Beam Of Light Over Florida? It’s A Simple Photography Trick

by . September 16th, 2015

You might have seen this strange beam of light shining over Florida making its rounds in the internet.


And there’s only one conclusion: the aliens are upon us.


That, or this guy is opening Bifrost

I kid, if that isn’t obvious enough for you conspiracy theorists or whatever “truthers” you call yourselves. You might think that the only plausible explanation to explain such undeniable image is the supernatural.

But Occam’s Razor thinks there is a simpler explanation for that. A simple explanation for photographers, that is.

It’s called the rolling shutter effect.


Sometimes called jello propeller (via Jason Mullins)

The phenomenon can be explained by first understanding how cameras take photographs. A camera is basically a lightproof box. By letting in a small amount of light, an image is imprinted on the film through a chemical reaction. The amount of light is called exposure and is controlled by the speed of the shutter.

There are many types of shutters each with different functions but the photographs above were taken by, you guessed it, a rolling shutter. This type of shutter does not take a snapshot of the entire scene in an instant but rather by moving across the scene either horizontally or vertically.


This poses a problem especially on high speed objects such as propellers, cars, and in this case, lightning.

As you can see from the animation provided by Metabunk simulating a shutter, the lighting image is exposed only for a fraction of the time the image was taken, creating the “alien beam of light” photograph.

Check out some photographs with the rolling shutter effect below:


(Photo credit: kalleboo)


(Photo credit: Hector Siliezar)


(Photo credit: Axel1963)


(Photo credit: sorenragsdale)


(Photo credit: VV-17)

For the full explanation, check out the dedicated page at Metabunk.

Do you still believe that aliens caused that beam of light? Comment below!