Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Issue #19 The Right Camera For The Job

This week I want to cover a few different types of cameras, and how they can be useful in the course of your investigations. While there are many different types and styles of cameras, not every one will fulfill your needs in the field. A camera that might be your first choice in the studio, more than likely can be replaced by a lighter, more compact model for field work. With today's photo editing software it is possible to make pictures taken with inexpensive cameras look almost indistinguishable from picture's taken with much more expensive cameras.

With the arrival of cell phones that all have cameras built-in, people everywhere began taking pictures more than any other time in history. As a result, many apps have been developed that help enhance photos as well. The quality of pictures that most people are able to take now is dramatically different than it was even five years ago. Compare the weight of a cell phone that one is likely to be carrying anyway, to the weight of the average DSLR, especially with all the extra lenses that likely accompany it, and it's easy to see why so many people have chosen to use their phones exclusively for photography instead of carrying around unneeded bulky equipment.

Usually in the course of an investigation it is necessary to have some sort of scale present in the photo for measuring. Any other information that can be present in the photo is a bonus as well, which is why I really love the "Theodolite" app, since it can display all the relevant information such as azimuth, angle, and GPS coordinates.

Of course, if you are on a really large investigation scene, your best bet will be the DSLR on a tripod. For a large area that you would like to catch as many of the details as possible of,  a tripod mounted camera definitely has it's advantages. I have also noticed that any time you have to use the zoom, that a DSLR with the right lens has a much better focus, depth-of-field, and resolution. Although the results are fantastic with a DSLR, they do require a higher level of knowledge about photography than your average point-and-click camera on the market. It also only used to be possible to take "Panorama" shots by using a tripod, however I have an app on my iPhone that does a better job than I have ever been able to taking my time, and using a tripod, so again, the phone is a great option.

New on the market is the GoPro series of cameras, which depending on your usage, comes with a variety of different waterproof cases and attachments to cover any inventive usage one might come up with. The quality is so good, that again, leaving the bigger DSLR at home seems wise. It also has a time-lapse function that can be very useful if you need see if something was affected over time. Because of it's small size, light weight, and multitude of awesome attachments, the GoPro is worth serious consideration to add to your photo bag.

Again the question arises though; what do you do when in a situation where something, be it natural magnetic fields or effects of a craft of unknown origin, causes all your electronics to fail? Fortunately, Fuji Film still makes single-use disposable cameras, and you can order them on for a very reasonable price. Amazingly, there is still someplace to easily get your film processed. Walgreens still does all kinds of film developing, whether from a disposable single-use camera, or your vintage Minolta!

I hope this weeks installment has given you some more ideas on ways to get that perfect picture...and how to plan for any occurrence in the process! 

Please come back next week for the next installment, and don't forget to share with all your friends!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Issue #18 A Smattering Of Gadgets, Gizmos, and Whizz-bangers

Originally this week I was going to discuss a few different types of cameras, and their differing uses in the field...which I will still get to, however, something that happened this weekend prompted me to discuss the need for certain apps in the course of investigations. Which of course in thinking through led to another consideration that has been mentioned before, but can't be stressed enough! So I'll start off with that first, and ask that you keep it in mind while considering the following tools that might be "useful" while in the field: When was the last time you heard the phrase, "all my equipment and instruments worked perfectly in the presence of the UFO"?

Having said that, let's dive right in to an app for the first thing that will probably quit on you...your phone. I apologize to any Android users, but all of the apps I discuss will be for the iPhone or iPad. I'm sure there are comparable apps out there available through Google Play however. The reason I'm telling you about this first app now is due to the experience I had this weekend with a fellow MUFON member at our State Director's house. Due to the nature of this occurrence, my friend will remain anonymous.

We were discussing weird things that had happened to him at his home, and he mentioned an instance where instead of losing time, his watch actually gained six hours! This prompted me immediately to want to see if I could get any readings off of his watch, so I had him remove it and place it on the table. The first app I tried was Teslameter 11th, by Skypaw, which is a very good tool for measuring gauss units, or magnetic interference. His watch had negative results, so I next tried Gamma Pix, and immediately we knew something was wrong. There was a GIANT spike of dangerous radiation, and we were advised to leave the area of the readings! Of course after that I wanted to get a reading on my friend and see if he was the source of the contamination. To everyone's surprise, he was completely clean! So next my friend got a lanyard with a badge on it that he wears to work every day. Surprise! There was the spike again! Very disturbing. Needless to say my friend ordered a Geiger Counter right there on the spot so he could check other things at home, but had it not been for that Gamma Pix app, we might not ever have known about the potential danger to him! I felt this was important enough to mention to everyone because of the impressive performance of the app. By the way, we also did many control tests, and they all were negative.

