BUY HAUNTED SKIES VOLS 1-5 (UK customers only - if you live outside the UK please email for details)

Click on the Book Cover to buy each volume

Monday, 19 November 2012

Haunted Skies update

Hilary Porter photo
James Mitchell writes to us with his photographic analysis of the Hilary Porter photo.
We applaud him for his excellent detective work. While nobody can categorically say
or prove this was the explanation, it is nether less interesting and offers some insights
into matters such as this.

James, I hate to be a “smart Alec”, especially after my somewhat critical post on ufology, but I think all of the artifacts on Hilary Porter's christening photographs can be explained.
Although I have to say I'm no expert in photographic analysis, and I could of course be wrong, I do use old cameras myself and am familiar with most of their faults.

Firstly, the “figure”, I believe this to be an illusion, rather than a photographic artefact.
If you look carefully at the window, the apparent “figure” is composed of whole panes of leaded glass, suggesting that these panes reflected the light falling on them (and / or passing through them) differently to the rest due to being of a different colour or condition to the rest. They even may just have been cleaner, or, given the flexibility of leaded windows, angled slightly differently to the “lighter” panes.

Pareidolia, or the imagination's ability to find meaningful patterns where there are none – as in “faces” in the fire or clouds – does the rest. The suggestion of an archetypal hooded figure, especially in connection with a church or other old building often associated with hauntings also helps with the illusion.
As to the “swirl”, notice that, although it doesn't fall in the same place on the photographs, it can be overlayed on itself if the vertical photograph is rotated through 90 degrees, as the camera would have been to take the photograph, with both images having the same orientation with respect to the film.

This suggests to me that the film was damaged when rolled up, either when on the original spool or on the spiral inside the developing tank.

To illustrate what I mean, think of sticking a pin in a roll of wallpaper. The holes wouldn't line up with the pattern as, like a film, the paper is wound in a spiral, the effective diameter of each layer reducing towards the centre of the roll. The holes in the paper would, however, line up above each other when the paper was in a roll, and their position would be the same each time with respect to the edges of the paper.
Similarly, the “swirl” is in a different place with regards to each photograph, but not the roll of film itself.

Without examining the actual negative the exact cause is hard to determine, but I'd say the film was physically damaged, or it was incorrectly loaded in the developing tank preventing even development.

In contrast to this, the “numbers” seem to be in a fixed position relative to each frame (photograph), which suggest that they were made when the film or print was flat and imparted to each image separately, remembering that, as in the above example, both vertical and horizontal images would be orientated the same way with respect to the film and paper they were printed on.

The first suggestion that springs to mind here is that light leaked in through the red window in the back of the camera which was used to view the exposure number when winding the film on, something that often happened with this type of camera, especially if the cover for the window wasn't closed or window itself was damaged. (Note that, judging by the period, I'm assuming a roll-film camera was used.)

The second is that an ink stamp (i.e. identifying number or photographer's details) on the back of the print has penetrated through to the emulsion on the front, or, with the prints stored next to each other in an envelope or box, the ink from the back of one print has damaged the surface of the one beneath.  Note also that the numbers - if that's what they are - appear to be reversed, which would also support such a scenario.
Given that the emulsion of the print appears to be reticulated (blistered), I think that, on balance, I'd go for the second of the above explanations.

It is, of course, impossible to be definite about the actual causes without viewing the original negatives or at least the prints, but I feel confident that should it be possible to scrutinise these, then faults such as I have suggested, all of which are well known to those familiar with film photography, would be found.

I hope I haven't spoiled the mystery for anyone (especially your friend Hilary) with my speculations, and I hope I haven't come across as a “debunker”, although I'm happy to accept the criticism of “photography nerd”, or, indeed, just “nerd”!


Retired Police Sergeant, Roger Crowhurst, -It was the summer of 1960 and I was a Police cadet stationed at Chiswick in South London.  One of our more menial tasks was to do school crossing duty, but because no-one would give us youngsters legal power to stop traffic by hand signals as the Constables had, we had to do so with a 'Stop Children Crossing' metal board and pole and a white cotton full length coat.  Most embarrassing, but the pole was handy for whacking the roofs of cars which failed to stop for us....

Lunchtimes were the worst as, though we manned each crossing for over an hour, usually only a trickle of children crossed the road to go home for their lunch.  On this particular day it was dark, raining hard and stormy, with occasional flashes of lightning.  A few women were shopping opposite my place on the pavement and I was just 5 yards from a towering oak tree to my left and I wondered just how long one could put up with this boring and wet job - indeed I wondered if I had actually chosen totally the wrong career.

Suddenly there was the loudest high pitched screaming sound I had ever heard, coming from the sky above me and to my front.  It was similar to the sound of a jet fighter and increasing rapidly in crescendo.  I looked up and saw what seemed to be a perfect empty circle in the sky - about the size when a split second away of a football and similar to when one inadvertently looks at the sun and sees an empty circle.  It was coming straight for me.  My brain screamed 'METAL POLE, METAL POLE!, and I instinctively threw the wet metal sign I was holding into the roadway.

