The British UFO Research Association
Investigations & Research since 1962
   .      INVESTIGATIONS SECTION      Looking to the Future for UFO Research and Investigation



Looking to the Future for UFO Research and Investigation

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Photograph is copyright to Bill Rose

It is the destiny of man to stand always between the certainty of his scientific achievements and the annoying evidence that they do not account for all there is.  Other forces manifest.  We are quick to give them convenient names and familiar roles.  We call them ghosts, spirits, extraterrestrials.  When all else fails we abjectly turn them into Gods, the better to worship what we fail to grasp, the better to idolize what we are too lazy to analyze…Dr. Jacques Vallee  from his book ‘Forbidden Science’

It has been a while, since I updated readers on the state of play for UFO sightings that BUFORA have been receiving, so I suggest we start with 2015 and possibly look to where we are heading in understanding the many theories and unsubstantiated rumours   that can be rife in the world of ufology.  In the midst of all of this there are a core of unexplained phenomena, but after many years involved with this fascinating and sometimes crazy subject, it is my opinion and experience that all is  not as it seems. This is not to imply that there are not mysteries and curiosities in life.  Indeed there are and this is the driving force, I suspect, for us all in our continued search and exploration.

As has been addressed before, the UFO field of research is made up of several components, the investigators and researchers, the people who report sightings and high strangeness events, the UFO literature, the media, television programmes and the very ‘human face’ of ufology, perception, memory and the huge influence of beliefs in the idea of an extraterrestrial presence.

This year has seen an increase of sightings to BUFORA, particularly with visual images and video footage.  Images now comprise a high percentage of sighting reports as more and more sophisticated smart phones capture all manner of odd lights and objects.  BUFORA’s imaging specialists have been very busy over the last few years, and particularly 2015, giving definitive and probable evaluations for these images.

It is also the case that a percentage of the public sending these images to BUFORA did not actually observe anything when taking their photographs, but only noticed something ‘odd’ when they uploaded the photographs to their computer.  There can be many reasons for this including optical effects, something close to the camera lens such as insects, or actually on the camera lens, birds that were not noticed while taking the photograph and various other explanations.  It is also the case that when some members of the public capture photographs that they believe to be ‘not of this earth’ no amount of rational explanations will be acceptable, so it can be disheartening at times for  those in BUFORA conducting analyses when they are challenged, as a percentage of witnesses want their beliefs  to be validated.

To balance the scales, there are those presenting their photographs and sighting report forms, who are very happy to have an explanation for the lights and objects they have captured on camera and this will enrich their understanding of the many problems with photographs and video footage and that all is not as it sometimes appears on camera and that although the camera does not lie by definition, photographs can  include some, what appear to be, very strange anomalies, which actually are not unusual at all when evaluated by visual specialists  with all supporting information.

It is also the case, and often not understood very well, that a photograph cannot be evaluated without FULL supporting information which can be given by completing the BUFORA online Sighting Report Form.  This gives an investigator and imaging specialist a complete understanding of the various facets contained in the image.  Without this BUFORA does not assess any images as they cannot give an accurate evaluation.

There have been a couple of very interesting images and footage captured in the last year, one of which was taken from an aircraft.  BUFORA have been awaiting permission from the photographer in order to show a clip from the footage and images on the website.  However, sadly this has not been forthcoming so the footage and Dave Newton’s excellent and very unusual and rare evaluation cannot be used on the site without permission and we always adhere strictly to the directives of BUFORA’s Code of Practice.

I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of the BUFORA NIC, to extend huge thanks and appreciation to Mark Easen, Dave Newton and Peter Wooton for all their time and work in evaluating images for BUFORA.  They can spend many hours analysing some images and as BUFORA is a voluntary organisation it can take some time for photographs to be assessed.

BUFORA use robust investigative methods to follow up sighting/visual reports which are why it is mandatory for BUFORA investigators/researchers to enroll on the Investigators Training Course (ITC) in order to gain a realistic understanding of the high number of lights and objects in the sky that can be misidentified. Without rigorous investigative methods, our understanding of unidentified sighting reports will not be enhanced one iota, which is why the quote from Dr Jacques Vallee is so relevant then and now and why Dr Vallee’s research and exploration of the UFO subject has contributed in such an important and coherent way into how we understand the reality of the UFO subject.

Investigators Training Course and Sighting Reports

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Photograph is copyright to Bill Rose

There are several candidates enrolled on the BUFORA training course doing very well.  Mark Walsh has now completed the Examination Module which is awaiting marking.  He has achieved a high standard of results for Modules 1-6 and will be a welcome addition to the NIC (National Investigations Committee).  Tony Eccles and Mark Easen are also tutoring several candidates on the ITC .

