Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Strangeness of Light


Lenses do strange things with bright lights. The reflections bounce around inside, reflected from one shiny glass surface to another. Today's modern multi-coated optics don't do it as much, but it still happens. When I shot this about thirty-five years ago very few lenses were multi-coated, and this one wasn't. This was shot in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia one summer when we were visiting my wife's relatives in nearby Washington, D.C.

I remember that there was a lot of smokey haze in the air, giving everything a golden glow as sunset approached. I don't remember which building this was or what lens I was using. I only know that it was shot with a Leica so I wasn't viewing the actual image projected by the lens. There was no way I could have seen that strange "flying saucer" resulting from all that bouncing around of the light within the lens. This was the only one of numerous exposures I made of the building that showed that strange luminous apparition. For that matter, in all my years in photography I can't recall ever seeing it before or since. Was it just the light? An artifact of the optics? Maybe there was something there? We'll just have to wonder.

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