The interaction of short (1−2 ps) laser pulses with solid targets at irradiances of over 1016 Wcm−2, in the presence of a substantial prepulse has been investigated. High absorption of laser energy is found even at high angles of incidence, with evidence for a resonance absorption peak being found for S, P, and circular polarizations. It is considered that this may be a result of refraction and beam filamentation, which causes loss of distinct polarization. Measurements of hard X-ray emission (∼ 100 keV) confirm a resonance absorption type peak at 45−50°, again for all three cases. Typically, 5−15% of the incident light is back-reflected by stimulated Brillouin scatter, with spatially resolved spectra showing evidence of beam hot-spots at high intensity. The possibility that filamentation and refraction of the beam can explain the lack of polarization dependence in the absorption and hard X-ray emission data is discussed.