Friday, October 19, 2012

Roswell Minutia - Negative Investigation

As the Roswell investigation spreads, we come upon some strange information. I was told, not all that long ago, that the negatives of Ramey, Ramey and DuBose, and Jesse Marcel, in the Special Collections at the University of Texas – Arlington, had been sold. It was suggested that someone at Microsoft had bought the negatives but to make it worse, those negatives were now gone. They had been lost.

This was big news because it is on one of the negatives of Ramey and DuBose that the message clutched in Ramey’s hand could be seen and partially read. Over the years, as technology improves, those negatives were scanned again and again, attempting to get a better and clearer image. Who knows what the current technology might reveal, or what new technology might find when applied? If the negatives are gone, leaving us with only prints of the pictures, then the original source, and therefore the best source, would be lost.
The conspiracy implications were evident. If someone had bought the negatives and then “lost” them, there would be no additional information found. It could be suggested that someone, afraid of what might appear as our technology improved, made the pictures, disappear. The government at work.
I sent a letter to the Special Collections, giving them the various codings used there, along with the title of the pictures, asking about them. I was sent a quick email saying that they weren’t sure which pictures I wanted, but did send small prints and a price list. These were the pictures in question, and I thought I had the information.
But, thinking about it, I realized that they could make scans from the photographs. I do it all the time, and see little in the degradation of the original. We all have scanners that do that sort of thing and those scanners of professional quality certainly would be better than the one I have.
So, I sent an email and asked specifically. Are the negatives there at the University of Texas?
I got a short reply.
“Yes, we have these negatives.”
End of story.
End of conspiracy.
I have no idea how this story started but it is untrue. So, if our technology improves to a point that we can decipher the blurs on the Ramey Memo, we might have an answer to what it says. At least the potential for universal acceptance of what the memo says is still there. No one bought and then lost the negatives.


Lance said...

I have discussed this issue Dr. Rudiak. I don't think we have even let current technology have a go at this. As far I am aware, there was a very poor quality scan done long ago (that I think Friedman has for sale) and everything else (all the work done by Dr. Rudiak) was done from 8x10 prints.

An effort to get a proper high quality scan would be very helpful.


Don said...

I don't get it. Why do you want a scan for doing an analysis when you can have the negative? Put it on a lightbox and a 10x scope and take a look. No scan that can be done will capture all that's on the negative.

Scanner technology is a dead technology. It is unlikely there were be any new technical advances.

Remember, film is organic. It deteriorates. So there is no better time than the present to gain access to the negative for analysis.



Lance said...

Oh, I see Don. Yes, that would better but I wasn't thinking of such a possibility.

Still, a good scan is better than what we have available now. And it would be good for posterity.



Don said...

I agree with you, Lance, however I was referring to a small portion of the photo, the memo, and the task of reading it. That, I think, will require best practice.



Kurt Peters said...

Kevin -

Though I lack a Doctorate degree such as you possess, I have long considered myself a "citizen-scientist", if you will.

....I am also a longtime Consulting Ufologist (hat tip to Arthur Conan Doyle).

So please allow me to be so bold as to offer some clarification to your post.

Way back in 1995, HQ USAF published through the Government Printing Office their 'The Roswell Report'(ISBN 0-16-048023-X).
In it, the Executive Summary, signed by somebody/somebodies called "Colonel Richard L. Weaver". discusses the memo photo in question (pages 29 - 30), states that first generation prints were sent by USAF investigators to "a national level organization" for analysis, in order to facilitate "locating any documents relating to this matter". (which given the title of the report was likely the Roswell 'crash') Secondarily, "Weaver" writes that this organization was asked to look for "any indication of flowered tape"....

The published results? "the photos were of insufficient quality to visualize either of the details sought for analysis".

So, as I parse this words, I conclude that the NRO found:

1. NO USGOVT file index list IN THE RAMEY MEMO relating to Roswell cleanup records.

2. No tape with flowers (??!!!!)

Now Kevin, I realize that you are likely unfamiliar with the way that intelligence operations are conducted, but perhaps you've heard of the technique of "parsing one's words?

cda said...

