Matt Bentley
CS 99D: The Science of Art
Assignment 3: Light & Shadow

Peculiar Optical Effects Captured on Film
(based on Light and Color in the Outdoors by M.G.J Minnaert)

New Photo Gallery


Disruptions on the surface of the water create irregular reflection patterns. Here, ripples from multiple directions are intersecting to create a rather complex pattern, visible on the edge of the tree reflections-- as Minnaert predicts, "on the boundary of the light and dark."

Minnaert: 17, 20, 240

Here, a curved car window reflects a distorted version of reality. This is plate glass, and thus reflects a near perfect image, as Minnaert notes. However, the curve of the glass leads to a distorted image-- a car that is too long, telephone wires that curve bend in odd directions, etc.

Minnaert: 15, 18

An illustration of the difference between an object and its reflection: A lesser amount of the mountain is reflected into the water. This photo also, has a peculiar "three suns" effect. The real sun, just out of the top frame of the photo, is reflected as a highlight in both the foreground and background bodies of water. The foreground reflection is as expected; the background one is an anomaly.

Minnaert: 9



Note some of the interesting features of a shadow: From this photo, one can clearly observe that the shadow is much sharper towards the base, and blurry at the top. In addition, there may be a slight heligenschein (holy glory) effect around the head and shoulders, whereas none is seen on the brown weed/ dirt sections. Minnaert says that a heligenschein on dry-grass is rare but possible.

Minnaert: 2, 191, 192

The pattern of light created by beams of light going through the trees. The distorted nature of the bright patches bely the low angular position of the sun.

Minnaert: 1

A peculiar "double shadow" phenomenon. My shadow is cast across the ground and water and onto the white wall. However, it shows up well only on the white surface of the wall. The portion of the shadow on the wall is then reflected back onto the water (with the rest of the wall), and this time the shadow appears on the water. On page 20, Minnaert notes that "the reflection of clouds in the water is clearer than the clouds in the sky." Perhap this is part of this phenomenon

Minnaert: 247, 9

The above shadow phenomenon illustrated from further away to show the positioning of the rest of the shadow. Note that the arms barely show up on the water, but are quite clear on the white wall.

Minnaert: 247, 9


Highlights, Refractions, and Other Effects Caused by Direct Sunlight

Looking through 1) s fine wire mesh screen and 2) a glass pane with inlaid wires into the sun. We see in both of these instances, the wires pick up highlights. The wires in the glass create very regular highlights (upper left corner). while the screen causes a random "noise" pattern of highlights. However, I believe that in this case some of the screen highlights are confused by highlights of the dirty window pane that interfere.

Minnaert: 29, 182

Here the windowscreen effect is observed directly through normal plate glass. While some smudges are visible on the left side, the right-hand side shows a clear screen mesh pattern. It also appears that some scratches are visible on the glass towards the upper right corner.

Minnaert: 29, 182

A brightly-lit water bottle distorts the grass visible behind it. Note that looking through the water at the bottom, one can see the refraction of the grass in the back as well as the curved distortion caused by the curve of the bottle. I also thought the highlight patterns caused by the bright sunlight were interesting.

A close-up view of drops on the above bottle shows an excellent example of water droplet refrection. The image appears cloudy because it is taken through the closer wall of the bottle of droplets appearing on the inside of the far wall.

The highlight pattern on the back of this car traces out the countours of the car in a nearly vertical dashed line of highlights. Note in particular the curving around the bumper just beneath the right taillight.

A road on a bright day reflects enough sunlight to actually appear white. This photo is also interesting because one can see beams of light through the atmospheric dust in the upper left-hand corner.

This photo interestingly demonstates the varying reflective qualities of the wooden table, green grass, and water. The water shines with a bright highlight from the sun; the table shines only slightly less so; the grass and dirt is dull.

Another example of the "three suns" phenomena resulting from two reflections of the sun in two separate bodies of water, and the third sun in the sky.

This photo is meant to demonstrate the circular highlights reflected onto the leaves surrounding the sun obscured by branches. However, the photo didn't turn out exceptionally well, so really only a "glow" is visible-- the typical corona effect of an obscured sun.

Minnaert: 255,

Light on Grass and Other Foliage:

This shot of grass from a very low angle shows how it is well lit-up by the sunlight. In addition, it is possible to see the microfibers around the blade edges "glowing" in the sunlight. As Minnaert describes it, "it seems as if each little blade were literally burning with a green inward glow."

Minnaert: 253

Light patterns on thick green foliage. Note that some of the leaves directly reflect the sunlight, creating a (broken) vertical highlight bar even though the surface is irregular. Minnaert describes plants "that shine as if they were lacquered."

Minnaert: 253, 254


You may also see examples of peculiar light and shadow anomalies in the Photo Collection Gallery.







Plant stuff: 254--