I have a nice image, which I have no place to post (darn!). It was generated by subtracting 52:37 from 52:52, with a bias of 128, and then using a histogram spread to make the resulting (almost totally) grey image show up the differences between the two images. Incidentally, when I try this same analysis on the proposed 'bogus' image, the beam looks like grey line drawn with a ruler. Waaay too perfect.DemEnTEd_42 wrote:Secondly, the 'trail' looks to be very straight, but slightly widening farther from the 'flash' end, suggesting perhaps a shadow rather than a trail of some sort - although perspective might account for this....
The shadow definitely spreads along its length away from the light, as you note.
Incidentally, I discounted any striking of the lamp by energy or matter, since the light was described an undamaged. Anything fast enough to generate that straight a trail would have left a mark!
If you look closely at the dock itself, the flash does appear to generate some extra highlights on the railings.
The odd structure of the flash could be one of several things. Given that we can even see the beam, there must be some mist/fog/moisture in the air, and it could be illuminated by the flash. The odd pattern may be due to one of the protective glass covers outside the bulb, which often contain lenses to focus the light in a preferred way.
Based on the return address, this was taken near Darwin.
If I had to guess, I'd say it was across the street from the Crowne Plaza Darwin hotel, just up from Darwin Government House - which is what the pier connects to. We're looking mostly south, down Middle Arm, with the load cranes just past Wickham Point (which is behind the leftmost tree, so we can't see it). Around the point to the left is Frances Bay, back up the street and around the point to the right is Fannie Bay. It's about 5 minutes before sunset.
Of course, I am just guessing.