You say "I was told.....".
Who told you? And how did the guy who told you find out?

Come on now - someone is spreading silly tales and encouraging the conspiracy hypothesis.

Yes, it is important to retain the negatives, even if we never can fully decipher them.

But why the rumor and lies? You might like to get to the bottom of this piece of deception. You can start by revealing your source (who will probably claim it came from another source, who will then claim...) And so on.

KRandle said...

Don -

I didn't want a scan... I wanted to know if the negatives were still in the possession of the archives. I wanted to know if they had been sold and then lost... because if they were lost, then we would lose the possibility of obtaining new and better information from them. Photographs, high quality already photographs existed.

Kurt Peters - if that really is your name -

I know exactly what the Air Force concluded, I have their reports, I have talked with McAndrew and recently communicated with retired Colonel Weaver. I also know that a kid with a bad magnifying glass can read words in the memo including weather balloons with balloons misspelled as baloon.


Someone might be spreading silly conspiracies, but we ended it with a snail mail letter and then a quick email. It is like the prospector says, "You don't expect the gold but you have to look."

JAF said...

Don said, "Scanner technology is a dead technology. It is unlikely there were be any new technical advances."

Yes, I can see where one could reach that conclusion. It would be incorrect. Silverfast multi-exposure software was first introduced in 2007 as far as I can tell. (source: ). It is specifically designed for scanning negatives and slides.

If you want to see how scans can be improved using it, take a look at the samples on .

I don't have the software so I can't comment on how well it does. Based on what Lance wrote in the first post, I think somebody should give a go at finding out what the latest scanning technology might be able to do. Shoot, scanners aren't that bulky. It would be possible to take a scanner and a laptop to the Special Collections of the University of Texas and do the scanning, assuming they would grant permission. Who knows, maybe Silverfast would fund the experiment! OK, I can dream. Maybe they would allow a trial of their software to be used for free.

Don said...

Kevin, do you think the memo is about Roswell, and if so, do you think it confirms a Roswell ETH?

JAF, I'm in the middle of a film scanning project, and am familiar with the process and the sw. I've worked with some of the scans being discussed, doing non-linear filtering to eliminate the veiling glare.

There are only two choices for scanning a 4x5 negative, and only one of them produces a critical or forensic scan.

A forensic drum scan (two separate 4000 ppi scans, combined for HDR, no corrections, including no gamma correction are offerred for around 60 Euros by one provider, for example.



JAF said...

Don, If I understand a commercial drum scan correctly, you have to send the film to them. I doubt the Special Collections of the University of Texas would permit having the negatives leave their possession, but I could easily be wrong.

My Epson 4870 flat bed scanner does have SilverFast software, but not Multi-Exposure. For B & W negative, the scanner can go up to 12,800 dpi at 48-bit scanning. I'm assuming Multi-Exposure would allow the same high resolution, but don't know.

Excerpt from :

"This kind of Dynamic Range is usually only achieved with drum scanners, which can cost up to many times the price of a flatbed or film scanner such as the tested Epson Perfection V700."

Would scans done of the photo, unless done in the last several years, have been done to such high standards? Were computers powerful enough to handle 48-bit multi-exposed images around when the scans were done? I'd be surprised if they were.

Don said...

JAF, I don't want to hijack the discussion. I'll just say that what makers of scanner hw and sw assert in their copy regarding ppi resolution and dmax is theoretical and not real world, and the manufacturers do not publish measured figures.

This is well known by film photographers who scan.



JAF said...

Excerpt from David Rudiak's webpage indicates that a drum scan of the negative has been made, date not specified but I'm guessing 2002 or earlier :

These prints were scanned using a commercial HP 3C scanner, generally at 600 dpi. Areas of text compressed by page tilt and perspective (such as the address header) were also scanned at resolutions of up to 1200 dpi. (Note: At 600 dpi, average letter spacing is typically 35 to 40 pixels, depending on which part of the image is viewed.)

