Friday, 18 September 2015

Linear photographic anomalies

Hair imn front of the cameraThere is a type of anomalous photo that contains a glowing linear object, or strand, like the example here (right). The linear objects in these photos look out of focus and strongly illuminated by a flash. This implies that the objects are close to the camera. In all the examples I've seen, the linear object reaches the frame edge suggesting it is not floating free. The obvious possibility is a strand, or strands, of the photographer's own hair. Since cameras are often used near the face, it is likely that long hair will sometimes intrude on the image, unnoticed by the photographer.

It is certainly possible to reproduce this type of photo by dangling a strand of hair, or a thread, just in front of a camera. I have, however, never been able to test the idea of the photographer's own hair being responsible. Until now! I have recently taken to wearing my hair quite long.

Hair in front of the cameraSo I decided I'd see just how easy this sort of dangling hair photo really is. The answer I got is that it is not as likely as you'd imagine. It took a little effort on my behalf to get my hair, admittedly not that long, to get in front of the lens. I imagine it would, however, be easier with a tiny camera or phone. I was, nevertheless, able to get the photos I wanted, the one above being an example. Notice how there are brighter bits along the linear anomalies. These are highlights, bits reflecting more strongly than the rest. It certainly demonstrated to me that the idea at least works.

The next photo (right) was a real surprise. I've seen anomalous photos like this before. I'd always assumed it was mist or the photographer's own breath showing up on a cold night. While many such photos are indeed caused in those ways this one was not. It is, in fact, my hair! I had only intended a few strands to intrude on the frame but got this by mistake. The effect does not obviously suggest hair, to me at least. There are so many strands that it has a sort of wispy misty look overall. It is certainly a possibility to consider when examining photos like this.

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