Glass Bead Bow

July 14, 2010


Photographer: Jesse Ferrell
Summary Author: Jesse Ferrell

While walking home from my office in State College, Pennsylvania on a recent afternoon I was treated to an optical phenomenon that I had read about but never witnessed: the glass bead bow. Like a rainbow, the effect is created by circular transparent globes, but in this case, glass beads rather than raindrops are responsible for the refraction of sunlight. These beads are applied to road lines after painting for reflective purposes (it also makes the area very slick!). As cars pick up some of the beads they spread them around the vicinity where the stripe was painted, creating a large enough area to generate the colorful bow. It's actually not unlike creating your own rainbow with a garden hose - you just need enough tiny globes, or something similar, to generate the 360-degree rainbow. Photo taken on July 2, 2010.

Photo Details: Camera: KODAK EASYSHARE Z950; Focal Length: 6.2mm (35mm equivalent: 35mm); Aperture: f/3.5; Exposure Time: 0.0008 s (1/1250); ISO equiv: 80.