To a lesser extent, I also worked from a direct drum scan off the negative done by Roswell researchers Tom Carey and Donald Schmitt and kindly shared with me. This scan is darker and of higher contrast than my prints. But the resolution is several times lower than the enlargements and the shadowed areas are completely unreadable. However, the lower "resolution blur" and high contrast of letters in the illuminated portions of the message have sometimes proved to be very useful in making out letters and words I was having trouble with in the higher-resolution blow-ups. Sometimes I couldn't see the forest because of the trees. E.g., one keyword that finally emerged from using the negative scan was "OPERATION" on line 2 of the first paragraph, which eventually led to reading the complete phrase "OPERATION AT THE RANCH". The abbreviations "AF" (for Air Field), "PR" (for Press Release), and "RAWIN" (for Radar Wind target) were also initially discerned using the negative scan.

Lance said...


Be sure to take all those words that Dr. Rudiak says he can read with a rain of salt. Like usual in this case, the hardcore believers went well beyond the evidence and made claims that can't be supported.

Kevin, to his great credit, did a paper that refutes much of the nonsense but Rudiak simply ignores this.

It's about 90 percent wishful thinking.


Don said...

If the dark drum scan is a 16 bit depth tiff, and when it is opened one sees the negative image, rather than a positive, it is a linear scan and no corrections were made in the scanning.

In that case, it is dark because its gamma is linear, 1, uncorrected. That's the way I scan negatives. For viewing, the gamma should be corrected to 2.2 or so.

This might very well be the best scan available.



Larry said...

Kevin said:

“… if our technology improves to a point that we can decipher the blurs on the Ramey Memo, we might have an answer to what it says. “

Exactly, and there’s an emerging, bleeding edge technology which—I speculate—may accomplish that. Optics is not my major area of expertise, and I may have some of the details wrong, but Stanford University has been in the vanguard of developing for practical use a technology referred to as Light-field cameras. (See, for example:

Conventional photo analysis—of the type performed on the Ramey Memo so far starts with the simplifying assumption that all the light that arrived at the focal plane of the camera came in from infinity in a flat wave front. In other words, all the light waves that ended up making light and dark spots on the film were perfectly in phase. Under that assumption, loss of detail of the image in the focal plane is ultimately determined by the grain size of the film, the aperture of the camera, and the quality of the lens.

Strictly speaking, the only case in which this simplifying assumption would apply is if you were taking an image of a flat plane that happened to be parallel to the camera’s focal plane. Scanning a document into a Xerox machine might be an example of an artificial case where this occurs. In the real world of 3-dimensional objects, it is rarely the case that all the light waves entering the camera aperture are perfectly in phase. Different parts of the object being imaged are at different distances from the focal plane. Different path lengths for the light rays means slightly different phasing for the time of arrival. This phase error in the wavefront ends up putting photons in the photo emulsion at locations where they shouldn’t be and removing them from locations where they should be. Phase errors in the incoming wave front show up as position errors in the film emulsion.

A light field camera passes the incoming ray bundle through a microlens array prior to transporting it to the focal plane. The optical transfer function between each microlens and the final image plane is known (mathematically). After the final image is captured on a CCD detector, the contribution of each microlens to the total image can be altered mathematically and the resulting distribution of light at the detector plane recomputed. This is sometimes described as focusing the image after the fact. It is basically correcting the image for the fact that the incoming phase plane is not truly planar.

We know the Ramey Memo was folded and creased. The surface on which the memo’s words were written is far from being a flat plane. Apparently my Alma Mater has created a prototype of the Light-field imager in the form of a microscope. I would conjecture that if it could be arranged to examine the Ramey Memo negative under such an instrument, it would be possible to add yet another level of resolution to reading the words on it.

Don said...

This is getting over-determined. The memo is not so unreadable. The original exists and it contains all the information. Get a proper light source and scope, is all that's needed. An expert at reading negatives should be on hand to clean the negative and to identify the non-picture elements in it, such as dirt embedded in the emulsion, scratches and flaws. If the text was made by impact its gray marks will be distinguishable from those that were not, including the background paper.

We would have certainty, at least, which marks were not made by impact, and some degree of certainty which ones were, whether we can identify the letters or not.



zoamchomsky said...

