Fata Morgana by moonlight


Outside Iqaluit, Canadian Arctic

If you look at the horizon you will see what looks like a band of cliffs or land, made of the same texture the sea ice is made of. This is actually the flat ocean but something is distorting it. This is a photograph of the most mysterious optical illusions most commonly observed in the Arctic. Named after the sorceress Morgan Le Fay of merlin lore this phenomenon has been attributed to the flying Dutchman, UFOs, faeries and other unusual things. It’s no surprised, land seems to rise out of the ocean from nothing only to start jiggling and dancing to and fro like a mushroom made of jelly, it’s very entertaining to watch newcomers to the arctic try and process what they are seeing.

This is simply an optical effect created by an inverse mirage. With a layer of cool air by the sea surrounded by a warmer atmosphere, this threshold between cool and warm air bends the light in such a way that even things beyond the curvature of the earth can be seen, causing the seascape to bend into the sky

Photographic Details: This was taken on a ship with a telephoto lens, therefore a tripod was out of the question given that we were moving. I shot this hand held holding my breath at at 1/80 sec, f5.6 ISO 1600 Canon EOS 5D at 400mm, a feat not easily done but slowly mastered with practice. I always surprise myself when I manage “illegally” shooting such slow shutter speeds with long lenses, practice makes perfect! If at first you get a few blurry photos, keep trying, all it takes is one good one and your work will be worth it!

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