By James Neff

Note: Reload this page for updates you might be missing
due to browser caching!

We have a real problem. Lately, anything that streaks across a digital camera lens or video cam is being hailed as a flying saucer or UFO photo. These blurry, distorted images are not flying saucers, space craft, black ops aerial phenomena, motherships or scout craft. They are, in fact, bugs and birds which are passing quickly by the video camera within the range of focal inability I like to call the BLURFO ZONE. Just about anything zipping through this zone (ie, close to the camera when it is set on infinity focus or zoomed to focus on distant objects) is transformed into blips, blobs, disc-shaped smears and streaks. The tiniest of insects will appear to be a massive, dark object leaving quite a tracer (lingering smeared elements of itself on the tape) when in freeze frame. And therein lies the rub -- freeze frames! Freeze frame on the video tape is not the same as a frame of film. The illustrations below will hopefully help people wrap their skulls around this distortion problem and end once and for all the cavalcade of BLURFOs.

Examples Of BLURFOs

This is a composite of 8 freeze frames from a video purporting to show a UFO in flight.
Rather than it being a large, distant object, this is actually very likely a bug or very
small bird passing through the BLURFO zone. The video camera is unable to render
an accurate image -- it cannot focus on the object, and its shutter speed does not allow for
it to capture greater data which 'might' result in a cleaner freeze frame (though not often).
This composite is a good example because it shows multiple freeze frames of the
same bug or bird, with all the aforementioned distortion effects that take place in
the BLURFO zone. One need only look at the power lines to see just what level
of NATURAL, STANDING distortion exists in the freeze frame. Within the
BLURFO range, ghosting and double-images are not uncommon either,
especially for fast moving objects.


Here is another recent but classic example. What is being recorded is a
swatch of time on tape of a small, quickly moving object close to the camera.
The freeze frame is literally showing you a streak which represents microseconds
of time in which the digital conversion interpreted, without benefit of focus,
the movement of a small bug or bird passing through the BLURFO zone.


One very dishonest proliferator of BLURFO shots sent us a series of images. We asked to see the video itself, not relying on the selected freeze frames provided. The freeze frames were, indeed, interesting. They showed what appeared to be a bright disc shaped object with a shadow underside and a strong glint of reflected sunlight on the top. Several freeze frames showed it moving near some light clouds. When the video arrived, we expected to see the same UFO we saw in the freeze frames. But here's what we saw. The camera shooting a jet passing across the sky. Suddenly, the camera man zoomed in beyond his camera's ability to focus and distorted the distinct, distant jet into a large, glowing disc-shaped UFO. The camera then reversed zoom and the image revealed it to be a jet again. The freeze frames we were given were only of the over-zoom, blurred moments. When asked about this discrepancy, we were told that we must be blind, it was clearly a UFO "transforming" itself into a jet in order to escape detection!!!

It doesn't get any more ridiculous than that, folks.

The BLURFO Trouble With 'Orbs'

Similarly, we have the same problem with photos of "orbs," especially from digital cameras. In the images below an experiment was conducted. White flour was placed on my right index finger. With a typical Olympus digital camera with flash, I took a series of rapid-fire photos while simultaneously blowing the flour from my finger out into the field of view.

All of the specks of flour which fall in the BLURFO zone became classic "orbs." Distorted, over-blown, seemingly large, detailed, colorful spheres with the common Orb inner-ring signature. All specks of flour falling outside the BLURFO zone, where the camera could manage to focus, looks just like specks of flour. As they retreat further from the camera into darkness, they become less and less visible. The BLURFO zone "orbs" are clearly distortions produced by a combination of the flash (which over-illuminates the flecks of flour) and the inability of the camera to focus on them in the BLURFO zone.
Comment on Orbs
From Bruce Maccabbe

Saw the recent article by Neff on BLURFOs and orbs. You might consider adding the following link to my research on "flash orbs". I have recently received emails from people claiming that such orbs are creatures from another dimension, etc. They claim to see faces in the orbs.
Anyway, I have provided a lot of scientific data on flash orbs that support's Neff's work.

