Analysis: Feeley case

By Bob Dezon & Hayley Stevens

On October the 12th 2010, Michael and Sarah Feeley, and a friend called Geoff decided to take a trip to Sutton Park. For those that may not know, Sutton Park is a forest near Birmingham. The reason for this excursion is presently unknown, however whilst they were there, they took several images using mobile phone cameras. The cameras used were the LG KC910 Renoir and the Nokia X6-00. There seemed to be some confusion over what they managed to capture that night, so they decided it would be best to ask the advice of Professor Chris French. Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit’s Department of Psychology in Goldsmiths College London.

We are not quite sure why they would contact a Psychologist to look at their images, but we are glad they did. Chris French has an incredibly demanding and time consuming schedule, so Chris thought it might be best, if BARsoc had a look at these images instead. We are better equipped to handle these type of requests, and he may end up with enough free time to finish his tea (and by tea, we mean Grolsch).

Sarah & Michael Feeley Wrote:

“Hi Chris,
I am emailing you as I have some pictures I wish to share with you, if you are interested, of several experiences that have taken place over the last year of a spiritual/supernatural/paranormal nature. I know your position on such subjects and thought it would be interesting to get your analysis of the images that we have accumulated.

To give a brief introduction, my Husband and I are ex police officers* in the UK, having left our careers due to going through a traumatic spiritual awakening together whereby we relived the murder of a Victorian teenager. This took place in February of 2009 and set us on a path that seemed to unfold before us. This path included not least the existence of Angelic beings and spirit guides as well as the many sightings of unidentified craft.”

*NB: Sarah & Michael Feeley claim to be ex West Midlands Police, and we have no way of confirming this due to data protection laws. We must accept this information provisionally.

Sarah & Michael Feeley Wrote:

“Being ex police officers we are naturally analytical and always first look for a rational explanation, and sometimes find one! However on these occassions the experiences are beyond what we consider to be conventional.”

The couple also claim to be “Lightworker’s”, and have experience with U.F.O.’s, out-of-body experiences (O.O.B.E.’s), energy meditation, ascended masters and experience “Angelic visitation” (from Archangel Michael, Zadkiel). They also claim to receive messages from spirit guides and other celestial helpers, including those of a more “cosmic nature”. They also believe they were together in Egypt, and Atlantis in previous lives.

Now I know what you are thinking after reading the above, but regardless of what personal belief systems they subscribe to, we at BARsoc prefer to be as objective as we can about inquiries such as this. Sarah & Michael Feeley have requested help, so that is what we shall endeavour to provide, and to the best of our abilities.

This is the series of images they submitted for analysis, with an editorially brief description of each from Sarah & Michael Feeley.

“The first three were taken on the same occasion. The first one of these pictures is the picture that took itself as we saw a big white light appear in front of us. The two following that were actually taken shortly before that incident. They basically show what looks like a doorway of light opening up. None of us saw the light in these two pictures with the naked eye, however, unlike the first picture.”

The picture that “took itself”, and was apparently visible to the naked eye, appears to be a description of the image below (click for full size version).

This image anomaly is a type of lens flare called the “Bokeh Effect”. It is usually more prevalent with point and shoot type digital cameras, where the flash is quite close to the lens, and increasingly, also on the more modern mobile phones. The anomaly is caused when an object is quite close to the flash at the time the image was taken. The light from the flash is reflected from the surface of that object, back into the lens. The final image becomes over saturated with light. The “orb” shapes, are actually copies of the fully dilated aperture profile. This pattern is repeated several times (inside the lens), and creates a “hall of mirrors effect”.

Here is an excellent example of the bokeh effect, which coincidentally, also has a pinkish hue. In this example, the “orbs” appear to be more “polygonal” than round. This effect is actually the blades of the aperture diaphragm being partially closed. If the aperture diaphragm was fully opened, the “orbs” would appear to be smoother. Click here for additional information on the Bokeh Effect.

