Finding Patty: Is Technology The Key?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 26th, 2010

Frequently, very frequently, I am asked in media interviews: “Do you think that with all this modern technology, it will only be a matter of time before we have great footage of a Sasquatch?”

Of course, considering the beginning assumptions of that line of journalistic questioning, I say “No.”

More cellphone cameras in more hands and more digital cameras out there does not translate into better quality images.  Despite what the ads may lead you to “believe.”

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

16 Responses to “Finding Patty: Is Technology The Key?”

  1. Cryptoraptor responds:

    The technology to take a decent photo of a bear, for example, has been around for well over 100 years. There has been a proliferation of cameras in the past decade which means even more photos of bears. If there were no bears, not even a camera on every square foot of the US would not yield any bear photos.

  2. airforce47 responds:

    I find this post from Loren quite humorous and one must remember that Loren is an accomplished photographer. His opinion is right on in that whoever gets the opportunity to photograph a Sasquatch must keep their wits about them and get the photos or video in a quality format.

    Roger Patterson had the chance and did for the most part get images but his choice of film and camera could have been much better. He left us with an overexposed 16mm color transparency film which has left more questions than answers.

    If he had used a 35mm Nikon, Canon or Pentax of that era and a good quality BW or color negative film his photos would have had enough resolution to draw modern science closer to investigating the species. His negatives could have been easily checked for authenticity.

    More quality cameras in the hands of amateurs may produce by accident high resolution photography of the species. Encounters have happened where the opportunity was present but the camera remained unused due to the surprise factor.

    Time will tell and the cameras will only get better. My best,

  3. Redrose999 responds:


    And what would bigfooting be without it’s occasional blobsquatch :p Seriously, good cameras in the hands of amateurs doesn’t make a good picture of a moving target. Have you ever taken a picture of a moving person or animal and have it be clear? It is not an easy task. I’m an artist and photographer and I have a hell of a time taking that perfect frozen photo of a moving target. I spend hours sitting in front of my crab apple tree just to catch that one perfect picture of the honey bees flying around it. If I’m lucky, I’ll get maybe one in a 100 shots.

    As an artist, I’ll say this, it is very difficult to get a clear picture of something that is moving, at a distance and even more difficult to take it if the subject in question is surrounded by plants and trees.

    Try to take a unplanned picture of a kid running around the yard at a distance on a whim, and I bet it won’t be all too clear.

  4. E responds:

    Ahem. I disagree.

    I took that photo with my Nokie 6300 cell phone. It has a 2 megapixel camera. The animal was moving. Not running, perhaps jogging? =P But it was moving in a pretty fast pace. And it was a bit more than 10 meters away, perhaps 12-13. Oh and I am an amature 😉 So let’s joinf forces: It’s not a dog, not a rat! Not a raccoon but a…….

  5. cryptidsrus responds:

    Ultimately, only a BODY will satisfy die-hard skeptics and a lot of other people as well. I don’t care how good or how detailed the photograph is-some folks feel “if I can’t SEE it, it doesn’t exist.” 🙁

  6. wuffing responds:

    airforce47 wrote:

    …whoever gets the opportunity to photograph a Sasquatch must keep their wits about them and get the photos or video in a quality format.
    Roger Patterson had the chance and did for the most part get images but his choice of film and camera could have been much better.

    I beg to differ on that. A handful of still frames would have meant nothing – it is the creatures motion which makes some people still think it is not a man in a suit.

    16mm was good enough for Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, The Ascent of Man and Life on Earth so the problem does not lie in the format. Whether the footage is shot on Super 8 or thermal high def digital megadisk won’t make any difference if people can’t use a tripod and focus control. Assuming, of course, that they are out to solve a mystery and not just perpetuate it 🙂 W

  7. DWA responds:

    Well, I’m open to being educated on this.

    I always thought that Patterson couldn’t have done any better for equipment than he did, and that there’s enough on that film to pique scientific curiosity, and that scientific groupthink is to blame for what happened to P/G.

    Could Patterson have afforded better equipment? Would he have known where it was if he could? I don’t know. I do know that what he got should have spurred more interest than it did.

