Red Alien

For New Year’s Eve 2016, I opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate. I had a red light illuminating the room and decided to see if the iPhone camera could capture the bubbles floating to the surface.

Instead, it captured aliens. Red aliens.

red alien 1

The head. Take me to your leader.

red alien 3

Spine and ribs.

red alien 2

The tail end stinger.



Rye whiskey is an old school classic best served in a heavy bottomed highball glass, neat, or in this case over a single ice cube that is almost as big as the glass.

The rich amber whiskey hues contrast with the texture of the ice. Whiskey adverts are famous for subliminal messages and some even altered the photographs to create hidden images. If you look closely at this one, you might see a raging bull with a ring through his nose. All created by light, ice, whiskey, and the iPhone camera. No Photoshop necessary.

Moving the camera a bit introduces some fiery yellows to the concoction.

Tilted back the other way and the amber turns more to the red, and while the bull is back; he is further away, but I think the sight of red has angered him and he is about to charge!

Blue Blazer

By some happy accident, the iPhone camera picks up colors that aren’t visible to the eye or amplifies those that are. I have been surprised by bold reds reflected back off bare chrome before, but tonight I got blue. Blazing, bright blues!

blue reflections on chrome

At different angles the iPhone camera picks up other colors and some of the light reflections gain a 3-D depth to them.

blue reflections on chrome two

Another angle adds some warm colors to contrast against the blue and the reflections are more diffuse.

blue reflections on chrome three

The curved lens of the camera creates swirls of color.

Flare for the Dramatic

At certain angles sunlight creates dramatic lens flares on iPhone images. Some are fractal rainbows while others reflect the refraction of the lens itself.
Fireweed at Mt. Baker

This flare looks like a beam that wants to capture the Fireweed growing on the slopes on Mt. Baker.

This flare looks like a psychedelic ’60s acid trip or special effects lighting from the original Star Trek.

Rampart Lakes

This flare looks like a rainbow waterfall flowing into one of the Rampart Lakes in the Cascade mountains.


A recent experiment with blue and green hues resulted in images that ranged from exotic deep sea creature,

aquamarine glow 1

to pixelated and glitchy,

aquamarine glow 2

and more of the same!

aquamarine glow 3

In Rainbows

Continuing with my recent spectral findings, I used other glasses, with and without various liquids to create multicolored light experiments.

The refraction of light above and below a layer of liquid shows a rainbow of colors.

multicolored one

By moving the angle of the iPhone camera by small amounts, a full range of the color spectrum could be captured.

multicolored two

Bold reds to pastel pinks could be found in different chroma ranges as the light shifted.multicolored three

Brilliant blues shown under muted rose and lavender.

multicolored four

Another slight shift introduced yellows and chartreuse into the frequency range. I couldn’t see these colors with the naked eye, but the iPhone camera was able to find them!

multicolored five

Red Ribbon

I inherited several crystal port and sherry glasses from my maternal grandmother. They have multi-faceted stems, so I decided to get the iPhone camera as close as possible and capture the light that came through.

The iPhone camera captures reds very well, no matter the light source.
red ribbon of light one
By moving the camera lens ever so slightly I was able to capture a longer string of red and white lights.
red ribbon of light two
The facets of the crystal stem that I was shooting through created all sorts of interesting strings of light.
red ribbon of light three
In addition to the reds and whites that refracted within the crystal, some blues appeared at the very end.
red ribbon of light four


Here is another experiment in capturing light passing through liquids and being how the iPhone’s camera reacts.

This is light reflecting through a cocktail that is a deep maroon brown. It contains a mix of rye whisky, orange bitters and Tia Maria. The swirls are deep and rich hues of brown, red and orange.
At a slightly different angle the light shifts and the fluid of the cocktail becomes more golden and an angry sky forms in the reflection above the swirls. The feedback caused by the increased exposure adds texture.
This cocktail was made with gin and St. Germain. The clear liquid captures and reflects the surrounding environment, introducing all sorts of colors for the iPhone camera to pick up.
The classic Sidecar cocktail is a tawny amber color. The iPhone camera accents that and the glow of the light reflected from a window through the glass.

Copper Plate

One afternoon last autumn I was sitting waiting for the bus. I noticed a nearby sculpture had acquired a nice patina and decided to take a few shots of it. Overall it was a rusty, copper color, but close up the iPhone camera picked out a lot of colors and textures that were not visible to the naked eye. It looked like a uniform shade of brown without the camera!


Blues, greens and different shades of brown.


Textures were highlighted. It almost looks like the surface of Europa or some other moon captured by the cameras of Voyager.copper_plate_03


In the days of film, certain formulas were known to enhance different parts of the color spectrum over others. Generally Fuji film emphasized Green hues and Kodak emphasized Red hues.

The iPhone camera seems to emphasize Red hues in the color spectrum. The light receptor seems to really boost colors in the Red range.

Red hallway

This dark hallway had a few accent lights to show the way. The slow shutter speed of the iPhone camera boosts the chroma and the brightness of the light and the reflections make the walls glow.Red staircase

The Red accent light on this staircase is boosted into a Red glow that contrasts sharply with the blackness around it. The room itself wasn’t nearly as dark, but the slow shutter speed of the camera emphasizes the Red over all other hues and the remainder appears black as a result.Red foliage

The Red leaves of this Japanese Maple were a Burgundy to Brick Red under the ambient light of a grey, autumn afternoon, but the iPhone camera’s receptors push them into the Magenta to Crimson range, while leaving the yellow leaf unaffected.Red cactus bloomA pretty Red cactus bloom in the morning sun. The Red hues are boosted to an almost glowing degree while the greens, browns and yellows of the surrounding plants and stones are much more natural.