Imaggeo on Mondays: Light reflection

In this week’s Imaggeo on Mondays, brought to you by the photographer herself, Jacqueline Isabella Gisen (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands) tells us about light refraction and reflection in a beautiful Autumnal landscape.

“Light reflection” by Jacqueline Isabella Gisen, distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence

This shot was taken spontaneously on my way to Clingendael Park in The Hague, Netherlands, for an Autumn’s photography activity on 4 October 2011. It was misty and sunny that morning, after a week of rain, and the weather was cold.

The phenomenon in the photo occurs only under certain conditions with the existence of saturated air moisture (mist) and sunlight. When fully saturated air cannot further hold the evaporation of water, water particles are suspended in the air. Then, when the sunlight penetrates through the gaps between the leaves, it is refracted and reflected by these suspended particles, which makes the beams of light visible.

In this photo you can also see the beams of sunlight that were reflected upward again due to the reflective property of the water in the lake, completing this astonishing reflection and refraction scene. As the surroundings were shaded by the trees, the background was dark, allowing even the weak reflected rays to contrast brightly and stand out in the photo.

When the density of the particles in the water is further increased, the visibility of the light is reduced, because the water particles will reflect and scatter more light photons. This reduction of visibility can cause disturbance in transportation systems, such as in the takeoff and landing of airplanes.

By Jacqueline Isabella Gisen

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their images to this repository and since it is open access, these photos can be used by scientists for their presentations or publications as well as by the press and public for educational purposes and otherwise. If you submit your images to Imaggeo, you retain full rights of use, since they are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

Bárbara Ferreira
Bárbara Ferreira was the Media and Communications Manager of the European Geosciences Union from 2011 to 2019. Bárbara has also worked as a science writer specialising in astrophysics and space sciences, producing articles for the European Space Agency and others on a freelance basis. She has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge.

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