second is "pretty fast?" Depending on how close to one second we're talking, that would strike me as a pretty long exposure when photographing a moving helicopter, but since I amd a SLR guy my impression may be invalid.

As @jarlrmai says, 1s is darn slow. If you want your babbling brook to turn all milky, you use 1s. We had a Red Arrows air display a few weeks back, and I was snapping reasonably fast moving jets at 1/1200s (zoomed to ~200mm, with image stabilisation), and they were pretty crisp. Helicopter blades don't move as fast as people expect, which is one of the things that limits their speed so (the backward moving blade must still think it's moving forward relative to the air), so I'd expect a similar level of blurring as for the faster moving jets.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
can you take a pic of a video using different long exposures and see what it does?

ex
Problem is a video is just a sequence of images, each images of the video also has an exposure time, usually to match the frame rate.

I downloaded the reference video for the helicopter, the AC light is on for 10 frames 1/3rd of a second. and off for 32 frames or about second.

Could the rotor blades be causing the intermittent dimming of the light during the times it is on during the long exposure? I imagine filmed from below the light would be seen through the blades.
 
skychart.jpg
2021-06-25_09-14-34-overlay.jpg
The situation in the sky at the time. There will be slight distortions between the two images due to the projection method but it's close enough - because of this I didn't bother with an overlay but simply marked out some of the constellations instead. Anyway the takeaway here is the direction of the object, which is clearly to the northwest of the observer. This agrees really well with the helicopter mentioned in post #3, assuming that screenshot shows its position at 9:22 pm.

EDIT:

Following on from @Matt33's suggestion that this might have been an hour later, here's the view at 10:22 pm.
skychart2.jpg

It's kinda difficult to tell which one's correct because we have no view of the horizon and as such no datum to work out the tilt angle. Not like it would change things much though - just like the earlier time matches the helicopter from post #3, the later time just as well matches the same helicopter as it passes by again on its way back as shown in post #4.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
I got ~44 per minute or 0.733 every second meaning for 8 blobs to appear you would need an exposure time of ~11 seconds.

Yale Health has the same model helicopter but it's flashes are different (if that helps you in anyway)
Source: https://youtu.be/hHRofoUXaDE?t=12
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
Regarding the strobe frequency, I live in visual distance to a H145 base on a hospital. I can see it taking off and returning.

It has a 'high-frequency' strobe, so to speak. It sends out series of flashes with intervals. One of those sequences would easily fit into one second.

I found one similar example on YT:

Source: https://youtu.be/yqYPyAEEawU
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Well, that does sound very much like what a plane engine sounds like - which is what the photographer says he heard.
 

Matt33

Member
It has a 'high-frequency' strobe, so to speak. It sends out series of flashes with intervals. One of those sequences would easily fit into one second.
But the blinking red light has the same 1.3 seconds interval. And the white strobe has 3 to 4 flashes with a pause in between. That's not what we see in the photo. The 8 red dots are equally spaced and the white blob doesn't show any interruption. In my opinion the exposure time must have been something like 8*1.33s=10.64 seconds.
 

Matt33

Member
I made a drawing with all available parameters. According to Flightradar at 3:22 UTC (10:22 Homestead time, 9:22 camera time) the height of the heli was 2500ft/762m, speed was around 60kts/110km/h, distance about 3km/1,8 miles. Assuming that the exposure time was 10-11 seconds, the distance travelled was 325m/ 1066ft, which is an apparent length of 116m/380ft, spacing between red dots 18m/60ft. Alternatively with 1 second exposure time we get a travelled distance of 30m/100ft, apparent length would be 11m/36ft, dot spacing 2m/6,5ft, provided that the blinking red light was some kind of strobe. This is all rather vague, but one can now ask what we see on the photo, a travel distance of a few hundred feet or rather 36 feet, keeping in mind that the distance to the camera was 1,8 miles. Overall length of the helicopter is 13m/43ft.
 

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jarlrmai

Senior Member
I made a drawing with all available parameters. According to Flightradar at 3:22 UTC (10:22 Homestead time, 9:22 camera time) the height of the heli was 2500ft/762m, speed was around 60kts/110km/h, distance about 3km/1,8 miles. Assuming that the exposure time was 10-11 seconds, the distance travelled was 325m/ 1066ft, which is an apparent length of 116m/380ft, spacing between red dots 18m/60ft. Alternatively with 1 second exposure time we get a travelled distance of 30m/100ft, apparent length would be 11m/36ft, dot spacing 2m/6,5ft, provided that the blinking red light was some kind of strobe. This is all rather vague, but one can now ask what we see on the photo, a travel distance of a few hundred feet or rather 36 feet, keeping in mind that the distance to the camera was 1,8 miles. Overall length of the helicopter is 13m/43ft.

If we had the camera make/model and lens focal length we could calculate it, we could make some estimates maybe with references from other shots. It looks fairly wide angle 18-24mm FF equiv?

Maybe we can use the angular separation of the identified star constellations too..
 
I did some quick 'n rough calculations too but instead aimed to see if it was possible to deduce a likely candidate for the location of the observer for the 10:22 pm situation. Unfortunately I don't have the exact datapoints of the helicopter's path so I had to make do with the screenshot from post #4, though I believe I got close enough for the purpose of this endeavour (eventually decided on position [EDIT: Removed the exact location. It makes it a bit harder for others to reproduce my findings but I feel quite uncomfortable giving out specific locations to random peoples' homes like that.]).

The object's position in the sky is no big challenge to work out. The bright white dot to its right as seen in the video thumbnail is a star named HD61931, which at the time was at azimuth 318.5° and an elevation of 23.3°. Using that elevation and the reported altitude of 2,600 ft / 792 m we get a downrange distance of (792 m - 250 m terrain elevation) / tan(23.3°) = 1250 m.

I then opened Google Earth and moved that distance from the heli's position in the direction of 318° - 180° = 138°. As it turns out, there's a number of buildings there, one of which in particular looks quite similar to the parts of the building seen in the video. I won't give the exact location as a) I didn't look hard enough to be 100% sure myself and b) privacy and the latent creepiness factor of it all :p but with all of this mind I think I can say with reasonable certainty that the object matches almost exactly with the position of the helicopter at 10:22pm local time as seen from a point some 5 km west of Montello.
 
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Matt33

Member
downrange distance of 792 m / tan(23.3°) = 1840 m.
That differs quite a bit from the 2964m I used in my drawing. I got the heli position from the map in Flightradar, comparing it to the map in Google Earth. However, at a speed of 110km/h the distance can vary in one minute up to 1000m, so everything is within a reasonable range.
The object is the helicopter beyond any doubt. And the shutter speed is in the EXIF data, but I guess the guy won't give it out.
 
Ah man, good thing you quoted that part. I made a mistake there and copy/pasted my first attempt, which was flawed because I didn't account for difference in local height above mean sea level (250-ish metres) and the height of the helicopter, which is in feet AMSL. The actual height above terrain then is 792 m - 250 m = 540 m or thereabouts. It's even closer; 1250 m. I'll edit the original post in a sec. The conclusion remains the same however, and as you say, the speed of the helicopter has a larger influence anyway.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Using the video screenshot from post #1 and processing the helicopter shown in post #3, I get this (scaled by eyeball):
Helicopter Homestead.jpg
This is all rather vague, but one can now ask what we see on the photo, a travel distance of a few hundred feet or rather 36 feet, keeping in mind that the distance to the camera was 1,8 miles. Overall length of the helicopter is 13m/43ft.
I'll take answer 2, Matt. :)
 
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