I was in the studio yesterday and today (and probably tomorrow too) recording some new classes for Kelby Training. So it’s been hard to carve away time to post. But an interesting topic came up the other night while I was looking through 500px. I came across the photo here (the one you see above) by
Tobias Richter. I didn’t just want to take the photo from the page, so you’ll have to actually click on the link to see it larger on 500px. But click on it now. Head over to 500px and take a look. Don’t read on because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Just form an opinion about the photo and whether you like it or not. Then read on to the rest of the post…
Okay, you’re back and hopefully you have an opinion on the photo I mentioned above. To me, this is an incredibly stunning photo. The greens, blues, warm colors, sun, rocks… everything about it. I love it! I want to be there and I wish I had this photo in my portfolio. So I’m sitting next to my wife and I say “Wow, that’s amazing!” and lean over to show it to her (I was on my iPad). The reaction I got from her was the last thing I expected to hear. She said (and I’m not kidding here), “Ewwww, that’s creepy!”.
What!!?? Creepy? That’s the last word I thought I’d hear. Of course I asked what was it about the photo she thought was creepy, and she said she saw this screaming painful face in the middle bottom area of the photo. I don’t even want to circle it or draw attention to it because I’d love to know if anyone else saw this.
The point is that it’s really interesting to see how different people see different photos. Of course I knew this before this situation ever happened, but still. How could I think a photo was absolutely stunning, and my wife be immediately creeped out over it? It’s not like I said “I love it”, and she said it was “pretty good” or, “kinda ok” or something like that. She immediately saw something that took me a few minutes to see even after she pointed it out. Heck, it even took me a minute to find it again tonight when I was writing this post.
So the question(s) to you are: What was your first reaction to the photo? Do you see the face that she was talking about? Did you see it before I pointed it out?
Have a good one!
What struck me was the point of view. Aircraft? Higher Mt. peak? Next was nice glare from the sun! I did think that it was a bit over Soft Lighted, but I too am a Soft Light addict. I meet with a 12 step group in the basement of a Church of the Failed Hobit weekly. The face? Not so much- I saw air scoops for the hood of a turbo assisted dragster. But that is just the tool user reacting. The mouths? I did flash to the Muppet aliens when I was really looking for the face.
In fact the first thing I saw was skull and the sun behind
Yes its a great photo, I wonder did he see the face when he took the shot? I never saw that until you pointed out what your wife said. Yes I found when I was taking landscape photos in a mountain area, where there was lots of trees, my friend saw the beauty in photographing the trees, just lines of trees, I could not see the beauty in what he was taking until he `happened` to produce a small frame from his bag, just the frame and held it up to show me what he saw, and I was totally amazed that I had missed that? and could not see it.. So yes we all view our world very differently.
I wasn’t one of those kids lying on my back watching penguins walking in the clouds and I don’t do much better as a senior. I think part of the reason it was so quickly identified by your wife was it’s viewing size. In your blog it pretty easy to identify but not once I go to 500px. Great Photo Tobias and thanks Matt!
FWIW, I could see the face in the thumbnail on the right on the 500px page because the shadows blocked-up. The full image carried too much visual information for my eyes to make the abstraction.
Saw it right away, before your post mentioned it, but I often see weird things like that in photos…
Finally managed to see the face, but only if it is tilted.
Gorgeous image! I still don’t see the face.
I saw the face the very first time I saw it. Before you mentioned it. I think it is a beautiful photo. Just think I have an imaginative mind!
The clouds just above the peak look like a ski-doo.
I saw the face after you pointed it out. Then my eye was constantly drawn to it anytime I looked at the picture.
Don’t see the creepy face, at the very bottom I see what could be part of a head. Nice shot, maybe a little over done, but, I have seen some very bright green at early light. It’s the shade side of the ridge that looks a little over done to me.
I saw both the landscape and the “face” at the same time (if that’s at all possible). But I didn’t have any reaction to the “face” and rather concentrated on the colors and wondered if it’s HDR or not, because the mountain side in the shadow looks a bit too bright to be true.
Haha Yes that was the very first thing I saw too!!!! and thought how creepy and fake looking it is!! Once you click on the photo you could really see the colors, etc. To me I think it is overdone, I think it makes the scene unrealistic and fake. Thats just my opinion. The overall composition is nice just way too much color to be realistic.
I saw the face immediately, it practically jumps off the page. That’s not all I see either. The ridge of the Mt behind the face looks like a deformed backbone and the lines from the ridge to the lower right corner are legs. Creepy.
Interesting, I must confess I saw it right away & I did not like that portion of the image. For me it was a distraction in an otherwise beautiful image. Maybe Mark R Lawrence is right & women see images differently. 🙂
Awesome shot! Didn’t see a face.I also think women see things with another sense that we don’t have.
Wow, first reaction. Only saw the face after you pointed it out, but still it isn’t a face and isn’t intended to be a face so I just move on from it.
Ok, great picture… As for the face, I see where it could be a face but I dont see it. I see what looks like it could be a mouth and nose. Im sitting here looking at it wondering when the scary face is gonna jump out at me…
I still can’t really see the face. Maybe sort of an open screaming mouth at the bottom. Maybe it’s photographer vs face recognizer…I look at light, color, subject, sharpness, focus area. All beautiful to me here. I don’t even really see a face….funny subject with such blaring differentness on this one!