Unfortunately there is a pattern of some candidates dropping off the course midway, as other commitments take priority or they lose interest when they understand the ITC is fundamental training in what can be observed and misidentified in the sky.  There is a lengthy list of lights and objects in our sky that can be misinterpreted under different circumstances including angles of viewing, atmospheric distortions, optical effects, inaccurate night-time estimations of distance and height. All of these can lead the observer to inaccuracy in how they report something in the sky that they feel is unidentified.  There are many factors involved in how we view something in the sky that can look strange. Of course witness’ beliefs sometimes play a role in how they understand the object or lights they are viewing.  Therefore it is crucial for those on the ITC to learn the basic foundation of robust investigation methods and to understand that there can sometimes be very inaccurate information on the internet in relation to UFO sightings, sometimes with unreliable investigative methodology and in some cases very limited research.  The percentage of sightings and visual images captured which remain unexplained are far rarer than one would assume when navigating the UFO links on the internet and documentaries covering the UFO subject.

The very human factor of what we believe, and how we use narratives from the internet, television and media to reinforce those beliefs,    most certainly applies with regard to a belief in extraterrestrial visitation.  We have all kinds of hopes and beliefs and because we are human we will use anything we can to back up those beliefs, whether religious, political or any number of things.  This is part of what it means to be human.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Photograph is copyright to Bill Rose

Now to move on to sightings, photographs and footage received by BUFORA this year, there has been an increase in reports so far in 2015, at least 80% of them being visual images, particularly during the summer months as people are out and about during the light nights and taking vacations in various parts of the UK, all with their camera phones in tow.  BUFORA have been receiving many reports and enquiries so it has been a busy time.  High strangeness reports have increased a little too, as people interpret various experiences as being due an extraterrestrial presence.  Of course there are problems here with many factors at work to convince them that their experience may have been alien in nature, particularly with regard to the particular triggers that make them seek out a UFO organisation as being the agency to which they want to report an experience that they feel to be up close and personal encounters with something from ‘out there’.  There are many possibilities for the nature of these experiences as related in the BUFORA article on our website: Hypnosis Article

That is not to say that there are not some strange and extraordinary human experiences reported to BUFORA, but that there are many that can be explained due to a whole range of possibilities and interpretations.

It is also important to understand how diverse the UFO subject has become embracing a landscape of many areas of research, psychology, the paranormal, some scientific disciplines, religion, folklore and mythology, the human consciousness and the altered state of consciousness between sleeping and waking and how that ‘altered hallucinatory state’ can manifest in images and sounds that appear to be very real making us believe these experiences are actually happening to us.  This can all add to the confusion of interpreting experiences that we sense exist in a different world reality.  Our subconscious can sometimes trick us in how we perceive odd or unusual experiences and so the beat goes on as we step into this fascinating journey of looking beyond the framework which we know and understand – BUT we must tread very carefully indeed ensuring that we use rigorous methods of research to try to identify these experiences as having a rational explanation.

There are many mysteries and many interpretations of those mysteries and at the forefront of extraordinary human experiences lies the human consciousness, and as the British Physicist, Roger Penrose expressed ‘that for all the power and richness of modern science, this knowledge could not possible account for the ultimate mystery of existence ‘the human consciousness’

For readers’ interest I am documenting here two recent photographic sightings, where we have received permission from the witnesses to use their images on our website.  BUFORA imaging specialists conduct a lot of work on behalf of witnesses who have captured visual images on their cameras.   As BUFORA is a voluntary organisation, there is no fee required, but much time is now taken with these images and therefore on behalf of BUFORA, I would request that those who send images to us for evaluation consider carefully allowing us to present these on our website and also for BUFORA to be able to use these images for purposes of lectures and informing the public of the huge number of objects that can be photographed and misidentified by the photographer. There is now an additional directive on the sighting report form when sending in visual images or footage for evaluation that reads:

The witness gives permission to BUFORA to use the photographs/footage at our discretion with respect to keeping the witness anonymous, unless otherwise advised.

The BUFORA Code of Practice will be strictly adhered to with regard to witness confidentiality at all times.



We are always most grateful for donations to BUFORA because we are a voluntary organisation and conduct a great  deal of work in following up sighting reports, particularly photographic images and video footage which can take a considerable amount of the photographic specialists’ time and expertise. 

 In addition, as a research organisation, we have several long term projects, including the Vehicle Interference Report, which is an on-going project and has been compiled by Geoff Falla for over thirty years working together with Michael Hudson.  Projects such as this stand at the cutting edge of UFO research and contribute to our understanding and exploration of the many narratives surrounding vehicle interference.

This DVD is available under BUFORA Products, as are DVDs of BUFORA’s Fiftieth Anniversary in 2012 and also The BUFORA Journal, a collection of Digital Archives  from 1959-2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Photograph is copyright to Heather Dixon


Below is a photograph captured near York, England, UK one evening in August 2013 at about 9pm.  The witness noticed lightning and after fifteen minutes went outside and tried to take a photograph, but as he was not able to photograph the lighting he  put his camera into video mode which picked up only one sequence which showed something that appeared like the ‘moon’ and an object  with a tail.  These were not visible when he took the photograph.

