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By on October 8, 2010, with 44 Comments

As Daily Mail reported, a climber in Poland has taken this astonishing photo, of what appears to be a ghostly figure emerging from the morning mist on the side of a mountain. This  illusion, which occurred at dawn in the Tatra mountains (Zakopane), is actually what is known as a Broken Spectre phenomenon. It can be easily reproduced, since it occurs when there’s a low sun shining behind someone looking downwards into fog, with their shadow projected forwards. German scientist called Johann Silberschlag first observed the phenomenon way back in 1780, but since then they have been seen and recorded many times in the region. What I found most peculiar, is a superstition found among mountain climbers that whoever sees a Brocken Spectre will die in the mountains the very next day! Spooky..ayeh?

Mysterious Dawn Photograph


44 Responses
  1. fossda says:

    Cool! Really does look like a ghost. The superstition obviously isn’t real.

    p.s. first comment!

  2. lauren says:

    Jep I’ve seen this and its awesome :)
    Also high up on the mountains..

  3. Mike says:

    I have actually had my image follow me through the fog in West Virginia many years ago. It was a little unsettling even though I understood what was happening. I felt sort of like a young boy who had just discovered his shadow :)

  4. Care Bear says:

    I like the way lights and shadows play together.

  5. Annishia says:

    THATS SO COOL!!! i wish i could see that… its pbbly better in real life. p.s. no idea what a spectre is… someone please tell me!

    • Techno Goth says:

      Spectre/Specter – A ghost or phantom in apperence(typo) but not really a ghost or phantom.
      Hope this helped.

  6. Jacob says:

    photoshop? or maybe just a set-up photo…

  7. bre says:

    thats a once in lifetime shot its so cool

  8. Chris says:

    The light effect is known as a glory and can be seen in the right kind of clouds when the shadow of your plane is projected onto them. Here’s a photo I took many years ago.


    This site explains all manner of atmospheric optics, starting with glories – http://www.atoptics.co.uk/droplets/gloab.htm

  9. Living Sound says:

    Love it!!!!!!!

  10. first says:

    wow im first?

  11. PsychoDad says:

    Blood type Blue — it’s an Angel!

  12. Luis David says:

    HAHAHAHa, very funny. I tried to guess before

  13. Luis David says:

    ***Before Reading. I was very close!! haha. Very Interesting that optical illusion

  14. A. Nonny Mouse says:

    A picture with 2 people would be more interesting (The halo or Glory would be only around the photographer’s head)

  15. Graham says:

    That’s a good one!

    Here is another from Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon:



  16. anthony says:

    What i love about this site (other than the great illusions) is the sheer amount i seem to learn, and for that knowledge i will be forever grateful.

  17. NancyF Drew says:

    O-yeah…that’s halloweenie!!

  18. Brandy Espy says:

    So is the photographer still alive?

  19. Someone says:

    I’m Pretty Sure Its The Shadow Of A Super Hero

  20. Jeffrey says:

    I was going to write a post blasting this thing, but if it’s documented etc., then I guess I won’t.
    What it looked like to me was drywall, a person standing in front of a flashlight, and photoshopped grass in the bottom of the frame.
    Oh well.

  21. jaybird! says:

    That is soooo coal, and neat!!!!

  22. jaybird! says:

    Spelling error (should be “cool and “Neat”)

  23. terry the censor says:

    It’s Brocken not Broken.


  24. Techno Goth says:

    Wow. I like!

  25. SnowBerey says:


  26. anon says:

    if u stare at it for a while the rainbow around the guy dissapears :O

  27. Ena says:

    I especially like the rainbow arc… very “magical”…

  28. Mary Beth says:

    That is not only very cool, but pretty too!

  29. Karen says:

    This is better than a double rainbow…

  30. chris says:

    so…its basically someone’s shadow?…

  31. Sj x says:

    I would have been pretty creeped out if tht was me :O
    very good illusion :)

  32. Bryan says:

    This is actually a very well known phenomenon… well I mean well known by climbers who are pretty familiar with the concept of walking to a position just above the clouds such that the sun can cast your own shadow on the clouds now below.

  33. Grace says:

    That rainbow colored thing is in fact a rainbow. Real rainbows, contrary to popular belief, are round. When viewed from a high enough point, you can see the full rainbow.

  34. Will says:

    This is cool…But is a reflection. Take your mobile camera on a sunny day aim toward an open field ,,Put your sun glasses (1 LENSE) in front of the shutter..Rotate sunglasses and camera together toward sun away from sun. Morning ,High noon ,Evening all times of the day create different illusions. Simply snap a pic when you get desired effect…CREATES Orbs rolling along the ground…Jesus & cross in the sky..THE SKYS THE LIMIT.:-)Enjoy and freak people out.

  35. Will says:

    Right time of day, and different lens ,gives you a reason to save those old broken sunglass lens. Mirrored lens ,dark lens they all work different.

  36. meemee says:

    LOL tHIs iS WeLL wEiRd <3


    Nice photo, funny how the light can efect the way we see things huh? Anyway notice how on both pics there is a rainbow around them. Maybe that has something to do with the reflection!

    “live life, have fun”

  38. ndois says:

    Well, now we know where go to enter in Skypea

  39. Petar says:

    It looks like the monster from metro 2033 :D

  40. MikenVon says:

    This phenomenon is known as the Brocken Spectre and occurs as a result of the refraction of light through the fog, mist or water vapour in the atmosphere behind the subject. Interestingly, the “halo” effect cannot be seen by the person standing next to the subject: it is only visible to the subject, except of course in a photograph.
    We saw it on Heartbreak Hidge in the Olympic National Park in Washington State and assumed, of course, that we had died and gone to heaven!

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