Mar 14, 2006

Faking UFO Photos for the Twenty-First Century

For a modern planetarium show, an astronomer/program producer created a variety of fake UFO images as a way of showing audiences how easily such photos can be done.

Source: Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
Written by Tom Callen

As the producer responsible for bringing Cosmonova’s* latest public planetarium show, “UFO-The Truth is Here,” to reality, I knew that one aspect of the UFO phenomenon that would be important to cover would be that of fake photographs.

Ever since so-called flying saucers were first spotted in the 1940s, a variety of people around the world have created fake images that they claimed were authentic. The vast majority of these images have been exposed as the frauds they are. And yet even today there are those who continue this peculiar hobby. Rather than feature such photos as part of the program, I thought that the best example for our audiences would be to provide examples that were made specifically for the show.

The first step was coming up with UFOs that would serve as my examples in these photos. Since it would not be visually interesting to show the same vehicle in every picture, I needed a variety of different models. Time constraints did not allow me to salvage together parts of different existing plastic kits, so I had to find another alternative. I located a small model company in California, Lunar Models, that makes unusual kits with a science fiction theme. They offer a series of resin-cast models based on “famous” UFO sightings.

Because the most appealing way to show these images was as 35mm slides projected in a montage, I bought seven kits from Lunar Models. Working with resin models was a challenging experience, like working with a model cast out of hard white soap. Each had surface imperfections treated with a hobby knife, sanded where needed, and then finished off with two coats of flat white primer spray paint. Any gluing had to be done with super glue-type adhesives and due to the variety of their compositions the model manufacturer couldn’t guarantee results.

The final color schemes for the models were based on information about “actual” UFOs found on a Web site by a well-known UFO photographer, “Billy” Meier of Switzerland. To achieve a metallic luster for the models I used a special finishing compound over the white primer coats known as Rub ‘n’ Buff. I had used it nearly thirty years ago when I made models of military aircraft, and much to my surprise the company that made it was still in existence.

While working on the seven UFO models, I also took photographs that would become the background plates for the UFOs to appear against. In order to make the scenes more interesting I chose several well-known sites around the Stockholm area that would be easily recognizable. I also included scenes that showed everyday locations appropriate to the models and the concept.

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