As I did so, still watching the phenomenon, which I wrongly assumed was a crashing RAF jet, it veered sharply to my left and struck the wet oak like a white hot flaming cannonball with an ear splitting 'BANG!' and a massive explosion of fire which engulfed the entire tree in total flames, spitting fire and smoke like a huge exploding firework and flinging burning debris in all directions.  Almost immediately the torrential rain extinguished the blaze, leaving the old tree smoking, crackling and steaming, almost leafless and black from top to bottom.

I found myself on the pavement, sobbing, shivering in fear, wet and icy cold.  Across the road by the shops, several women were sitting on the wet ground, crying and wailing loudly.  Pulling myself together and understanding that I was the only authority figure at the scene, I gathered  some composure, walked across to the newsagent's and gasped 'Call 999 for fire, police and ambulance.  We've just experienced ball lightning!'

The ambulance took us to Casualty at Hammersmith Hospital, where we were put in separate rooms with the blinds down and in the dark for an hour or two and given hot sweet tea for our shock.  The Doctor kindly gave me a week off work to get over it.  Strangely, I had read Arthur C. Clarke's book on ball lightning only the week before....  


I was a Sergeant in the London Metropolitan Police in 1979 and Station Officer at Wallington Police Station.  At about 3am one night duty a flustered man aged about 30 years rushed to the front counter area.  He asked me to believe that he was not mad or intoxicated and that he and his wife and two young boys had been driving back on the A22 road to their home in Hackbridge, Wallington, from Eastbourne, where they had spent the day at the beach.  They were very late back as the car had broken down several times (it was a faulty fuel pump) and he had had to fix it at the roadside.

They had turned off the main road a few minutes earlier at the traffic lights by the Propellor Public House on Purley Way, Surrey, heading west towards their semi-detached home in Hackbridge.  As they approached the Paynes Poppets factory on their left, parents and boys (aged 8 and 10 years?) were now awake prior to arriving home.  Suddenly the engine of the car died and the car lights extinguished as what they described as a massive, almost world-size glowing green globe, filled the sky ahead and above them.  They said it sped at tremendous speed from their left and then hung, stationary, in the sky for a full minute. 

The two adults shouted in both fear and excitement, then the boys began to cry.  They all agreed the thing was massive and global and glowed a flourescent green.   There were no markings on it, as on the moon for example.  Suddenly the globe shot - 'faster than a jet plane' - to the right and downwards in roughly a 45 degree trajectory towards the ground, disappearing behind the hill in their foreground.

Such alleged sightings reported to police had to be telephoned to a secret Royal Air Force Establishment in North Yorkshire.  Minded that the man was, in my opinion, obviously mental, I contacted the RAF Duty Officer there, relating the tale with apologies and adding that the informant was 'obviously a raving nutter'.  He astonished me by saying that the informant was definitely not a nutter.  That the globe had been seen and details recorded by the relevant authorities and the public, by over 360 people thus far, from North Africa, across Spain, western England and to our sighting in southern England, where it had disappeared or landed 'Somewhere in your area'.
I was to immediately separate the family members and they were to be interrogated by my staff in separate rooms.  A statement was to be taken from each one, detailing the 10 points that he gave to me i.e. size colour, speed, what they thought it was etc.  This was done and I was shocked to find that the four family members had given exactly the same recollections in every detail.  To me as a professional, this was absolute proof that they were telling the truth beyond any doubt whatsover.  It was from this night that I became a firm believer that UFO's really do exist.
Following my second call to North Yorkshire I was instructed to immediately send a police car or motor cyclist with the family's signed statements the 500 miles to the RAF station, which I duly did.  The RAF officer then instructed that I should get as many officers as possible to search the 3 sq. mile uninhabited Hackbridge Marshes.  This is a natural and unstable gravel area, on which the Victorians used to pump London's sewage and is not open to the public.  I and several dozen officers searched the Marshes until after daybreak but no trace of the globe, or yet any trace of soil or gravel disturbance was seen.
I informed the RAF duty officer of the result and, now convinced and enlightened, asked just how many confirmed sightings of UFO's there were in the UK each year.  "Oh, thousands..." he replied, matter of factly.
Police car accident September 1978

Letter sent to the Oxfordshire Mail today- Can the readers help?I am a retired Police Officer from the West Midlands. Following an incident in January 1995 when Police Officers were directed to a report of a UFO seen over a Birmingham suburb, I decided to make my own enquires into reported UFO activity

to establish whether there were any truths in such reports. Over 15 years later I am still engaged on a fulltime basis along with my partner Dawn Holloway with cataloguing UFO sightings as I believe they represent an important part of our social history, what they are and where they come from are questions I cannot answer.  We have written and published 6 Volumes of Haunted Skies covering the period from 1940-1977 and are working on Volume 8 which covers the period 1978-1979(420pages) We are hoping that some of the readers may be able to assist us with any UFO sightings that they may wish to bring to our attention. In particular we are interested in any incidents that have taken place along the A41 between Bicester and Aylesbury. As we have received a report from a retired Detective Inspector who was involved in an accident along that stretch of road, during September 1978 when his Police vehicle turned over while on patrol one night. (opposite the cottage on the left)Incredibly no logical reason could be found for the cause of this action. If any one can assist we can be contacted on 0121.445.0340 or email  John Hanson and Dawn Holloway

No comments:

Post a comment