From James Bunnell
Dear James Neff,
Thanks so much for your article on BLURFOs. You served a real need by providing your factual based and clearly written summary. I encounter BLURFOs all the time in my research into luminous phenomena because I employ outdoor surveillance cameras and they get a lot of bird and bug traffic through the BLUR zone. It is most noticeable around sunset and sunrise. Both time frames are busy ones for our small wing borne friends. However, I have not experienced any difficulty in sorting these out maybe because I spend so much time looking at surveillance data. BLURFOs are completely unrelated to the luminous phenomena I seek to record.
Best wishes,
Hi James:
I realized after sending the message that I had failed to include my website address so I sent it in a separate communication which you have probably received by now. As part of this response I am pasting in below a copy of a message on the same subject that I sent to a friend. I'm including it because of my discussion of another BLURFO category, rain droplets, that you might find to be of minor interest.
Keep up the good work.
Copied message follows:
Hi Lael:
Thanks a bunch. I certainly did. In fact I sent James Neff a short note thanking him for his good work. I get bird and bug BLURFOs all the time with my surveillance cameras. They are most frequent around sunset and sunrise. In my case these are easy to recognize for what they are probably because I spend so much time looking at surveillance data. The only time I was ever temporarily faked out by such phenomena was early in my research using a 35mm film camera. When I developed the film it had amazing spheres in many of the frames. Took me quite a few minutes to deduce what was going on. The spheres were caused by mist. The droplets were so small and infrequent that I had not paid any attention to them at the time. But whenever they fell close to the camera with the shutter open, they were out of focus and produced expanded images that looked like big bubbles or spheres floating around the View Center. They made striking photographs but naturally they did not end up in my book.
A chap I communicated with for a while that lives in the UK was forever turning up BLURFOs that he believe to be UFOs that were monitoring him. He had a pretty well developed paranoia and used his digital photographs to feed the illness. It never did any good for me to suggest that they were bugs and birds too close to focus because that is not what he wanted to hear.
Thanks, Jim - Neff
From JD Scarpellini
Mr. Neff:
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your article "BLURFOS" This is a subject that drives me crazy! 99.9% (or more) people using a camera have no idea what it can capture or how it does it the unfortunate result being a whole lot of "I didn't see it, but the camera doesn't lie" tales.
Best wishes
JD Scarpellini


From A. Hebert
Hi, James:
Loved your article on "BLURFO's". Good work!
I've been trying to tell people this for the last 4-5 years. I set up the IFO Database ( in 2001 to try and show people what I was talking about. I am setting up a new IFO Database on my new web site, Reality Check, that focuses more on digital photography and IFO's but also includes video's, 35mm photographs, etc.
Problem is, I've discovered, the desire to believe every spot, blob or streak is a UFO is hard to fight. People resist new concepts especially when it conflicts with their belief systems.
There are real UFO's out there but it's becoming harder to find them due to the proliferation of IFO images tauted as UFO's in books, magazines, on TV, in UFO videos and on the internet.
For many people, the need to find UFO's has become more important than the need to find the truth.
A. Hebert

This is my position exactly. We -- those who already know UFOs exist -- should be at the forefront of skeptical inquiry and weeding out those elements which only serve in the end to bring reproach and confusion upon serious UFOlogy. We need to be self-examining, not being guided by beliefs, but by evidence and facts. If those involved in serious UFO research operate with due diligence in removing from the cornucopia of evidences those things which have a plausible or natural explanation, rather than coveting every "blob and blip" as though quantity is more important than quality, we manage to keep debunkers of UFOs at a distance. We need to "deal within our own ranks" as they say. If we do this, we wind up with only the best, the creme de la creme of UFO evidences, to which the debunkers have no voice, and the UFO community can be viewed seriously by those who have yet to become educated on the reality of UFOs - Neff
Rebuttal From George Filer
Dear James and Jeff:
Regarding your article about George Ritter's images of Unidentified Flying Objects, I would like to point out some relevant facts.
I drove from New Jersey to Ohio to meet and investigate George Ritter's images you refer to in your article. I believe he is honest and forthright in his attempts to obtain video of Unidentified Flying Objects and regularly captures remarkable images. George Ritter places his camera on a tripod in his backyard and shoots video for several hours. I was present while he videotaped some remarkable images of UFOs. I did not see the UFOs captured on the video since they appear to move at very high speeds of over a thousand miles per hour. This was determined by measuring their progression from frame to frame and the distance covered above the farm.
The camcorder used is normally an RCA VHS video camera Model cc 4251. While video taping UFOs the camera also video tapes birds, bees and other insects. These were easily seen and were recorded  The stills of these objects are provided for your comparison. The camera automatically changes focus on the object in the center of the video screen almost instantly. On wide angle position the camera focuses from inch from the lens to infinity. The camera is capable of taking images at very close range as is apparent by the image of the bird that is only a few feet away from the lens.
Even closer is a bee flying a few inches from lens.
We believe the Unidentified Flying Objects that appear over the farm at a distance of approximately 265 yards or more are genuine UFOs. George Ritter has always been open to have qualified experts attempt to repeat his results with high speed film.
Our goal is to promote research on UFOs and to discover the true nature of the phenomenon, to educate the public, and to make breakthroughs that could improve the life on our planet.
Thank you again,
George Filer

