You've heard the comment that a large proportion of the population now carries a device with a camera with them, so why don't we have photographic proof of Nessie, UFO's, Ghosts etc?
Well, why don't we?
In 2014 1.5 billion photographs were shared every day on Facebook alone. The best guess for the number of photographs taken last year was something over one trillion images. That's 1 000 000 000 000 in 2014 alone.
From the invention of photography (lets say 1826 with Niepce) it took nearly 100 years before the number of photographs taken annually was one billion (about 1930). Photography took off in a big way at the start of the twentieth century when Kodak brought out the first camera which was available to the masses (prior to that it was an expensive business). By 1960 this figure had probably risen to about three billion per year. 1970 saw the figure rise to ten billion. 1980 was 25 billion. This is a steep graph. 1990 57 billion and by 2000 86 billion.
As you can see the number of photographs taken has rocketed up thanks to digital photography and mobile devices with built in cameras. In fact nowadays about every two minutes we take more photographs than were shot during the entire nineteenth century.
Of course these numbers are estimates but it indicates the nature of the ubiquity of photography now.
We have anomalous photographs from the past and we have them now. So why no conclusive proof?
Well a sarcastic answer would be that from looking at the internet the majority of the photographs taken are of cats. One version of a more sensible answer would be that some of the cameras we have around now are very poor at their job - they are add ons, a gimmick. So some things that might have shown up in a photograph in the past are not seen by the camera because of technical limitations. But there are some beautiful cameras out there as well, either as a dedicated camera or as part of a phone.
A lot of photographs are not really looked at now - a quick glance on a screen, shown round to friends and that is it. In the past anomalous photographs were sometimes accompanied by the phrase "I didn't see anything at the time, it wasn't until I looked at them later...". One possible cause of a lack of more anomalous photographs is simply we don't look at our photographs in the detail they received in the past. Partly we can't, with so many of them around!
But I have another possibility, one which I know has afflicted me.
On a couple of occassions I could have photographed anomalous behaviour but didn't.
The first was a parliament of crows. I was returning from the Lake District having just been investigating the locations of the Croglin Grange Vampire. I was being driven and it was a pleasant day so I was passing the time looking out of the window watching the countryside go by. Then in one field I saw it. A parliament of crows. It was a large circle of crows with one in the centre, all of the others looking at it. I just had to say stop and it would have happened, it was a quiet country road with no traffic around and the driver would have been more than happy to have stopped. My camera was easily accessible - in its bag at my feet. Did I utter the words? Did I comment. Nope. I just looked at it as we drove by. A missed opportunity.
Secondly a genuine UFO. I had my camera set up to take a photograph of the International Space Station with one of the planets in the frame. A large lens so things were enlarged. Everything was supported on a solid tripod and I was using a cable release. I took some test shots to make sure everything was ok and then just after one of the test shots as I was looking through the eye piece of the camera I noticed a bright light moving - as I watched it I could see it moving in the cloudless sky in a figure of eight shape. I could see all of the other stars and the planet clearly and they were not moving so it wasn't caused by the camera or lens moving. I just stood and watched it, through the equivalent (in terms of magnification) to a 12X pair of binoculars. I was watching through a camera ready to take pictures, I had my fingers on the cable release. I had already taken one photograph - if I took some more they would be time stamped giving an indication of how fast the object was moving in the frame. If I had taken some more photographs it might have been possible to use photostacking software to get a clearer image. I was in the best possible position for taking photographs - multiple ones at that - and I didn't. I watched and was intrigued by it at the time and thought it was cool - just like the parliament of crows. But just like the parliament no photographs (well one, but it by itself shows a dot of light amongst other dots of light). So, it was in the sky, flying around and I don't know what it was - a UFO by definition.
I've been into photography and Forteana for most of my life and I didn't get these pictures. In both cases it would have been easy to do but no, it didn't happen. Was I too overcome with amazement? Was I in a temporary fugue state? How many others have experienced this? Or am I the only idiot who didn't press the shutter release? Will it happen again? I hope similar sightings do but the next time I promise - I WILL take the shot.