Zapruder vs Altgens - Synchronisation

The famous Altgens 6 photograph. Hidden in plain site is the White mark which is a recent bullet hole.

Before we study the bullet hole in greater detail I think it is necessary to record the fact that Altgens' photograph is not the only record of it. In later segments I will establish just how much evidence there is beside Altgens 6, but in the meantime I think it useful that we establish where the image it depicts can be seen on the Zapruder film. An important point I wish to make at this juncture is that I make no apology for using the Zapruder film as evidence, and devote a section at the end of the study to explain why.

The red circles are crucial points of comparison to the Zapruder film.

The red circles on the image above indicate the points that can be matched to the nearest corresponding Zapruder frame. They are, from left to right;

  1. The exact appearance and  arrangement of the US flag. Because there is a westerly breeze this is not constant.
  2. Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman in the front passenger seat is looking to his left at a particular angle. This is part way through his turn to look at JFK. It too is therefore not constant
  3. Governor John Connally is looking to his right, over his shoulder. He very slowly turns further to his right. Again, not a constant.
  4. President Kennedy has his left hand up to his throat, with the arm almost horizontal. His head is bowed, his right hand is at his throat too but that is not as clear in this photograph as it is in the Zapruder film. Jackie Kennedy's left hand is holding her husband's left forearm. This remains relatively fixed for a few seconds. Although her head does turn we cannot see it in the Altgens image.

Even running at an estimated 18.3 frames per second it is still likely that no one film frame will match the camera image exactly. It is however reasonable to assume that one will either match it very closely, or more likely, a very small group of frames will show that it had to have occurred within them.



The 12 animated frames above constitute the only Zapruder sequence that could possibly match the Altgens photograph. I have chosen them carefully to show the movement of all four elements highlighted previously from what appears to be before the photograph being taken to what appears to be after. There is no mileage in showing every frame following the emergence from behind the sign to a point such as, say, the head shot. Given Altgens testimony, the speed of travel and the obvious arrangement of all four highlighted elements in the image, frames 252 to 263 are a reasonable length snapshot. 

Within those frames I have highlighted the four elements in frames 254, 255 and 256 as being the closest match. Frames before 254 and after 256 have at least one of the four elements demonstrably different. The flag is the most important element whilst Connally and Kellerman's head turns render them unsuitable as matches for either not having commenced or being turned too far.

Of the three closest matching frames I favour Z255 as being the single Zapruder frame taken in synchronicity with Altgens 6 for three reasons. Firstly the flag shows the characteristic wrap and drop shown to the extreme left of the Altgens photograph. Secondly, Kellerman's head is making it's left turn, but in Z256 it appears slightly more bowed than Z255. Finally, Connally's head appears to be further into it's turn in Z256, facing further away from Altgens. Obviously direct comparison from two different angles of two images with very different characteristics is difficult. And even if my singling out of Z255 isn't correct, or if the Altgens photograph was taken between any of the frames I have narrowed it down to, there is a gap of approximately 0.0546 seconds between image Z254 and image Z256 being created on film. In's close enough!


Altgens and Zapruder. The exact moment Altgens took his photograph, established using the red circled comparators.

Does the Zapruder Film show the white mark seen in Altgens?

A gif showing JFK reacting

Now that we have synchronised Altgens with Zapruder it is time to see if the Zapruder Film supports Altgens in displaying the "white mark". I have created a sequence of images from Zapruder frames 214 to 246 having first circled a glint of sunlight reflected into Zapruder's lens. Although there are other glints at other points two things are important to remember. Firstly, it is not merely the windshield itself which causes the sunlight to reflect. If that were the case, the whole windshield would be a whiteout to the camera. There has to be something in the glass itself to cause reflection. Secondly, it is important to realise the angle at which the sun reflects. The angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence. In other words, if we assume the tiny area of glass being struck as a flat surface, whatever angle the sun strikes it will cause reflection at exactly the same angle from perpendicular. Using an Android Smartphone and an app called "Sun Surveyor" it is possible to determine the position of the sun at 12:30 CST on the 22nd November 1963. The left hand diagram below shows the direction of the sun striking a point on Elm Street approximately where the image sequence takes place. Calculating the direction of travel of the limousine gives us the perpendicular angle against which to measure the incoming sunlight. If we double that angle and draw a line from where the sun strikes the object it is possible to determine where the reflection would be visible at that particular moment. As you can see from the right hand diagram, that angle is directly in line with the spot Abraham Zapruder was standing. The sun strikes the windshield at an angle of 38.3 degrees from perpendicular. Doubling that angle, 76.6 degrees, gives us the angle from direction of sunlight the refection will be seen . The reflection is not one single focused beam of light, meaning the reflection will be visible for more than one frame until the angle is no longer applicable to Zapruder's vantage point. This is apparent in the animated sequence because the "white mark" disappears as the limousine gets closer to Zapruder. What these diagrams demonstrate is that something on the windshield will reflect sunlight to Zapruder at exactly the point the vehicle emerges from behind the Stemmons Freeway sign. Or looked at another way, if Zapruder was situated differently in relation to the sun, we would not see the reflection at that point. 

How the reflected sun proves Zapruder captured the white mark

I have demonstrated that an artefact visible in the Altgens 6 photograph is matched by a reflection visible to Zapruder's camera in exactly the same location on the windshield. Furthermore, as the above animation clearly shows, the reflection disappears as the limousine travels west on Elm Street. This is consistent with what would be expected given the relative positions of Zapruder and the limousine in relation to the sun. It is also consistent with there being something in or on the glass to cause a reflection at that particular spot on the windshield. That particular spot is a constant in other photographs and verbal descriptions, as we shall now see.

The "White Mark" is a Bullet Hole

Next - A Bullet Hole