People that are familiar with the disappearance case of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon are at least somewhat familiar with the disconcerting night time photos. The photos were found on the camera that Lisanne Froon carried in her backpack during their adventures in Panama. Once discovered, the night photos became an important part of the disappearance investigation.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about this disappearance case, I suggest you read the background story: Unsolved: Kris Kremers And Lisanne Froon In Panama

After researching the case and writing about it extensively, I asked interested persons to help me research the disappearance case – the case simply has too many angles to research alone. I wanted to create a research team (link to info).

Matt, a gentleman from Vancouver, contacted me and we spoke for numerous hours about the case.

Matt had purchased the exact same camera model (Canon Powershot SX270 HS) that Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon had with them when they disappeared. In conjunction with the camera, he also purchased a red wig that matches Kris Kremers red hair, he carefully measured the reach of the flash, measured the difference between all of the object in the viewport, duplicated the rainy conditions in the images, evaluated the camera’s inner programming and EXIF operations, among numerous other important investigations.

Overall, Matt has tested the camera extensively in order to understand the role the camera played during the evening that the night photos were taken. Matt is a technology professional and a photographer. He is extremely knowledgable about the case and very methodical in his research, as you will see below.

This is Matt’s thorough analysis of the night photos, written by him. If you wish to contact him, his contact information is at the bottom of the page.

Here is his research…

Kris Kremers & Lisanne Froon Night Photo Analysis

The following is an analysis of the photos 510 to 609, also referred to as the “night photos”, related to the disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon. The case entails the tragic and unnecessary death of two young women. This should be remembered to show the utmost respect for the two young women and their loved ones.

The official investigation into this case leaves much to be desired and did not do a justice for Kris and Lisanne. They deserve the respect that this case is properly investigated and all facts be considered. Simply claiming that they got themselves lost and perished, while there may have been more factors involved that were out of their control, is unjust and unfair.

It’s understood that the night photos were on the Canon Powershot SX270 HS digital camera that was found in Lisanne’s backpack. The photos were never officially “released”, but instead were “leaked” by various investigators. It is my understanding that the majority of the photos were leaked to Juan (link to Juan’s archives).

The Date and Time that the images were taken exists from publications and other leaked data. I used the publicly available data on Scarlet’s website (link).

Out of the 100 photos, only 51 photos exist. The remaining photos never surfaced to the public. It is also possible that more than 100 photos exist. For now, we’ll assume that the only photos that exist are the 100 known photos.

Night Photo Damage

Unfortunately, all photos were damaged to some degree. What we have to work with are only those damaged images.

The damage consists of:

Resizing – The original resolution of the images would be 4000 x 3000 pixels, from the Camera’s 12 MegaPixel sensor with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The publicly available images were all resized to 1280 x 960 (1284 x 963) and 772 x 963 or 1.2 MegaPixel and 0.74 MegaPixel. Unfortunately, this resizing resulted in a loss of 90% of the actual image data.

Removal of EXIF data – With the exception of image 542 and 550 no images have EXIF data.

Color Manipulation – It is not easy to determine which images were manipulated. It is likely that several images were increased in brightness and contrast. This can be seen, for example, in image 595 (shown below), which shows typical color artifacts of underexposed and then brightened digital images.

The unedited images would have looked nearly all black, like shown below.

The image adjustments were done in simple fashion by someone that was probably not an expert with digital image editing, namely because only the brightness and contrast were increased, rather than adjusting image levels. The image’s brightness levels are shown below. Here we can observe a typical image that’s been severely underexposed.

Underexposed Image

Without getting too technical, experienced graphics editors use “levels” to adjust the range of brightness and darkness tones. This tool essentially makes the dark and light areas of a photo more consistent and visually pleasing. When image brightness is adjusted via levels, it leads to visible gaps in the histogram because the existing brightness levels are spread over the entire brightness spectrum of 0 – 255. The same image further brightened by me has a histogram as seen below. You can see a clear difference.

Underexposed Histogram

The example below shows a crop from image 511 and is representative of most images in the night photos. The image was brightened which is evident by the dark green color artifacts visible in the bushes. Below is a crop of the top left corner. Visible are the dark green color artifacts.

An image that I took with the Canon Powershot, under similar conditions (at night during rain) and not brightened, would look like the image below. The photo is nearly all black. Note that there is a branch visible in the lower left corner that is very close to the camera.

The image above further brightened will look like the image below. Now we can see trees, bushes and the same green color artifacts.

This is also an explanation for the statements made by people that saw the original images. Apart from a few of the night photos, the original night photos would have been mostly black. Furthermore, it would be a fair to refer to even almost black pictures as “black” unless you are examining them meticulously, as is done here. Thus, I’d like to point out that the statement describing the night images as mostly black was truthful and not intended to be misleading.

Several images exist in as many as three different versions, which is best seen with image 542. I combined all three of the images below to illustrate this point.

On the left is most likely the original image. The middle image has brightness and contrast increased. The image on the right contains the date and time written into the image. It is likely that the person who edited those images had the originals and took this data from the EXIF information. That practice is not uncommon. Images are often edited and then saved under different names, in order to safely maintain the original images. I do the same when editing images and I do not see this as an attempt to covertly manipulate the images. Whoever duplicated the images was most likely just trying to see what is in those images and ended up sending the entire work-in-progress with single, double and triple images to Juan. There is nothing untypical here.

Another example where this crude technique of image brightening was applied is with image 576, which is known as the ”SOS marker” photo. Simply adjusting brightness and contrast has the side effect that the entire “SOS marker” is obscured and it gives the impression it was intentionally hidden. Realistically, this is just the result of this simplistic approach to image “enhancement”.

Above, on the left is the original image. On the right is the leaked image with brightness and contrast increased (i.e. +100/+100).

A bigger issue with the photos is that the recorded image numbers and times are probably mixed up and therefore inaccurate to some degree.

All of these shortcomings leaves us with a mess of small and damaged images. It is also problematic that it’s unknown which image artifacts, on some of the images, are caused by the original lighting conditions and which are caused by crude image manipulation. This causes some problems later in my research, as you’ll see.

Baseline Assumptions

The following assumptions were made for this investigation:

  • Assumption 1 – The camera used was a Canon Powershot SX270 HS. This information was reported by officials and is also visible on the EXIF data, of the few images that offer EXIF data. However, the camera shown in the official photos does not clearly show the Canon Powershot SX270 HS. It may look similar if the camera has the lens extended. Also, the bag that could be a camera bag (shown below) does not appropriately fit this small camera. Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon can be seen using a camera with one hand to take selfies, which points to a rather small camera being used. It is unlikely that the images were manipulated and the camera swapped, since there is no clear motive for this. It is therefore assumed for this investigation that a Canon Powershot SX270 HS was used. This is critically important since many conclusions are based on it.
  • Assumption 2 – The camera was functioning normally and was not exhibiting issues or malfuntions. This relates especially to the flash and auto focus. There is at present no reason to doubt this and it is assumed correct
  • Assumption 3 – Image numbers and image times are generally correct. This said, it is very evident that they are not correct for all images. This can be seen by the fact that some image names don’t align with the sequence of photos and that several images were taken at the same time, if the available data is believed.
    It is possible that this is due to mistakes by the person extracting this data from the original images. It is very easy to make mistakes when working with 100 mostly black images and when copying data from EXIF viewers into other tables. I myself have caught myself making similar mistakes when compiling this data. Those mix ups happen easily. It is thus assumed that the bulk of this data is correct but does occasionally contain mistakes.
  • Assumption 4 – No images were deleted. We know that image 509 was deleted but it is generally assumed that none of the night images were deleted.

Night Photo Data

The table below shows the recorded times that the images were taken. Times are taken from Scarlet’s site (link to source). Missing photo times were interpolated. Some of the photo times that are obviously wrong, for example, times showing several images that were supposedly taken at the exact same moment in time or at impossible intervals (e.g. 1s), were also interpolated. For example, image 511 and image 512 could not both have been taken at 01:30:00.

The inaccuracies in the recorded times was likely caused by whoever leaked them, having made mistakes when taking the EXIF information. In principle it is not relevant if the actual time an image was taken is slightly incorrect as long as the majority and the times they were taken in relation to each other is largely correct.

In the table below, Delta T shows the elapsed time between images. Note that the Canon Powershot SX270 HS averages at least 6.5s per image with full power flash as would be used at night. All original times that are impossible to be correct, because the span of time was inadequate, have been interpolated and are listed in column “Zero Times Interpolated”.

Additionally the table shows the rain intensity as seen in each image, on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being minimal rainfall and 10 being heavy rainfall. Note that this scale does not necessarily equate to the true rain fall, as some images do not show the rain well, mainly due to the poor lighting conditions.

