POV-Ray : Documentation : Photons FAQ
  POV-Ray 3.6 Documentation Online View Using Photon Mapping in Your Scene Photon Tips Photons FAQ

I made an object with IOR 1.0 and the shadows look weird.

If the borders of your shadows look odd when using photon mapping, do not be alarmed. This is an unfortunate side-effect of the method. If you increase the density of photons (by decreasing spacing and gather radius) you will notice the problem diminish. We suggest not using photons if your object does not cause much refraction (such as with a window pane or other flat piece of glass or any objects with an IOR very close to 1.0).

My scene takes forever to render.

When POV-Ray builds the photon maps, it continually displays in the status bar the number of photons that have been shot. Is POV-Ray stuck in this step and does it keep shooting lots and lots of photons?


If you are shooting photons at an infinite object (like a plane), then you should expect this. Either be patient or do not shoot photons at infinite objects.

Are you shooting photons at a CSG difference? Sometimes POV-Ray does a bad job creating bounding boxes for these objects. And since photons are shot at the bounding box, you could get bad results. Try manually bounding the object. You can also try the autostop feature (try autostop 0). See the docs for more info on autostop.


Does your scene have lots of glass (or other clear objects)? Glass is slow and you need to be patient.

My scene has polka dots but renders really quickly. Why?

You should increase the number of photons (or decrease the spacing).

The photons in my scene show up only as small, bright dots. How can I fix this?

The automatic calculation of the gather radius is probably not working correctly, most likely because there are many photons not visible in your scene which are affecting the statistical analysis.

You can fix this by either reducing the number of photons that are in your scene but not visible to the camera (which confuse the auto-computation), or by specifying the initial gather radius manually by using the keyword radius. If you must manually specify a gather radius, it is usually best to also use spacing instead of count, and then set radius and spacing to a 5:1 (radius:spacing) ratio.

Adding photons slowed down my scene a lot, and I see polka dots.

This is usually caused by having both high- and low-density photons in the same scene. The low density ones cause polka dots, while the high density ones slow down the scene. It is usually best if the all photons are on the same order of magnitude for spacing and brightness. Be careful if you are shooting photons objects close to and far from a light source. There is an optional parameter to the target keyword which allows you to adjust the spacing of photons at the target object. You may need to adjust this factor for objects very close to or surrounding the light source.

I added photons, but I do not see any caustics.

When POV-Ray builds the photon maps, it continually displays in the status bar the number of photons that have been shot. Did it show any photons being shot?


Try avoiding autostop, or you might want to bound your object manually.

Try increasing the number of photons (or decreasing the spacing).


Were any photons stored (the number after total in the rendering message as POV-Ray shoots photons)?


It is possible that the photons are not hitting the target object (because another object is between the light source and the other object).


The photons may be diverging more than you expect. They are probably there, but you cannot see them since they are spread out too much

The base of my glass object is really bright.

Use collect off with that object.

Will area lights work with photon mapping?

Photons do work with area lights. However, normally photon mapping ignores all area light options and treats all light sources as point lights. If you would like photon mapping to use your area light options, you must specify the "area_light" keyword within the photons { } block in your light source's code. Doing this will not increase the number of photons shot by the light source, but it might cause regular patterns to show up in the rendered caustics (possibly splotchiness).

What do the stats mean?

In the stats, photons shot means how many light rays were shot from the light sources. photons stored means how many photons are deposited on surfaces in the scene. If you turn on reflection and refraction, you could get more photons stored than photons shot, since the each ray can get split into two. Using Photon Mapping in Your Scene Photon Tips

Copyright 2003-2004 Persistence of Vision Raytracer Pty. Ltd.