The first installment in this series dealt with my brief association, in late 1974, with Dr. Richard A. Blasband, a well-known orgonomist, and how I came to be present at a demonstration by Blasband of the “cloud buster,” a device Reich invented originally to remove poisonous nuclear radiation from his Maine laboratory which later turned out to be a boffo weather control machine, capable of making it rain in the Arizona desert (or so Reich said)!
The second installment dealt with the actual circumstances of Blasband’s demonstration and technical details about how I photographed it on Kodak Infrared Ektachrome with Blasband’s top-end Topcon camera and wide-angle lens. What I did not report, at that time, but which I remember distinctly, is thinking I should take photographs with a large amount of sky in them, because if anything was going to appear, it would probably appear there. Given what was recorded on the slides, I find this premonition eerily prescient.
This final installment deals with unpacking the 35mm. slides, my analysis and that by some technical representatives from Eastman Kodak. It also exposes the dreadful fate that befell the original slides, and why we have to work from custom high-quality 4×5″ negatives.
On October 27, 1974 I wrote: We have some very, very interesting things on film!! On the day I photographed, we got some very strange things. On one shot of the orgonomists we have something like this:
Then, when Blasband was busting on Oct. 11 we got some really weird stuff. (The 36 exposure roll of infrared slides was unfinished when I was done shooting, having about 12 shots left on it, and the film being an expensive special order item, I gave the camera to Blasband to finish up the roll and turn it in to Kodak for processing. Why I don’t think he messed with the film will be explained later on.) I don’t know who was taking the photos – we got some strange, ring-like formations in the sky, like this:
We can see, very faintly on projections something like a dome – but the fuckers are transparent, except for the rim lights!! We’re fascinated. In one series a small brilliant red light appears on the ground to the W. when the ring is directly in the CB beam – ring disappears, dot back near CB – ring appears to W. of CB, dot under it!! Don’t think these are lens flares – they’re there on the shots at f16 but not at f5.6. Very odd…
On Thursday, November 28, 1974 I again met with Blasband at his laboratory outside Doylestown, Pa. He operated his cloud buster, and we took more Super 8 movies and 35mm. slides, but this time with a camera borrowed from my friend Bill Hayward and conventional Fujichrome 100 slide film, which I had observed was better at discriminating closely-matched neutral tones than Kodachrome or Ektachrome. There were no results out of the ordinary. The next day, Friday, November 29:
…Then I took the slides over to Kodak (field office) in Ft. Washington and showed them to a Technical Rep named Barry DuBois (that really was his name!). Fortunately he’s very interested in UFOs! – he has good eyes and saw all kind of things in them. He agreed that the strange objects are much too uniform to be defects in the film & lens flare, and suggested we contact one of the UFO organizations such as NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena), which I guess we’ll do – after I consult Blasband.
These are my last journal notes on the cloud busting demonstrations with Dr. Blasband and the resulting UAPs; I’m not sure the things I photographed are “objects” so much as phenomena. At this point we should look at scans of the original slides, but I have a sorry, stoned confession to make. After showing the slides to the Kodak tech-rep and friends, I tried a couple of times to have them copied with no success; the weird colors of the Infrared Ektachrome defeated the Kodak duplicating film, and the copy slides were either over- or under-exposed. So I put the slides away and didn’t mess much with them until I was running a B&W photo lab in Seattle in the early 1980s.
At that time I edited the slides and had a custom color lab we did business with make 4×5″ inch (10×12.5 cm.) color internegatives from them, including the complete area of the slide to the edges of the mount window. Color negatives offer a greater range of correction than trying to print from color slides, which is notoriously fickle, and the oversize negatives have virtually no grain and capture every bit of the slide’s resolution.
After that, the slides were again put away until the mid-1990s, when I was working as a reporter for a daily newspaper in Gallup, N.M. One assignment brought me in touch with some experienced UFO investigators from MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), and I asked them where I should send the slides to have them computer-scanned and professionally analyzed. “Send them to optical physicist Bruce Maccabee, he’s excellent and will take good care of the originals,” they said. “He really knows his shit.”
But for some reason I do not now recall, I didn’t follow this great advice. Instead, I somehow got Dr. Bruce Maccabee, Ph.D., mixed up with Village Labs’ Jim Dilletoso, a rather notorious person in the UFO community. Notorious for his flakiness and unreliability. And that’s exactly what happened to the slides.
After Dillettoso had received the slides, I didn’t hear from him, so I called. “These are remarkable!” he said. “There’s nothing like them in my database of over 10,000 images! I need more time to study them.”
And that was the last from Jim Dilletoso. The slides disappeared into the gaping maw of Village Labs, AND HAVE NEVER BEEN RETURNED! So much for Mr. Dilletoso; fortunately, we still have the internegatives to study. Let us turn to them. The 4×5″ internegatives were re-photographed with an iPhone camera, then inverted into positives in PhotoShop.
