Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mist ghost photo

White ghostIt's that time of year again. The time when I use the low sun angle to try to reproduce some of the fascinating anomalous photos I examine. There is an example here (right) showing a strange thick white mist in front of some bushes. I've seen many anomalous photos like this, particularly in recent years. In most cases, the photographer wonders if the white object might be a ghost. Most such photos are taken with a flash, often at night. However, with a low sun angle it is quite easy to produce such pictures in daylight without a flash, as this one was.

I've discussed 'mist ghosts' before (here). Most cases of 'mist ghosts' are photographic with nothing unusual actually seen by the photographer at the time of exposure. The 'mist ghost' generally turns out to be the photographer's own breath captured by flash on a cold night. But there are other causes. As these cases appear to be getting much commoner, I thought it might be time to explore a few other possibilities. I'm moderately pleased with this effort! It certainly looks misty - almost cloudy, in fact.

White ghostThe important point to note is that the 'mist' is actually heavily out of focus. That is what gives the object its misty quality. OK, here's the same scene (right) with the focus shifted to the 'mist ghost' and the bushes now out of focus. The 'ghost' is actually the top of a reed. Its light colour is good for producing a misty look. A much wider range of objects can look white in flash photos when they are close to the camera, even when they are a quite different colour, because they are heavily overexposed.

People taking such photos will often say that they did not see anything near the camera when they took the photo. I see no reason to doubt this but it doesn't mean that such an object wasn't there. It's easy to miss such objects near to the camera when looking at a scene in a viewfinder in low light. You can even miss things such objects in good light because they are heavily out of focus. And what is seen in a viewfinder is rarely exactly what you get in the final photo.

PS: Someone had to remind me today that it is Samhain in a couple of days!! Not being a great party-goer I'd completely forgotten.

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