Hi George!
Thank you for submitting this material in defense of the images produced by Mr. Ritter along with your personal information and detailed involvement first hand in his case. My question now naturally would be, what are the differences between the images you've submitted and the ones we commonly see from Mr. Ritter (and others). There's no doubt, most video cams can focus close up. Some have exceptional auto-focus and can zoom-to-focus if a large enough object is detected close by (if set to do so). I notice in the image of the passing bee (or is that a locust? Cicada?) that the background is distinctly blurry. This shows that the video cam shifted focus or was set for close up focus. We don't see that kind of background in the pictures of 'UFOs' (BLURFOs in my view) above. Additionally, the objects passing which become BLURFOs may be moving much faster and be farther from the lens. If his camera is capable of something close to dual focus, which it looks like it is judging from the bird shot, then our question has to be centered on the camera settings for focus during the 'BLURFO' shots.
Naturally, my skeptical mind wants to know if the bee hovered a bit, or approached at enough of an angle allowing the camera a chance to detect it, and focus on it (and, in turn, render the background blurry). Questions, questions, questions! When you note that the UFOs you saw on the video were moving at thousands of miles and hour, judging from their frame by frame advance, one can also suggest that the same effect -- or rather illusion -- would be caused by a small, fast moving object close to the camera, rather than a large, distant object. Because I think we're really talking about a camera issue in the end.
Perhaps in the future we can see some established tests and experiments from Mr. Ritter. One I'd like to see if for George to hang a large white sheet in the area where he usually shoots (toward that silo) at roughly 100 feet from the camera, and instead of aiming the camera at the sky, aim it at the sheet with whatever his traditional focal setting is for UFO shots. My guess is very fast moving bugs and small birds that fall somewhere in that non-focal range or which move by too quickly for the cam to re-adjust focus, will make an appearance like tiny UFOs in his other shots... streaks, blurred balls and discs, etc. The fact that these objects are not being seen by a witness, but only produced through a freeze frame process is what demands further experimentation.

Please feel free to submit any other material to this issue -- Mr. Ritter also has that open invitation, of course. Let's keep the lines of communication open. We have a lot to learn on ths one!

Side note: To Mr. Ritter's credit, I must say that he has captured on video one of the most strikingly marvelous and rare images of ball lightning I've ever seen. His diligence in continually shooting the skies around his home is bound to turn up something given time. - Neff
George Ritter Submits Images As His Rebuttal. Click Here
From Bruce Cornet
Dear George,
How did you take these pictures? What type of equipment/camera did you use? When were the pictures take? And where is the location of these shots, and direction of the craft?
These are all important pieces of information needed in order to evaluate your work.
Impressive if you can consistently duplicate your results. My only question is why are these objects seemingly flying over the same farm in the same direction? Did you track where they were going? Some seem to be on a landing approach, while others seem to be taking off.
Have you taken any college level courses in science?
Yours truly,
Bruce Cornet, Ph.D.
Prof. Geology and Botany
Raritan Valley Community College
Somerville, NJ 08876
From Frank Warren
Kudos to you on the fine work you did in the article titled "BLURFOS Are Not UFO'S" and the illustrations provided therein. As modern technologies advance, and become more personable as well as affordable, (e.g., digital cameras, etc.) providing "visual evidence" of UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) will, and has become more widespread. Obviously, the argument against UAP becomes "less static" when there is "supportive visual evidence" to such events.
All that said, as with any increased use with a relatively new technology it's not surprising, if not expected, that there will be a "new learning curve" to said technologies--your article in my view is certainly evidence of that; speaking of evidence, it's important to note, that with any UAP investigation, "photographic evidence," and in this instance, such that is "captured digitally" is only "part of evidentiary picture." (No pun intended). "Digital photographic evidence" becomes more substantial when there is "corroborating evidence" in support thereof. In fact, it could be argued, that "lack of supporting evidence" is "evidence itself" that the "digital photographic evidence" might be imperfect. (E.g., no eye witnesses to an event, when one or more witnesses were present).
As you have shown in you article, as well as other researchers, that "digital photography" or rather "our perception" of what is captured digitally, can be completely the opposite of what we believe them to be, it becomes paramount that time be taken to "eliminate" all possibilities of what an object might be, that is captured digitally, particularly when there is no corroborating evidence.
In the end a "digital camera" is a tool that "captures data" and as you so ardently pointed out "that data" has a wide ranging interpretation of origin, therefore; the importance lies within the "procedure of the analysis" of the data. Without "supporting evidence" and unless all "known objects" can be eliminated, in regards to a UAP investigation, the virtue of the "digital photograph" is moot.
With Warmest Regards,
Frank Warren
Another possible example of a BLURFO. Right after 911 there were quite a number of video tapes believed by many to have captured UFOs around the towers at the time of their destruction, though most appeared to have a more earthly explanation - distant helicopters,
classic BLURFO bugs, even ash swept across the field of view and freeze framed in highly distorted fashion.



This Site Served by TheHostPros