Image #Original Time
[ 24 h]
Zero Times
Interpolated [ 24 h]
Delta T
Interpolated
[mm:ss]
Rain
[ 1 – 10 ]
Image 51001:29:4001:29:40NA  
Image 51101:30:0001:30:0000:208
Image 51201:30:0001:30:0700:07 
Image 51301:30:1400:14 
Image 51401:30:2900:14 
Image 51501:30:4300:14 
Image 51601:30:5800:14 
Image 51701:31:1200:14 
Image 51801:31:2700:14 
Image 51901:31:4100:14 
Image 52001:31:5600:14 
Image 52101:32:1000:14 
Image 52201:32:2500:14 
Image 52301:32:3900:14 
Image 52401:32:5400:14 
Image 52501:33:0800:14 
Image 52601:33:2300:14 
Image 52701:33:3700:14 
Image 52801:33:5200:14 
Image 52901:34:0600:14 
Image 53001:34:2100:14 
Image 53101:34:3500:14 
Image 53201:34:5000:14 
Image 53301:35:0400:14 
Image 53401:35:1900:14 
Image 53501:35:3300:14 
Image 53601:35:4800:14 
Image 53701:36:0200:14 
Image 53801:36:1600:14 
Image 53901:36:3100:14 
Image 54001:36:4500:14 
Image 54101:37:0001:37:0000:15 
Image 54201:38:1201:38:1201:122
Image 54301:38:2801:38:2800:165
Image 54401:38:4801:38:4800:204
Image 54501:38:4801:38:5900:114
Image 54601:38:4801:39:1000:117
Image 54701:39:2101:39:2100:335
Image 54801:39:3201:39:3200:117
Image 54901:39:4201:39:4200:105
Image 55001:39:4501:39:4500:03 
Image 55101:40:0100:16 
Image 55201:40:1600:166
Image 55301:40:3201:40:3200:166
Image 55401:40:4801:40:4800:165
Image 55501:40:5901:40:5900:114
Image 55601:41:0001:41:0000:018
Image 55701:41:0700:07 
Image 55801:41:1500:07 
Image 55901:41:0001:41:2200:07 
Image 56001:41:3000:30 
Image 56101:42:0001:42:0000:304
Image 56201:42:2501:42:2500:257
Image 56301:42:4600:21 
Image 56401:43:0700:21 
Image 56501:43:2801:43:2800:216
Image 56601:43:5000:22 
Image 56701:44:1201:44:1200:228
Image 56801:44:3600:24 
Image 56901:45:0101:45:0000:248
Image 57001:45:1401:45:0400:048
Image 57101:45:0800:04 
Image 57201:45:0001:45:1200:044
Image 57301:45:0001:45:1600:046
Image 57401:45:2000:20 
Image 57501:45:4000:20 
Image 57601:46:0001:46:0000:205
Image 57701:46:0001:46:3000:30 
Image 57801:47:0001:00 
Image 57901:48:0001:48:0001:009
Image 58001:49:4701:49:4701:470
Image 58101:49:5600:09 
Image 58201:50:0501:50:0500:093
Image 58301:50:2601:50:2600:213
Image 58401:51:5601:51:5601:305
Image 58401:51:5601:51:5601:305
Image 58501:51:5601:52:2900:335
Image 58601:53:0201:53:0201:066
Image 58701:53:1301:53:1300:113
Image 58801:53:4900:36 
Image 58901:54:2500:364
Image 59001:55:0101:55:0100:368
Image 59101:55:3601:55:3600:3510
Image 59201:57:0301:57:0301:277
Image 59301:58:2601:58:2601:236
Image 59401:58:3501:58:3500:096
Image 59502:00:3702:00:3702:025
Image 59602:02:4802:11 
Image 59702:05:0002:05:0002:121
Image 59802:08:3003:30 
Image 59902:12:0002:12:0003:307
Image 60002:15:2502:15:2503:258
Image 60102:22:1206:47 
Image 60202:29:0002:29:0006:487
Image 60302:31:2502:31:2502:258
Image 60402:37:1102:37:1105:4610
Image 60502:37:1102:45:0807:577
Image 60602:53:0515:55 
Image 60703:09:0003:09:0015:556
Image 60803:22:4703:22:4713:479
Image 60904:10:5904:10:5948:125

Legend:
Exif Data Available
Image Missing
Time Interpolated
“—” Data Not Available

The following graph shows the time of day the images were taken on the X Axis and the duration between images on the Y Axis. The majority of the photos were taken at the beginning of the image series and in very quick succession.  As time progresses, less and less images are taken, with the last image being taken after 48 min.  

Potential reasons that no more images were taken are:

  • Memory card full
    This was not the case.
  • Camera battery ran out of power
    This is possible. In order to determine how many images with full power flash the camera can take, I used a fully charged battery, took 52 images without flash to simulate the daylight images taken on 1 April and then took images with full power flash as fast as possible until the battery ran out.
    This experiment shows that the camera could take 331 images with full power flash, so over three times as many as were taken on 8 April. It also showed that it is not possible to take an image before the flash is charged if the flash is enabled. All completely black images would either have the flash turned off or were aimed in a direction where there was no subject near the camera. The average time between images was 10.5s. This time was very consistent and shows that any two images with flash that have a time of less than 10s between them have some kind of issue.
    The internal camera temperature is also recorded in the EXIF data and this temperature rose from 19C (ambient) to 34C after 331 images. After the camera shuts down from low power, the battery will recover after a while and a few more images can be taken and it will shut down again until it is completely drained.
  • The motivation to take the images was no longer there

It can not be said why no more images were taken, it is possible that the battery was only half full on April 8th and the battery ran out. The last image might have been taken after the battery recovered. It is equally possible that there was no longer a reason to take any more images.

Photo Timing Distribution

The following graph is a Pareto of number of images taken per time interval.  The X Axis shows time intervals and the Y Axis shows how many images were taken in the interval.  

The graph illustrates that the majority of images were taken at the beginning of the series with 70 images taken between 1:29 AM and 1:48 AM.  Another 18 Images were taken 1:48 AM and 2:07 AM.  After 2:07 AM, images were only taken sporadically.  

The graph below is a Pareto of number of images taken for a duration.  It shows the majority of images (91) were taken within 4 minutes or less. 

The images were taken more or less continuously from 1:29 AM to 3:22 AM.  Then there was a 48 min break and a last image was taken. After that either no more images were taken or they are not known about or deleted.  

Night Photo Overlay

The majority of the images show the same area and several features like specific leaves, trees, branches are shown in several images.  This makes it possible to overlay the majority of images.  There are only a few images that have no common features, which are image 541 (large bright area), image 550 (Balloon Marker) and image 580 (Head).  The images are simply overlaid so that common features show the most overlap. Perspective is not considered so that image that are to the sides are distorted.  In order to create a perfect panorama, it would be necessary to stretch the images to correct for the perspective.  Since there are not enough images and the angles they were taken under are too great makes this impossible.  

This results in the following composite.  Note that for overlapping images only the ones with the most detail are shown.  For each image there is a red frame that shows how the camera was held and a red dot that shows the center of each image.  The green frame is the median frame that is determined from the median angle over horizontal and the green dot is the median center point.  The green dot shows the area that the photographer was intending to aim the camera. 

I’ve also created the following animation, which shows the images in the correct order as they were taken over time.  

From the combined overlaid images, the layout of the location can be estimated to look as follows (not to scale):

Next, we’ll analyze the circumstances regarding the images. We’ll discuss the following points below:

  • Are the photos real?
  • Who took the photos?
  • What is on the photos?

Are the photos real?

Here “real” refers to: were they taken with Lisanne’s camera in the Boquete area? Although many aspects of the official investigation are questionable, it appears that there’s little doubt that the images were taken in the “Boquete Area”. 

They may not have been taken near El Pianista trail though. We cannot be certain of the precise location.

Who took the photos?

It remains unknown who took the night photos. Without further evidence, a determination can only be estimated based on the highest probability. The following possibilities exist:

  1. Lisanne
  2. Kris
  3. Kris and Lisanne
  4. Someone else

1. Lisanne

It is Lisanne’s camera and she has taken the majority of the pictures so it is very probable that it was her. Additionally, it is possibly Kris in image 580, the notable “hair” photo.

Probability: Very likely. 

2. Kris

It is also possible that it was Kris who took the photos.  However since it is possible that she is in image 550, it decreases the likelihood that Kris took the photos. There is a possibility that she had taken the photo of herself.  It has been speculated that this might have been done because she was by herself at the time and possibly wanted to examine the back of her head. This does not seem likely since there is nothing that is obviously wrong with the back of her head (see image discussion).  If, for example, she had fallen and injured her head, then it is likely that there would be dirt or blood visible. But nothing is visible. It is not entirely easy to take a self pic of the back of one’s head, as I’ll demonstrate in a moment.

