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)

Photo Collection Gallery


Distant objects, such as the far mountains in this photo, take on a bluish tone due to the atmospheric color. Shot of one of King Ludwig's famous castles, taken from Neushwanstein castle.

Reflections on water are dominated by vertical bars of light across the water's surface, as seen in this photo of an amusement park in Stockholm, Sweden.

The reddish tint of this photo suggests that it was illuminated by a red light...
... However, in this second version of the photo, when the camera's flash worked, we see that the "red light" effect was created entirely as a result of reflections from the red table in the foreground and the red wall panels.

This time, the reddish glow on the subject is created by a reddish neon light. It adds a bit of drama to the normally dull subject of somebody eating ribs.

This image of a heron reflected on a smooth section of the bay is interestingly displays the shift of perspective caused by reflections on water and the slight distortion caused by ripples on the surface. It is also an interesting photo for the effects of water color-- the ocean changes from near black to a rich royal blue to a light grayish.

Blue hershey's kisses? In fact, these are normal silver Hershey's kisses. The bluish pattern is entirely a reflection, created by tinting the camera's flash with a bluish tint before taking the picture.

Late afternoon sun on the water near Venice. This photo displays an interesting "corona" in addition to the normal vertical highlights on the water. However, I suspect that this may be a false corona, caused by reflections on the camera lens.

An interesting combination of reflection and refraction create the distorted image of the person seen thruogh this aquarium tank. At bottom, the subject seen direcly through the water, at middle the subject is seen through a clear acrylic viewing tube in the center of the aquarium, and at top the subject is seen as a reflection on the inside of the top surface of the water.

Minnaert may not have mentioned this, but this interesting pattern of lights is easily reproduced. It is the result of placing a camera on the dashboard ofa car and locking the shutter open for a long (maybe 30 second) exposure. The forward movement of the car combined with the up and down vibrations of the car creates an interesting streaking pattern from passing lights. At bottom, the bright white splotch comes from the car's own headlights.

This image 1999's total solar eclipse over the Black Sea in Romania shows the famous "Diamond Ring Effect". The sun is just leaving the total eclipse position whereby it is completely obscured. The tiny bit of sun peaking out at one end creates a brilliant sparkle, which when combined with the ring of the corona, appears similar to a diamond ring.

Here's my version of the heligenschein "holy glory"! This photo, taken in St. Peter's Cathedral, shows a strong beam of light penetrating from an upper window to give the subject a strong "holy glow."

Another "corona" pattern I captured. This time, instead of being caused by a reflection on the camera's lens, the corona is caused by reflection of the light from the camera's flash acrossed a "funhouse" style mirror. It is possible to see streaks from where the mirror is scratched (difficult in this reproduction though) as well as a distortion of the circular shape of the corona caused by the distortion of the funhouse mirror.

This is the only picture I could find depicting moss. Though it is taken late in the day, the moss still does not demonstrate much of the "sparkly" phenomena described by Minnaert. However, this photo is still interesting for the shadow patterns caused by the overarching forest.

My favorite image of reflections on water. This image, reflecting a cathedral in a Munich fountain, interestingly shows the distortion effect created by reeds in a pond, but in this instance the "reeds" are sculptural elements of the fountain (top).

This image of a damp alleyway in Prague taken with extremely fast (3200 ASA) black and white film does an excellent job of demonstrating the interplay of light acrossed wet surfaces. Note that the light creates long, broken bars acrossed the wet cobblestone road, but more regular diffuse circular shapes in the reflection on the dry wall.

This photo shows an interesting look at the sunrise over some rocky peaks near Mt. Whitney. Though it's difficult to see in this reproduction, the rising low-level sun displays both a mild corona and "rays" emanating from it.

A sunset over the ocean displays Minnaert's triangular reflection pattern acrossed the water, as well as some dramatic diffusion of light through the clouds. In fact, it is almost a symmetrical hourglass of light.

Dust reflects white highlights off of a Viking ship in Sweden.

The reflection off of snow on a bright sunny day creates the effect of illuminating the subjects from beneath as well as above. Note the highlights under the crossed arms and on the chins.

Several beams of light are visible in this image of St. Peters. (Note that this photo was taken at a different time of day, year, and with different film than the previous image, thus the light beams are in different locations, and the appearance of the cathedral is different.) A strong beam of light is visible in the very back behind the altar, going from a window on the left onto a wall at the right. This beam is even striped-- regular lines can be seen in it (difficult in this reproduction). I suspect that these lines are portions of the light beam that were blocked out by bars in the window. Also, at the top, the windows around the base of the dome show some weaker light beams.

A sunset in Greece displays a near perfect reflection of Minnaert's triangular reflection acrossed the ocean.

A dramatic sky at sunset in Stockholm, Sweden. Interesting light and colors in the clouds as well as in their reflection in the water. A sky like this cannot be explained simply by one of Minnaert's observations-- it is a combination of many factors. In addition, this photo displays a silhouette in the foreground, visible because of reflection of light acrossed the water (Minnaert describes this phenomenon with sailing ships, but not with people standing at the shoreline.)

A surfer silhouetted against the ocean at sunset. Note that the orangish sky is relfected in the smooth damp sand at the bottom, but not the dry beach sand or the rough ocean, creating the silhouette and the overall banded effect of the photo.

A beam of light acrossed a rock surface at sunrise on a ridgeline just below the summit of Mt. Whitney. I have my suspicions that this beam may have been created by some sort of reflection on the camera lens, but either way I've never seen anything like it before.

A bizarre sunset seen from the summit of Mt. Woodson, CA. Though this reproduction is not very good, the clouds at center display stripes of blue and gold, while above and below, the sky is white. I believe that these stripes are caused in part by shadows from the above white clouds (described by Minnaert) as well as the normal sunset color effects. At bottom, a demonstration of scenery being obscured by low-lying clouds.



See more examples of light and shadow anomalies in the New Photo Gallery!
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