Jon Dickson

Jon Dickson
  • Contest: Landscape in the Arctic
  • Note: Broken Brockenspectre
  • Locate: Westfjords, Iceland
  • City: Port Coquitlam
  • Comment: The weather this morning was too good to waste, so on a whim I headed up Arafjall off of Óshlíð, the old Bolungarvik road. As I was starting out my hike I could see that the summit was covered in cloud, but I figured it would blow off by the time I got up there. I was half right.

    Upon reaching the plateau I was still engulfed in cloud, so I stopped to build a small cairn to mark where I had come up, and presumably where I should go back down. As I finished up with my flat rocks, I glanced up and saw the beginnings of some circles. I wandered off towards where I knew the cliffs were, and very soon a concentric brockenspectre was following ahead of me as the clouds cleared. I had a thought that it might be pretty cool to see a nearly full brockenspectre off the edge of a cliff, as you can usually only get that from airplanes and helicopters. I hustled on, set up my tripod on a precarious perch and hoped that wind wouldn't suddenly blow up and blow my camera away.

    The larger ring is a fog bow.

    The result is before you. I do like it, brockenspectre's are one of the neatest things out there in neature. It's not too often you get all this neatness in one place.

    Here I am pictured near the summit of Arafjall with Óshlíð, Ísafjörðardjúp and Hornstandir in the background.

    For those curious about how this neatness happens, a brockenspectre - named after a mountain region in Germany - is formed when the sun (or light source) shines from behind the viewer, projecting their shadow onto clouds or mist. Much like a rainbow, the rings (called 'glory') are caused by light reflection, refraction and dispersion of sunlight shining on water droplets. Generally brockenspectre's have the same spectrum as a rainbow - but in this case, it was almost white.