We know there is an object in front of the lens, because with a little post processing, we can even reveal its shape. We have no realistic way of knowing what the actual object is, but it would appear to be the lower part of a hand (thumb/heel) shown in black.

Pic 2
Pic 3

Images 02 and 03 (as seen above) are also quite unusual. What initially looks like a “glow stick” suspended from a tree branch (we are assuming no manipulation has occurred), turns out to be much more interesting. This photographic anomaly, is what is known as a “thermal noise” A.K.A. a “Hot Pixel”. A Hot Pixel is basically charge leakage from individual sensors on the CCD. This causes electrons to travel into the substrate, and this can produce a false positive. This usually occurs on longer exposures, but the exposure time on both of the images, was 1/12Sec. Certainly not long enough for this to be the case, unless the camera is damaged.

It can also happen if a digital camera heats up after prolonged use, or the camera operates outside of its normal operational temperature range. Bringing the camera out of an insulated pocket into cold night air, could cause the camera to rapidly radiate heat, until the camera reaches its ambient temperature. This is likely, considering the image was taken during October, and we can clearly see the photographers breath misting in Image 03. Incorrect ISO settings can also exacerbate this problem, especially in low light photography. The ISO setting for these images, is ISO 635.

Here is an analysis of the scene, clearly showing the location of the “Hot Pixel”.

Now for an analysis on the final two images. Michael & Sarah Feeley wrote:

“The last two pictures were taken with our friend Geoff’s camera phone in the same Park in a different area around about four weeks ago. The first one of these, Michael actually felt as though he had been joined by an unearthly even galactic type of presence behind his right shoulder. When we feel this we will take a picture and usually capture on camera an orb of some kind to confirm this feeling.

On this occasion following Michael’s feeling, Geoff raised his camera phone and pointed it at Michael. I was stood on the left side of Geoff watching him as he took the picture. As the flash on his camera illuminated, I was shocked to see a strange white shape appear within centimeters of his camera. I cannot find a word for the shape I saw but the picture is exactly that. It could then no longer be seen with the naked eye. The last of these pictures is another large orb taken shortly after the strange shape.”

Orb pic ’38’
Orb pic ’37’

These images were taken on the March the 21st 2011. Picture 38 clearly shows a large “orb” next to Sarah Feeley (we assume). Orbs are a very common feature of digital photography, and the causes are generally quite well-known. It is due to the proximity of the lens being very close to the flash unit of the camera. This problem is usually less prevalent with the high-end S.L.R. cameras, but can be the bane of small point and shoot varieties. The orb itself is usually an “out of focus” atmospheric pollutant such as dust. However it can also be water vapour, fibre fragments or even insects etc, the list is not comprehensive.

The object (whatever it may be) is in what is known as the “orb zone”. This is what photographers term, the “circle of confusion”. A particle of pollutant drifts in front of the camera, and very close the lens. When the flash fires, the object (Which is now inside the boundary of the circle of confusion, and beyond the camera’s capability to focus) is illuminated by the flash, and while highlighted, it appears much larger and unfocused. This is called diffuse reflection backscatter.

So while that nicely explains the orbs, it does not quite match Sarah’s description of events. Digital photography orbs are not visible to the naked eye, but Sarah claims to have also seen a strange white shape at the same time the image was taken, so let’s take a look at image 37.

Picture 37 (above) is actually my favourite shot from the entire series. It really does manage to capture something quite rare, but unfortunately not an “unearthly even galactic type of presence”. The strange off-white “squiggle” you can see on the upper right edge of the “orb”. That is the area of interest, because this is a classic “Rod” anomaly.

These have been present on film since the advent of cheap consumer video cameras. However, in 1994 Jose Escamilla who managed to capture this anomaly on film claimed they were some form of Alien life form (Rods AKA skyfish). This has long since been proven to be an error caused by his lack of basic understanding of how the camera worked. It is an artifact of the interlacing of the video camera frames, creating a blurring effect.

