# Is it best to look at light as a particle when trying to understand special relativity?

So my course about special relativity explains time dilation using a moving train, where one sends up (i.e. perpendicular to the direction of movement) a light pulse which gets reflected etc. (a similar example is to be found here so you guys know what I'm talking about)

Let's say the source of the light pulse is a flash light. In the moving frame of reference, it is pointed upwards, and thus only has an upward component. Everything fine so far.

The thing is, that when you look at it from the outside ("the train station"), I picture the flash light to still be pointed directly upward, but somehow when the pulse leaves the flash light, it gets a horizontal component. This does not make sense if you think of it in terms of some stationary ether (which is also wrong as Michelson & Morley showed).

The problem is that I can't seem to get my mind around the fact that it somehow seems that the flash light is pointed at an angle in the outside frame of reference. Except if I think of light as photons (particles), then it seems intuitively correct that they get a horizontal component (compare it to a skater throwing up a tennis ball). So, when trying to understand SR, do you have to think of light as particles?

My course states this nowhere explicitly so I'm not sure.

I might have answered my own question again by formulating it in a more or less ordered fashion, as happens so often when I post it here :P