One day recently I found my camera, after about six months, took some photos with it, and sent the film off to be developed. My surprise at finding my long-lost photos of the gyrocopter rally (summer of 1998!) was nothing to my surprise at finding my first, ever, genuine UFO.

[Image of a red autogyro sitting in a field, prop turning; a small multicoloured blur sits in the top right corner with a huge black arrow pointing at it]

This photo is what I received back from the developers (without the big black arrow, as you might expect). Excited to see this, I ramped up the scanner resolution to 1200dpi and zoomed in on the multicoloured blob, to reveal the following image; here's a classic grainy, overly zoomed image of a UFO if I ever saw one...

[Closeup of the blur]

Odd, isn't it?

If you look carefully at the raw image, you can see a white delta-winged vehicle in the center, facing left. There seem to be two trailing spines from each wing, and some kind of red beam extending left from the nose. From the distortion waves visible in front of the vehicle (that's to the left), it may have been using some kind of electron ram to reduce the density of the air for efficient hypersonic travel. I don't know what the dark clouds immediately behind it are, but you can see some kind of white residue to the right. This may be some form of jet trail. (By the way, the white line below the craft is a perfectly ordinary jet trail made by a perfectly ordinary airliner.)

Both the above pictures have been scaled down to 320 pixels across, to make them suitable for inline viewing. You can find the raw images below.

Oh, yes, the vehicle is quite obviously not any kind of flaw in the film, despite the characteristic purple-and-green colouration, lack of context, and the fact that the hundred or so gyrocopter fans staring avidly at the sky about me not seeing it.

Some quick image processing on the craft itself brings out a bit more detail:

[White triangle against a blue and green swirly background]

(Enhancement courtesy of the Gimp, using the Alien Map plugin.)

What I think it actually is is a nick in the film; the triangle is caused by the colour-sensitive coating being scraped away, while the coloured bands around it by distortion of the medium. But it's rather interesting to see just how much `information' you can get by zooming in ridiculously far on a photographic film (Yes, Richard Hoagland, I'm talking to you).

If I had the right software I'm sure I could get details of the craft's construction, possibly even see windows; unfortunately, while the Gimp is an extraordinarily powerful program it wasn't really designed for this, and I don't know enough about image enhancement to make it do.

The raw data 125 kB

The raw gyrocopter image, uncropped and without the black arrow.

The raw data (zoomed) 105 kB

The raw closeup image of the anomaly, uncropped.. This was zoomed by upping the resolution in the scanner rather than digitally, so there is actually more information here.