A photo posted on Facebook and circulated many times on social media purports to show a photo of the aurora borealis “The Hem of His Garment” in Finland. No, it is not the aurora borealis, and the photo wasn’t taken in Finland.
In 2010, a Russian photographer with a nickname “NeverSmile” shared a series of photographs on a Russian forum yaplakal.com (translation: “I cried”), explaining how he “created” the photo with the help of the fluorescent lamps, electromagnetic field, and using long exposure to create light trails in the pictures.
When you take a fluorescent tube bulb under transmission power lines it lights up because the current running through them induces an alternating magnetic field around them as they conduct electricity. The higher the voltage, the greater the magnetic field density and the brighter the fluorescent tube will glow. – How to make a fluorescent bulb glow under transmission power lines
Richard Box from Bristol University’s physics department explains: “A fluorescent tube glows when an electrical voltage is set up across it. The electric field set up inside the tube excites atoms of mercury gas, making them emit ultraviolet light. This invisible light strikes the phosphor coating on the glass tube, making it glow. Because power lines are typically 400,000 volts, and Earth is at an electrical potential voltage of zero volts, pylons create electric fields between the cables they carry and the ground.” – Electromagnetic Field Lights Up Field of Florescent Tubes
The video below shows the fluorescent lighting up when placed near electromagnetic fields.
Have fun creating light painting night photography using readily available items like toys and Christmas lights. Learn how to adjust your camera’s settings to take long exposures of various moving light sources for an interesting light art effect.
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