Investigation and Analysis of MW’s UFO Photos Taken in the Summer of 2015

Author and Investigator: Keith Rowell, ASD and Photo/Video Analyst for Oregon MUFON
Date: August 31, 2016
Version: 1.1

FI ID#: 7186
CASE Number: None.
BGE Results: None.
Location: SE Portland, OR.
Sighting Date and Time: 7/27/15 at 8:50 PM.
Disposition: Unknown - Other.
Case Status: Completed.

Investigation Log

4/12/16. First met MW at an Oregon MUFON meeting.
June or July. MW mentions the 7/27/15 incident and at least one other in 2015.
8/15/16. MW is at my place and gives me copies of her 39 photos taken on 7/27/15.
8/18/16. Begin this report.
8/20/16. MW at my place to discuss her photos some more and we take some test photos.


I first met MW at the April 2016 OM meeting. She’s a 23 year old college student. Since that time I’ve talked to MW probably more than twenty hours during which she has related much of her childhood and young adult experiences that may be related to UFOs and possible abduction/deep experiencer events.

Weather Information

The temperature in Portland on 7/27/15 at 8:50 PM was 70º with winds out of the north at 8.1 mph. It was partly cloudy trending to clear.


SE Portland. Location is not important in this case except for the fact that oddball light displays produced by hobbyist UAVs need to be considered. But the photos in this case are not consistent with photography produced from hobbyist UAVs at night.


Note that MW may be a UFO abductee/deep experiencer and as such may have a psychic connection with the phenomenon. Because of this, she may see UFOs more than other people. This instance of photo-taking may be one of those times.

MW came home to the house she was living in at the time from grocery shopping with her roommate, BC. She had told him earlier that she had seen UFOs occasionally in her lifetime and that she had a feeling that she would see a UFO shortly after arriving home from the grocery shopping that they had just done.

As they drove up to their house, MW pointed out the fairly prominent, lighted “something” in the late evening sky. She felt it was a UFO. BC acknowledged the OOI (Object of Interest) as something a bit odd, but he wasn’t as fascinated by the scintillating, star-like object hanging in the sky as she was. It seemed pretty far away and was about 30º to 40º above the horizon in the southeast in their residential neighborhood.

They went inside to put away their groceries and then MW came back outside with her camera but without BC. (MW is a bit of a photography buff and knows her way reasonably around her DSLR, a NIKON D7000.) MW knew that she needed to brace herself against something to steady the inevitable camera shake during slow shutter speed conditions.

She braced herself against the top of her car and began taking photos at somewhat random intervals. She ended up taking 39 total photos – 38 of them within about six minutes and a last one that same night about two hours later. Oddly, the last photo does not show the OOI. Her memory of the rest of the evening is hazy and incomplete. See Analysis of the Photo Evidence later.

Objection Description

The OOI in this case is to the naked eye a star-like or planet-sized, bright, prominent object in the evening sky. The OOI seemed to shimmer/vibrate/pulsate in a way unlike the twinkling of stars or the steady appearance of planets. It stayed more or less in one very small region of the sky and hung around for a while. The photos MW gave me for analysis document a time of six minutes, but she says the OOI was around for much longer, perhaps as much as half an hour.


About three informal interviews (discussions) of the basic story and MW’s photo evidence at my place mostly.

Natural/Human-made Phenomena

An OOI explanation for this case might be a star, planet, satellite, meteor, or a hobbyist UAV. These are eliminated for the following reasons.

  • Stars. Stars do twinkle to the eye in rainbow type colors, but to a consumer grade camera, such as the Nikon D7000 used here with shutter speeds of around 0.5 to 0.75 seconds, the twinkling is not evident. Stars appear as a solid whitish blob of pixels, which may be roundis if the camera is reasonably steady. MW states that she steadied the camera and herself as best she could by leaning against a car, yet her photos show elaborate looping in a very tight and compact display.

  • Planets. Planets appear as solid, very tiny discs of usually white light, but sometimes, in the case of Mars, reddish, if it is particularly near Earth. To a D7000 at 0.5 to 0.75 seconds shutter speed, planets appear as a whitish, smeared blob of pixels if the camera shake problem is not controlled by using a tripod or by very good bracing against some stationary object like a wall, tree, car, etc.

  • Satellites. These are generally too faint to be picked up by a D7000 under normal shooting conditions as we have here according to the EXIF data. And they show up like planets if they do at all.

  • Meteors. Meteors are eliminated since we have this OOI documented for a duration of at least six minutes. This is far too long for meteors since they approach at 25,000 to 160,000 mph and are typically burned up in seconds.

  • Hobbyist UAV. A UAV is eliminated because the looping, multicolored displays are not similar at all to what various, LED-festooned UAVs can produce during the relatively short shutter speed of around 1/2 a second. The many colors are not completely out of the question, but the looping display that shows up in the photos is much too complex for typical UAV LED displays.

None of these OOI identification candidates are close enough to be a reasonable identification for this OOI.


See the Analysis of the Photo Evidence heading later.

Witness Credibility

Since April 2016, I have talked at least ten hours with MW to understand her life story and her UFO connection. She is a very active explorer of this part of her background at this time. Having me take a look at these photos is another part of that exploration. I have no doubt that MW is telling me her story as best she understands it at this time. Her testimony about how these photos were taken along with the entire context is entirely truthful, I believe.

