Rare 'iceberg' mirage captured by Nanoose, B.C. woman
A Nanoose, B.C. woman who is considering a life of professional photography already has a head start on her plans after photographing a phenomenon rarely caught on camera – or even seen in person.
Simone Engels was out at Moorecroft Park in Nanoose on Jan. 9 trying to capture sunset images when her eye caught something unusual.
"It was blowing my mind," Engels says. "I did not know exactly what (I was) looking at, all these questions went through my mind right away."
Engels was seeing, and then photographed, what she first thought was an iceberg in the distance off the park. But even then, she knew that was highly unlikely.
"If it had floated by Campbell River someone would have called it in and that was the piece that didn’t quite make sense for it to be an iceberg," she says.
She captured images of what turned out to be a phenomenon she believes was a "superior mirage."
Alexandra Blair is the chair of the Mathematics and Sciences Department at North Island College and describes what occurred.
"We can describe our light as waves and we had a temperature inversion so the lower air was colder than the higher air, which doesn’t happen that often," she says.
"Because of the air being different temperatures and therefore different densities, it refracts the light and sort of bends down our light waves," Blair says.
The result was that Engels was able to see and photograph something that wasn’t actually there.
"I looked through the zoom lens and thought this is so crisp and clear that it really had me stumped, it was so convincing that it was real," she says.
She captured images and shared them through photography Facebook groups and got instant feedback.
"A lot of them were blown away just like I was when I saw it, and they said, 'Wow, what an opportunity to take a picture of that phenomenon,'" Engels says.
Those groups helped her pin down what she was actually capturing, a view of Mount Cheam in Chilliwack, B.C., more than 200 kilometres away.
"A friend of mine on Facebook actually overlaid the two images, my image with Mount Cheam, and it was the perfect match," she says.
Blair says Engels was in the right place at the right time to see the phenomenon, which has a long history.
"Back in the day when sailors had talked about swimming cities or saw some ghost boats, that’s most likely what happened," Blair says.
Engels says she treasures the experience.
"I do meditate on a fairly regular basis and I was inviting more mystical experiences in my life and just a couple of days later I come here and I see this thing," Engels says.