• AP Magazine

    An alternative way to explore and explain the mysteries of our world. "Published since 1985, online since 2001."

  • 1
Alternate Perceptions Magazine, October 2020

Kodak’s Explanation for Stella Lansing’s “Clockwork”

by: Brent Raynes

Back in issue number 25, in the Fall 1993 edition of this magazine [then called UFO Perceptions], when we were a print publication, I wrote an article that I felt would satisfactorily cast plausible doubt on noted UFO experiencer/photographer Stella Lansing’s controversial and highly publicized odd looking so-called “clockwork” images [resembling luminous clockface like formations] that often appeared on her super 8mm footage. They frequently showed up on her film when she was out looking for UFOs – something that had become pretty much an obsession with her. Back on January 5, 1974, I visited Stella at her home in Palmer, Massachusetts, with my friend Jim Carey and his wife Linda and their son Jay. We engaged in quite an overview of her many experiences. She played for us reel after reel of super 8mm footage to see for ourselves, and we went out at night skywatching with her some. Then in the wee hours of the morning, around 5 a.m., I returned home to Hallowell, Maine, later learning that an aunt of mine down the hill from us, either that morning or the morning before, had seen a silent circle of white lights, encircled by another circle of lights, moving slowly through the sky at what looked like low altitude. She had gotten up to go to the bathroom and just happened to look out a window and there they were. She heard some sort of sound, different she said from a plane or helicopter, but didn’t seem to know exactly how to describe it.

Well, I’ll admit my thoughts immediately at that point went to Stella’s “clockwork.” It seemed very synchronistic. Well known UFO author and publisher Timothy Green Beckley, whose nickname is “Mr. UFO,” recently told me how he essentially discovered Stella and convinced Jim Moseley to give her a chance to present a talk at one of his gatherings. However, it was Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz, a psychiatrist and parapsychologist who was very interested in the UFO/paranormal interface who later attended one of her talks at an APRO conference in Maryland in January 1971 and who as a result truly put Stella’s story out there and gave it very serious attention. Dr. Schwarz wrote a number of articles about Stella’s experiences and anomalous photographic images in the pages of England’s Flying Saucer Review. In fact, it was because of Dr. Schwarz that I was able to arrange my meeting with her and because of his serious interest in her story other investigators and authors did as well, including noted parapsychologist D. Scott Rogo who wrote some about Stella in his book The Haunted Universe [1977] and Brad Steiger’s Gods of Aquarius [1976]. Brad even interviewed her in person. She told him about her frequent UFO related interactions, her photography of UFOs, he questioned her about the “clockwork,” and they even talked about apparent EVP [electronic voice phenomena] recordings she received on occasion. Rogo speculated that her “clockwork” and other odd images could have been “psychic projections on film,” a notion commonly found within parapsychological circles, and certainly one that Dr. Schwarz leaned towards. “The UFO-psychic projection theory gains more support when we take into consideration the fact that some psychics have the ability to create UFOs habitually,” Rogo wrote. He described instances that seemed to suggest that to him, including the religious phenomena that involved many UFOish displays, that seemed to revolve around a woman named Mary Jones during the Welsh revival in the winter of 1904-05.

It wasn’t long before I obtained these “clockwork” images on my own super 8mm footage. I carried a movie camera around with me as I traveled around meeting and interviewing UFO and paranormal experiencers and researchers from Maine to Florida back in 1975 to 1977. I should further add that, as it turned out, Stella and I weren’t the only ones to get “clockwork.” I learned from Dr. Schwarz how others had also.

Here’s what I wrote on this matter in 1993:

The first time I noticed “clockwork” on my own film was actually on a section of film exposed for me by a lady contactee in Ohio in 1976. The lady had barrowed my camera to use while she went skywatching with other experiencers. Later that year, I shot four more reels of film myself with “clockwork” patterns. The scenes being filmed when these patterns appeared were ordinary situations. For example, pictures of family members, the family dog, etc. I recognized the images on film as “clockwork” as I had previously met Stella Lansing and so had viewed much of her photographic material. I wrote Eastman Kodak and was told that the images were due to “rivets.” Edwin Austin, Supervising Photographic Specialist out of Kodak’s office in Rochester, New York, explained: “Films are processed continuously by photofinishers. In order to process films continuously, he must attach the end of one film to the beginning of another. He does this by means of two rivets. As the films come off the end of the processing machine, the films are spooled up together so that the rivets come in contact with the next revolution of film. These two marks on your film were caused by those two rivets.” A few years later, in 1985, I learned that rivets were no longer being used by the Kodak photofinishers. I tried unsuccessfully to obtain an actual rivet through the mail from Kodak. Like Stella’s “clockwork” mine overlap frames. Mine all appeared toward the end of the reel, although Dr. Schwarz has informed me that Stella has obtained such imagers throughout hers.

End of quote.

In this same edition of UFO Perceptions, Dr. Schwarz had contributed a feature entitled Experimental Ufology, suggesting how investigators should best question UFO experiencers to obtain as much background information as possible, which might include paranormal aspects, encouraging experimental procedures be pursued when unusual physical or “paranormal” effects are occurring, as often reported following alleged close encounters and “contact” events. He also wrote “in the case of Stella Lansing (and when in her presence, Brent Raynes and others!) produce myriad motion picture films of UFO-like clockwork percepts – the ‘Stella Lansing Effect” – which seemingly defy the laws of optics.”

My only issue with how that particular part was written is that I did not obtain “clockwork” or any other filmic images of an anomalous nature, that I recall, while in Stella’s presence. Others may have, but I didn’t. Also Dr. Schwarz, who I greatly respected and still do, knew what Kodak had revealed to me and as stated above still described how the “clockwork” effect seemingly defied the “laws of optics,” as it often overlapped frames, but that’s certainly becomes understandable if it was rivet impressions on the film rather than objects that were filmed, or thoughtographic images psychics like Ted Serios presumably produced. I could hold that film under a light and clearly see it was imprinted on one side of the film, while not on the other. Thus it wasn’t an “image” – it was a physical imprint.

Dr. Schwarz described how some other photographers were unable to explain the “clockwork,” and so left the “rivet” issue unproven. But I was satisfied myself because I could look at my own film and it fit perfectly with the Kodak explanation on their development process. It was simply a matter of the people he had consulted with not working with the same process.

Stella was also informed. I recall she sounded upset later with me on the phone, explaining she had already consulted with Kodak and she could have told me everything I needed to know. Which to her it was still an unexplained mystery. Stella explained to me in 1993 that her last “clockwork” image had been back in the early 1980s and that she was now using video film and not getting them anymore. Then soon after we had hung-up she called me back and said that she had just recalled how the year before the film crew from the former Sightings TV program had gotten it on a roll of film. When I asked Stella why it didn’t show up on other types of film, like Polaroid, 35mm or instamatic, she speculated that maybe it was something to do with the film speed and how other equipment just wasn’t effective at detecting these things, and our own human limitations visually. I have yet to see evidence of this later “clockwork” image that Stella mentioned to me.

Here is a YouTube link to the Sightings program done with Stella and Dr. Schwarz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tMl2sofxbs

While I have questioned here the idea that Stella’s “clockwork” images are in any way psychic or UFO-related, there have been others, as with Dr. Schwarz himself, who have reported seeing and experiencing UFO and paranormal phenomena while in her presence. Some of it smacks of religious visionary experiences, and I came across documentation of one witness to that. And having studied and obtained EVP recordings myself, I find Stella’s claims in that regard interesting as well. I’ll try and detail some of this other high-strangeness in a future article.

Thursday, February 22, 2024