The family had been in the car all day. We were returning from a funeral in Minnesota, where the weather had turned cold and cloudy to match everyone’s mood. We were now in South Dakota, heading West on I90. The horizon had been as gray as the rest of the sky, but it start to change slightly. It turned into a blue thread, then opened up into a yellow ribbon. The cloud layer did not envelope the Earth. It had an edge, and beyond it was the promise of clear sky. I stopped the car to photograph it.
The yellow color was a sign that the sun was low and about to set. The cornfield was not the most exciting scenery, and we were still hundreds of miles from home, so I got back in the car and continued driving. I knew that at some point we would either break free of the cloud or the sun would drop through the gap between cloud and ground. I was not disappointed…It occurs to me now that this sort of meteorological phenomenon might occur frequently out on the plains, but to a mountain boy like me it was novel. I saw a sliver of the sun and stopped the car at the crest of the next hill. At this point I made a classic novice mistake. It wasn’t that I forgot a tripod, nor that I wasn’t using the best camera or lens. I wasn’t forgetting to take a lot of shots, nor was I forgetting to use different apertures or exposure times. I was just so excited by the sun that I consistently centered it as beast as I could, photo after photo, and I forgot that even the best lenses are not perfect. When a scene contains a bright light source – and the sun is about as bright as it can get – some extra light can reflect/refract of lens elements in unexpected and usually undesirable ways to produce what is known as lens flare. In my case, in photo after photo, a ghost image of the sun appeared, sometimes looking like a UFO, sometimes looking like a second sun. This ghost would always appear opposite the optical axis (center of frame) from the sun and equidistant, so the closer the sun got to the center, the closer the ghost got.
In only one shot was I lucky enough to get them widely separated.
This I used for the final product, which I named after The Eye of Horus, ironically associated with the Moon, not the Sun.