I have tested this while wearing a wig matching Kris’ hair color.  I did have the advantage that I had lots of time to think about how to take such a photo.  Firstly, one has to be able to reach behind one’s own head with the camera, aim the camera blindly and then get the shot.  

Having longer arms than Kris, being rested, warm and dry, not in a state of distress and having had time to think about how to take the picture and the issues that arise, e.g. how to aim. I was able to take the following image.

My test photo is on the left, the original photo of Kris’s hair on the right. Right away it becomes very apparent that despite the above mentioned advantages for me, my picture is far inferior. I did not even manage to get the back of my head into the image.  

I only took one try because the original was also only taken in one try. If there were more photos of Kris’s hair, there would also be images displaying less successful attempts, which there is not. As for my photo, I would have had to retake the photo numerous times. Eventually I would probably have been able to get the back of my head in focus and in the frame. But since the original of Kris’s hair was taken with only one successful attempt, I left it at this.

Although it is possible that Kris took this photo of her own here, it remains unlikely. 

Probablity: Unlikely. 

3. Kris and Lisanne

It is possible that some photos were taken by Kris and some by Lisanne, implying that they shared the camera during the night-time photos.  There is essentially no way to prove or disprove this. However, I find it unlikely that they would have taken a few pictures and then swapped the camera and so forth.  Especially since the most images show similar composition.  It is not impossible but unlikely.  It makes nearly no difference though.

Probablity: Unlikely. 

4. Someone else

There is large number of possible people that could have taken the night pictures, especially if our assumption is wrong that the recorded dates and times were correct.  

If someone else took the photos, the following possibilities exist:

Someone with bad intentions was with Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon in the night of April 8th and took the night photos, perhaps to mock them after hurting them or to play with his victims. This would require the foul play theory to be correct, which is not impossible. But what motive would someone have to commit possible crimes and then take photos of their victims along with other illogical photos? Perhaps rage? Confusion? Mental Illness? 

This leads us to more speculative questions. Why not delete the images or destroy the camera?  For someone not to at least delete the photos or destroy the camera, the person would have to be extremely stupid or a psychopath. It is unlikely, given the circumstances, that the assailants were truly stupid enough to take photos of their crime, and then let the photos get away to the police, unless they are also very incompetent, and the camera got away inadvertently.  

For someone to be a psychopath and take photos of their victims and intentionally let them get to the police is quiet rare in criminal history, and although I am not familiar enough with psychopathic killers, I am only aware of the BTK killer who taunted the police with letters, etc. 

It remains somewhat possible that someone could have taken the pictures. However, it’s not likely that they would have spent 4 hours in the rain, at night taking pictures of mostly nothing and then proceeded to let the pictures get to the police. 

Probablity: Unlikely. 

Another possibility is that someone found the camera at a later time, played with it and took those pictures intentionally or unintentionally. The problem with this theory is that it’s questionable if someone would spend numerous hours during a rainy night to play with a camera in the woods. This would make sense if there were only a few pictures or there were pictures earlier in the night or during the day.

Furthermore, if someone found the camera and played with it, that would also require the person to have someone with them that had red/blonde hair – and then take a picture of them with Lisanne’s camera. This is extremely unlikely in Boquete where this hair color is very uncommon. Additionally, it is not likely that this person would have had access to the camera on April 8th. Lastly, it is even more unlikely that this person took the time later to change all the recorded photo dates to April 8th and not make a single mistake in the process.

Probablity: Very Unlikely. 

It can be concluded that although several possibilities exist of who took the night pictures, it is most likely that it was Lisanne (alone) or Kris and Lisanne (together).  The probability of a third party taking those pictures is possible but unlikely. It is currently not possible to get a definitive answer to this question. 

What is in the photos?

It was important for me to know what is in the night pictures, in order to answer some important questions. The objects in the photos can be grouped as follows:

  • People: 2%
  • Intentional Objects: 4%
  • Surroundings 98%

(multiple categorization possible, thus the sum is over 100%)

The majority of the images show the surroundings of the photographer. Some images show various levels of rain. The images show some ground and some above ground.  

For many images it is not clear what they show. To determine this, the following method was employed:

A control image was taken under known conditions, which resulted in an image that looks like the original photos. Then, since the conditions that the control image was taken under as well as the object or subject is known, it is possible conclude, with a high level of certainty, what the original object or subject was. 

But before we look closely at the individual images, I’d like to discuss some artifacts that several images have in common.

White dots

A large number of the images shows “white dots”, for example in image 511:

The “spots” were caused by objects lit up by the camera flash.  Those objects must be close to the camera in order to be lit by the relatively weak flash of the Canon Powershot SX270 HS.  I have found the following suggestions in several internet discussions about what those dots could be:

  • Dust
  • Insects
  • Bats
  • Rain
  • Spray from a waterfall

Having been a hobby photographer for decades, only the last 2 seemed probable to me. In attempt to recreate the circumstances, I created the following image under these conditions:

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Trees/bushes in the background
  • Rain of 40 – 70mm per forecast and changing in intensity frequently.  
  • Flash used
  • Camera missed focus

Note that the image is increased in contrast to match the original, cropped to remove an object I did not want in the image and resized to 1280 x 960.  It is very apparent that the white objects look identical to those in the original images and we can concluded that the white objects are raindrops.  I marked one dot with a red circle as it exhibits a phenomenon caused by the flash.  It gives the drop an elongated shape and it points IN the direction of travel of the drop.  This is a completely normal instance of flashing a moving object. The effect is more or less strong depending on the distance to the camera. Therefore not all spots have it and neither do the originals.  

It is possible that the dots are caused from spray from a waterfall. However, waterfall spray is less likely the culprit. Based on the location of the camera, pointing away from the edge of a ledge, we can concluded that the white dots in the original photos are rain. 

The rain must be strong at times as my photo shows much less rain as some of the originals and it shows a strong shower that had me soaked through all clothing after about 15 minutes.  The actual pictures were taken during a period of less rain and per the local forecast and it was only about 9mm.  This is somewhat problematic and although rainfall can very between nearby mountainous regions, the difference between forecast and what is seen in the images is substantial.  

Bats, eyes, dust and insects, etc. can be ruled out. 

Red orbs

Several images show red hexagon shaped “orbs” for example in image 585.  The orbs we are looking at are those in the lower portion of the image.  This image shows other artifacts that will be discussed later.

The orbs are caused by light being reflected back into the lens.  The light can have several sources, for example flashlights or headlights but in this case is a reflection of the flash from a red/pink object, thus the red/pink color of the orb.  The shape of the orb is formed by the aperture of the camera lens. 

I recreated an image under the following conditions:

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Trees/bushes in the background
  • Flash used
  • Camera missed focus 
  • Fingers placed in front of the flash but outside the view of the lens

We can see that the orbs look nearly identical and are clearly caused by the flash lighting against skin and reflecting the light back into the lens.  

If an image is taken under the same conditions, except a blue object is used to reflect the flash it looks as follows 

It can be concluded that the red/pink orbs are caused by the flash hitting skin and reflecting back into the camera.  It is possible that this was another person that stood close to the camera to the left of the photographer (the flash is on the left side of the lens) or it is possible that the red reflection is from the hand of the photographer who placed one hand in front of the flash either while holding the camera or while trying to shield the camera from rain with one hand. It is likely that in most cases the orbs are caused by fingers or a hand close to the flash and the lens. It is possible, but not highly possible, that they are reflections of another person’s skin that stood very close to the camera.  

Bright Blobs

In several images are bright white/yellow areas.  One example can be seen in the image below in the upper portion of the image.  

Those “bright blobs” are caused by a skin colored object close to the camera. The effect occurs when an out of focus object near the camera is lit up by the camera’s flash. The reflection leads to the overexposure and the color of the aura comes from the object itself. A white to reddish object is caused by a reflection of skin.  For this effect to happen the camera must NOT focus on the object and it only occurs if the object is outside the camera’s focus zones or if the camera misses focus.  It is difficult to be 100% certain, but it is likely that many of those “bright blobs” were exaggerated when then image’s brightness and contrast were increased in photo editing software. 

Worse, by increasing brightness and contrast, it is possible that even an object in focus was overblown and therefore looks like an object that’s nearer and out of focus. The effect that this basic image manipulation can have on details in the images can especially be seen in the “SOS marker” image, where the existing bright detail (left) was totally overblown and turned into a bright white blob (left).

To test this hypothesis, I recreated a similar image under the following conditions:

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Flash used
  • Camera missed focus 
  • Hand placed 5cm in front of lens

Note, that this image was only created to test the conditions and to evaluate how hair appears under those conditions. The hair itself can be ignored for now. It is clearly visible that the hand itself is out of focus and completely overblown. In the lower area of the image the hand is observed as reddish areas where the flash did not reach. I did not adjust the color or brightness of this image. The original image of the “SOS marker” has more of an aura around the blob which is likely caused by the image being brightened or caused by other slightly differing image conditions.  