                                                                    Photograph is copyright to the photographer

Analysis of the Image  by Mark Easen

Thank you for sending your sighting form and photograph of the two objects captured at night to BUFORA and I would now like to share my thoughts on it with you.

I notice that you were trying to capture a distant storm and did not see the two objects through the viewfinder or by eye at the time of taking the photographs, and that they only appear on one of the shots; also the fact that the Moon was 90 degrees out of shot would eliminate the Moon as a potential candidate.

After some consideration, what I believe we have on your photograph is an explainable phenomenon, similar to an effect we have seen on a few previous occasions, and is predominantly caused by the camera flash 'bouncing off' something fairly close up in the shot.

The larger 'orb' like object to the left is surprisingly common and is definitely caused by flash reflection off something like a water droplet (maybe a stray one from the storm in the distance?) or even an airborne dust particle. Because of a camera phone's difficulty focusing on the small point source light effect generated by this 'back-scatter' effect, the object often appears larger than it actually is and curiously translucent.  An article explaining this phenomenon can be found here:  

The smaller of the two objects in your photograph (the one on the right with the tail) could have likewise been produced by the flash reflecting off a similar object to the 'main' object,  i.e. water droplet or dust particle as these sometimes can produce tail like images. However, it does have a different visual appearance and there does seem to be a sense of motion so perhaps it may have been the flash reflecting off a small flying insect which was slightly further back. Therefore it was more in focus with the camera allowing it to capture its true appearance rather than optically distorting the image as it did on the 'main' orb like object.

To conclude this evaluation, it is my opinion that the two objects captured on that one photograph were almost certainly naturally occurring objects (either rain drop/dust particle or insect) which had been illuminated by the camera flash and to some degree distorted optically by movement and auto focusing limitations within the camera.

I do hope this analysis has been of some use to you and that you might be able to share my thoughts on this once you have digested the information provided?

Thank you once again for contacting us at BUFORA and if there is anything else at all we might be of assistance with please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind regards

Mark Easen
BUFORA Investigations & Image Analysis

The witness was very happy with Mark’s analysis and responded in the following way:

Your analysis is very clear and reasonable and I’m grateful.  As you said, it must be dust particles or insects.  It goes to show just how easily an ordinary event can be misinterpreted by a lack of knowledge. 

A further image taken in Lynton, North Devon several years ago was emailed to BUFORA recently.  This has also been evaluated by Mark Easen.

This image was captured by a retired Police Officer who was taking photographs at Lynton overlooking the bay of Lynmouth. In one of the photographs he noticed a dark blurred line in the cloud that seemed to have solid mass contained within the cloud and that it appeared that the object may have been emerging from the cloud.

Photograph is copyright to the photographer


Analysis of the Image by Mark Easen


I have been considering what the anomalous object might have been and in my opinion I feel it could easily be a small insect that was flying across fairly close to the camera. At BUFORA we receive many similar photos to this and so this is a fairly common phenomenon for us.

I do agree with you that the object does appear to be ‘in the clouds’ somewhat, but I would say that this is actually an optical illusion. In the 1/100th of a second shutter speed the object (if close to the lens) would have travelled an appreciable angular distance across the frame, and that is what is causing its long thin and somewhat ‘blurry’ appearance. Also the ‘ends’ of the object would appear to be less solid because of its motion and this then gives the effect of those ends perhaps ‘going into’ the clouds.

In all probability the focus on your Canon EOS camera would have been set at or near to infinity in order to photograph the main subject matter (the coastline and hills in the distance) and that would also mean that a small object close to the lens would not be in sharp focus. And, further, if the object was a small flying insect that flew across close to the lens, then that would also explain why it appeared in one shot and not in another one taken just a second or so earlier.

I notice you refer to ‘rods’ in your dialogue. There is good evidence to suggest that these objects are also flying insects, but ones which have been captured on video. I include a link below which covers this topic in more detail.


Perhaps you will agree with the analysis if you view the image a few times with this explanation in mind?

Thank you once again for contacting BUFORA and if there is anything else we can be of assistance with please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind regards

Mark Easen
Investigations and image analyst

The witness agreed with Mark’s analysis with the following comments:

Thank you for your reply. I certainly agree with your findings and I am pleased that I now have a credible explanation for this curious aberration in the photograph, not helped by the optical illusion of it being contained within the cloud. 

Thank you for your time and effort in examining the photograph and the conclusion you reached.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Photograph is copyright to Heather Dixon


To conclude this article, I would like to extend many thanks to everyone who contacts BUFORA with their sightings, photographs and footage and also for sharing your more unusual and personal experiences.  By doing this, over fifty years on, BUFORA continues to have a more in-depth understanding of the complexities of the subject and, more critically, a clearer and more focused lens looking into the ‘human face’ of ufology and how our beliefs and perceptions can dramatically influence the way in which we report a sighting or a high strangeness experience.

Gloria Heather Dixon (July 2015)