Saturday, April 28, 2012

'Discovering' pareidolia:
a (subtle) image within an image

I was going to devote today's post to a final, "all other pictures that didn't fit into subjects of previous posts" nod to Wasatch Lake, but something unexpected happened in the 24 hours or so since yesterday's post. Specifically, it pertains to the lead photo in that post (repeated above for your convenience).

While processing my images from the Wasatch Lake visit, I first noticed in this image what appeared to me to be a one-eyed face folded into the rippling water in the middle of the image, which was composed to focus on the duck cruising in the water. At my Joe Konz Photography page on Facebook, whose main attraction is a frequent "Photo of the Day" feature that usually carries a story that goes with the photo, the above image was my featured photo on Thursday. In the text accompanying the post, I happened to ask -- quite innocently, actually -- whether anyone else noticed "the face" that I had seen. Actually, the "one-eye" is because the face, as I see it, is turned to the right in an almost mid-profile, not because it's a deformity or cyclops. So, in the view I see, you see the person's left eye, an eyebrow, a forehead, a hairline and even the beginnings of a nose. (A quick aside: Since then, I've actually been able to see a second "eye" ... tilted down and to the right of the one I originally noticed, but I don't think it has nearly the impact or realistic impression as the one-eyed impression.)

I received two acknowledgments in comments on Facebook, and two emails about it later on, including one from one of the people commenting on FB, who also happened to send me images of a print she owns in which this phenomenon exists. The image is titled "Sacred Ground" by Bev Doolittle, but because I don't have permission to reproduce this image here, I provided a link to it so you can check it out yourself. If you google the title, you probably can find larger versions as well. The writer tells me that Doolittle is known for works involving "hidden images."

In "Sacred Ground," the "hidden images" are three beaked heads (no torsos), probably eagles, tucked into a dot pattern among a series of dense, leafless trees in a snow-filled forest. The creatures would seem to be protecting hallowed property by hovering large over two smaller, but very discernible -- and apparently spooked -- horses, one of which carries a human rider. Frankly, I'm not sure I would have noticed the creatures in the dots if the sender hadn't connected them (literally) for me; they were far more subtle than I feel the one-eyed face is in my photo.

I'd heard of this phenomenon before, though never really invested much time exploring or understanding it. I figured it had to have a scientific name, and after some quick research on the Internet, I came upon the term pareidolia, a form of apophenia.

This post isn't intended to go deep into the subject ... or say that my eyes (excuse pun) are suddenly open to pareidolia, or even that I'll be studying it intently in the near future. It's just to make you aware that if you ever noticed something of this sort before, or do so on a regular basis, you apparently are not alone.

The next post will be the one I had planned for today -- a final word (and pictures) on my trip to the lake.

To see all my images from my three-day visit to Wasatch Lake, see my Wasatch Lake Spring 2012 gallery.

1 comment:

  1. Did you notice the owl peeking out to the side of the head?