I was able to determined the distance of the objects in the night photos, by talking a series of images at varying distances from the camera. The Canon Powershot SX270 HS has a documented minimal focusing distance of 5cm in macro mode (which activates automatically), however my Canon Powershot SX270 HS seems to focus even 10-15mm closer. This means that those objects only appear out of focus for two possible reasons: 1. If the camera did not focus on them due to missed focus, or 2. If the image was too far at the edge of the frame where the camera is not able to focus. 

I recreated the image below under the following conditions:

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Flash used
  • Camera missed focus
  • Hand placed 5 – 30 cm in front of lens

I also used the image to evaluate how hair appears in the image.  Please disregard this for now.

The image at a distance on 15 cm begins to show detail in the hand and the amount of overexposure is decreasing to a point where the image is barely overexposed.  At a distance of 30 cm and beyond the hand is nearly in focus and not overexposed.  The effect is caused by an optical phenomenon “depth of field” which causes an object to be in focus a certain distance in front and behind the actual focal plane.  For wide angle lenses this can mean that it is possible that everything could be in focus that is roughly 1-1.5m to infinity away from the camera regardless of where the actual focal plane is.  Many simple wide angled cameras utilize this method of “focusing” since with a fixed focus, a wide lens everything will be in focus. 

If the Canon Powershot SX270 HS misses focus, it always reverts to the same focus distance. This means that the focus searches for an object in front of the camera and the camera does not automatically revert to macro focus. 

Other possible causes for the bright blobs could be alternative light sources shining into the camera, perhaps like flashlights.  I did not further investigated this since it’s unlikely and it is more likely that the blobs are caused by skin colored objects.  

It can be concluded that out of focus objects causing those blobs were no further than 10-12 cm in front of the lens.

Image 511

This image is the first available image.  It shows the V shaped tree that will be in the majority of the images as well as bushes to the left.

There is strong rain in this image.

Image 512 to 540

Those images are unfortunately not available

Image 541

This image is very interesting and has lead to a lot of speculation.  It shows a blob (see above) and additionally, hair.  As established above, it is very likely that this image shows skin and hair that was 12 cm or closer from the lens of the camera unless the image is heavily modified and detail lost.  However I don’t believe this is the fact since the hair is not overblown. 

At a distance of 12 cm the camera can fill the height of the frame with an object of max 18cm in length.  The object in its greatest extension takes up 67% of the frame length and the visible portion is therefore 12cm long.  However not the entire object is shown and it is likely larger.  

It has been speculated that the object shown is part of a face (e.g. cheek/cheekbone/jaw).  This is possible.  However in order to get so close to someone and take a photo of just those features is very difficult.  I have tried this with an artificial head and the best I can do, with many tries, is this:

This is a photo of a makeup dummy with wig and hair tied together in a pony tail, so that the hair is out of the way. The photo was taken from behind. The bright area is the “chin”.  It is nearly impossible to get as close as necessary. And it would be even more difficult with a real person because their body would be in the way.  

Another example of a close up dummy is shown below. There are much more facial features visible. 

Other possibilities of Photo 541 are that this is someone’s bare arm and we see the elbow in the lower portion on the real image.  

Photo 541 also shows one reoccurring problem that we see with many of the images…. even if something is visible, they show very little or it is not distinguishable exactly what they show. Although it is easy to take bad or blurry pictures, it is very difficult to take numerous obscure photos that show something but also show nothing at the same time.  

If this photo was taken by either Kris or Lisanne then it shows either a head or arm or arm/shoulders.  What exactly it shows is hereby irrelevant if it shows either Kris or Lisanne.  

The issue is – how and why was photo 541 taken? I don’t think it was taken on purpose. It must have been taken accidentally. The camera has a built in focus light that impressively illuminates objects and therefore, it is rather easy to take photos in the dark. Photo 541 demonstrates that the focus light was intentionally ignored in taking the photo.

If it was attempted to take a photo of someone, it would have been easy. Even in complete darkness, if the first photo didn’t focus on the desired object properly, there would be several subsequent photos until one photo achieved the desired focus. So photo 541 must have either been taken by accident or it was deemed to be good enough. I believe it was taken by accident. 

How was this image taken? 

We know the following:

  • The subject was no more than 12 cm away from the camera lens. 
  • The subject was to the right of the photographer.
  • The subject was not the intended subject.
  • The person was not laying on the ground as otherwise the ground would have shown up in the pic

One way this photo could have been taken is if both the photographer and the subject sat or stood close to each other and the photographer turned to the subject while trying to take a photo of something else and ended up catching the subject at the edge of the frame. Or the subject moved close to the photographer and just ended up in the frame.  

Likely explanation: The subject ended up in the frame by accident. It is a photo of a person. The person is standing or sitting to the right of the photographer.

Image 542

This image shows a rockface that slightly slants down into the frame and has a drop after.  This image is interesting since it is one of the few images that shows the ground.  

The image has been heavily discussed and I like to mentioned what it does NOT shown:

  • Monkeys – Those objects are ferns which is evident since the same ferns are in other images.
  • People – Those are ferns which is evident since the same ferns are in other images.
  • Body parts – Those are light areas on a rock’s surface.
  • Animals – There are non visible.
  • A steep rock face – The leaves and water on the surface show that it is horizontal or slightly downward sloped.

However, photo 542 does show water. To the right is a small puddle and water is seen flowing into this puddle. The surface of the puddle must be horizontal, which gives us the orientation of the entire rock.  Water is flowing into this puddle meaning there is a slight slant. 

There are also leaves on the rock face which is further evidence that it is not steep. It is clearly visible that the plants, towards the center of the frame, are lower so there is a drop after the rick face. It is not possible to tell how deep.

Another interesting object in photo 542 is a small spindle or clip-like object (see photo below). This object is very small (estimated 5 – 10 cm long) and reflective. It is possible that it is laying on the rock or is penetrating into the rock.  It does not appear natural, but it is not possible to tell what it is or for how long it has been there.

When lighting the image, some rain is visible but the ground is dry or only slightly wet.  It is possible to tell that the ground is dry since there is wet ground where the water is flowing to compare.  This is remarkable since it was raining pretty strong in image 511 that was taken only approximately 10 min earlier, yet the ground is still pretty dry.

The rockface is likely formed by water erosion so the image must have been taken by a river.  It is possible that this is a small waterfall and there is a river to the right. The river water levels are likely low since it had been a very dry season up to April 2014 in Boquete.

Image 543 to 546

Those images do not show anything particularly interesting.  Image 546 is the first to show the characteristic bushes to the left and the v tree at the same time and therefore allows putting the majority of images into relation to each other.  

There is rain visible in all images. 

Image 547

This image also shows the v shaped tree.  There is a reddish area, most likely caused by the hand or finger of the photographer.  This possibly comes from an attempt to shield the camera from rain with one hand.

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 548

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images. 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 549

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images. 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 550

This image is very interesting as it appears that an image was deliberately photographed, the twig with the red balloons attached, to be referred to as the “balloon marker”, although it is not likely a marker.  Much has been speculated to the purpose of the balloon marker.  Most likely the red objects are not balloons but red shopping bags that have been spotted around the Boquete area.  It could have been created or been there for the following purposes.  The probabilities are scored with the following ratings:

  • Very unlikely 
  • Unlikely
  • Possible 
  • Likely
  • Very likely 

Signaling device

This is somewhat possible, it could have been used to move around to attract attention of search parties.  Although it is questionable how effective it would be due to its small size and waving a shirt or a shirt mounted to a stronger branch would be much more effective.  It is not impossible to be a signaling device but not likely. 

Probability: Unlikely

To keep insects away

Apparently, such constructions are used by locals to fight mosquitos and it is not impossible that this is its intent. 

Probability: Possible 

To collect water

It has been speculated that the device constructed from the twig and the red objects was built to collect rain water or to scoop river water.  The device looks unsuited for this purpose.  First, the twig appear too weak for it to be able to lift a reasonable amount of water without bending or breaking and furthermore the bags are attached in a way that they don’t seem to be able to hold water.  It would be more useful to attach one bag and use the twig to spread the bag open.  It can not be ruled out that whoever built the device did not have the knowledge or ability in order to construct a better device.  It is also likely that the photo was taken at the shore of a river in it might have been easier to scoop up water directly from the river with a bottle.  It is possible that other reasons prohibited this and that the intent of the device is to collect water.  

