Photographer Captures Otherworldly Images Inspired by UFO Sightings

In the late '60s and early '70s, an unusual amount of UFO sightings were reported by citizens of the small town of Pudasjärvi, Finland. Even though Finnish photographer Maria Lax wasn’t around to experience them firsthand, a family connection to the phenomenon inspired her to make it the subject of her latest project.

The idea was first planted after she came across a copy of Pudasjärven Ufot during a visit to her parents’ home. The book is a collection of first-person accounts of UFO sightings compiled by her grandfather, Soini Lax, when he was working as a journalist in the '70s. Fascinated by the contents of the book, Lax took it upon herself to reach out to some of the people her grandfather had interviewed decades earlier.

She's since spoken with a dozen people, many of whom shared stories of being followed in the deserted woods by mysterious, bright lights. “The area is surrounded by a huge wilderness so you can imagine how eerie something like that is,” Lax told WIRED. “The people often describe these lights as beautiful and changing in color, and completely silent.”

She’s now attempting to capture the mood of these experiences through a series of experimental photographs published on her Instagram page. The pictures paint scenes of strange lights in isolated areas, and witnesses peering out of windows illuminated by bright colors. Her process involves seeking out places reminiscent of the accounts she’s gathered and using available light from sources like passing cars and long exposures to create the eerie effects.

The project is meant to work as a companion to her short film Lights, which will explore similar themes and visuals. For more of her stunningly creepy photography, check out Maria Lax on Instagram.

[h/t WIRED]

By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

Name the TV Titles Based on Their Antonyms


More from mental floss studios