Light in my photo

Take a look at this photo I shot over the weekend. It’s a photo of the sun, blue sky, clouds, and a perfect round something. It doesn’t look like the lens flares (is that the term?) I’ve seen before. There’s also another slash of light nearer the sun.

I was trying to see what I could get when shooting the sun, and I obviously wasn’t looking directly at the sun, only through the corner of my eye enough to line up the shot, such as it was. Any guesses?

The slash of light could be an airplane contrail but both spots could likely be from a dirty sensor/lens.

My very thumbnail estimation makes the round something to be a mirror image of the sun, as it appears to be as far above and to the right of the centerlines of the photo as the sun is below and to the right. This page calls it a mirror ghost.

Others I took at the same time didn’t have any spots, but this was the only one I took directly at the sun. I thought the slash could be a plane too.

The circle is a lens flare/reflection of the sun circle. The slash could be either of the causes Bob mentions.
To check a camera for dirt and dust on the sensor, point the camera at a perfectly clear patch of sky at maximum resolution and manually defocus the shot. Inspect the image file at relatively large magnification (200% or so) on your screen. Take two or three such shots, moving the nonfocal point around a little, and compare the shots for relatively sharply focused dots and lines that remain the same in each shot. Them’s dust/dirt/debris/sensor damage.

One theory I have is a satellite, but I have no idea if one could be visible or look like this during the day. The reason I got onto this particular cockamamie theory is that my husband has an app that tells you when a particular satellite is visible from wherever you are in the world, and where to look in the sky when (at night) light from the sun (I guess?) briefly touches it.

I’m a little vague on the details because this is something we did on vacation two years ago, and haven’t discussed since. (I know, we’re so wild: looking at satellites on vacation.)

I took this with an iPhone, if that makes any difference in anyone’s analysis.

That should say “below and to the left,” obviously.

I don’t think it is a satellite. I haven’t seen any yet, but I have been reading a lot about satellites and photography lately. My understanding is usually satellites are most visible when the sun is already down (or about to come up) - and therefore the light flashing off the satellite is more easily visible (otherwise - it would be too dark to see in direct sunlight).

Also - other than the ISS - the satellites usually are visible as oblong streaks - kinds saucer shaped. I cant say that is the case in all situations.

As you mentioned - there is an app (more than one) to show when and where satellites will be visible in the sky. At least some allow you to manually input time and location data. you could easily do this in an app like SkyView and see if there was any in position.

Keep in mind the sun is very bright. Most cameras cant properly expose the sun without expensive filters - and yours is actually underexposed. It is possible that a glint of this very bright light - bounced around in the optics of your camera - causing what you saw.

So I dont know if it is lens flare TECHNICALLY - but that is my guess. Very, very, very bright light source - did something by bouncing off something - that the camera/lens/optics would normally not have to cope with if it wasn’t pointed at the sun.

Also the iPhone 5 seems to have/had some issues with its lens based off the use of the sapphire glass.

Look at the pic below the elephant here:

Although clearly not the same - as your mini sphere is out on its own - while the example I posted has halos around it - the relative size and color look to be similar.

Did you do any post processing on color? I’m guessing they tried to fix this (which was being called the purple flare issue) - and I notice the red channel seems shifted to the left (as in the R in RGB was purposefully made darker). I was wondering if you did this or the phone did.

For all I know it isn’t even an iPhone 5 - but thought I would post this…

These sort of flares are caused by reflection from the sensor surface, off the back of the lens, and back to the sensor.

I think beowulff’s answer is correct. There’s all sorts of weird flares that occur with those types of strong, direct point light sources. I would get something like that with candles on my 35mm dSLR, where the light would somehow bounce around and reflect elsewhere in the image as a point-type flare like in your photo. With candles it’s pretty easy to diagnose, as when there’s multiple candles in a photo, they make a very distinctive pattern, so when you see a “reflection” of that pattern elsewhere in the frame, you know what it is. So, I assume it’s something like that. I wouldn’t be able to say 100%, but it’s not something I would really wonder about too much.

As for the slash of light, if it’s what I think you’re looking at, it just looks like a jet contrail to me.

The point doesn’t look like Venus to anyone else?

Well, I was going to suggest a polarizing filter, but I keep forgetting that people no longer use cameras for photos.

Always a trade-off…

Since it costs nothing to take a pic, remember to take another, slightly different one at the same time - this time with the lens pointing at least 20 degrees from sun or other intense spot source.


It is clearly an image of the sun. If you draw a line from the “spot” to the sun (which is hard to pinpoint exactly as it is so overexposed) you will see that it passes through the centre of the frame, i.e. the lens axis, and the sun and the spot are equidistant from the centre. A sure sign of a lens reflection.

(See also the famous “Washington DC UFOs” photo which is actually internal lens reflections of the streetlights at bottom of frame.)

I don’t think the short “slash” to the bottom right of the sun is an artifact, as it isn’t aligned with the sun or the image centre. Most likely an aircraft contrail?

But, to be fair, AaronX forgot to use the Jesse Ventura tags…

Missed the edit, but I would also point out that the “spot” appears to be the right size for the sun, i.e. the size of the image of the sun if you subtract the massive amounts of flare around it, as you would expect for a mirror image.

Edit… alternatively it could be a low-flying SDMB gag. Who knows?

I looked through the others I look and found anotherphoto with a similar spot. It also has that purple problem. But hey I was having fun; as someone mentioned, it costs nothing to experiment.

Er, yeah, I was totally making a joke. Is THAT how you identify reflections? Wow, that could be useful. But it won’t work if the photo is cropped.

Yeah, generally internal reflections will produce images mirrored about the axis of the lens. But depending on the design of the camera that may not exactly co-incide with the centre of the frame (although it should in a well designed one).

If the pic is cropped, all bets are off, although if there are multiple such
reflections then lines drawn between each light source and its reflection should all intersect at the original centre.