Saturday, March 03, 2018

Airplane Hunting

 Bristol Beaufighter firing rockets
As Chairman of The Swale Search and Recovery (metal detecting) Club I was approached recently by an up-and-coming air museum to help look for wreckage of a WWII Bristol Beaufighter that had crashed on a local muddy foreshore during a training exercise. It was believed, or hoped, that there was a substantial amount of wreckage remaining although little had been seen above ground for some considerable time.
For the initial search I organised a party of half a dozen metal detectorists to search the area, at low tide, around where the plane was thought to have crashed, which the museum assistant marked with a clump of stakes. While plenty of spent ammunition was found, not one single piece related to the plane emerged, although the tide had not been as low as we would have liked.
For the second search, at a predicted lower tide, I took my aura camera and long lens instead of a metal detector and let the others carry on metal detecting while I stood at the marker stakes and proceeded to photograph the exposed foreshore piece by piece in a one hundred and eighty degree arc around the stakes. On dry land I could have linked the camera to a laptop and analysed the photos on the spot, but out on a tidal foreshore, it would not be a good idea so I just used the camera and would analyse the photos at home later. Although there were a few permanent seamarks to help frame the photos, it was mainly guesswork where I was pointing the camera as featureless foreshore and open sea all looks the same. With the benefit of hindsight I could have used a compass and obtained a bearing for each photo. An assistant to use the compass to line me up for the photo and to note the readings would be a great help. Again the detectorists found only spent ammunition and nothing that could be specifically related to the plane.
I downloaded the photos at home and enhanced them with Arcsoft Photostudio. I was pleased to see that there were areas showing an orange aura (top photo) as well as areas showing no aura (bottom photo). I assumed I had taken photos fairly evenly around the arc and nominally assigned compass points to the aura photos. That gave me one search area approx North to Nor’-Nor’-East and another due South.

Armed with this information I organised another search, although the detecting party had now reduced to three only. Two of us went searching to the North and one to the South. We did not know how far away the targets were but guessed they would be less than 200 yards (or metres) as that was the optimum range I had been able to pick up a large target in the past. It would be possible to walk in the direction of the auras with the camera, particularly if there were compass bearings, and to re-photograph them at say ten-yard or metre intervals, which could be measured by pacing or a surveyors tape. Of course this would require another at-home analysis session to determine at which point the aura image is lost and determine that the target would lie between there and the previous ten-yard point where the image was captured. A further session on the site would be required to make the final location and recovery. Nevertheless we had some results. The South searching detectorist recovered a part of the plane’s ammunition box, meanwhile the two of us searching northwards discovered a 60lb rocket each, part of the plane’s arsenal. I also recovered a small piece of aircraft battery. So by using aura photography, we had actually started finding what we were looking for as well as defining where to look on future searches.
Part of ammunition box

One of the rockets recovered in two parts (dummy warhead at bottom) and minus fins
A Beaufighter being armed with rockets

Sunday, January 07, 2018

In Search of King John’s Treasure (Part 2)

The only field that produced a good aura was the same field that had given the curious orbs with the camera on the AV setting. While not the recommended setting, it does indicate that other camera settings work – perhaps as good or better. We had photographed the field from different points on adjacent sides of the field and obtained auras in the same place from both points and with both lenses, so there is definitely a substantial quantity of metal buried here, which may be silver from the colours obtained in the photographs. I should perhaps mention that this is not the field that Garry Brooker indicated but it is close by.

We now needed to contact the landowner to discuss the possibility of undertaking a survey to try and establish what is buried there and at what depth. It has now become quite easy to use the Land Registry online: to establish ownership and in this case it only took a few minutes. Writing a letter to the landowner took somewhat longer and as yet we have received no reply. Still no news is good news, they say! Meanwhile Aquila is seeking Yamashita’s gold in the Philippines so I am awaiting his return before chasing this project up…

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Olympus Digital Cameras

We have found three early Olympus digital cameras that are capable of photographing auras. The earliest is the D-360L, which will produce tiny orb auras and does not even need a filter. My friend Kybob has made a video of this camera in action:

Note that there is a vehicle in the background in some of the shots, which will produce auras in its own right, being a substantial chunk of metal. This is the second video in a two part series. Part 1 covers the Canon camera: other two cameras: D-490 Zoom and C-460 Zoom del Sol both need a filter. I am using 850nm, 90% pass filter material successfully in the Cokin Compact Camera holder: Amazon link:

However, when I used a round filter on the D-490, attached to the front of the lens with poster putty, I found I needed a 950nm filter.The orb auras become larger as the megapixels increase, the C-460 ZdS at 4.0MP produces the largest orbs of the three.
I haven’t tested all the early Olympus cameras and many can be bought so cheaply now, they may be worth buying just to test. Ideally look for one of the above models, which we know work. If you want to try another model, get one which has a viewfinder or viewing port as it is impossible to use the backscreen with an IR filter in front of the lens. I can tell you that I have tried the C-460 and D-545, which did not produce auras on my test site.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Every detectorist dreams of finding a hoard and this new book will increase your chances of doing so.

The rich history of the British Isles has led to the burial of thousands of hoards for many different reasons – some as offerings, some as savings or in an emergency, intended to be recovered later. Although of course nobody knows exactly where hoards are buried, understanding why hoards came to be in the ground will help you to search in the right places.