I say 100% wishfulness, as is the Roswell myth. Anyone who believes that they can see mention of a crashed saucer and alien bodies in an illegible blowup of a document in a photograph when such an event never occurred can probably see a face on Mars too.
One of the first airship hoaxes in 1896 began with the crash of a wagonload of junk dumped down a hillside behind a saloon in San Francisco. The newspaper that ran the crash hoax story and the saloon increased sales for the next week. So it's fairly obvious what really propels the "UFO" myth and collective delusion, and it's not element 115.
There were purported airship crashes or explosions in practically every state that experienced media-manufactured airship mania during 1896-97. A primitive circuit board, a ship's anchor, gears and other machine parts were presented as laughable "evidence" of the airships' actual existence. But there never were any airships at all.
Tall tales of crashed airships, dead alien crews, strange machinery and writing have been around since airship mania when the "UFO" myth and delusion began. These tales were repeated, enhanced and mutated in newspapers, magazines, saloons and liar's clubs for decades before 1947. The mature crashed-saucer myth exists in several variations; are we really to believe there could have been multiple saucer crashes in New Mexico in 1947?
Does placing the Roswell myth in its proper historical context as merely one version of a continuously evolving popular culture wish-fulfilling dragon-slaying fantasy prove that nothing out of the ordinary happened? No, but it's too absurd to even begin to be true. Invaluable old-time debunking paid believers in the "UFO" myth and collective delusion the compliment of rational opposition; Scientific realists know they're not even wrong.

Lance said...


I always love your comments!

But I think we have to admit that the idea of trying to find out what was in the memo was a good one. And I am more than willing to give Dr. Rudiak a lot of credit for making a good attempt.

There really are a few words that I think can be read on the memo with a fair amount of confidence.

But unfortunately, with the conspiracy mindset, if the evidence at hand isn't good enough, the buff is more than willing to just make stuff up. That is what happened here.


You seem to miss a couple of points that I think are important.

Having some "authority" read the negative through a scope is wholly unsatisfactory. I can easily see the use of someone like Maccabee, who will see UFO's anywhere and everywhere. Look at the nonsense Rudiak already espouses, calling his made up text a "smoking gun", etc.

We need a document that is convincing on its own.

I really think at least using the latest technology in scanning has a CHANCE of uncovering compelling evidence.

Do you see my point?


Don said...

Lance, I guess the people who wrote Kodak's technical papers or spent 30 years creating films for them would be an "authority". I've met some over the years on film photography lists and forums.

I don't want an "authroity" to read the text for me, just map the relevant portions of the negative.

"We need a document that is convincing on its own."

There is one, the negative. People are arguing over the text and no one has considered looking at the negative under a scope on a lightbox? I find that amazing.

"I really think at least using the latest technology in scanning has a CHANCE of uncovering compelling evidence."

Here's an issue: what are you going to scan for? Who will operate the "technology" for you (and pay for it)? Will you know what to tell operator what to do?

I think the negative should be cleaned by an expert, the quality of the areas of the negative of interest should be examined for embedded contaminents, scratches and bits of dry chemistry that could not be cleaned off without damage, and then mapped. Then grayish bits from the paper identified, and mapped. This will leave the text.

To the experts, including the scanner operator, I'd point out something I'd like explained, if possible. For example, why the letters are often dark and dense in their centers, but fade or just vanish at their margins.

I think I know, and if I do, they might be recoverable with current technology and easily enough. But some of the text is lost forever.

What I'd like to have is inarguable proof that the memo is about the Roswell incident, is all -- whether it is good news or not for either advocates, skeptics, or neither.

Otherwise, it is a great big "Meh."




Lance said...


We are mostly in agreement. I would love to have an independent source look at the negative and do all the other things you mentioned.

But I still think that a good scan might be enough to settle the issue. You ask who would be in charge of that and I suppose it would be the one who got together the money or the cooperation of the University, hopefully with some knowledge of the best practices for such an endeavor.

I'm sure that it is not that no one thought of looking at the negative itself, it is just that we all are just amateurs, for the most part with limited time and resources. Your best case scenario takes a lot of effort to get going.

