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Still More Thunderbird

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 3rd, 2009

The following analysis of the photograph first discussed here is posted, with thanks to enhancements by Tom Burke:

The “Thunderbird” lamp post is closer to the photographer than the other ones in the parking lot. Forced perspective is being created.


Photo credit: Anomalist/Cryptomundo investigation, August 2009.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


13 Responses to “Still More Thunderbird”

  1. mystery_man responds:

    Yep. Lamp post. The “thunderbird” one is just framed by sky that is similar in brightness to the bulbs, where the others are framed by a darker background where the bulbs are more accentuated. The overexposure and brightness also blanks out the rest of the pole.

    I don’t think the guy who took this was intentionally trying to deceive anyone. I think he took a pic of the really cool looking clouds (and they are amazing), and upon getting the pics, was taken aback by the illusion caused by the contrast of the sky with the lamppost.

    Anyone suggesting this is not a lamppost, please show me where the top of the visible post is if the “thunderbird” is not it. Unless it is one of those topless, bulbless posts that are there for no reason at all.

    I’m sure there are those having a good laugh at how much time we are spending analyzing a picture of what is turning out to be quite clearly a lamppost. I don’t care, it’s been interesting

  2. BunniesLair responds:

    Lamp post for sure. The one that created the Thunderbird illusion (due to over exposure as commented by mystery_man) is in the foreground and therefore taller than the other lamp posts in the photo. But definitely a lamp post.

  3. planettom responds:

    It’s a great photo. I’m a big fan of thunderstorms and beautiful cloud formations. I don’t think the guy was trying to deceive anyone either, he was just taking a photo of the clouds. Upon first glance, the image is intriguing. We have spent a lot of time analyzing the photo, but I don’t mind. The evidence is there, the photo, so we might as well analyze it.

    Thunderbirds are one my favorite topics in cryptozoology. It started with my fascination with the Piasa Bird in Illinois that I got to see as a young child. I still have family in the Alton area so I hope to pass by it again sometime.

    Whether it’s a blob in the woods or a mystery in the sky, I’m glad folks are taking photos. You never know what you are going to see. Let’s hope one of these days we get to analyze another photo that just can’t be explained, at least not easily.

  4. Insanity responds:

    I came to the same conclusion, the pole is overexposed making the top of it seem a separate entity.

  5. raisinsofwrath responds:

    I suppose but I don’t see how the pole could be overexposed only part way down from the top. Especially when you can see the pole against the sky right above the building behind it.

    Again, I’m not saying it’s not the lamps and it seems likely that it is but these little things bother me. One thing I do know, it’s not an Thunderbird.

  6. ctinn responds:

    Thank you! Some people obviously needed a step-by-step explaination!

  7. Insanity responds:

    The pole is overexposed at the top due to its lights are on, or assumed to be on as every other pole in the image is one, and the top is against the lighted background of the sky. The top is the only portion background by a lit area, the bottom is against the buildings and is not overexposed there.

  8. Oz responds:

    What I don’t understand is why someone (like the original photographer) doesn’t just go back to the parking lot and take another picture – without the fancy clouds. I mean we’re talking about Bethel Park, not somewhere in the mato grosso. The location was clearly specified in the original post and Bethel Park is less than 10 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. If someone will pay the flight costs from Honolulu to Pittsburgh, I’ll get up an expedition to check it myself.

    On the other hand, it’s less than 50 miles from Kecksburg as the saucer flies, so maybe there’s something going on we don’t know about.

  9. cryptidsrus responds:

    Great enhancement.

    Although I agree with Mystery_Man: I don’t think the person who took the shot was deliberately trying to “hoax” anybody.
    Unintentional mistake due to a trick of light.

    Great post and great “wrap-up” overall, Loren. :)

  10. twoly responds:

    While I agree that it is a lamppost I am curious why you can see the trees behind it above the roof when they should be blocked by the lamppost not complete as they appear.

  11. Fhqwhgads responds:

    By the way, the suggestion some people have made that the red in the clouds is due to lightning is wrong. The red is a highlighting given by the last, red rays of the setting sun. It’s really not that unusual to see this kind of lighting. What may be less common is to see it on a cloud this dark, since often the sun will be hidden from the cloud by other clouds and/or rain may hide the storm cloud from view.

  12. lukedog responds:

    Lets face it, his comments were pretty arrogant and in the end incorrect as most could tell pretty quickly.This only highlights that, what is obvious to most, and enhancements not helping one iota, its gonna take one heck of a photo to break-through the sceptic and scoftical view of most things cryptozoological.

  13. mungofoot responds:

    ok have seen this pic before and read all the comments here and I must admit at first glance it seems to be a lamp post .but then I saw that DNS had posted a link from google streets of the same location and decided to take a look.I was able to pan around and get nearly the same angle of the apartments and the RITEAID in the original photo but there were some big differences. 1st of all the RITEAID is sitting on the corner of a big intersection and it is very clear on google that there are several stoplights there but no stoplights are visible in the foreground of the original pic and that seems strange to me since it was dark and you would think the stoplights whether red green or yellow would show up.That however may be explained away by the angle of the shot however the big thing that stands out to me is that none of the lamp posts visible in the google shot are shaped anything like the image in the original photo, now you might contend that since the pics were viewing the same area at different times that maybe they got changed out and this is a valid point but the other thing to note is that you can see the pole in both shots that is alledgedly the lamp post I say allegedly because in the google shot it is perfectly clear that it’s not a lamp post but a telephone pole that never had a lamp, It is in the same exact spot as the “lamp post” in the original pic, I am not sure what to make of it but I would love for somebody else to take a look at the 2 views and hear their ideas



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