Correlating Cases

No check conducted.

Analysis of the Photo Evidence

Author: Keith Rowell, Photo/Video Analyst for Oregon MUFON
Date: August 18, 2016, through September 2, 2016. Version 1.1

Photo Characteristics

MW gave me 39 photos consecutively numbered from DSC_1390 to DSC_1436 taken by her Nikon D7000 DSLR camera on the date of the event. These proved to be of various quality for analysis. Many of the photos were out of focus due to the difficult night time shooting conditions – a tiny object in essentially a featureless dark field.

It is quite possible to adjust the pattern of focus points in DSLR camera settings, but most users are not that interested or sophisticated enough to use this feature. Essentially, in the focus pattern settings, you need to turn off all the potential focus points except the one in the very middle of the field of view. With this one focus point active, you make sure to carefully target the OOI and then press the shutter button. Then the OOI should be in focus for every shot in which this is accomplished. The alternative for well-focussed photos of an OOI is to use manual focussing.

The time stamps of the first and second to last photos (20:49:03 to 20:55:04) document that the OOI was present for a duration of at least 00:06:01, or six minutes and one second. The ten photos chosen for analysis span a time of 00:01:06, or one minute and six seconds at the very beginning of the entire sequence of the photos.

I decided to narrow this analysis to the first ten photos because all of them seemed to be near-focussed to well-focussed. Here’s a table of relevant photo data.

##    Photo       Date     Time   Exp  FN  FL CR   X   Y  Area Colors
## 1   1390 2015-07-27 20:49:03 0.769 5.6 202 36  79 112  8848      7
## 2   1391 2015-07-27 20:49:05 0.769 5.6 202 32 100  76  7600      5
## 3   1392 2015-07-27 20:49:06 0.769 5.6 202 33  87  62  5394      6
## 4   1393 2015-07-27 20:49:07 0.769 5.6 202 25 113 115 12995      6
## 5   1394 2015-07-27 20:49:28 0.400 5.6 202 22  49  57  2793      5
## 6   1395 2015-07-27 20:49:29 0.769 5.6 202 42  62 165 10230      5
## 7   1396 2015-07-27 20:49:33 0.769 5.6 135 20  40  32  1280      4
## 8   1397 2015-07-27 20:49:36 0.769 5.6 135 23  42  56  2352      6
## 9   1398 2015-07-27 20:50:04 0.769 5.6 135 19  43  73  3139      3
## 10  1399 2015-07-27 20:50:06 0.769 5.6 135 17  46  75  3450      5

The table shows the following:

  • Photo Number. The number automatically assigned by the Nikon D7000, for example, DSC1390.

  • Date. The date the photo was taken. All the dates are the same.

  • Time. The time the photo was taken in 24 hour format. All these photos were taken in about one minute’s time.

  • Exp. The shutter speed. Most of the photos were taken at about 3/4 of a second.

  • FN. The f-stop number. All the same here because the D7000 was probably setting the camera at maximum exposure consistent with the shutter speed and ISO setting. Variable (zoom) lenses close down to a minimum wide open aperture as the lens is zoomed toward the telephoto end. This is typical of cheaper zoom lenses by all makers. So, f5.6 is as wide open as MW’s Nikon lens gets at 200 mm. (Her lens is the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED.)

  • FL. The focal length of the zoom lens in 35 mm equivalent. It was at the maximum length because this would be natural for a photographer who wants to maximize the size of the interesting and typically(!) small OOIs that people see and want to “get some evidence of”! Note that MW zoomed out a little toward the end of the ten photos, probably to get more context for the OOI, for example, the tree branches that show up.

  • CC. The count of color areas in the OOIs. This gives some sense of the times the color was changing in the various OOI displays. See later for more about this. Counting how many distinct areas there were was somewhat difficult in some of the photos, but clear enough in most of them.

  • X and Y. The pixel counts both horizontal (X) and vertical (Y) of a bounding box drawn around each OOI display.

  • Area. Simply the area of the bounding box. (The X and Y values multiplied.) This gives a sense of how big the OOIs are in each photo. Note that they do vary.

  • Colors. A count of the basic hues that show up in the OOI. Hues are essentially the rainbow colors with some others possibly: blue, purple, red, yellow, green, brownish(?), and whitish.

Virtually all other EXIF data for each photo is the same. The data in the table are the only significant characteristics that varied from photo to photo. For example, ISO was the same for all ten photos: 1600. Summing up, we can see that MW did change the focal length in photos seven to ten. And the shutter speed varies only once for photo 1394. Everything else is the same for her photos. MW was not “experimenting” with different camera settings. She was just trying to get a photographic record of what she was seeing, and she let the camera settings go, hoping that something would show up. And something did. Something different from what she saw with her eyes as it turned out.

Panel of the Ten Photos

The following screen shot of the ten photos under analysis presents the photos in the sequence that they were taken going down and right to left. Some are a few seconds apart and others tens of seconds varying as MW decided to press the shutter button. See The Ten Photos. We can see that the looping, “squiggly” patterns vary randomly and that they are quite complex actually.