    And I’m with Loren. I don’t think the technology is so much better that it’s going to compensate for this issue: most people simply are not going to be ready when the opportunity arrives.

    Whatever is gotten…well, P/G tells us (despite what I once thought on this) what will happen to that. Wish I felt different. But a casual grabshooter ain’t solving this one, and P/G says so.

  8. Cryptoraptor responds:

    Enough people seemed ready to photograph bears, gorillas, rhinos. etc… in the wild when the moment arrived over the past 70 plus years. Most of us have seen clear, definative photos of all these animals. It’s 2010, cameras are 100 times more present in society and picture clarity and resolution are remarkable. Can you imagine if, in 2010, a photo of a chimpanzee had yet to be taken and we were still debating indiscernable, blurry photos of chimps. Is it actually being seriously discussed that lack of camera technology is the reason that no definitive photographic evidence of bigfoot exists?

  9. alcalde responds:

    Awesome ad! And as usual, I must disagree with the majority. The latest crop of cameras have amazing technology for autofocus, auto white balance, automatic facial recognition for focusing, the ability to take a few quick shots immediately before and after the shot is taken to ensure the shot is captured, focusing while shooting, auto exposure compensation, optical and digital motion compensation, and several other technologies. Heck, I once had a bizarre problem a few years ago using a then new camera I hadn’t spent much time with – I wasn’t familiar with all the manual controls yet and was trying to get something out of focus for effect, but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t make the camera take a bad picture, no matter how hard I tried! 🙂 There’s even a feature on a new camera to be released soon (I forget which brand) that takes several quick frames of the subject, then creates a composite image by removing the parts that were moving and keeping those that were not. So, let’s say you’re at the Cryptozoology Museum and you want a picture of Bigfoot but there’s lots of people walking around in front of you. This camera mode would take several quick shots, remove the moving people, keep the Bigfoot and surrounding exhibits, and produce a photo showing the Bigfoot/exhibit with no people!

    In short, the technology is in place to practically forbid you from taking bad pictures (at least technically, and it’s getting close to compositionally based on some tech demos I’ve read about). At that point, any Blobsquatch can be automatically ruled as intentional, and thus a hoax. Legitimate photos will be hi-res, properly lit and exposed, and in focus. The new gen of compact superzooms that will be hitting the market this year will be sporting 20X lenses and the ability to take 10 shots per second meaning that there will be no distant shots of phantom black cats and no missed shots. Cryptozoology will be in a better place for sure. Now if only Sony could add an “orang pedenk” Scene mode to their cameras that expands on their face recognition tech to spot orang pedenks and automatically snap the picture even if the operator doesn’t! 🙂

  10. mystery_man responds:

    No matter how good the technology gets, it’s still only a tool and tools are only as effective as the people who are using them.

    In addition to the issue of moving targets that has already been brought up here, many people do not realize just how difficult it is to take good pictures of wildlife in general. From what I understand, in many cases, many of the animal photos you see are of captive animals, animals on reserves or in zoos, or even trained animals. Often, the animals you see in good shots are at least somewhat acclimated to the presence of humans in one way or another.

    When you do get good footage or photos of wild animals in their natural habitat, this is often the end result of a lot of hard work, patience, and waiting for just the right moment. It can take loads of preparation and time to get a snippet of footage that you catch on a Discovery Channel program. We take it for granted, but in reality it takes a a lot of time and effort to get shots like that. And this is when you know where the animals will likely be. Wild animals are also usually wary and cautious of humans, and so there is a good chance your sighting will be fleeting. Unless you are a pro and really know what you are doing, getting a good shot is really not quite as easy as some people seem to think.

    So my point here is that even with animals with well documented behavior, ones where we can somewhat predict where they will be and what they will do, it is still more often than not hard to get really good photographs or footage. With something like the Sasquatch, we know nothing. We really do not know anything about their habits, behaviors, feeding habits, when or where they will appear, or indeed whether they even exist at all. They also appear to be elusive, shy creatures that don’t particularly like to be seen for extended periods of time.

