What image was taken?
November 7, 2016 1:16 PM   Subscribe

While we were waiting to cross back into the US from Canada at Blaine, I saw a green flash of light. What was it?

In the 20 minutes we waited at the border, one of the things that we encountered was a quick flash of light from one of the pieces of equipment set up close to the border inspector's booth (in between two lanes of the inspection station, on the driver side). It was a tall, narrow light, shaped like a flourescent light tube, but shorter (maybe a foot tall?) and acted like a camera flash, but it was a green light and not the type of flash I would have expected from a camera. From where we sat in the car, it was a little higher than eye level.

What kind of device might this have been if it wasn't a "normal" camera? I assume it was some sort of image capture, I was just kind of thrown by the green light and I also assumed that the border patrol guard would both not be entertained by and would also refuse to answer my questions about it if asked, so I didn't ask them.
posted by pdb to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
Oh, and this was at Peace Arch, not at the truck crossing or Lynden.
posted by pdb at 1:18 PM on November 7, 2016

My guess would be a license plate camera. The green flash might be to provide illumination at night without messing with the night vision of the driver (it could be for IR or other sensing as well).

Did it flash when you were at the inspector's booth, or a little before?
posted by sparklemotion at 1:37 PM on November 7, 2016

Sparklemotion -

We were about five cars back from the booth.
posted by pdb at 1:40 PM on November 7, 2016

So, the light was at the booth, and flashed (at you?) when you were 5 cars back?

Was it light or dark out?

Were your windows rolled up at the time?

Basically, I still think it was probably a license plate camera, but I'm wondering if it was using a UV flash like this that when filtered through the UVA blocking car windows looked green to you.

Anyways, here's some license plate reader cameras with pictures of them in the context of a border crossing (none look like foot tall fluorescent bulbs).
posted by sparklemotion at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2016

Yep, the light flashed when we were about five cars back. I think it was at us specifically, I didn't see it flash again as we moved forward through the line but maybe it gets a few cars at a time or something. Our windows were up, it was about 9AM and fully daylight (overcast day but not rainy).
posted by pdb at 2:29 PM on November 7, 2016

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