In watching a recent replay of Fact or Faked's attempt to debunk the famous Battle of Los Angeles photo, I was struck by something that never seemed to come to the team's attention.
The photo, which shows search lights and a barrage of military fire converging on some unknown object, made headlines in the months following Pearl Harbor. The army had received intel that enemy craft were spotted offshore and another Pearl Harbor like situation was about to rain down on this famous SoCal city. However, despite a seemingly endless volley of bullets and larger shells, the mystery object never plummeted to earth.
While I don't discount that something strange happened that night. In fact, I am sure it did. I wonder about the experiments the team designed and their evaluation criteria. The reason for this is that, to me, the image always looked doctored. No, I don't mean hoaxed--I mean doctored. Having much familiarity with photos and darkroom techniques as well as the history of such things. I can say that this famous image always looked dodged in order to bring out the details better when it was transferred to press. At the time, printing presses on newspapers weren't as sophisticated as they are today and images often lost detail. Given that the battle-ridden night shot wasn't the most ideal situation to shoot, it is likely (again, to me) that the image would have been enhanced to show detail better when printed.
The team kept pointing out that the brilliant search light beams seemed to end at the craft, as if it were solid and opaque. However, I wonder if when the image was dodged, an artistic choice was made NOT to dodge the beams across the entire field of view, in effect forcing the creation of the very artifact Fact or Faked was trying to study.
It's just a thought. I've never seen either a good print or the original negative. I can't say for sure. Still, I wonder......