It seems that people are often concerned with getting the sharpest optics available. I can recall back in another age where people would spend literally thousands upon thousands of dollars to get the sharpest lenses that the world had to offer to then put a soft focus filter on it because it was “too sharp” for photographing the imperfections of people. I understand wanting the sharpest lenses so that you have the option of “how sharp” you want it. It is just one of those little quirks that makes me laugh. With today’s technology lenses are sharper than ever and most photographers now do most of their softening in the computer.
Earlier this month I picked up my camera as I noticed that the light off the water coming through the window screen. Not only was the image diffused, but the bright reflections of the sun also created little dotted crosses in the highlights. It just happened to be one of those things that I came across, purely by accident. It was an observation, a moment that probably required the angle of the sun and my distance to the subject and window screen to be just right. The effect looks like I used one of those star filters or some nifty Photoshop effect.
Now it’s not that I can’t do this in Photoshop, well actually I’ve never tried so I have no idea, but I am a firm believer that if you see something you like the way it is, you might as well photograph it that way. I like having options, but I also like getting results. And I always try to remember that doing as much as you can to get your image the way you want it whilst in the field will save you a ton of time in front of the computer.
Speaking of which, it wasn’t until I got the image on the computer that I noticed that you can actually see the dock through the subject. And the highlight by her leg appears to almost in the foreground. I’m no physicist, but I am guessing that the window screen literally caused this by making multiple images on top of each other and thus seeing multiple angles simultaneously, literally allowing you to see through the person. My assumption was that there must have been some serious diffraction going on and with some half-hearted research I conceded that the inter-web seemed to agree with me.
Just for kicks I went into Photoshop to see what would happen if I attempted to create this effect. And what did I find? If I had one image layered on top of another image and used the Screen blending mode on top layer, it created an extreme version of that effect on my image. Then if I duplicated the bottom layer, changed the opacity of the middle layer and combined the top two, the effect was almost identical. I guess it turns out those people at Adobe named the blending mode, Screen for a good reason. So even though I still can’t explain to you the exact science of how it happened, I can tell you my observation led me to a discovery. Now if I could just get Photoshop to make those little bright crosses…