Ancient magic?
October 23, 2013 7:26 AM   Subscribe

What's the odd square in the middle of this?

I took a picture, using a fairly crappy phone, a few years ago of Carinholy 1, a chambered tomb in Southern Scotland. It wasnt till later that I noticed the odd square looking like a hole through the stone. I've assumed it's some sort of interference maybe caused by shooting into the sun, but the square doesnt appear to come from anywhere else in the picture.

It's been bothering me for a few years now and I've never come across a good explanation for this beyond fairies, earth magic & otherworld portals.

Any suggestions?
posted by BadMiker to Science & Nature (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It looks like a bit of intense lens flare that just happens to be green and sort of match the background grass. It's not exactly the same color if you look closely.
posted by polywomp at 7:28 AM on October 23, 2013


Yeah it's lens flare. It's easier to see if you zoom in (scroll up with the scroll wheel while holding ctrl on the keyboard, if you're using Firefox), but I agree that it's a compelling illusion when viewed at original size.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:37 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because it's square and green, I'm wondering if that is actually a reflection of your camera's image sensor? The sunlight could be lighting it up pretty good, and then its reflection bounces off the back of the lens and shows up in the dark part of the image. It's showing up about where you'd expect that to happen given the position of the sun in the image.
posted by FishBike at 7:53 AM on October 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Clearly, it's a portal to another dimension.

Why is the a dark box around the square, though, that seems to map to the front of the stone? The edge of the dark box seems to run along the edge of the stone, right?
posted by elmer benson at 8:29 AM on October 23, 2013


For comparison purposes, it helps that this is a thing that exists that other people have been to. Picture without the portal.
posted by phunniemee at 8:36 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


For comparison purposes, it helps that this is a thing that exists that other people have been to. Picture without the portal.

Badmiker is aware that the hole is not actually there - no reference photos are required.
It wasnt till later that I noticed the odd square looking like a hole
posted by zamboni at 8:45 AM on October 23, 2013


That was more for elmer benson.
posted by phunniemee at 9:01 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: LOL!

Just to confirm; the stone appeared solid and unadulterated by any kind of obvious mystic portals when I was taking the photograph.

phunniemee's photo is a very good one of the facade of the tomb; this is what it looks like! There is no hole/window/portal!

You can understand the issue thought; my photograph shows quite a convincing hole.
posted by BadMiker at 9:20 AM on October 23, 2013


I would say it's definitely lens flare. The shape isn't exactly square or rectangular, but matches the shape a setting sun would make through the gap in the stones.
posted by ckape at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2013


I don't think the "portal" is lens flare. The shape isn't right... it should match the shape of the aperture, shouldn't it? And the color (particularly the pattern of details in the "portal") doesn't make sense, either.

Sensor reflection makes more sense. Note that the aspect ratio of the portal is the same as that of the photo, and therefore the sensor. And sensor reflection is definitely a known phenomenon, though in real cameras it's generally a lot more subtle that this. In a cheap old camera phone though, maybe....
posted by mr_roboto at 11:32 AM on October 23, 2013


I don't think it's lens flare or sensor reflection - compare with this photo. There are two tall stones with a perfectly straight vertical gap between them. In that gap you can see a very neat square of bright grass, with dark trees above/behind the grass.

In your photo, the dark trees in the background appear to merge two tall skinny stones into one stone, except where the bright grass shows through, so it looks like a square hole.

(There is also a big sun flare above and to the right of the square "hole", but I don't think that's what you're referring to!)
posted by moonmilk at 11:43 AM on October 23, 2013


...aaand looking at it again, I'm not so convinced any more. Sensor reflection sounds pretty good :)
posted by moonmilk at 11:44 AM on October 23, 2013


Sensor reflection typically looks more like this. It's not impossible it could look different on an old phone camera that's somehow working differently w/r/t the sensor though, I suppose? Certainly it looks like a reflection of something the sensor's seeing, although not the sun, which is what you'd expect. But given the apparent opacity of the 'portal', the textures inside it, and the neat edges, my vote would be for the file being weirdly corrupted/glitched somehow by the phone.
posted by Catseye at 1:18 PM on October 23, 2013


The shape of the lens flare is the convolution of the shape of the light source and the shape of the aperture. Most lens flares are with (nearly) point light sources so only the shape of the aperture will be obvious.

Also, I see I messed up my link the last time, here is the example lens flare I wanted to link before.
posted by ckape at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2013


I'd guess it's a reflection of the image of the sun, from the camera's optics. The presence of an antireflective coating in the camera's lens may explain why it's tinted green. The horizontal lines may be clouds across the sun.
posted by alexei at 1:32 PM on October 23, 2013


Response by poster: I took lots of pictures with the camera but never saw anything else like this. If it helps, the picture was probably taken with a Motorola V3x.

Isnt it too sharp & well defined to be a sensor reflection? The aspect ratio of the square doesnt match the shape of the picture very well either; the picture is rectangular, the portal is square.

The square doesnt appear to be transposed from elsewhere in the image either.

I'm no clearer what it is!
posted by BadMiker at 3:24 PM on October 23, 2013


The aspect ratio of the square doesnt match the shape of the picture very well either; the picture is rectangular, the portal is square.

Measuring in photoshop, the picture is 480x640 pixels while the portal is 19x25 pixels. A 3/4 aspect ratio, more or less.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:00 PM on October 23, 2013


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