F i l m   &   c a m e r a   d e f e c t s 

Especially in the 1950ies, 60ies and 70ies, i.e. long before digital cameras became a commercial product, mysterious objects often showed up in photographs despite the fact that nothing out of the ordinary had been noticed when the shots were taken. When such an unidentified object has sharp edges or a shape that differs from the typical blurred image of a bird or insect flying passed a camera lens, the chances are high that we are dealing with a film defect.

There is indeed a lot that can go wrong with photographic film. Water drops, chemicals residues or particles of dust can attach themselves to the gelatine emulsion of a photographic film, causing specks or spots of different sizes and shapes (many photographic artefacts are due to insufficient agitation of the developing solution). Even in the manufacturing stage, air bells and all sorts of undesired substances can create UFO-like images when they get trapped between the emulsion layer and the film support.

Next to problems with dark room equipment, careless handling of the film can create ghostly effects as well (for instance when the film is manipulated with dirty fingers or got kinked or buckled during loading).

The chances of mistaking a film defect for a UFO are of course bigger when the unexpected images appear in the sky portion of a photograph.

Especially film defects in the shape of comets, rings, crescents, ovals and circles, either dark or bright coloured, have nourished the conviction of some ufologists that vehicles from another world can be captured on film and at the same time remain invisible to the naked eye.

With the arrival of the digital age in the 1990s, and with better material now available to photographers who prefer to stick to traditional techniques, film defects have become increasingly rare. However, photographic artefacts may also appear in images obtained with digital cameras. Bright lights for instance may show up as dark spots or may exhibit long, sharply defined lines running vertically through the lights.