    Add to this lack of knowledge the very real factor that someone coming across one is going to be likely taken off guard to say the least. Unless the person seeing a Sasquatch has their wits about them and/or is very lucky, they are most likely going to be lucky to get anything on film at all, no matter how good their equipment is.

    I think getting good footage of Sasquatch is much more than a matter of how good the technology is. It is probably going to take a combination of someone who knows what they are doing, a lot of patience, a bit of luck, and a level head. Even more importantly, I think that as in the case with getting footage of any wild animal, it is going to be necessary to understand more about how they behave.

    Even with camera traps, they do not do a lot of good if we don’t know where Sasquatch will be or whether they can sense the equipment as has been speculated before. You can have the sweetest, cutting age set-up in the world and it won’t mean a hill of beans if it isn’t where the animal you want to photograph is.

    Technology is only one factor of many in the quest for good photographic evidence of cryptids.

  11. DWA responds:

    Mystery_man: Thanks. Great job.

    A lot of folks don’t understand at all what you really laid out in detail.

    In short: PHOTOGRAPHING WILD ANIMALS IS NOT POSSIBLE. With the exceptions you laid out very well.

    There is no reason to expect anything clear of an animal for which nothing is confirmed, and even what is speculated is hotly debated among proponents. (Plus: no one is even looking full time, which will get you nothing.)

    And yet we got the P/G film, which contrary to popular belief is more than clear enough. (Science’s reaction is science’s fault; groupthink kills.)

    We got it because Patterson, not a scientist, followed up on evidence the way a scientist would. And he was ready – physically and mentally – to draw when he saw. (Hey, he was a cowboy. That helped. 😉 )

    If HE could do it, what do we think a serious scientific expedition might do?

  12. Mïk responds:

    I’m on both sides of this question. As a layman photographer (Flickr/MïK for proof), I believe the technology is a help in getting more clear pictures of Saquatch as ‘Alcalde’ has pointed out, but it is usually not taken into the woods on a fishing trip, or hunting exposition by the majority of the human population. Add to that, the nocturnal, shy nature that seems to be ‘Quatch’s demeanor and the bumbling, noisy movements of our fellow humans, There isn’t going to THAT many encounters to photograph.

    Most encounters are so brief that a camera cannot be put into play in time. Why do we have wildlife photos of every other large animal on earth? I believe it’s because other animals aren’t intelligent and actively seeking reclusion from its close relative. It may make its living by stealth means. How many Vietnam-era brushbeaters ran into the native tiger?

    I believe, as soon as us photosnappers learn to prop the camera for steadiness, and we start carrying our more expensive equipment around everywhere (as opposed to the point-and-shoot pocket cameras and cell phones), we’ll get Sas’s picture in a detailed, able to research, arguable form.

  13. DWA responds:

    Just occurs to me that I posted something that can be misinterpreted.

    The P/G film is way more than clear enough to:

    1) Show that whatever-it-is has very nonstandard proportions for humans. The differences are subtle; but so many nonstandards should raise a big question mark about a hoax. (Basically: the odds are virtually nil that a person like that existed in 1967.)

    2) Show that if that’s a suit, it is a one-of-a-kind work of art, not to mention technological genius. (Because you couldn’t find a person for the suit, the suit would have to be, essentially, a machine with a person inside it.)

    3) Spark the purely-scientific speculation that never happened when it should have: What’s the likelihood of making 2) and getting 2) in front of P and G? Even wilder: what’s the likelihood that P and G did it? Wilder still: why would someone who could do this need or want P and G?

    4) Tamp down any scoffing IF LOOKED AT OBJECTIVELY.

    Which it wasn’t.

    THAT’s what I mean. If it were proof (film as scientific proof is almost universally rejected), we wouldn’t be talking about this here.

    But the technology Patterson used was more than enough to get science on the track; just like the evidence was more than enough for Patterson to find one, if he pursued it (as he did) like a scientist would.

  14. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Well, I wouldn’t say photographing wildlife is NOT POSSIBLE, but certainly it is not as easy as many seem to think, for reasons that I explained above.