Probability: Possible

As a marker/map to mark a location

It has been speculated that the marker is .. well .. a marker.  I don’t find it very likely since it doesn’t mark anything…  Sure it could mark the location of two locations (balloons) to a river or road (branch) but really it would be next to impossible to find anything based on such a marker.  Furthermore there would have been much better methods at hand to mark or document something, for example, taking a photo of it, writing a digital note in a phone, using big rocks and branches as markers or scratching something into the boulder with other rocks.  That this “marker” is a marker is therefore very unlikely. 

Probability: Very unlikely 

Out of boredom

Someone who was confined to this location or was waiting there for searchers for several days could have started to distract themselves by constructing crafts, especially if those could be used to fend off insects.  I find this possible. 

Probability: Possible 

It could have been there before

This object could simply have been there before the photographer arrived in this location.  

This is possible but probably not very likely since the photographer has taken the time to take a photo off it which is probably nothing that would be done with a random piece of trash

Probability: Unlikely

By a third party

A third party could have brought this marker to the location.

This is not likely as this person would have either helped a getaway from the location in which case it makes no sense to sit around and take photos of the marker or the person was not friendly in which case it makes even less case to take photos of their brought twig

Probability: Unlikely

It is not possible to determine the reason why this device was created and placed there and also not why a photo was taken.  The highest probabilities are that the device Most likely is that it was intended to keep insects away, to collect water or out of boredom.  It does not seem to have no particular important purpose. 

Further objects on the large boulder are leaves that occur naturally and two pieces of paper.  One piece might be a torn-up piece of the tourist map that Lisanne is holding in image 470.  The other piece could be a wrapper from candy. 

The boulder itself is very large and appears to be a round eroded boulder that is washed free in a river.  Therefore it is very likely this photo was taken in a river bed.  In the background are light areas visible that could be rapids in a river.  

In the image is also a remarkable straight line visible.  This line does appear to be man made and could be a cable for a money bridge or a cable that is installed for climbing or other leisure activities.  It is not possible to clearly determine what the background in image 550 shows.  It could be a rockface or trees. 

Image 552 to 555

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images. 

There is rain visible in the image.

Images 556, 559, 561, 562

There are no new objects.  However the image shows again a large blob.  This could be a person nearby or a part of the photographers hand 

I recreated the image below under the following conditions:

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Flash used
  • Camera missed focus by focusing in a distant dark object
  • Fingers within a few cm in front of the lens

The test image creates a very similar effect to the original.  I was not able to recreate the aura effect of the original, however it is possible the aura comes from processing the image.  A water on the camera lens does create similar but different effects.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Images 565, 567, 569, 570, 572

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images. 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 573

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  There is a small blob visible , likely caused be a person nearby or a part of the photographers hand 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 576

This image shows large rocks with objects on one rock.  It does not appear as if the objects were photographed deliberately because they are barely visible in the corner of the image.  The photographer has demonstrated to be able to take well framed and lit photos so it is likely those objects are in the photo by chance.  

Much has been speculated as to what those objects are and again it looks like some pieces are the torn up tourist map Lisanne is holding in image 470.  The long silvery object could be the inside padding of a backpack strap.  The round object could be the bottom of a pringles can.  The remaining objects appear to be tissue paper or paper.  

The image below shows the bottom of a pringles taken with flash in total darkness.  The can portion of the pringles can was ripped off in one go as quickly as possible to simulate a possible real event.  

It appears as if some of the tissue paper is arranged around the round reflective piece of the pringles can.  The purpose of the objects is unknown.  It could be they were used in an attempt to light a fire, although this is not at all how a fire could be created.  They could have been placed there in anger but for that they appear to deliberate.  Lastly it is possible they were placed as a marker to attract attention.  

The exact purpose can not be determined.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 579 

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images. 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 580

This is probably the most remarkable of all images since it differs drastically from the others as it clearly shows a person and it is perfectly exposed and focused.  

The most obvious assumption is that this shows the back of Kris’ head since the red/blonde hair matches and this is probably the most likely explanation since this type of hair color is extremely rare in Panama and finding a person matching it would probably near impossible.  The same applies to it being a photo of someone else wearing a wig, which is probably also very difficult to find locally.

The question who could have taken the photo was already discussed above and I will only post the “stages self pic” (left) for comparison here.  It is possible but unlikely that this is a self pic.  So it must have been taken by another person.  

It is important to remember that the camera has the flash on the left side so the light, especially at close distance would come from the left and cast a shadow on everything on the right that is further away from the camera.  This explains the lower right corner where the hair is darker and appears to have a different color.  This is caused by the flash being shadowed by the head.  

I recreated the image below under the following conditions:

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Flash used
  • Camera allowed to focus
  • Distance of the front of the lens to the head 10 – 12 cm
  • Head placed on ground

It results in the photo above.  It is very difficult to tell if the ground is visible in the photo or not. In the full size original staged photo it is possible to see the ground.  However in the resized one it is difficult to tell.  

It has been speculated that the person in the photo is incapacitated laying on the ground.  However I don’t find this probably since it is unlikely for anybody incapacitated or not to lay with the face to the ground since it is uncomfortable and the head would always try to roll to either side.  Therefore it is more likely that the person is sitting or standing when the photo is taken.  

The question however is where was Kris?  We know that image 580 was taken 107s after image 579 and image 581 was taken 9s after image 580.  Both, images 579 and 581 (note add timescale) were taken of pretty much the same area ahead of the photographer.  There was not much time to think about taking the photo of the back of the head, walk somewhere in the night, take the photo and walk back and take the next photo, so it is not likely this was done. 

Then it must be that the Kris is extremely close to Lisanne and somehow gets into the frame, Lisanne focusses on the back of the head and Kris disappears.  Or Kris is to the left or right of Lisanne facing AWAY from Lisanne, Lisanne turns to Kris, focusses on the back of the head in 107s, takes the photo and turns back forward and after 9 seconds takes the next photo. 

None of those scenarios seem very likely.  It is still most probable that both were close together, Lisanne turns and takes a photo of the back of Kris’ head.  This would also explain the other images with blobs and it could be that those is Kris arms and hands and face that got into the frame as well.

(note: add location map)

It is also possible that Kris moved into the frame or Lisanne turned and got Kris into the frame.  The following two points do not support this however: The image must have been focused before taken, which take a few seconds and the image shows no motion blur indicating that camera and subject were reasonably at rest when the shot was taken.  Otherwise the camera would also not have focused.  

The image below was taken under the following conditions 

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Flash used
  • Camera allowed to focus, focus held
  • Distance of the front of the lens to the head 10 – 12 cm
  • Head moved in front of the camera while photo was taken

There is clearly motion blur visible and it is more likely that both were stationary.

Another oddity is that 80% of all test images I took of the back of the head were very overexposed so that large portions of the hair were blown out as can be seen below.

Only 20% if the images were properly exposed as the first one above.  This is caused by the camera metering the light different every shot and sometimes measuring a darker vs brighter area.  It is interesting that the real image is perfectly in focus and perfectly exposed.  Which I only managed in 20% of the time.  

This is not where the oddities around this image end.  It is astounding that the hair is completely dry, there is not a spec of dirt and not a single leaf or twig or anything in the hair.  At the time this image was taken Kris would have been outside for 7 days and 7 nights and it is hardly imaginable that her hair would be completely clean and dry.  The only possible foreign object in the hair is in the upper left corner.  This could be a leaf or torn piece of paper.  It is difficult to say for sure due to the low image resolution.  I do not think that it is hair.

I have taken the image below after 15 min exposure to 40 – 70 mm of rain.

It is very clearly visible that the hair is very wet after only 15 min.  

It is strange that there is not a hint of wetness in the original image after it has rained for at least 15 min.  

There are another three artifacts in this image that should be discussed (see 1, 2, and 3 in image below).  The image is color modified to show more of the artifacts.  

#1 shows two dark spots, those are likely shadows caused by two crossing hair strands.  It is possible to estimate which strands form those shadows.  It has been speculated that this is a nose, but its clearly not since the nose is not in this location and if you measure the distance between the “nostrils” and compare them to a normal picture of Kris, it is clear that the distance of the “nostrils” below is far too great.  Other speculations are that those spots are stab, bullet or other wounds.  This is extremely unlikely as there is no blood and no disturbance of adjacent tissue.  

#2 is also likely to show shadows of hair caused by the flash.

It is not easy to say what #3 is but it is most likely light from the flash reflecting of hair.  It has been speculated that those are teeth that form a face together with items 1 and 2, however this is not the case.  The image clearly shows thr back of a head facing up (oriented correctly).

All three artifacts are most likely artifacts caused by light and shadow.  

It has been speculated that this image was cropped and that the original shows more of the person, including wounds.  It is remarkable that the image is framed in the way to show just hair, which raises suspicion that something might have been cropped out that is not supposed to be visible.  

