Capturing a fragment in time

Capturing a fragment in time

There are many ways in which photography differs from our normal visual experience of the world. And these differences can, on their own, produce anomalous photos. Take the photo here (right) for example. It is difficult to say, at first glance, just what it is. There is clearly quite a large object, or objects, in some long grass. The object in front has a broad dark ‘body’ below with a narrow light brown and black striped ‘neck’ above slightly reminiscent of a barber’s pole. Just behind there is another pole-like object with a similar pattern  Behind that, a bit further back, the same striped pattern appears in a series of splayed ‘fingers’ emanating from a dark triangular shaped object. Assuming all these parts are together what could the overall object be?

This object is a cropped extract from a much larger photo. It occupies only about 5% of the frame. Thus the strange object might easily have not been noticed when the photo was being taken. It might, however, have been noticed when the photo was closely examined later. A very high percentage of anomalous photos are of this type – nothing strange seen at the time of exposure but noticed in the photo afterwards. Such circumstances immediately suggest that it could be a photographic artefact (see here).

unknown 2The next photo (right) is the same scene as above just a fraction of a second before. I took a burst of five  photos all within a second. The mystery object is thus revealed to be a pheasant! In the top photo the bird was flapping its wings right over its head. The striped pattern is a feature of the bird’s wing feathers.

I often take multiple photos of a natural history scene to catch any fleeting action that might not be obvious to someone just watching it. If I had just taken one photo, the top one, I might be baffled by what it was. Still photos capture a tiny fragment of time and sometimes they show things we would not notice if we were watching because they are over so quickly. It is something to bear in mind when examining anomalous photo that show something bizarre. It could be something completely normal simply in the middle of some movement that makes it look entirely unfamiliar.

While paranormal researchers could choose to take multiple photos, or video, they are not the source of most anomalous photos. Most people just take one photo at a time and aren't even looking for anything unusual. It's always worth asking if there were any other photos taken around the same time. They might just solve a mystery. 

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Author :© Maurice Townsend 2021

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