So to get back to my original topic of cameras, I would like to briefly mention the GoPro camera, and It's many uses in the field. Besides coming with a rugged, waterproof case, there are many available attachments for the GoPro, so customizing it's mounting is a snap. The resolution of photos taken with the GoPro are extremely good, and the underwater shots one can get with it can't be beat. It also has a "Time-lapse" setting, so one can easily mount it somewhere out in the field, and let it run for the entirety of it's battery life (a little over four hours unless you add the optional battery pack), and have some fantastic time-lapse images. While the GoPro is very useful, and of course the images that I can get with my Nikon are very stunning, neither of them is worth a darn if you are in the presence of a field or craft that makes all your equipment die instantly. So what then? When battling hi-tech, maybe sometimes low-tech can do a better job.

While film cameras are considered by many to be "antiques", the older ones have one obvious advantage; they don't rely on an electric charge of any kind...they are purely mechanical! I'm not saying that a mechanical camera is foolproof...I've heard of photo's that were taken using them that should have turned out, but were instead just a milky-white haze. But then I've also seen some really good ones taken on film, as in the case of my SLO UFO investigation, and Dr. Lynne Kitei's "Phoenix Lights" photographs. Great pictures, all taken with "film" type cameras. So something to keep in mind.

While the use of gadgets can be a great benefit in the field, relying on them can be disastrous. Always try to know how to do something the "old fashioned" way too. These ways survived the tests of time for a reason. Use them.

I hope this weeks installment was useful, and please remember to share with everyone! Come back next week for more!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Issue #17 Setting Up A Grid On Site

When first arriving on the site of an investigation, the first thing one is going to want to consider is preserving the integrity of the site. One wrong move could destroy not only the evidence, but also the "in situ" positioning of objects that could help in determining what happened. For this reason a grid system is used, not only to protect the site of the investigation, but also to accurately map out where every piece of evidence was procured. Once a site has been dug, it is impossible to return it to the way it was before!

Through the use of a rectangular, or Cartesian Coordinate system we are able to preserve the site on paper and accurately record all the relative data. Another benefit of doing this is that future researchers can return at a later date and better visualize details from the notes taken at the time. Any evidence collected is much more reliable when every step of it's collection process is accurately recorded, the more stringently the better.

The first thing to consider is the scale that you need to use...obviously if you have a three hundred square foot area to investigate, you don't want to set up a one foot by one foot grid system on the ground. It would be much more practical in this instance to set up a grid system whereby one inch on paper equals ten feet on the ground. This is the scale model that we will use for this example. 

Some people like to use graph paper to map out their grid, which is absolutely fine, but I myself prefer to use engineering paper because not only does it have the grids already printed, it also has sub-grids which makes it a lot easier to mark the exact placement of artifacts that are recovered within the specific grid area. Since most UFO investigations are not archeological digs, the elements of different "levels" to the dig are not applicable here, but if you were doing any type of large area excavation, you would also need to figure in another axis to your grid, and it would then become a three dimensional grid. For the sake of simplicity here, we will be sticking to a two dimensional model.

After deciding your scale, you will want to set your first site datum point by picking an arbitrary location to place a stake, and then designate that point as (0,0) both on your diagram on paper, and with tape or marker on your stake. At this point I personally like to use both my compass, and my Theodolite App to get my grid aligned to a North-South axis. Then I get my bright orange waxed string out and tie it to the stake at (0,0), attach my tape measure to the stake, then walk South the desired distance of the size grid being used, and place another stake so that it is both the correct distance, and the string is aligned perfectly with the North-South axis. This stake should be numbered in the same manner, using (0,?) and whatever unit you are using in your grid. For our example we'll go with ten, so it would look like (0,10).

Next return to datum point (0,0) and repeat the process, except in the easterly direction, and the end datum point for that line will be (10,0). I also like to check that line with a square for accuracy. Once this outside framework is established, it is a simple matter to measure out the rest of the grid by following each axis 1-9 with the orange waxed string and placing a stake with a marker in each grid corner that gives each point a unique name...such as (3,7). With that coordinate location a person can later come back to the diagram and know the exact location being referenced. Once the grid is in place, any artifacts found that were visible on the surface can be collected, and their locations recorded on the grid.

There are many different types of grids, with many applications. There are spiral grids, three dimensional grids, circular grids, and certainly some I don't know about (I'd be surprised if there wasn't!), and many different ways to graph your grid as well, especially if you are any good at 3D modeling. Hopefully this will give you a head-start on learning how to set one up without having to take a refresher course in geometry!

Please come back next week for the next installment, and don't forget to share with all of your friends and click follow if you haven't yet!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Issue #16 The Secret Space Program/Breakaway Civilization Conference

In this issue I will attempt to cover as best as possible the Secret Space Program/Breakaway Civilization Conference, that took place in San Mateo, CA over the weekend. I say attempt, because this is a blog, not a 800 lb. book. That would only be Volume 1 anyway. So here goes, with the best short version I can give you.

Before I start, I want to say a special thanks to one of the speakers, and a very good personal friend, Mr. Robert Morningstar...your kind words about me at the conference were more than any friend could ever ask! So, without further ado...

The conference opened right on time at 8:45 with the M.C., Mr. Henrik Palmgren of Red Ice Radio fame at the helm. His insightful questions throughout both days really helped to connect the dots between all the different speakers presentations. It was really an honor to meet him!

