Random Snap: Faster Than The Speed Of Light

A couple days ago I posted this photo on Facebook because I thought it was interesting. Look at the reflected image of Justin Pawlak’s Roush Mustang in the water and you’ll see that the tail light reflections are the opposite of each other.

I already knew what caused this phenomenon, but I didn’t explain it very well in my caption, therefore I got a barrage of comments from nearly everyone on my friends list. I wrote: I’m guessing what happened here is that by the time the shutter curtain exposed half of the image the pulse of the LED tail lights turned off or on mid exposure. So, in the reflection the left-side light is on and the right-side one is off, while it is the opposite on the car. It’s crazy because I shot this at 1/6400th of a second. Stupid stuff like this still amazes me.

My buddy Loren Haleston made light of the situation: “Most LEDs pulse at around 1/200th, so anything faster will likely catch it mid pulse. What’s amazing is it seems like you somehow managed to capture the light before and after it had time to travel that extra distance to the puddle and reflect to your sensor. The speed of light travel 983 million feet per second, so to travel an extra six feet the reflection would only be 1/163,933,333th of a second behind the original source of light. Which is way faster than your shutter, so the only way this is possible is magic.”

Speedhunter Jordan Butters then responded in reply to my buddy Loren and explained it better than I would ever have: “Strong math skills, but that’s not it. It’s because the shutter curtain travels in a vertical motion; it’s picked up the lower light reflection and not the actual light – the only time calculation needed is Larry’s 1/6400 sec.”

What do you guys think happened?

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto



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I think you are a wizard and you don't even know it


It's pretty obvious you divided by zero. This is why you can't have nice things.


Half-Life 3 confirmed.


"My buddy https://www.youtube.com/user/LORENinHD made light of the situation..."

Is this a "light" pun?


D1RGE Welcome to city 27.


Imagine how many crowds you could get at the speed of light.


is speedhunters breaking away from covering FD? no offseason build coverage and LB was two weeks ago. So far there has been two random snaps and a seemingly paid advert from ford to cover vaughn gittens mustang(which is not unethical, just that its the only coverage)


cory1750 We've got some stuff on the way.


The left is caught between pulse and shutter while the right just didn't reflect well i think(we all think its off but its probably the water distortion. Bad ass pic non the less.


My first thought was aliens. But after further consideration I'm thinking witchcraft. Yeah, it's definitely witchcraft.


Not quite sure about this...


Larry when someone asks if you're a God you say yes!


Nah I really think Larry is an alien. His camera is futuristic high-tech alien technology. He says his shutter speed is 1/6400 secs, but what he meant to say is his shutter speed is 1/6400 milisecs


Paddy McGrath "You're a wizard, Larry"


Perhaps the explanation is more simple:
The new Mustang's taillights are angled rather sharply, which refracts the light differently based on where you are standing. Because the puddle of water is not a perfectly flat mirror (having been disturbed by a car driving through it), while you are standing at an angle to the taillight that does not allow you to see the light being produced, the puddle reflects said light back from an angle where it is visible.

Just a theory.


Im going to put this out there because noone seems to have mentioned it. But the cars angle could have an effect, small if any. The left tailights are further from the camera than the right side. Im just guessing that this could have an effect on the intervals between when the camera could catch both on both of or one and one.


fang980805 This makes me so happy.


CharlesChris15 RotaryNissan Good theories. Check out this shot in the same run later in the series. This one was taken probably half a second after the one posted above.


luissk82247  In that case, I vote yes. Alien witchcraft.


I dunno




may be just the right moment  to capture this combination of pulsing LEDs( don´t know if left and right is in phase to each other),
the velocity of the car and the brighter half of the left and darker part of the right side of the picture caused by the background..
also the right tail got a double reflection on the wet pavement , the left  only a single one


Distance is not a factor as 1/6400 is way too slow to make a difference, as Jordan and Larry thought.

As far as I know the car's electronics pulse the LEDs at a frequency such that their average brightness is acceptable and the state change (off to on) is on the order of 1 nanosecond. So, the 2 curtains exposing a horizontal strip moving vertically down the sensor at 1/6400th caught the lights and reflections at different split split split seconds, some on, some off. 

Awesome shot Larry, thanks for the great coverage from this event.


What kind of camera (s) do you shoot with? canon models?


This phenomenon was likely caused by the way CMOS sensors work. The digital sensor scans trom top left to bottom right. This creates a secondary, digital shutter window and is the reason why when shooting panning shots in video mode vertical lines seem to bend and spinning objects seem to smudge. THe phenomenon is called "rolling shutter".



.... and this is why photography still endures - despite an ongoing threat of video

#momentsintime #momentsoutoftime #momentsinbetween #momentsofmagic


Larry - You know what happended.. We all do!

P.S - Come back to Japan soon ^-^/


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