The first photo shows a general overview of the site, with the upper half sky. The cloud buster is out of frame. In the sky are 4 transparent “orbs,” and to the left, behind the power lines, is a bright curved line of light of unknown origin.
The white spots are dust on the internegative, except for the one immediately to the left of the curved line, which is part of the image. This raises two questions:
1) Are the orbs due to lens flare from glare on the chrome of the car, just below the trees on the left side? No. Lens flare due to light sources in the picture is always transposed to the opposite side of the image and inverted; thus, if the orbs were from the glare on the car, they would appear at the extreme right of the image, slightly above the centerline.
2) Is the curved line of light an artifact? No. The Kodak reps checked the surface of the slide, and the curved line is not a scratch in the emulsion or any other kind of defect. It was in the scene, recorded by the Ektachrome Infrared film, but otherwise invisible to the eye at the time.
The second image shows the cloud buster itself, no humans present in the photo, with details of its construction revealed. In the sky there is another invisible phenomenon.
The close-up shows another curved line in the sky, with a lighter patch apparently emanating from it, expanding in a downward direction. I have no idea what the fuck this is, but it was in the original scene, invisible to the eye and is not an artifact of any type. Everything else in the sky, that is, black lines or white spots, is dirt or dust. Sorry about that.
The third image, somewhat under-exposed, shows the farm structures and a house near the location of the cloud buster. Dr. Blasband rotated the tubes approximately 90º left, and began “drawing” (the orgonomists’ word for what a cloud buster does) from the west. The dark circular area is an artifact of the copy process, but in there we can see something that is recorded on the film:
It’s that odd swatch of light again! What is it doing there, and more fundamentally, WHAT THE HELL IS IT? A close examination shows there is also a faint black line on the lower side of the wider white line. We will explore the possibility that the photos were faked in one way or another shortly.
The final photo shows the gathered orgonomists near the cloud buster.
Note the very odd globular light forms in the sky. They resemble “orbs,” in that they are both luminous and transparent, but anyone can create beautiful orbs with a spray bottle and a cheap camera – cheap, because they have the flash close to the lens, and that’s what’s needed to create the phenomenon best known by its SCUBA divers’ name: BACKSCATTER.
Above, this was created with a $50 digital camera and a spray bottle. Just blow some spray into the air in front of the lens and take a picture, and oh, make sure the flash fires, because it’s the reflected light from the flash that makes the suspended droplets appear luminescent. I’ve diagnosed a couple of “paranormal” photos of orbs that have been taken this way – the same thing can happen with raindrops, dew, drifting mist, an insect or any other reflective object in front of the lens – and the photographers always seem to hate me, for some reason, when I tell them their orbs aren’t the ghost of Aunt Laurie, or visitors from the Pleiades. I really don’t understand it. Don’t people want to know what they’ve photographed?
But back to cloud buster photo #4. There was, of course, no mammoth spray bottle to provide droplets, and no flash on the camera, although the sun, coming from behind the photographer, will do the same job. The shadows of the orgonomists show this to be the case, the sun is directly behind me. There are 4 orbs, and they appear to be in the shape of a triangle, with the fourth orb located on an imaginary straight line between two points of the triangle. Of course, please note that ANY 3 POINTS not in a straight line will be automatically categorized by the human mind as a triangle, be it obtuse, acute or right angle.
The last photo is a detail of #4 showing the orbs with greater clarity. (The tiny white spots are, alas, dust.) The triangle at first appears to be a right angle, with the bottom almost parallel to the ground below. The two orbs denoting the ends of the hypotenuse are of approximately similar size and color, while the two other, smaller orbs have a bluish cast. If you draw all the lines from orb to orb, this displays ALL the triangles: obtuse (the lower three orbs), acute (the upper three orbs) and right angle (the overall figure)!
The orbs don’t appear to be reflections from specular highlights in the scene, like the bright chrome on the car; they’re not the right shape or in the right position.
This invisible figure is just utterly weird. I have no idea what is causing the orbs or arranging them in this peculiar fashion, and although I am no statistician I can tell you the odds against this happening by random chance, and my photographing it without being able to see it, are millions to one.
Which raises a question: Were these photos faked? Short answer: I think not, for several reasons. As I remember it, I shot about 24 pictures on the 36-exposure roll. At this point I could either have rewound the film and developed it, in which case the last 12 pictures would have been wasted (Kodak returned them as unmounted, short black strips of film), or I could leave the camera with Dr. Blasband, let him finish the roll shooting something else and have the film developed. I opted for the latter, because, well, I’m cheap, and the thought of throwing away 1/3 of a roll of special-order Kodak slide film didn’t appeal to me. So Dr. Blasband had the loaded camera for about a week before he finished the film and sent it to Kodak for developing.