The image has a size of 1280 x 960 pixel which is a ratio of 1.33.  The Canon Powershot SX270 HS takes images in a native 4000 x 3000 pixel which also is a ratio of 1.33.  Thus, if the image was cropped it was cropped maintaining the original aspect ration.  This is no evidence that it is not cropped since most software will have the option or default to maintain the original aspect ration when cropping but it shows it was not randomly cropped. 

Another clue comes from the image resolution and pixelation of objects in the image.  The more the image is cropped the more pixelated objects will appear.  

The image below shows on top a 300% upsized portion of the original image 580, while the bottom is a portion from my head image downsized to 1280 x 960 and then 300% upsized.  The pixilation and detail in individual hair is reasonably comparable.  Note that the original shows more JPG artifacts which do not influence this analysis. 

Although this is also no evidence the image was not cropped, it does indicate that it could not have been cropped drastically.  

It is known that the families of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon disagree on the official police report and that they have the original images.  Therefore we can conclude that there is nothing on a possibly uncropped original that indicates foul play, e.g. unnatural wounds as otherwise both families would disagree with the official police report. 

Lastly, I know from a person who has seen the original image that it is not cropped, although this is rather hearsay than hard evidence. 

It can be concluded though that it is likely that the image is not cropped. 

Image 582 

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  It is one of the few images that shows the ground.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 583 

There are no new objects.  A slight red blob is visible, likely a reflection of a finger or skin.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  It is one of the few images that shows the ground.

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 584 

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 585

There are no new objects.  However the image shows again a large blob.  This could be a person nearby or a part of the photographers hand 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 586 

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 587 

There are no new objects.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 589

There are no new objects.  A slight red blob is visible, likely a reflection of a finger or skin.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  It is one of the few images that shows the ground.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 590

There are no new objects.  However the image shows again a large blob.  This could be a person nearby or a part of the photographers hand 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 591

There are no new objects.  However the image shows again a large blob.  This could be a person nearby or a part of the photographers hand 

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 592

There are no new objects in this image.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 593

There are no new objects in this image.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 594 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  It is one of the few images that shows the ground.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 595 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 597

There are no new objects.  However the image shows again a large blob.  This could be a person nearby or a part of the photographers hand 

There is no rain visible in the image, however this is likely caused by the poor image quality.  

Image 599

This image stands out as it is the only of two images that shows above or behind the photographer.  This image was taken while the camera pointed nearly straight up and due to the field of view it captured behind or above, which appear upside down in this image.  

Image 600

This image stands out as it is the only of two images that shows above or behind the photographer.  This image was taken while the camera pointed nearly straight up and due to the field of view it captured behind or above, which appear upside down in this image.  

Image 602 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 603 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 604 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 605 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 607 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 608 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

Image 609 

There are no new objects in this image.  The image repeats subjects of previous images.  

There is rain visible in the image.

What do the missing images show?

It is not known if those images show anything of interest or simply the same subjects or possibly even less by being completely underexposed.  As mentioned before, we do know that those images can not show anything that disproves the official police report as otherwise the two families would not disagree on that police report.  

There are statements of the families that all but a few night photos show nothing but black, so this could be correct and those images might show black or nearly black.  

With my Canon Powershot SX270 HS it is not possible to take a photo in the dark without the flash firing, which indicates that all night photos must have had the flash fire, unless it was disabled for some images.  It is not likely but possible that the flash was disabled inadvertently and images were taken and then this error noticed and the flash turned back on.  It is somewhat easy to disable the flash as all that is necessary to press the multicontroller on the back of the camera to the right.  It is possible that this happened when holding on to the camera.  It is however not very likely that this happened several times. 

It is also worth considering how the night images were obtained.  It is likely that whoever leaked them had access to the entire image set from the camera.  We know there was nothing revealing on those images and it is more likely tha not that they showed simply black so it is most likely that whoever leaked those images did not find them leak worthy and simply did not bother to leak them.  

Those images will most likely have looked similar to this:

Why were the photos taken?

In order to answer this question we list all reason why those images could have been taken and then try to select the most likely one and rule out unlikely ones. 

  1. To scare off predatory animals
  2. To scare off annoying animals 
  3. To light up / find a path / location
  4. Out of boredom
  5. Out of panic
  6. As a signal
  7. To scare off ill meaning people
  8. To deceive (taken by another person)
  9. Images inadvertently taken (by other person)
  10. To document something for the future or loved ones

The probabilities are scored with the following ratings:

  • Very unlikely 
  • Unlikely
  • Possible 
  • Likely
  • Very likely 

1. To scare off predatory animals

The most likely predator in the area are mountain lions.  They are not likely to stalk adults, especially not two, however they might be more likely to be attracted by injured adults or adults with reduced mobility.   Mountain lions however are ambush predators who stalk their prey unseen and then attack from cover to surprise and overwhelm their prey.  This does not fit the images being taken over a time span of almost 3h.  

Other predatory animals are alligators and snakes but it does not seem likely someone tried to scare such slow moving animals over a period of nearly 3h without getting the animal in at least one shot.  Also the majority of the images were taken above ground in the same general direction, making it further unlikely that they were used to scare off a predatory animal.

Probability: Very unlikely 

2. To scare off annoying animals

It is possible that there were animals that were making noise or were annoying for other reasons that were supposed to be scared off.  This is unlikely for the same reasons as above and if there were such animals around they would likely be there every night and pictures be taken in several nights.  If those animals were annoying and approached humans they could not be scared and it is likely that they would have come close enough to be in an image.  For example monkeys or smaller mammals would be possible, although they are likely too shy to approach humans 

Probability: Very unlikely 

3. To light up / find a path / location

One possible reason to use the camera is to light something up instead of using a flashlight.  The Canon Powershot SX270 HS has three sources of light:  the build in flash, the LCD and the green focus assist light.

It is theoretically possible to replay an image on the LCD, turn the camera around to face the LCD in the direction to be lit and use the light coming off the LCD as a light source.   This only works in theory as there are several issues with it.  The light is too dim to see anything except a few cm away from the camera and that assumes that a mostly white or bright image is displayed.  It does not work well enough to be used, especially not if there is moonlight, that will be more useful to use and the other light sources of the camera.

The focus assist light will come on when the shutter is half pressed and reaches surprisingly far, it turns on when the camera focusses and stays on while the shutter is half pressed.  In the dark in can be used to light up several meters ahead and it is useable as a light source if nothing else is available.  It is very easy to inadvertently press the shutter all the way and take an image.  It could be speculated that this is exactly what happened and this is why the night photos were taken.  I don’t believe this to be likely though as where the majority of the night images were taken was not much to be lit up and if this method was employed, it is likely that it was used on other nights and more inadvertent images would have been taken on other nights.

Probability: Unlikely

Lastly, the camera has the built in flash that can be used as a light source.  There has been much speculation if it  is possible to use the flash as a flashlight and a simple experiment with the camera shows that it is very possible and works reasonably well.  The flash lights up to 10m ahead for a moment and together with the image remaining “in the eye” it is quiet possible to walk around very slowly by lighting up sections in front.

If this is the reason those images were taken is questionable.  The photographer would have most likely reached the location where the images were taken during the day as they had time to create and place the SOS marker and the balloon twig.  Doing all this at night is not very easy and not likely and it the flash would have been used to help so that there would have been more images of those objects.  If it is assumed the photographer reached the location during the day, they would have known what it looks like and there would be less reason to light it up by night for orientation.  Also if that was the goal, more of the ground and surroundings would have been lit up rather than the same spot above.  

Probability: Possible 

In summary it is unlikely that the images were taken as a by product of illuminating the surroundings. 

4. Out of boredom

If the photographer was constraint to the location the images were taken for unknown reasons, it is possible the images were taken out of boredom.  If it is assumed the photographer was not able to or did not want to leave the location then the question arises what one does all day and all night sitting in the same spot.  Aside from the need to forage for food and water there would not be much to do and it is possible the photographer simply became bored and started playing with the camera taking pictures.  I do not believe this to be the case since at the time of the images being taken the photographer was likely being affected by hunger and some amount of panic or unrest.  Additionally if photos were simply taken by a bored person, they would show more playful things like persons, hands, feet, selfies and would be taken on different days as well.