Covering the Bronze Age to modern times, this fascinating book, by David Villanueva,
also gives lots of advice on how to research possible hoard sites, from researching local maps and records to clues to look out for on Google Earth. Contents include:

  • Tools & Resources
  • The Bronze Age
  • The Iron Age
  • Roman Britain
  • Saxons & Vikings
  • Medieval Britain
  • Religious Houses
  • Battle Sites
  • Modern Times
  • Treasure Law

152 pages, A4, beautifully illustrated in colour. A must have book for all detectorists!

Available from Amazon:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In Search of King John’s Treasure

A few months ago, out of the blue, an Australian, Garry Brooker, inventor of Rangertell, long range metal locators, gave me GPS co-ordinates, which he claimed to be the possible location of King John’s treasure. He didn’t tell me how he obtained this precise location, just that he and some American friends have become very accurate at locating various hidden metals using Google Earth.
I had only just thanked Garry for the information, when my friend, Aquila Chrysaetos, an accomplished dowser and author, contacted me to discuss King John’s treasure to include as a chapter in his second book, Dowsed Treasure Locations Around The World.
We thought it would be worthwhile to go and check the site out, so we pooled our dowsing and research resources and headed off for sunny Lincolnshire. Aquila had dowsed a number of targets in the area, including several quite close to Garry’s co-ordinates. We had been fortunate to get accommodation within walking distance of the fields, so after a hearty breakfast we set out photographing fields. The fields were under crop, so we could only photograph from the public roads and tracks running alongside.
I use both the Canon 18-55mm lens and the Sigma 105mm lens so I get two different takes on any target and I need to get a good aura with both to confirm a good target. So it was a matter of taking  enough shots with one lens to cover the field and then changing lenses and repeating the shots, plus one shot without the filter to identify the field later.

When photographing the second field I noticed this unusual orb formation on the camera backscreen.
It was only when photographing the third field that Aquila commented on how slow the camera shutter was operating that I looked at the setting and realized that I had the selector on AV, which is the setting I use when photographing finds, to get the necessary depth of field. So, moving the selector to the correct Auto-No Flash setting, we had to retrace our steps and take the shots of the three fields again. As it happens, we are both a bit overweight and undoubtedly benefited from the additional exercise!
Rule 1; always check the camera settings before taking photos!
To be continued…

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Magical Treasure Hunting

This is a history of treasure hunting from the middle ages to the present day, rather than a how to book. Nevertheless, it is well researched and despite being written by a university senior lecturer, is quite entertaining, although biased towards Europe, as medieval North America is largely undocumented. The study leads to the conclusion that treasure hunting in the medieval period was all about dealing with treasure-guarding angels, fairies and ghosts, where wizards were willing to face demons in order to get rich quick and resourceful tricksters exploited greed and stupidity, all watched by profit-seeking authorities. Generally speaking, most authorities regarded treasure hunting as benign and not evil like witchcraft. In the modern period treasure hunting evolved through searching for saintly relics to today’s method’s of researching, gathering and interpreting historical clues to find the treasure.
Interestingly, dowsing or divining has been used throughout the history of treasure hunting and another finding I picked-up on, was that flames, particularly blue flames were claimed to appear above buried treasures. Compare this with Louis Matacia, writing in Finding Treasure Auras, (1996). “When the full moon is highest in the night sky, the Indians would see a bluish-green flame glowing above the ground in the mountain. The glowing flame appeared to grow very slowly, reaching an impressive height and then retreating to the earth from whence it came…And this is where they found the silver and gold.” It seems the phenomenon of treasure auras existed well before the invention of the camera.
Going back to the book, I read it from cover to cover and found it a good read. First printed in hardback in 2011 and paperback 2012. The drawback, as with academic books in general, is the eye-wateringly high price. Even the E-book is priced at over £20.00 GB Pounds. You can always try and borrow the book from your local public library though.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Colour of the Money

Buried metals interact with the earth’s magnetic field to emit electro-magnetic radiation. Radiation seems to be emitted across a spectrum of wavelengths from Near Infrared, through visible light to Ultraviolet. Different metals may have different dominant colours of radiation, as processed by the camera. This seems unrelated to the natural colour of the metal or alloy, since similarly coloured metals such as gold and brass do not necessarily produce the same colour radiation or aura. Colours can also change according to the size of the target. A single gold coin can produce a red aura and a bucketful will, presumably, also produce a red aura; a handful of iron junk, on the other hand, will produce a yellow aura but a lump the size of a car engine will produce a red aura. The colours do not work perfectly, unfortunately, but you can generally say that if the aura is not red then it will not be gold and you probably will not miss gold buried in an iron box. These colours are typical of the Canon camera using a long (Sigma) lens, which does not normally produce orbs.

The shorter Canon kit lens almost invariably produces an aura in the form of coloured orbs with a background colour. I believe the orbs form because of the geometry of the lens and is a function of radiation bouncing between the internal IR blocking filter or hot mirror and the rear of the external IR filter. Gold tends to produce multiple blue orbs on a red background and again, the size of the target may affect the numbers of orbs and colours.