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Betzner Reflections

John Butler

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Betzner Reflections

It is time to look at a photo rather than a document.  This Betzner photo came up in reading through and watching films from other threads currently at the Ed Forum.  I found this photo strange and not believable. 

Why?  It comes down to what is reflected on the side of the presidential limousine.  The reflections there do not fit the environment in which the p. limo is located.

This photo was taken by Hugh Betzner on Houston Street as the presidential limousine passed the entrance to the Court House/Court Records Building’s parking structure.


This is a crop of that picture that may show the reflections better.  We see two vehicles, one of which is turning.  Then to the right-hand side is something unidentifiable.  Below that is a section that may show (at best guess) a line of people.


The law of reflections tells us what ought to be there:

The law of reflection:

Objects can be seen by the light they emit, or, more often, by the light they reflect. Reflected light obeys the law of reflection, that the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence.


The angle of reflection points back to the photographer.  What is being reflected is what is being seen from the angle of incidence or incident ray.  They are equal angles. 

Hugh Betzner was standing on the west side of Houston Street almost directly across from the p. limo when this photo was taken.  Here is his approximate location when the photo was taken from the Elsie Dorman film.


In this film frame he is not quite level with the p. limo, but he may be aiming his camera here and takes the shot when the limo is directly in front of him.  Or, not.  For our purposes it doesn’t matter whether he shot the photo here or a brief part of a second later.

There was a montage made of the Dorman film and this crop is from the earlier scenes from that film.  At 18 ft per second (based on Zapruder speeds) the p. limo is less than a second further north on Houston Street after the Betzner photo.  We see vehicles turning from the left-hand unto Houston Street.  We do not see vehicles turning unto Houston from the right hand side.


The reflection scene on the side of the p. limo does not match the scene as seen in the Dorman film.  In the reflection on the side of the p. limo we seen vehicles and something else that is not a crowd of people. 

What we should see there is the crowd of people standing near Betzner on the west side of Houston Street by the reflecting pool and the motorcycle policemen to the side or rear of the p. limo and not cars in the distance and some other things unidentifiable.  This is what should be reflected.


And, now for the part that gets everyone upset. 

When you consider this alteration of the p. limo in Betzner with the alterations of the p. limo in Altgens 5, and several witness statements about activities on Main Street, at the intersection of Houston and Main, and on Houston Street the notion that something happened on Houston Street is strengthened.  This is an entirely different story which is not accepted by just about everyone.

Edited by John Butler
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Hi John, 

Is i an optical illusion or is he taking the image before the limo passes him? ie i's still oncoming, as opposed to passing/directly opposite? The road slopes down to the underpass, right? What I am trying to check is what we should be seeing in the reflection. For that we'll need to know the height of his eyeline/camera, the car height and height of what should appear in the reflection. A slight upward or downward angle yields a different result.




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