A shadowy figure: I was perplexed by what appeared in this photo, but I think I just may have it figured out

I was out playing with my camera in rural Cass County, N.D. this weekend. I think I was, loosly speaking, near Harwood. I stopped and took some photos of an old brick grain bin or silo. Nothing really came of that.

I drove around for a while as the daylight continued to fade, and I came upon a lonely little tree near the top of a hill. It looked pretty interesting to me. I set up my tripod out in the black dirt of some unknown farmer’s field field and took a couple of long-exposure shots of the tree.

I thought it would be fun to hit the tree with my strobe/flash and see how that turned out. Actually, I don’t have a flash that I can use on my Nikon D60, but I do have an old Sunpak flash that I used to use with my Nikon FE2 film camera. That flash isn’t designed for today’s DSLR cameras, but I can fire it manually by pushing a button on the back. And when you do exposures of 30 seconds and beyond, there’s plenty of time to hit the button and illuminate particular aspects of your field of vision (in this case, the tree).

So, I tripped the shutter on my camera and ran to the tree with my Sunpak. Actually, I think I probably hit the tree two or three times with the flash, and it produced a pretty cool effect (well, at least I think so) as seen in the image below. It looks like a ray of sunlight isĀ illuminatingĀ this tree, but it’s really the flash.

But what I had trouble figuring out about this photo is this: if you look under the tree (click on the image to blow it up larger), to the right, you’ll notice what looks like a shadow of a person. It’s me, but I was a bit puzzled as to how it happened. The thought crossed my mind that as I fired the flash, I blocked the camera’s view of some of that light so that it shows a “shadow” of me. But the only thing is, you can see my shadowy head against the sky, and you can’t cast a shadow against the sky. My best guess is that the camera did actually catch a dim exposure of me and that’s what we’re seeing; of course, I was only in that place briefly and while I was out of that spot, it exposed the other stuff behind me, adding to the translucent appearance of my form. (You can check out more of my pics here.)

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