A Slightly Hazy Photographic Mystery from Kyoto’s Mt. Hiei
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
Haze Over Northern Kyoto from near the top of Mt. Hiei (比叡山)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Haze Over Northern Kyoto
from near the top of Mt. Hiei (比叡山)

I snapped this shot on yesterday's hike. It was very hazy, so the “layered mountain” effect that I like so much was strong. Perhaps too strong... I would have liked more contrast.

Taken from almost the same spot, looking a different direction, is a moody shot I like of the “Azalea Hillside” (つつじヶ丘), which can apparently be spectacular, but I missed it by a week:

desktop background image of azaleas on Mt. Hiei (比叡山), Kyoto Japan  --  Azalea Hillside  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Azalea Hillside
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600

Stéphane said that the previous week, the hillside was covered in every color except green, but now many of the other colors had been taken over by green. It was still pretty, so I'll have to visit at the right time next year.

Returning to the first photo, I want to point out a weird effect I noticed, and ask whether anyone knows what might have caused it. The version above was processed fairly strongly in Lightroom; notice in this next unprocessed copy weird rings of magenta and cyan? They're a bit subtle, but clearly there, especially in the larger version you get when you click through:

Subtle Mystery cyan and magenta rings  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Subtle Mystery
cyan and magenta rings

Here's a version with crazy settings to highlight the rings:

Crazy Settings to highlight the ring structures that are already there  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Crazy Settings
to highlight the ring structures that are already there

It seems clear to me that the rings are following the terrain, but I'm having a hard time coming up with an explanation. Maybe it's some kind of weird reflection whose color changes subtly with angle? Or maybe elevation related... but where do cyan and magenta come from?

I am, if you'll excuse the pun, a bit hazy on how this could happen. In fact, I'm baffled.

Continued here...


All 9 comments so far, oldest first...

Hi Jeffrey,

It looks as though the photo has a severe case of chromatic aberration.

I have come across this once before in an older lens that I picked up second hand. The lens was missing it’s lens hood when I brought it and occasionally depending on the angle and aperture the image would get a heavy veiling glare resulting in a lot of cyan-magenta blobs and/or arcs similar to what you are experiencing here.

I did a bit of research and also had a chat with the Science Teacher at the School where I work about colour spectrums etc. The best we could come up with in the end was the multi-coatings on the old lens and the intense light source that would originate from some wide angle shots was causing the effect. I did discover that the sun does not have to be in the image to cause a heavy veiling glare.

I finally found a lens hood for the old lens, which seemed to alleviate some of the effect, but occasionally I still got the odd photo where it happened. Unfortunately the lens packed it in a year ago, which is a shame as it was one of the best I have had.

— comment by Richard (Qld - Australia) on June 3rd, 2012 at 7:29pm JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

I think your colors are similar to halos around the sun (and moon), a rainbow caused by water vapor, ice crystals or even smog. They may be very diffuse because the sun appears very muted.

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2002/24oct_sunrings/

— comment by Werner on June 3rd, 2012 at 8:32pm JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Shadows caused by clouds?

— comment by Yoav F on June 3rd, 2012 at 8:58pm JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

I think this looks like a lens effect of some sort. I’m not sure what sort, but I don’t see it following the terrain.

Look toward the edges, or to the mountains further back. It seems most related to altitude than anything else, I guess. —Jeffrey

— comment by Mark Sirota (Philadelphia, USA) on June 4th, 2012 at 12:07pm JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

I would have guessed it was overly saturated. I have never had this problem with any lens on any camera. I guess I am lucky.

I don’t think it’s related to the lens at all. But then, I don’t know what it is. It was suggested on G+ that haze can be a wavelength-specific thing, and cause this effect. That seems most likely to me at the moment. —Jeffrey

— comment by Abraham Lincoln on June 4th, 2012 at 9:25pm JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

I agree with Mark, I don’t think it is following the terrain. I see what you refer to, near the edges of “Crazy”, but I think the strong purple near the left edge (and less distinctly at the right) is part of a lower, fainter purple arc, one of a series of concentric arcs. I’ve no explanation though, apart from some sort of chromatic aberration or internal reflection in the lens/camera combination.

— comment by Peter in Wales on June 4th, 2012 at 11:16pm JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Perhaps caused by polarizer stacked, especially if stacked with another filter? I suspect you would have mentioned that…but?

I had wondered whether it was some kind of freaky polarizing, but I had no filters of any sort, so that theory was out. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bob Abela on June 5th, 2012 at 12:29am JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

This might be wildly off base but the effect did remind me of the effect you get when flying over clouds. If you look down towards your shadow, you get a circular rainbow around the shadow on the clouds that is somehow related to the moisture below you. I wondered where the sun was in relation to you and whether it was similar in some respect with the haze acting like the clouds. The arcs might then actually be part of full circles of a refraction effect? Just a thought.

Rob

I wonder, but the sun wasn’t behind me at all. The sun was 1/8th of a circle to my left, 47 degrees above the horizon (4 hours before sunset). —Jeffrey

— comment by Rob Edgcumbe on June 5th, 2012 at 8:17am JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Looks like lens flare to me. If you posterize the image down to below 32 colors, you’ll see the same banding pattern throughout the image.

-j

— comment by J Greely on June 7th, 2012 at 6:40am JST (5 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...


All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.


You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting