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Tuesday 6 December 2011

When Is A Window A Prism?

Now that seems a very strange and difficult question to answer and you may be wondering what caused me to ask it.  Well, my reason for asking it was prompted when early one morning I saw this image projected on a wall in our hallway.  I knew immediately from where it emanated - 30 feet away from some new windows we had installed recently in our conservatory.

I snapped the shot which I thought was interesting.  Throughout the week we had noticed several such rainbows in many places, caused by the sun's rays being refracted just like a prism on striking the windows.  My mind recalled the famous acronym I learnt at school when white light entering a prism is split into all the colours of the rainbow.

Richard  Of  York  Gave  Blood  In  Vain

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

But windows panes are not prisms - they are just even sheets of glass, surely!  Not so these:

. . . . . . and another shot from the inside:

Ah!! yes . . . . . . you now know the answer to the question when is a window a prism?  When it has a bevel in it of course,  and there are now 9 bevels shapes in 3 fanlight windows we had installed.  The sunlight strikes the bevel and acts just like a prism, and because there are 9 bevelled diamonds the phenomena causes rainbow images to appear in interesting shapes.  The images move too as the Earth rotates, which is a bit eerie. I can't wait for the summer when we get more sun. But I hope the bevels do not act as magnifying glasses as well - remember using magnifying glasses when we were kids when we wanted to start fires in the garden, using the sun's rays on a sheet of paper?

The original three fanlight windows all had to be replaced because the seals had broken inside the double glazed units, causing a misty film which happens when such windows eventually break down.  I am an agent for a local window company so they fitted them for me two weeks ago.

Oh and just in the background of the last shot we can see my blue tit box - but no blue tit this time.  We see them frequently but they are flitting about all over the place and sometimes don't return for a few days.  Here is a close up shot of the bird house with the new bevel diamond showing refraction of the vegetation:


  1. Hi Eddie, I love your Prism shots! You're clever with the camera, lol!
    Never heard that acronym before, but it's a good way of remembering the order.
    Hope you're keeping well!

  2. I find the prism shot really pretty. Lovely windows....:-)Hugs

  3. Our acronym here is a fellow's name: Roy G. Biv
    I smiled as I began thinking about the sun's rays during the summer....hoping and hoping that the rays aren't magnified.
    Lovely window panes, Eddie.
    Smiles to you,

  4. Those beveled windows are awesome!! I love them! And the prism shot is wonderful!!

  5. Nice windows! Nice photography! And I ADORE the birdhouse!

    Hoping all is well with you...

  6. They're lovely windows, and a very informative post! The glass in most of our windows is ancient - some of it dates back to early 1800's. It's quite distorted but you can see through it!

    CJ x

  7. I love the prism. Seems funny to see your house on the blog!
    We must try & get together some time soon.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  8. oh lovely! I love beveled glass!

    saying "hello there" as I pass by on a chilly wet smoky mountain evening

  9. Very nice windows. I've always had a crystal hanging to catch a prism. Wait - it isn't there anymore. Need a new one, I guess.

    Enjoyed the line you learned to recall the colors. Fun post. Enjoyed it.

  10. Hi Eddie, I learned something new today! Your windows are lovely and add such a nice detail and color to your world.

    Cheers, jj

  11. Those windows are beautiful and I just love the conservatory! I can see that you have been working very hard, and the prism shot is so cool! Cheers!

  12. Beautiful windows.

    That mnemonic is very specific to England, isn't it? I learned it as Roy G. Biv.

  13. I love it when a rainbow appears from a place you aren't expecting one. Nice, Eddie!

  14. very cool on the rainbow shot eddie...very cool windows too...


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