So what is this object in the image? It is definitely some type of insect, and most likely a nocturnal Moth caught by the camera flash. How do we know it is an insect? You can clearly see the Wingtip oscillatory motion caused by the upstroke, and dowstroke of its wings to maintain equilibrium. It clearly shows a wave pattern, and this is the sinusoidal wave. This can even be charted and displayed as a graph. The faster the object (in this case an insect) the more severe the blurring effect eventually is.

Here is a short video explaining how this phenomena is demonstrable, from the Discovery channel TV show, MonsterQuest.

Click here for another short video, clearly showing the motion of the insects wings. The clip is available in three different formats.

All in all it’s clear to us that although these photos contain naturally occurring phenomena or known effects caused by the devices used, a paranormal explanation was the conclusion instantly reached by the individuals involved due to the pre-existing beliefs they have. This is unfortunately confirmation bias in action. We hope that our analysis of the photos can offer an insight into the anomalies that wasn’t initially considered.


Posted on May 6, 2011, in article, ghost, irrational, misattribution, paranormal and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Flash would be too fast to produce a flying rod effect. It is more likely the relatively slow 1/17s shutter speed combined with some room lighting that produced it. Some moths are highly reflective.

    • The flash only contributes to the effect, and the object is only illuminated by the flash for the duration of the total exposure. It is as you say, caused by the 1.16.7S exposure time. There is no additional room lighting though. This image was taken outside at night. The only light source we can determine is the camera’s flash unit.

      • A camera flash only lasts for around 1 to 3 milliseconds. Given the typical wing beat rate of insects and their speed of flight (and both would be quite slow for a moth), you need an exposure in the range of hundredths of a second or longer to show any flying rod effect. So if the only source of illumination is a flash, you won’t expect to get a flying rod.

        Instead, if you take a picture of an insect with flash at night it appears brilliant white (overexposed) and without any motion blur. You can clearly see the wings and sometimes legs as well. Such pictures have been reported as ‘fairies’ by those taking them!

        If this IS an insect and it was partly illuminated by the flash and partly by something else, you would get a flying rod with brilliant ‘frozen’ insect at one end of it which is clearly not the case.

        If it is an insect it must, therefore, be beyond the range of the flash, which is usually around 3 to 5m. There must also, therefore, be a second source of illumination. A possible scenario is torchlight that happened to catch the insect in flight as the photo was taken. This might not be obvious in the photo if the torch was pointing at something outside the frame or at no specific object eg. at the sky.

        Another alternative is that the object is not an insect at all. Assuming it is within the range of the flash, it could be something like a leaf being carried by the wind.

        There are some nice photos of moth tracks at night at

        They don’t look much like the image here. So I think the object here may be a leaf.

  2. GavinPaul 'Fox' Marriner

    I love it when you guys do these photo analysis cases. Poor old Chris though, looks like I started a trend after I emailed him my photo a few weeks ago eh? He’ll never get to finish that Grolsch now… 😀

  3. Hi BARsoc,

    Thankyou for compiling this report.

    Just needed to make a comment on your conclusions if I may. Firstly the picture of the Light was first seen by three of us with the naked eye before any photograph was taken and therefore it couldn’t have been a fault with the camera, unless there was a problem with three peoples eyes aswell at the same time. The camera/photograph merely confirmed what we had seen with the naked eye. The so called ROD was also seen with the naked eye and was not an insect.

    Also, you make mention of our so called ‘belief system’. For one, the beliefs that we have concluded on are all due to very personal experiences, after rational thought was not an explanation.

    For two, it seems a bit unfair that in your report you have tried to use that ‘belief system’ in order to immediatley paint a picture in the reader’s mind that we are irrational and therefore almost deluded individuals, to almost discredit what we have to say.

