Monday, March 16, 2015

Rainbow Reflections and Skypools

I always run outside to photograph rainbows. No matter how many times I see them, I never tire of their arching beauty. Double rainbows are a wonderful sight. Sometimes, when I'm really lucky, I can get a shot of their entire expanse across a piece of our sky. This double was really faint in full view.

But the closeup of its pot-of-gold end really showed the primary and secondary bows well. That's when I noticed something else, or at least I thought I did. It looked like a faint reflection next to the primary bow and an even fainter one next to the secondary. Was I really seeing that? I posted the pic on Facebook and friends said they saw two, three, or four bows. I also sent the photo to Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics and asked him what he thought.
Here's what he wrote: Yes, you have a reflection bow - actually two of them.   Here is an enhancement that accentuates colour gradients - with the disadvantage that it removes the beauty:
That was such a lovely surprise. This is why I run out to photograph rainbows whenever they're visible. Seriously, I never know what else I might be seeing.

Like this, when Roger and I were in Capitola the other day, we went for a walk out to the end of the wharf, as we always do. We were looking over the railing into the water to see what birds or mammals were out there. This is what we saw instead. (Click on the pic.)

We've looked over this railing many, many times. Neither of us remembered seeing the water look quite like this. So I photographed it and went to Atmospheric Optics to look around for answers.  I searched on sky reflections and found one of Les Cowley's posts about Skypools. It was so informative and enlightening. I hope you'll follow the link and take a look. If you don't, here's a bit of what he writes about this:
Skypools are strangely complex. They show sky and land colours but not sky or landscape pictures. They are instead ovals of alternating colour. Some ovals are mostly landscape hues, others are of the sky.

The complexity arises from the shape of the water surface. Ordinary mirrors are flat, convex or concave. They produce simple and single images. They have a fixed curvature.

In contrast, wavy water even at a single 'frozen' instant changes in its curvature from point to point along its surface. Its troughs are certainly concave at their deepest but the curvature decreases towards the crests passing through an inflection point and then becoming convex.  And that is only in one dimension, the curvature alters differently in others.
This is what happens when we look out our windows or go for a walk, and take a good long look around. It's an ever-changing world of beauty with crazy complex optics!

17 comments:

  1. oh, wow wow wow! the double rainbow would be good enough, but the water shot is AMAZING!

    xoxo

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  2. Saved by beauty again! Thanks so much!

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  3. I've photographed "skypools" but didn't know what they were called or indeed how they were formed so thanks for the enlightening link. I'm always amazed by how "real" reflections and shadows look when captured by the camera whereas our brains can almost filter them out when we just use our eyes

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  4. I love that you share what you are seeing. I've learned a lot over the years. But I am especially grateful to be invited in to hear your delight and awe.

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  5. that water picture is reminiscent of a 1960s concert poster....lovely! I love that you can consult with Les Crowley about these things. We saw an amazing rainbow over the airport in Houston on Saturday. It was a sparkling reminder of beauty and miracles on an otherwise tiresome trip through the "friendly" skies.

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  6. Those “ovoid” shapes remind me of Northwest Indian Art. While photographing birds on the ocean I noticed that their refelction took on that same ovid shape. I can’t help but feel that was the original inspiration of the Northwest Indan art.

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  7. Loren, I agree!

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  8. kathy a-- Thank you! I know you know how much I love seeing this stuff. It helps balance out all the insanity of the world for me.

    John-- Interesting observation about what the camera catches that our eyes mostly don't. Atmospheric Optics is one of my most favorite sites on the internet.

    jeanne marie-- Nothing makes me happier than having the camera full of photos waiting to be downloaded. I almost forgot about taking the skypool pics. When I saw them, I was so jazzed.

    Tara-- I know you have walked the Capitola wharf many times, as have Roger and I, isn't it amazing how sometimes it looks like this when most of the time it doesn't? The perfect play of light and curving waters. I love to write letters to people. I started doing that when I was very young. Les Cowley is a wonderful thoughtful man who loves to share his insights and world of knowledge. Did you photograph that sparkling rainbow?

    Loren-- I hadn't thought of Northwest Indian Art. I'm going to have to take a look around. I would love to see that.

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  9. Loren and Jeanne Marie-- Yes! I just took a look at absolutely see those beautiful shapes. Love it. Here's a link to one: http://www.northwestcoastindianart.net/img/artwork/15.jpg

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  10. Amazing! Great photographs and great science.

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  11. The sky and water photos you do remind me of graphic haiku. Such a delight.

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  12. NCmountainwoman-- Art and science, my favorite combinations!

    MandT-- Graphic haiku. I like that very much.

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  13. Wow, it those skypools could be captured in fabric, I'd love a scarf like that. You really do "see" when you go out and about robin and lucky for us, you capture what you see, then let us know what it was. Well done lady.

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  14. Nice rainbow. One of the neatest things (to me) about rainbows is that the darker region between the primary and secondary bands actually has a name -- Alexander's dark band.

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  15. Arkansas Patti-- That's such a cool idea, making a fabric like this. I think I'd like one too! So glad you liked the photo.

    Mark-- I love knowing this stuff, like the name of the darker sky between the bands. The art of the planet.

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  16. Check this out, Robin: malachite (fractals everywhere in nature!)

    https://www.google.com/search?q=fractals+in+malachite&biw=1920&bih=881&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=xcoIVfGvL_PIsQStroGQAQ&ved=0CB0QsAQ&dpr=1#imgdii=_&imgrc=USOPXp8P2AaYdM%253A%3BXCt25paIanbXMM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi.imgur.com%252FsZqTTfU.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.reddit.com%252Fr%252Fwoahdude%252Fcomments%252F1e3tlx%252Fmalachite_pic%252F%3B880%3B729

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  17. jeanne marie-- Such a cool link. Thank you!

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