    Most people out in the wild with cameras are not constantly prepared, with their cameras out, ready to snap photos of what will most likely be a fleeting encounter. Unless the sighting is reasonably prolonged to give enough time to get the shot, and with Sasquatch enough time to get one’s wits about them after what would likely be a life altering event, then the photographer simply won’t likely get much more than a blobsquatch at best.

    Like I said, most of the good photographs and footage of wildlife in a natural environment are taken by people who are either lucky, or know where to look, what to expect, and are prepared to photograph it when it happens. A lot of work and patience is needed for this. This is just not the case with the typical person carrying around a camera out in the woods, often in their bag or a case where they can’t get to it with any appreciable speed. Add in the apparently wary, elusive nature of Sasquatch and photos aren’t necessarily going to be common.

    I do tend to be skeptical, and I do find lack of good photographic evidence of such a large and frequently sighted creature to be suspicious, but I can at least appreciate how this might be the case.

    There are very large animals, especially very intelligent ones, that can be notoriously difficult to catch on film. Jungle elephants, for instance, are well known for their elusiveness. Not only are they rarely photographed, but they are hard to find or even see at all. Biologists who have spent a lot time in the field actively searching for these animals and tracking them hardly ever catch a glimpse of them. This is why these biologists have to rely on indirect methods such as DNA analyses of scat and bioacoustic data (which can differentiate individual animals) when trying to compile an estimate of how many individual elephants there are. Not only do the elephants avoid people, but they are able to hide in the jungle extremely well for their size.

    Another example is chimpanzees. A lot of the footage you see is of chimps that have been habituated to some degree to the presence of humans or are in captivity to some degree. Indeed, in order for chimps to be effectively studied in the wild, it is necessary for you to acclimate them to your presence in order for them to come anywhere near you. Wild chimps are extremely shy and wary, and anyone studying them will tell you this. Unless you’ve gone through these efforts, it is unlikely you would get any good footage of chimps in the wild no matter how good your equipment. You would likely never even see one at all.

    Sasquatch, if they are indeed out there, seem to be similarly shy and wary. On top of that, I think we can all agree that they are most likely highly intelligent. We also have next to no understanding about their behavior and movements. Considering this and that many sightings are not of a long enough duration to get a good photo, I can somewhat understand the lack of compelling photogrphic evidence.

    Is this lack of footage and photographic evidence odd? Yes, I tend to think so. Unlike jungle elephants, Sasquatch are seen all of the time, all over the place. Is the lack of this evidence impossible to explain? No, I don’t think so. I’m trying to wrap my head around it as much as anyone else, but there are circumstances to consider.

    Once again, although technology certainly doesn’t hurt, I tend to think that understanding these creatures and their behavior, as well as being prepared to phtograph them is going to trump technology for the most part in terms of gathering this kind of evidence.

  15. norman-uk responds:

    Logically, I do think that given the fact of Sasquatch (IMO) and the ubiquity of easy to use cameras it should be ‘just a matter of time’ before at the very least, good photographs of Sasquatch should be available followed by good footage and maybe in some niche they are (Ericson?) . The strange thing is they are apparently not and given all the cameras and all the outdoorsmen and women in the North Americas they should be. The practical difficulties of taking an elusive animals pictures are not sufficient explanation.

    My explanation is that there is something unique about Sasquatch that makes it too difficult, something about the fear it is able to generate so it can avoid its picture being taken. Maybe from its special physical abilities such as its terrible presence and knee buckling smell. Its hellish growl, paralysing as a tigers is reported to be.

    Then there is something paranormal about Sasquatch having an effect on cameras like trail cameras etc. In many humans there is evidently some ESP. (IMO) in Sasquatch this could be either more highly developed or retained thus helping it stay out of the limelight. So there is a lot of room for pessimism where there ought to be optimism, strange!

    Doesnt it make sasquatch soooooo interesting!!!

  16. norman-uk responds:

    What is the cat in your picture, doesnt look like a domestic cat to me?

    Thank you.

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