    There is much more I could comment on but feel that I have offered a different version for your viewers to ponder over.I fully appreciate your time and findings but disagree with them. Our universe is massive and to believe that we are the only life form and that nothing else exists is a shame.

    Best Regards
    Michael Feeley

    • Hi Michael,

      The reason that your beliefs were mentioned was so that readers could understand why you believed the photos were paranormal in nature. Had we not mentioned the things you believed you have experienced, we would not have been providing a fair introduction to the photos.

      As mentioned in the article, we are objective in our analysis of all cases we deal with regardless of the beliefs of those involved.

      • What do you say regarding Michael’s comment about seeing the anomalies with the naked eyes first?

        Pic 37 was my favourite, looks like a coronal ejection from the Sun!!

        I like these investigative articles 🙂

  4. Hello Michael, and thank you for taking the time to comment. You are fully entitled to comment on the article, and say anything you like, providing it isn’t abusive. We do need to keep the comments secion clean.

    Now you claimed in the original email that “The first one of these pictures is the picture that took itself as we saw a big white light appear in front of us”. The way you describe that sounds exactly like an accidental flash, does it not? Of course all three of you would have seen it at the same time. The flash would be very noticable, especially in complete darkness. I fail to see how this could be anything but the camera flash, if you are correctly describing the series of events.

    Also, I fail to see how you can make the assumption that the light appeared before the image was taken. The camera’s flash operates in milliseconds, and the image taken, is exactly as you have described it. I can only conclude that the description of what you saw, was formed after viewing the image. You would have no way of knowing what the image looked like otherwise. The Bokeh effect is not visible to the naked eye.

    You do make an interesting point about how this image “confirmed” what you saw. This is exactly how confirmation bias works.

    Can you tell me exactly why this “Rod” was not an insect? I think I have clearly established that it is, and shown my reasoning, and examples. Can you do the same? I would be more than happy to amend the article with new and better information. However, I know that you cannot realistically make that claim, because it was behind your head at the time the image was taken. You would not have been able to see it, except afterwards while reviewing the images.

    I do indeed make mention of your belief system. There is a very good reason for this. The claims you make are extremely unusual. They sound impossible, and yet here you are. Two ex police no less, making these types of fantastic claims. Most people would have ignored your request for help. To us here at BARsoc, it matters not if you believe the “moon is made of cheese”. We will help you if we can.

    We look at the facts and the evidence of the case. We do not look at the person. The persons belief system however, can be shown to influence their decision making process, and this is basic psychology.

    We do not make mention of your belief system to ridicule, or denegrate you. We merely mean to demonstrate how it can, and is effecting your critical thinking skills. We fully understand how you and your wife believe the comparably odd things you do. You yourself would fully admit they are not “mainstream”. It is this belief system, that seems to be hindering your rational thought processes.

    As I have mentioned earlier it matters not to BARsoc what you believe. We simply used your descriptions, and some additional background information, to paint a picture for the reader. This picture must include a backstory to demonstrate how a person may believe these “odd” things, and why they would contact us. It was not our intent to make you appear “irrational and therefore almost deluded individuals, to almost discredit what we have to say”. However it is interesting that you come to that conclusion, upon reading what you apparently believe.

    Does it seem odd to you when reading the list of things you claim to hold true? If it does, then that is probably your critical thinking skills making a resurgence.

    We have no interest in discrediting your claims, but we are interested in why you believe they are true.

    I am glad you chose to comment, and I feel the readers now have a fuller picture of the events described. I am glad you appriciate our humble effort to assist you, and you are quite within your rights to accept or reject that information. I realise the Universe is massive, but you are making an unfounded assumption about my personal belief. You do not know if I believe there is also additional life in the Universe. Or that “anything else”
    (quite a broad and undescriptive term) exists.