For my part I did order and have a set of the highest quality images offered by the library.



JAF said...

David Rudiak uses the curious phrase "newer scans of the original negative" on the webpage

Newer scans of the original negative at four different levels of brightness have also been added directly above print scan for comparison. The new scan is about two-thirds of the resolution of the print scan but sharper around the edges of the letters. Also the lighter scans help suppress film grain noise around the letters. The images have been rescaled to match the scan from the print.

I don't know if these "newer scans" are the drum scan he mentioned on another page or something else. Also unknown is whether the brightness adjustments were made at the time the scan was done (i.e. there really are multiple scans) or whether they are after the fact (using just one scan).

Lance said...


At the risk of further muddling things up, I think the only drum scan was one done by Friedman. I do not have that scan but everyone seems to say that it is quite inferior in quality and was done a while ago.
Friedman sells it at his web site, I believe.

I see the mention of additional negative scans at Dr. Rudiak's site but he did not mention those to me during a brief period of detente when we were corresponding on this matter.

My new TIFF file of the full image (roughly 4000x5000 pixels) shows the memo section with the letters looking much darker and more contrasty but much less readable than the scan offered at Dr. Rudiak's site.

Don't know if this helps or not.


Don said...

Lance, a reason to study the negative is to determine how the scan should be done. I don't mean a scan of the entire negative, but the small portions of interest.

The negative is large format (4x5 inches). On the page below are examples of lareg format scans. It has a tool for comparing scanners.

Select the professional scanners, the Heidelbergs and Howteks. The best alternative to a 4x5 professional scan is an Epson 750V. Select it, too.

The third image in the comparison is a newspaper, which is the closest example to the memo.

Notice how the Pro scans are so different from each other, even if they were made on the same machine. That's due to the operator's choices. This is a reason to work closely with the operator to get what you want.

Based on the images we have now, I think it is possible to resolve much more memo detail that they show. The images I've seen are not forensic, but aesthetic. They'd make a nice 8x10 to put on the mantle or in the album, but they aren't forensic scans.



JAF said...

Thanks Lance. I don't know if your post helps either, but I enjoyed it just the same. Your words "during a brief period of detente" gave me a good chuckle. So did your words "rain of salt."

David said the source of the scan he used was Carey and Schmitt. Maybe that's the same scan Friedman has. Maybe not.

Kurt Peters said...

my children... any 'knowledge' left to be found in the notorious Ramey Memo original photographic negative will not come from the "Snark' of "better scanners"..., if the officially non-existent AI-augmented OCR engine was used....

Unknown said...

KRandle said...

All -

This exchange, though somewhat off topic, is the sort of thing that is helpful. Seems to me that everyone here is suggesting that the Ramey memo might hold clues if we can read more of it... and technology might have improved to a point where we can.

It seems to me that if we can get new scans of the negative and provide a result that is independently verifiable and can be repeated, then we have moved the investigation forward. There are one or two phrases, which if we can read with any sort of reliability, might answer some critical questions.

Of course, we might just fall back to where we are on this with a couple of interpretations... one that seems to be a little better than the others, but still something that is not easily repeatable and certainly not without controversy.

Larry said...

Kevin said:

“It seems to me that if we can get new scans of the negative and provide a result that is independently verifiable and can be repeated, then we have moved the investigation forward.”

Yes, I think that’s a good summary. And it’s something that could possibly be accomplished by your team before your next publication.

Anthony Mugan said...

Not sure if this is of any potential use in terms of reconstructing the text - definately not my specialist subject so no idea if this particular development in reconstructing blurred images is sound / flaky or of use in this particular case, but may be worth mentioning.

JAF said...

I found some technical details on the scan Stanton Friedman ordered, which is mentioned in the first comment on this page by Lance Moody.

Excerpt from :

4. The Original 4"x5" negative was scanned in its entirety, and with very high resolution (about interpolation on the scans of the negative), back and front, of the memo portions. The scans were done by an imaging outfit in Dallas. It cost me $250. just to have the UTA carry the negative and remain with it while it was being scanned. and an addtional $250. for the scans, the CD ROMs, Fed ex etc. I am very grateful to Victor Golubic of Phoenix for locating the imaging company and discussing the scans with them.