Probability: Very unlikely 

5. Out of panic

Following the thought process of the previous point, if the photographer was constraint to the location and in a state of restlessness, hunger and unrest in a rainy night, it is not impossible to believe that the photographer simply panicked, maybe spooked by animal noises and started flashing the camera to create light, together with the hope to see something that spooked them.  For this the images were taken over a too long time (2:40h) and they are too purposely aimed at one location.  Images taken in a panic would be unaimed directed at several locations and not focused on mostly one location

Probability: Very unlikely 

6. As a Signal

Most of the images were taken of the same spot above the photographer and there is nothing of interest visible in this location, except a tree branch that does not seem to hold any significance.  Even if it did it would be sufficient to take a few images but not dozens of images over nearly 3h.  It is a remarkable coincidence that official searches were conducted between 7 -11 April.  It is reported that some of those searches were conducted into the late evening.  However none of the searches were conducted in the night.  There has been speculation that the images were used to signal search parties who searched at night or to helicopters that searched at night.  This has to be rejected as cause since the searches were not conducted at night.  There is not much verified information but at most, some searches were taken into the late evening.  Even unreliable sources do not put searches past midnight so the searchers would not be around when the images were taken in the early morning.  Aside from this, no searches are undertaken in the night unless in the most extreme circumstances for the reason that there is no benefit.  Unless it is believed the lost person will face certain death at night, it is in all instances better for the searchers to rest at night and search at first daylight.  Night searches are also dangerous and slow and require additional light gear that has to be brought.  That this expensive activity was done by Sinaproc is not likely at all.  They would also have needed night teams that rest during the day as otherwise they would search at night and have to rest during the day when a search is faster and more effective.  There remains the theory that the flash photos were used to signal search helicopters.  Although this makes sense in principle, there is no information that helicopters flew at night.  In fact, for cost reasons there were only a few helicopter flights at all and those were during the day.  Flying any aircraft by night requires a specialized pilot that is rated to fly by instruments (IFR flight) in addition to a helicopter equipment with night vision gear.  Flying helicopters at night is extremely dangerous and rarely done.  It is even more dangerous over mountainous terrain.  There absolutely no reason to believe that Sinaproc had an IFR pilot, night flying helicopter with thermal vision (to see any lost person at night) and took the cost and risk to fly it at night.  Sinaproc conducted a few flights during the day only.  So it can be ruled out that the night photos were taken to signal a searching search party or helicopter.  

However it is possible that the images were used as a signal.  There is some probability that the photographer was somewhat near a house or village and was able to see light in the distance.  Or they were able to hear something like farm animals or people and flashed in the general direction of light or sound.  It is also possible that they saw a search parties night camp, their fire or lights and flashed in that direction.  Although it  can be ruled out that the images were used to signal an actively searching search party, it is possible that they were used to send a light signal into a direction where sound of people or animals could be heard or light from houses or camps could be seen.  This would explain why the majority of photos were taken pointing in the nearly exact same location. 

Probability: likely

7. To scare off ill meaning people

The camera could have been used in attempt to scare off ill meaning people.  It is not likely that any such person would be scared off by a camera flash.

Probability: Very unlikely 

8. To deceive (taken by another person)

There is much speculation that there are third parties involved in this case and that the images underwent some sort of manipulation or were taken in an attempt to mislead or deflect from what truly happened.  The oddity that there are two images (image 580 [head] and image 550 [ballon twig]) that so not fit into the rest of the images since they seem to have been deliberately taken of objects.  

An involved third party could have taken the images to create the illusion that Kris and Lisanne were conscious at a certain location in the night of 8 April 2014.  In order to create this illusion it would have been better to take those images during the day and of both Kris and Lisanne, unless Kris and Lisanne were not available to be in the night photos or they might have been in a condition that would indicate foul play or they might have been unwilling to participate in such activities.  The fact that only the back of Kris’ head was photographed would support this theory since it would not show and revealing facial expression or injuries.  

Of course the question remains why someone would even undertake the effort to do that in the rain in the night over a period of several hours.  It seems too much effort when a few images during the day can be taken and be more convincing.  Everything those image are doing is raise suspicion and question which would be the exact opposite of the intent for too much effort.  It cold be considered that the images were taken by a psychopath in order to create confusion and in order to cause pain for the relatives.   This type of activity seems to be pretty rare, even amongst psychopathic murderers and it would likely have been followed by more such activity but none is known.

Probability: Unlikely

9. Images inadvertently taken (by other person)

Since the backpack was found by a local native person, it is possible that its contents were examined, and the camera found.  The camera could then have been played with or used to take photos.  Additionally, children could have used the camera and played with it and taken photos.  Although those are two possible scenarios, we would see images of something other than night sky, since any people or children who used the camera would have taken some images by day and of something of their interest or people.  Those people would not have spent a night in the rain and snapped photos for nearly 3 hours.  It is possible that people did take photos and that they were deleted before the camera was handed in to the police.  In this case there would have been some images recovered.  Unless the images were securely deleted but since there is little motive and possibly not enough knowledge to do so in a remote village.  However it is possible that image 509 was securely deleted and if that is case maybe more images were securely deleted.  This though is no reason for the night photos to have been taken by such person.

Probability: Very unlikely 

10. To document something for the future or loved ones

It is possible that the photographer wanted to document something for themselves like a landmark or location or they wanted to leave photos for loved ones.  This does not seem likely since it would have been enough to take a few images of the tree branch and not dozens of images over nearly 3h.  Additionally, the images would then show anything more remarkable, like persons, selfies, etc.  lastly if the intent was to take images of locations for orientation, those images would have been taken over days during the day.

Probability: Very unlikely 

Summary:

IntentionProbability
1To scare off predatory animalsVery unlikely 
2To scare off annoying animals Very unlikely 
3To light up / find a path / locationUnlikely
4Out of boredomVery unlikely 
5Out of panicVery unlikely
6As a signalLikely
7To scare off ill meaning peopleVery unlikely 
8To deceive (taken by another person)Unlikely
9Images inadvertently taken (by other person)Very unlikely
10To document something for the future or loved onesVery unlikely

Out of the ten possible reasons the photos could have been taken, seven can be rejected as being very unlikely.  Two are unlikely and only one is likely (as a signal). 

It is possible that there is more than one explanation and a combination of reasons should be considered, rather than rejecting all unlikely reasons.  Out of 100% motivation for taking the images we can arbitrarily attribute 75% to the likely reason (camera flash was used as a signal) and 25% to the unlikely reason (camera flash was used for illumination).  

This means that over the period of 2h40min, the majority of images would have been taken as a consequence of using the camera flash to attract the attention of someone in the distance that was noticed by sound or light and while the photographer was up in the night might have used a few flashes to light up the area around them to orientate themselves or to make sure they don’t move to close to ledges or edges of boulders.  This does not explain the image of Kris’ head, unless she got in the image inadvertently or there was another unknown reason why the image was taken.   

Out of the ten possible reasons the night photos could have been taken, seven can be rejected as being very unlikely.  Two are unlikely and only one is likely (as a signal). 

It is possible that there is more than one explanation and a combination of reasons should be considered, rather than rejecting all unlikely reasons.  Out of 100% motivation for taking the images we can arbitrarily attribute 75% to the likely reason (camera flash was used as a signal) and 25% to the unlikely reason (camera flash was used for illumination).  

This means that over the period of 2h40min, the majority of images would have been taken as a consequence of using the camera flash to attract the attention of someone in the distance that was noticed by sound or light and while the photographer was up in the night might have used a few flashes to light up the area around them to orientate themselves or to make sure they don’t move to close to ledges or edges of boulders.  This does not explain the image of Kris’ head, unless she got in the image inadvertently or there was another unknown reason why the image was taken.   

The images must have been taken at the shore of a river, in fact it is possible to imagine reflection of streaming water in image 550, which is most likely the river.  There are not many other possibilities of white reflective surfaces in the jungle so it is very likely to be a river.  

In image 550 is also a remarkable straight line visible.  This line does appear to be man made and could be a cable for a money bridge or a cable that is installed for climbing or other leisure activities.  It is not possible to clearly determine what the background in image 550 shows.  It could be a rockface or trees. 

When were the night photos taken?

In order to determine when the images were taken it is only possible to go by the EXIF data that was contained in image 542 and 550.  

This data shows the images to be taken at 2013:04:08 12:38:12 and 2013:04:08 12:39:54 camera time.  The camera time was however not set correctly and the correct times are taken from Scarlet’s website (link – about 30% down the page). 

The table below shows the times of the images when they were taken.  Missing times were interpolated.  Times that are obviously wrong, for example times showing several images to be taken at the exact same time or at impossible intervals, e.g. 1s were also interpolated. 

The mistakes in the times is likely caused by whoever leaked them having made mistakes when taking the EXIF information.  In Principle it is not relevant if the actual time an image was taken is slightly incorrect as long as the majority and the times they were taken in relation to each other is largely correct.  Delta T shows the time elapsed between images.  Note that the Canon Powershot SX270 HS averages at maximum 6.5s per image with full power flash as would be used at night.  

Did the photographer move while taking the photos?

When overlaying the images it becomes apparent that although there are the same features in multiple images, they do not line up perfectly, even when rotated to match, in several cases the angle of view and the size of objects is different.   This could have two reasons, the photographer moved between shots and the different distance to the objects caused them to be of different size in the images or it is caused by distortion of the camera lens.  