    Quick question though, If I may? I was quite puzzled as to why you seem to reject all the points of this investigation, without consideration. That is until I realised that you seem to also hold some conspiratorial beliefs. On your website, you sell the Book “Beyond The Illusion – A Time Of Awakening”. The content description is as follows:

    “They explain how those that work from the shadows, try desperately to keep humanity pinned to prevent it from discovering its true, infinite nature and potential. The ‘powers that be’ stand to lose complete control over the population and are now throwing everything at us in an attempt to keep us distracted and in constant fear with the regular feed of negative events that take place”

    Do you believe that BARSoc is also part of “those that work from shadows” whom I can only assume is some sort of Illuminati type organisation?

    Best Regards,

    Bob Dezon.

    • Regarding the belief system of Michael and co:

      Quote from article:

      “Now I know what you are thinking after reading the above”

      Does not that comment truly reflect an unbiased opinion?

      • Of course it does. Most people’s reactions to hearing information like that would be immediate dismissal. If you went into a police station and stated that your previous residence was Atlantis, they would not even bother checking to see if you were listed on the electoral register at that previous address. Do you not agree that would be the case? We do not want people to fall into the trap of discounting a story without testing each of its points. That is simply bad scepticism. If you claimed you saw a light in the sky, and it was a U.F.O. then that is your opinion. Should we dismiss it simply because you used the term U.F.O.? I think not, because it could be a helicopter, meteor or any number of natural aerial phenomena. What you believe is irrelevant to the evidence (such as it exists).

  5. In relation to Bobs question directly to us. We don’t believe for one minute that BASsoc is Illuminati or anything like, we must now agree to disagree on what the photo’s show. We were on location and that gives us the advantage on any subsequent enquiry. As we said we have not dismissed the BARsoc conclusion and it has very much been noted, but all considered we are not swayed by your findings. Once again we do appreciate your time and look forward to the many comments that will likely follow, and we will answer them. We do state that there are those in the shadows who try and stop humanity from waking up, and that is obvious in many guises.We are all Spiritual beings having a human experience some of us realise that during this lifetime and others don’t, but they will when it is the right time for them.

    Best wishes
    Mick & Sarah Feeley

  6. Thank you for your input Michael, we do appriciate it. It is fine if we agree to disagree. The world would be a bit boring if we were all the same, dont you agree? While I realise that “I was not there at the time”, we did only comment on the images, and not the experience. We cannot realistically claim to know exactly what happened, and all we can do is comment upon what we do know.

  7. Hi Bob, spot on.

    Have a great weekend and beyond.

    Sincere regards

    Mick & Sarah Feeley

  8. Hi HGW,in reponse to your comment, thankyou. There was no torch light, it was a pitch black night and you could’nt see more than 2 feet in front of you.The only light was the camera flash and we saw this object with the naked eye as the camera flashed, it looked exactly like it does in the picture with the naked eye. I ask is it possible that if someone saw this with the naked eye, would it not appear as an insect usually does and not as a weird white object? We have seen many insects and never anything like this, either with camera or without, this object appeared stationary when it was seen by the eye, even though only for a fraction of a second. In relation to RODS some of them have been caught travelling at 6700 MPH, I don’t know of any insect that can fly that fast.

    Best Regards
    Michael & Sarah Feeley

    • As you will have read, I am actually going for a falling leaf caught in the flash explanation rather than an insect rod. If you only view an object in a camera flash, for milliseconds, it is simply not long enough for your brain to work out what it is accurately. Instead it makes a guess and, given that the object would have been highly illuminated, it would have appeared as a small brilliant white thing of indeterminate shape. I think a leaf would be a perfectly plausible explanation.

      Regarding rods, you can only know their speed if you know their distance. I’m guessing someone assumed a distant rod went behind some clouds to come up with the speed you quote. In reality, it was probably a much closer insect that simply stopped reflecting the sunlight strongly and vanished from the video.

      Take a look at for loads of stuff on rods, including a video where they turn into orbs and back!

  1. Pingback: The Whittington Hospital Ghost « The Vigilantes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: