1950 LIFE Magazine Trent UFO photoshoot
Farmer Paul Trent, who lived near McMinnville, Oregon took two world famous UFO photos that have been subjected to intense scrutiny for over 60 years and have never been shown to have been hoaxed.
Trent said he took the photos May 11, 1950, but they weren't published until June 8, 1950 in the
McMinnville Telephone-Register. By June 10, they were published in many newspaper across the country.
LIFE Magazine published the photos (cropped) in their June 26, 1950 issue, along with a photo of Paul Trent holding his camera (see below for full photo). The photo of Trent was just one of many taken by LIFE of Trent and his family, along with reporter Bill Powell of the Telephone-Register, in a photoshoot by photographer Loomis Dean. Most of that photoshoot was placed up on Google Images back in October or November of 2008, from which most of the following photos are taken. They are now hard to find, but you can start here for all of them in higher resolution than below. You can also go to images.google.com and use keywords "flying saucers" "loomis dean" and many image links will pop up. So far I have found 47 photos from the photoshoot, so the collection below isn't complete. Below is the LIFE magazine page with the UFO photos and the photo of Paul Trent (note: all photos have been shrunk to better fit on page. Open in new window or download for full size):
Trent's photos in LIFE are heavily cropped, includuing exluding the overhead power lines. The LIFE photographer obviously tried to roughly reproduce the vantage point of Trent's photos in the following two photos (note overhead power lines and ladder on ground):
Part of what appears to be this same sequence has Trent's son posed on the now-erect ladder. Recently UFO researcher Anthony Bragalia claimed this LIFE photo really was part of the same roll of film that Trent used for his UFO photos, and the reason for putting his son up there was to give him ideas of how to pose his fake UFOs. (Bragalia apparently got the idea from UFO debunker Jim Oberg, formerly of NASA, who originally claimed the photo was from the same roll.)
Problem is, these photos are NOT from Trent's film but were taken by the LIFE photographer over a month later. You'll note the upright ladder, the son in the same clothing, and other features appearing in other of the LIFE photoshoot sequences, e.g. the car in the driveway which didn't belong to Trent (probably the photographer's). Also note LIFE "watermark" at bottom of most of these photos and the square aspect ratio of the LIFE photos, quite unlike Trent's film, which had a 4:3 aspect ratio.
According to the Trent's, Evelyn Trent was the first to see the UFO when she was feeding her rabbits in their hutches in the rear of the property. It appears the photographer has her reproducing the direction when she first spotted it by pointing in the direction. She said she called to her husband to get his camera, and he ran out back in her direction, where he took the first photo. When the UFO started leaving the area to their left, he stepped to his right and took the second photo. Mrs. Trent appears to be pointing in the second photo above to the direction the UFO was at when it disappeared after she first went back into the house to call her parents down the road to also have a look, then stepped back outside of the house. Note Trent son in the same clothing and the same ladder, all part of the same photoshoot session.
More photos below from same photo shoot with Mrs. Trent in front of her rabbit hutches.
This is another photo of Evelyn Trent from a different vantage point of the one where she is pointing to the departing UFO, this one seeming to try to reproduce her shielding her eyes from glare as she tries to see it better. There's that ladder again. Rabbit hutches are to the left in back of the garage/shed in background.
Below are two photos of Mrs. Trent with son in front of their house. The second photo shows the upright ladder far to the right sitting below power lines from the house to the garage/shed (you have to enlarge the photos to see the faint power lines). Allegedly, Trent faked the photos by tying a model to these power lines (most likely the lower one). However, the six-foot ladder in the Dean photo provides a scale to determine the height of both wires, the lower wire turning out to be about 11' above the ground. This puts serious constraints on the length of any suspension thread in order to try to reproduce UFO elevation angles, the observed directions, and differences in apparent size, ALL of which must be internally consistent in any viable hoax model scenario. Given these constraints, it turns out to be very difficult to come up with a hoax scenario that works without using a fair number of questionable assumptions..
Also notice grass in Trent side yard. 1950 had been a very rainy year in Oregon and the grass should have been lush green when Trent took his photos in May. Yet some debunkers continue to claim Trent used a "truck mirror" in his hoax reflecting "bright" ground, to try to explain the UFO's brightly shadowed bottom in Trent photo 1. But the ground any such mirror would have reflected was hardly "bright". And any such reflected image would have shown uneven grass texture, whereas the actual photo shows a very evenly lit bottom.
A heavy model like a "truck mirror" can also conclusively be ruled out from Dean's photos trying to reproduce Trent's two photo. Since they lack any sort of model tied to the wires, they can serve as a control. Comparison with Trent's photos show little or no sag in Trent's wires, demonstrating that any model would have had to be very lightweight, on the order of a paper plate. The wires turn out to be an extremely sensitive scale capable of showing sag from suspended weights well under one ounce. Something like a "truck mirror", however, would have caused at least several inches of sag, which simply is NOT there.
Following sequence of photos are also taken in the Trent back yard facing east, from approximately the area where Trent would have taken his two pictures. The brick building at the left was at the back of the Trent house and used as a washroom. It still exists. The tall man Evelyn Trent is speaking to I believe is Bill Powell, the Telephone-Register reporter who first decided to publish Paul Trent's photos after carefully examining them. Powell said part of his decision was based on questioning the Trent's separately and they told the same story of what had happened. I would guess the photographer is having Evelyn Trent recounting the story again to Powell, her hand gestures maybe having something to do with the motion of the object.
Back in McMinnville at the Telephone-Register, reporter Bill Powell(?) shows historic front page photos of Trent's photos. These are the only published uncropped versions of the photos, the LIFE versions being cropped as were the negatives. Note photographer's image reflected in window.
Hmmm. What happened to Paul Trent? Apparently he was also in McMinnville, where this sequence of photos was taken. The first two show Trent demonstrating how photos could be taken through the direct viewfinder, the third photo showing that Trent also knew how to take photos with the second, overhead viewfinder that could be held down near the waist, but minified and reversed the image. This also figures into the controversy, as the two Trent photos were taken down at around the 3.5 foot level. Either Trent was kneeling and used the direct viewfinder, or standing and using the overhead one. He could have taken the photos either way, though some skeptics argue he must have been kneeling and therefore carefully posed the photos. I don't find this argument very convincing.
The first of the Paul Trent photos below is the only one that ever appeared in LIFE magazine from this photoshoot (picture at top). It was probably cropped for publication instead of having the square aspect ratio of the rest of the photos.