An Unusual Object
Photographed on July 16, 1997

On Wednesday, July 16, 1997, I decided to visit a historic park not far from my hometown.

The temperature was up well over 90 degrees, but I was feeling okay as I walked along the trail through the dark woods, taking photos with a Kodak DC-40 Digital Camera which my son had loaned to me. I took several photos, to feature the park on one of my Web Pages.

When I came to a gazebo in the park, I decided to take a photo. Although the shade from the trees was rather dense, it was almost noon and I was surprised when the flash on the camera automatically went off.

I immediately turned the flash OFF manually, quickly re-framed the gazebo with the camera's optical viewfinder, and took another shot, from almost the same position as the first photo. The time/date stamp shows that the second photo was taken 14 seconds after the first photo.

I noticed nothing unusual about the gazebo, and in fact walked up the wooden walkway, went inside the gazebo and looked around.

The remainder of my walk through the park was uneventful, except that I had forgotten that the trail gradually slopes down to a nearby river, taking a quarter-mile to do so. After looking at the river, I started climbing the trail to get back to the parking lot and quickly decided that it had not been a good idea to walk all the way down to the river, as I was getting very hot. I was all alone in the park, and I had a heart angioplasty in 1992.

I decided not to panic, but walked very slowly back to my car in the parking lot, where I started the engine and began to cool off with the air conditioner turned on full blast. I also drank a lot of water from a plastic milk carton which I always carry in the hot summertime.

When I started editing the photos of the park, I noticed the bright spot apparently on, or over, the wooden walkway leading to the gazebo (Photo No. 1, below). That spot is not evident in the second photo, and I have no satisfactory explanation for the spot.

Possibilities include:

1) The sun was shining temporarily on the wooden walkway, as the wind blew the branches of the trees, although I was not aware of any breezes that day. (I did not return to the park to investigate this possibility, as the temperature remained high for the next several days. Although I was very curious, I had learned my lesson.)

2) The flash reflected from some hidden moisture on the walkway, although the temperature was very high that day. The effect of the flash is clearly evident on the overhanging leaves of the tree in the foreground, and also on the columns of the gazebo.

3) A physicist friend of mine rejects the possibility that the flash triggered a "plasma." I value his opinion, and he says that such a small plasma is not possible.

4) It is true that the Kodak uses a proprietary compression algorithm, and it is possible that a single bright spot (from sunlight or the flash) might have resulted in the much larger saturated area in the photo. I have examined the density of the bright spot extensively, and I see no peculiarities; that is, the spot exhibits a gradual lessening of intensity from its center to its edge. The only unusual item is that the edge of the spot exhibits a high amount of magenta color. There also appears to be some brightness in a "plume" or "cloud" below the object. This "plume" is visible in both photos, although it is magenta in the first photo, and blue in the second photo.

5) Could I place such an object in the photograph, using photo-editing software? Yes, I probably could, given the time and the inclination. My primary "defense" to that possibility is that I still have copies of the original photos, in their proprietary Kodak (KDC) format. I have no idea how to convert a JPG photo back to the proprietary Kodak format, or how to manipulate the KDC format to produce such an object.

Anyone with an explanation of this "object" is more than welcome to send it to me. I am at a loss to explain the object.

Photo showing object on, or above, the wooden walkway.
The camera automatically flashed for this photograph.

This photo was taken exactly 14 seconds
after the first photo. I had turned the flash OFF.

Photos ©1997 by Hal Miller
Both photos taken with Kodak DC-40 Digital Camera.

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