My colleague is Rob Belyea, owner and operator of ProLab here in Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada, one of the top 10 labs in Canada. He has been in the business for more than 30 years. He has compiled all the scans with additional materials including work in progress) on a CD ROM having about 188MB.

This info agrees with what Kevin has in the entry "Ramey Message" of The Roswell Encyclopedia. You can also read an almost verbatim repeat of this entry online at

I haven't found the year when the scan was made, nor a description of the scanner. "Resolution" doesn't mean what one might think it does. It is more synonymous with magnification than the ability to resolve details into discrete components. Why the 8300 ppi ended up yielding a scan which has disappointed the researchers is something I'm not able to answer. It could mean the original image is poor, the scanner was not up to the task, or there was dirt on the negative blurring the scan. I did read somewhere where Friedman complained about fingerprints on the negative. The oil from fingerprints serve as a nice growth medium for bacteria which will eat away at that negative over time.

JAF said...

I found another source for the announcement of Stanton Friedman's scan, which I posted in my previous comment on this page. It is . Friedman is too good a marketer to have held onto a scan which cost him $500 for very long before releasing it. His anouncement was made on Nov 25, 1998 so I say the scan was made that same year.

SebastienP said...

Hi Kevin,
sorry for being off topic but recently I came accross an article (on examiner thanks to reporting about the sighting of young Roger Marsch from MUFON one evening of October 1973, and before going any deeper in this story, I wondered if you've found any possible explanation as to explaining this October UFO wave after all these years. And perhaps what you'd know about Roger Marsch sighting:

zoamchomsky said...


There's no shortage of "flying saucer" fairy tales like Marsh's, there just isn't any veracious evidence there are real "UFOs" of any kind--much less "flying saucers" from another world. Why not simply ask believer Marsh to prove his tall tale even occurred as he reports? Even if he can prove there was such an event, human perception under unusual circumstances is extremely fallible, so how could he prove the group didn't misperceive and misinterpret some ordinary event? The best "UFO" tales break down into human imaginings under close examination. Extraordinary claims without evidence have no weight in the world--absence of evidence is just that, absence--and are certainly no basis for fantastic beliefs.

Over a century of innumerable, insubstantial and utterly inconsequential "UFO" reports have not produced one real "UFO" of any kind. There are no "UFO" facts. "UFOs" fail to exhibit the minimum requirements for things said to exist in the world: presence, substance and consequence. Over a century and "UFOs" are no more real now than the media-generated myth of phantom airships haunting the skies in 1896-97. Marsh and other believers ignore this fundamental logical problem and pretend inside the silly "UFO" subculture that the flying-saucer fairy tales of the myth and collective delusion remain unexplained--when every case worthy of investigation, analysis and deconstruction has been utterly debunked.

KRandle said...

zoamchomsky -

I'm not sure what your point is in visiting here. Maybe you see yourself of the keeper of the flame of true knowledge and wish all the rest of us would acknowledge your keen insight.

Your last line is false since not "every case worthy of investigation, analysis and deconstruction has been utterly debunked."

True some have. It is clear to me that Chiles-Whitted saw a bolide. It is clear to me that Thomas Mantell was lured to his death by a balloon. But there are good cases that have been deconstructed only in the minds of the debunkers. Multiple answers are supplied and the least outrageous is accepted as the truth. When all else fails, just say they are hoaxes because everyone knows there has been no alien visitation and therefore anything that suggests otherwise must be a hoax.

Just remember, sometimes the keeper of the flame of knowledge has been wrong.

Unknown said...

Hi Kevin, I came to you because I know about your October Scenario. Is it still your actual point of view on everything being Hoaxes and misinterpretations except for this very short period of October 1973?

@zoamchomsky Thank you for sharing your opinion, but I still don't know yet who's right. Although you must be right, for me, you are confusing unknown probability for zero probability. It's all about not being wrong...