In order to rule out camera lens distortion I took several images from the same point but with the camera pointed up and down facing the same object. 

The results show that the resulting images can not be overplayed.  Below are the two source images followed by an overlay where one images is rotated to match as closely as possible and overplayed at 50% transparency.  It is not easy to see details but the features in the images clearly do not line up. 

 

Unfortunately it is not possible to clearly determine if the photographer in the original night images moved or if the distortions are caused by the camera angle.  

Distance Analysis

Since the size of the objects in the night images is not known it is not easy to estimate distances of the objects in the images.  It is however possible to gain an estimate by the amount of light reflected from the objects.   Since the camera flash has a defined maximum power and that maximum power is used in complete darkness since the camera tries to light up the scene, we can create comparison images taken under the same conditions and then compare the brightness of the objects. 

The following sequence was taken under the following conditions:

  • Darkness
  • Outside
  • Flash used
  • Camera missed focus by focusing in a distant dark object
  • Image distance: 8.5, 12, 15, 17, 21, 24m

Note that the images were resized so at this point the actual size of the objects is to be ignored.  Focus should only be on brightness of the objects and color rendition.

The image on the very right is the most lit original image (image 590).  The object to compare shall be the V shaped branch in image 590 and the center tree in the control images with the branch pointing in thw 2 o’ clock position.

At 24m the branch is nearly not visible anymore and contains no color information, so this distance is further than the branch in image 590.  The color rendition and lightness of image 590 is matched between images 17m and 21m.  Therefore we can conclude that the branch is between 17 and 21m away and probably closer to 17m since at 21m it ha already lost all color detail.  At 15m the rendered color and detail is much to bright so this confirms the distance being 17 -21m.

At 24m the branch is nearly not visible anymore and contains no color information, so this distance is further than the branch in image 590.  The color rendition and lightness of image 590 is matched between images 17m and 21m.  Therefore we can conclude that the branch is between 17 and 21m away and probably closer to 17m since at 21m it ha already lost all color detail.  At 15m the rendered color and detail is much to bright so this confirms the distance being 17 -21m.

It is further possible to estimate the diameter of the branch in image 590 by comparing the diameter of the control branch in the 17m image.  

For this, image 17m is rotated so that the branch is in roughly the same orientation as that in image 590.  Since the dimeter of the branch in image 17m is known to be 15cm at the red line, the correlation to 1 pixel to 1 cm can be made and this applied to the pixel size to the branch in image 590.  By doing that it can be calculated that the diameter of the branch in image 590 is 11 cm and 25– cm at the two red lines.   Note that there is some error in this estimation since the exact distances of image 590 is estimated and the branch in image 590 is not parallel to the plane of the camera. 

However it gives us the ability to say if the tree is a pretty sizable tree and not a small branch.  

Another image where it is important to know distances is Image 590.  Where it is likely that the image shows the opposite shore of a river. 

Another image where it is important to know distances is Image 590.  Where it is likely that the image shows the opposite shore of a river. 

The image on the left was taken at night with full power flash, while on the right is image 590 with brightness increased as much as possible and the bright rock cropped so that the background stands out more. 

It is not easy to make a good comparison since it is not known what is in the image.  It could be a rock face or treas.  However the objects do show some color rendition while the 30m images has no color left.  Therefore it is likely that the objects in the background of image 590 are less than 30m away.  

Were the night photos manipulated?

There has been much discussion if the night images were manipulated.  This is not an easy question as there are multiple ways to manipulate a digital image series:

  1. Image was not taken in the series or at a different time
  2. Image was cropped
  3. Image has details cloned out
  4. Image had detail added
  5. Image time and date was manipulated
  6. Unrelated images were inserted 
  7. Images were deleted

The following assessment reviews the likelihood of image manipulations.  

The probabilities are scored with the following ratings:

Probability: Very unlikely 

Probability: Unlikely

Probability: Possible 

Probability: likely

Probability: Very likely 

  1. Image was not taken in the series or at a different time

Most of the images shows more or less the same overlapping objects (branches, rocks and trees).  While two images, Image 550 (Balloon Rock) and Image 580 (Head) do not fit into this series.  Both images also seem to have an intent as they show well composed objects.  

The likelihood that any of the images showing branches, rocks and trees were taken at different times and inserted is very unlikely since there is no reason and they all reasonably match.  

However Images 550 and 580 do not match the general series of images and them being there is odd.  Therefore there is at least the possibility that those were taken at different time.  This is less likely for image 550 since EXIF data for it exists placing it with the other images meaning that at lest one of the images that doesn’t fit was either extremely manipulated (EXIF edited) or it was taken within the series.

Probability: Possible 

  1. Image was cropped

Any image that has an aspect ration other than 4:3 was certainly cropped since that is the aspect ratio of an original Canon Powershot SX270 HS image.  All night images have an aspect ratio of 4:3.  This is not evidence they were not cropped but there is no evidence that they were cropped based on the aspect ratio. 

Another method to look for cropping is by comparing image artifacts.  Several images have orbs in the image that were discussed above.  If those orbs move within the image, it is clear evidence the image was cropped.  If they remain in the same location between images it is evidence they were not cropped.  

Below is image 547 with all orbs marked.  This image has the most visible orbs and is used as reference.

For comparison shown below are images 565 and 591.  All orbs that are in the same location match exactly, which is evidence those images were not cropped.  

Additionally, there is very little motive to crop any of those images since there is nothing worth hiding in those images with the exception of Image 580 (head), where the angle of view is very odd and there might be motive to crop out other parts of the subject. Unfortunately the are no orbs visible in this image, which could be caused by the lighting conditions of the image of being completely lit. Analysis of image detail do not provide evidence for the image being cropped.  It is reported from a person who has seen the original that it is not cropped.  However that person may have seen only an already cropped version.  Although image 580 is the image where there is the most motivation to crop unwanted portions out, it would have been even easier to simply delete the image, which may have happened with image 509 …

Probability: Unlikely

  1. Image has details cloned out

There is simply no motive to clone out details out of the images that show rocks, trees and bushes and none of the images shows apparent evidence of this happening.  The only image where there may be a motive is again image 580, but again, it would be much more likely that the image would have been deleted if it shows anything unwanted.  

Detailed analysis of the image does not indicate cloned or manipulated areas.  Additionally Error Level and Luminance Gradient Analysis do not show evidence of cloning or editing, although in some cases it is not easy to detect. 

Probability: Very unlikely 

  1. Image had detail added

There is no motive to add detail to the images.  The majority of the images shows nearly no detail and the motive is not there.  

Probability: Very unlikely 

  1. Image time and date was manipulated

It is possible that the images were not all taken at the same night.  While it is very likely that the majority of the images showing surroundings of the photographer were taken in the same night, it is possible the images that does stand out (image 550, balloon marker and image 580, head) were taken at other times and inserted.  This would require considerable effort as all image numbers after the inserted image would have to be edited and also all EXIF data would have to be edited.  This seems to be a huge effort for no apparent gain.  

Probability: Unlikely

  1. Unrelated images were inserted 

In order to insert unrelated images they would have to be from a Canon Powershot SX270 HS or all the EXIF data showing camera brand and model would have to be edited to match the original images.  Again, this would be a lot of effort for no apparent gain.  

It is also possible that all pictures are unrelated and inserted, but again that would require either all EXIF data to be edited or a Canon Powershot SX270 HS to be used.  The original exposure parameters are 1/15s, f3.5, flash fired.  Those are the exact same values my Canon Powershot SX270 HS reverts to if images are taken in complete darkness.  

Probability: Very unlikely 

  1. Images were deleted

It is possible that unwanted images were deleted as it might have been done with image 509.  This would require that there are gaps in the image numbers, like image 509 is missing or that all images were renumbered and the EXIF data edited.  It is possible that images after image 609 were deleted.  Considering that at least one image is missing, it is possible that more images were deleted.  In this case however it would be more likely that the deleted images would have been recovered by the police, unless they were secure deleted or deleted by the police.  

Probability: likely

Summary

First, I’d like to thank Matt for sharing this research and for his commitment to the case. The valuable information he discovered during this research would not be possible without the hundreds of grueling hours of work that he put into the case. Exceptional job! Thank you!

There’s a lot of information to take from this research. It’s necessary to read the entirety of this article in order to grasp the depth of the analysis, however, it’s helpful to provide some overarching conclusions.

Contacting Matt

If anyone would like to reach out to Matt directly, you can send him an email directly at researchTT2@gmail.com or post a comment below. Matt’s fairly active in the community and always interested in progressing the case forward.

Thank you for reading and please reach out to us if you’re interested in contributing to the case research.