Henrik Palmgren

The first speaker to start off the conference was Mr. Mark McCandlish, an accomplished aerospace illustrator who gave a dynamic presentation on Alien Reproduction Vehicles and Zero Point Energy.

Mark McCandlish

Mark McCandlish was followed by Mr. Michael Schratt, who I'm sure many of you know from MUFON's hit show on The History Channel, Hangar 1. Michael's presentation had some fantastic graphics to go along with it, and anyone wishing to see most of the conference via my photos, can see them on my Facebook page. His presentation covered not just some of the amazing aircraft our military is using, but also ARV (Alien Reproduction Vehicles), and UFOs!

Michael Schratt

As great as that was, the event kicked up another notch with Mr. Joseph P. Farrell after the lunch break. For anyone who is a fan of Joseph, and I think there might be one or two, his presentation was delivered with all the style and panache that one can expect from him every time! It is truly amazing to be able to listen to him as he ties his information together in a way that everyone can follow and understand. One of the great researchers, his presentation left everyone looking forward to his upcoming presentation the next day.

Joseph P. Farrell

Next up was Mr. Robert Morningstar, with his presentation "Who's Minding The Moon", which although he experienced some technical issues, was still full of incredible information, and startling photos! The picture of the "Tower", 365.78 miles away from the moon rover, leaves one stunned with the sheer size and magnitude of such an object!

Robert Morningstar

After Robert's presentation, the video "Zero Point" was played for the audience to a warm reception. I highly recommend that everyone see this movie when it becomes available!

After the dinner break the conference resumed with the "Round Table", which for the first night consisted of: Joseph P. Farrell, Mark McCandlish, Steve Bassett...WHOOPS! Did I just say Steve Bassett? That's right! What a treat it was to have him there to talk briefly, and answer questions during Q & A. But the panel would not have been complete without the addition of Henrik Palmgren, Michael Schratt, and Robert Morningstar! The interaction between such an insightful group was fantastic to witness! I could not stay for all of the Q & A session, but what I heard of it was great!

Steve Bassett

Round Table, Day One

Henrik started day two off with his usual energy and brilliance! He was a wonderful MC and his questions really helped tie everything together.

Day Two Opening With Henrik Palmgren

The first speaker was Mrs. Catherine Austin Fitts, who I must say impressed me as being WAY smarter than I could ever hope to be! That she could explain the financial web that is financing the breakaway civilization in a way that I could understand is just plain amazing.

Catherine Austin Fitts

After Catherine's revealing presentation, Mr. Jon Rappoport was up to discuss what we all can do to bring attention to all the aspects that we discussed during the conference. His delivery is such that I wasn't sure if we were listening to a really good stand-up comedian, or someone with some next-level information who was trying to impart it in a manner that wouldn't cause us all to run for cover. Which really when you think about how badly each and every one of us is getting screwed over this, nails it on the head. Thanks Jon, I know I shook your hand and told you what I thought then, but I got to say it again, great job!

Jon Rappoport

After lunch, we were all mesmerized by Richard Dolan's engaging presentation. If you don't think there is a chance that there is a secret space program going on, or a "breakaway" civilization being financed, then I suggest you get his latest book; "UFOs for the 21st Century Mind". That will get you up to date, and perhaps then you will understand better the scope of what is really going on. This is one of those "Foundation" books that I recommend to everyone.

Richard Dolan

After Richard, Joseph P. Farrell returned to follow up with another presentation that included his "Tower of Babel" theory, which I must say, I love! He was every bit as engaging and brilliant on day two, and in fact, when I got home I ordered two of his books just so I could catch up on his topics! I was fortunate enough to have time to talk to Joseph too about the SLO UFO should have seen his smile when he saw the photographs and the FOIA responses I have so far...golden moment! But I digress...

Joseph P. Farrell

Carol Rosin was the last speaker of the conference, and she delivered a powerful oratory on the importance of us keeping weapons out of space, which if you think about it just makes sense. For those not familiar, Mrs. Rosin used to work with Werner Von Braun, and was also an executive in the aerospace industry. Her thoughtful insights were a shining beacon to all of us there, and her petition to keep weapons out of space is something I will be posting on my Facebook page, and the MUFON Tri-County page(s).

Carol Rosin

The second nights "Round Table" consisted of: Richard Dolan, Joseph P. Farrell, Catherine Austin Fitts, Carol Rosin, Jon Rappoport, and Henrik Palmgren. The spirit of importance was imparted to all of us, to go out and educate everyone as to the reality...yes the reality, of what is going on, and how important it is that we all come together to work towards change.

Round Table Night Two

As all attendees to this year's conference agree, this was the best one in year's! As it was my first official conference, all I can say is that I can't wait for the next one, and now I am all fired up for Contact in the Desert in August!

 I hope you all enjoyed this weeks installment as much as I did! Don't forget to like, share, print, frame in gold, and whatever else it is you kids do these days...most importantly though; talk to each other. Open a line of communication with those around you. Don't be afraid to be that light in the dark. Change comes one person at a time. Be the change.