During that time, the possibility exists that Blasband did something to the film to create these images, but although I acknowledge that, I think the odds are vanishingly small. Let me explain. The typical way to produce these images, which are lights against a darker background, is by double-exposure. This involves either shooting the two overlapping exposures in quick succession or rewinding the film and running it through the camera a second time to add the supplemental exposures afterward. The Beseler Topcon Super D camera we used had no provision for making intentional double exposures; indeed, there was a wind/shutter interlock against it! It wasn’t until later that professional-grades cameras began to incorporate this feature for special effects photography.
The other method, rewinding the film, requires that you line up the film while loading it accurately both times; usually you mark the 35mm. film leader with a Sharpie, and line this up with some part of the camera, so that both exposures overlap on the same frame line. Then you close the camera and wind to the first frame where you want to add a lighter object and photograph it against a black background, being careful to place it where you want to appear in the final photo. Since the film is slides, the original film is developed to produce the final image, and there is no printing process involving negatives to manipulate the image, add or remove things from it. Slide film is the original WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)! Since I’d never marked the film the first time I loaded it, Blasband would have no reference point to re-load it, and his second batch of double-exposed images might not have lined-up with the first, which I shot. It would be one hell of a crap shoot to get them right!
Finally, although Dr. Blasband owned a couple of expensive cameras, he was basically a photographic novice and didn’t possess either the technical skills or the imagination to create these vague images. And why on Earth would anyone who was going to go to perpetuate a UFO fraud make such a poor, insubstantial one? I’d have gone out of my way to make it much more impressive than this stuff!
Dr. Blasband shot the rest of the roll taking pictures of random things around his property, and I think his wife took a few of him. Of course, the infrared film does nothing for his complexion. And Jim Dilletoso, damn his fucking ass, still has the original slides.
What conclusions can be drawn from these four images? We will not speculate, but deal strictly with the evidence, what was recorded on the film.
- Four exposures (1/9) of the Ektachrome Infrared film revealed strange aerial optical phenomena, luminous in the IR range but invisible to the eye.
- Are these phenomena connected to the demonstration of the cloud buster? There just isn’t enough information to say either way, and we don’t have a big enough sample to know if these phenomena occur when the cloud buster isn’t operating. It is tempting to connect the two events, the CB demonstration and the appearance of the luminous phenomena, but we can’t do it with any certainty.
- The luminous phenomena don’t appear to be artifacts, film defects or processing errors, such as scratches of the emulsion on the film. They don’t appear to be any type of lens flare or other optical artifacts that I know of. The Kodak tech rep Barry Dubois (remember that name?) confirmed this.
- The luminous phenomena all appear in the sky. Three of them are similar, a small curved white line of light, while the fourth is a meta-triangle made of orbs, which should not, under these conditions, be recorded.
- The curved white line of light moves around from picture to picture; it is apparently something out in the environment. One of the photos shows what appears to be a hazy cone of light extending earthward from the line of light.
- It’s unlikely, due to Dr. Blasband’s lack of technical expertise and the characteristics of the camera used, that the optical phenomena recorded are the result of deliberate deception, lens artifacts or special effects.
- The event appears to be a singularity. It would be interesting to repeat this photographic experiment at other cloud busting demonstrations and see if anything is recorded; modern digital cameras and camcorders can be modified to record IR and/or UV light.
I have no fucking idea what is going on here. If you do, please write it down on a scrap of paper, enclose with $20 in Bitcoin and mail it to me at the Coyote Enrichment Foundation, Easy Street, Port Charlotte FL 33***. Unfortunately it won’t be tax deductible, but I will ask my private daemon, a python, to give you a hug.
Doubtless if anybody into Reich’s “orgone energy” shit reads this stuff, they’ll be pissed that I’m skeptical and report that this all reinforces Reich’s work. As I pointed out above, we simply don’t have a large enough sample to make this conclusion with any certainty. If we had photographed 100 cloud busting demonstrations, and these luminous phenomena showed up in a statistically significant portion of them, we might be able to conclude that they do tend to appear more often at CB demonstrations than not, but we STILL would not have established any cause and effect, let alone established any proof of Reich’s outlandish claims.
The film project with Dr. Blasband fell apart when I submitted a demo film that was misfortunately lacking a soundtrack to a competition for funding. I began moving away from everything having to do with orgone energy and Reich’s work as I got a better, adult understanding of what science is: a laborious, methodical process of failing to prove something wrong. Only then can we assume it is correct, until a better model comes along and pushes it aside. Reich, as anyone familiar with his career knows, hopped from one field of science to another like a frog in a pond full of lily pads, never staying with any one long enough to master it and disrespecting the accepted masters when they failed to agree with him. I went back to Florida and lost contact with Blasband, who passed away some years ago. I don’t know what happened to his cloud buster.
The odd photos I recorded at that event on windy day outside Doylestown remain a mystery, like many other things in my life. I refuse to speculate on what they might be, where they come from or if they have any intentions, and I am reconciled to the fact that I’ll never know much more about them than I do now. These photos, however, do bear mute witness to the fact that they were there, and so was I.