In fact…my immediate thought was, “Mister Oogie Boogie Man from The Nightmare Before Christmas”. 🙂
Haha. I saw the face straight away but then I’ve always been like that when it comes to seeing faces in clouds, landscapes, wallpaper patterns…hmm…maybe I need to see someone about this 😉
Of course, seeing the face didn’t mean I didn’t also think, “Wow! Lovely lovely photograph”.
I saw theFace immediately.
I guess I’m in the minority here. The face was the first, er, second, thing I saw (but I did notice it right away).
I liked the photo, and didn’t see the face until you mentioned it. But, the tortured face pulling itself out of the ground over millions of years…it adds to the power of the photo and makes me like it more! Not creepy at all!
But, yes, people do see things differently. For example, I don’t know if I could ever be a professional portrait photographer, because I absolutely HATE the ‘plastic’ look that is the standard these days. I mean, really? It’s so ugly to me. And yet, every tool, every tutorial, is teaching you to totally take out all that is natural about people. I’ll never understand it…I almost always like the ‘before’ better than the ‘after’ when it comes to portraits…
But then turn it around, and I love the HDR look in landscapes, which is also ‘unnatural’! Go figure! Maybe it’s because it looks ‘other-wordly’ to me, and I’m a big space/sci-fi buff.
To each their own, I suppose…
Great pic but… its over processed.
Thanks Matt for this post. I have been waiting this oppoturnity to give some feedback to this like you asked us here. This is something what you and Scott Kelby did on TheGrid’s Photo Critique episodes. What comes to my mind on these episodes is you and Scott crushed almost every photo. One example: you or Scott said was composition is not good and you cropped picture and then picture was filled with target. But same time I saw in a same picture good use of negative space. People see many different things in photos just like you and your wife.
Why I see this bad thing is I think there is a lot of people who think you guys are right behind God what comes to photography and they might change they focus or maybe at worst case stop they hobby totally… Just because your critique was what you saw in those photos and sad thing was that you didn’t say it at once. This is little critique/feedback to you and Scott as I saw it.
Then back your question: First I saw incredibly great photo and just like many other people, scary, creepy face only after you told about it.
Many people can see so many great things in a same photo and I think that is power of photography!
Have a nice day and keep your mind open!
As someone who sees faces in the clouds (without the use of drugs I hasten to add) I failed to see the face however now you’ve mentioned it naturally I see it all the time.
Very thought provoking post and a top example of how people see things differently.
Great post, Matt. My initial reaction to the photo was the same as yours. However as soon as you mentioned the part your wife was talking about, I saw it right away. Even seeing it, it doesn’t detract from the photo IMO. Lots of times the “negative space” in a photo can end up generating patterns or shapes that seem less than random, even if that’s what they are… it’s one of the things that makes it an interesting art form.
Another interesting question is, if you’re framing a shot and you end up seeing something like this in your shot, do you recompose, or take it anyway, and why? 😉
For me Dan, I’d still take it. Even though I see what my wife pointed out, it doesn’t change the photo for me. In fact, I often can’t see the face when I look back at the photo. So… to me… I’d still love to be in this place and I’d love to have this photo in my portfolio, regardless of what others see in it.
Now that you told me what to look for, it’s all that I can see. I really liked the photo before that. Some things are best left alone.
Like most others here, never even thought about it. The beautiful light on the left side of the mountainrange was so capturing that I didn’t notice it at all, before you pointed it out!
I just saw the landscape first as well. Did not see the face till after you pointed out there is one in the photo. At that point it jumped out at me.
Noticed the face only after you pointed it out. As with others, the over-processing and verdant greens right over the mountain tops turned me off to what other-wise was a well composed shot.
I noticed the face after you pointed it out
Same as many others here….really liked the shot, and didn’t see the face until you pointed it out.
Humans are made to recognize faces. The face is easier to see when the image is smaller. I’m using the 30″ Mac screen. On opening your link, the image was small, and I was aware of a face, but as I quickly zoomed it to full screen the face seemed to disappear. I imagine the size on an iPad makes the face easier to see. Looking at the full screen view I was more impressed with unnatural coloration, thinking, did I ever see a mountain in Colorado quite like that.
I too didn’t see the face until you pointed it out. Now, of course, I can’t not see it. But it makes the photo even more interesting.
I just showed it to my wife (love that iPad!) and she didn’t see it either. Just a great photo that we both love.
I’ve noticed that same thing for some time now. For sure photographers will see an image quite differently than most people would. As well I do think that people are wired differently and thus will always see things differently. But I do think the experience you shared was more a photographer’s eye versus a non-photographer’s eye. I see the face but am so drawn to how the light is reacting that it isn’t the first thing I notice.
Over-processed HDR look….unnatural….
I did not see the face until you pointed it out. However, I wasn’t that wow’d by the photo. It looked too fake to me … over the top HDR effect for me. The sky and sun burst were fine, but the mountains turned me off. I use my wife all the time for evaluating my photos before I post them. She always finds something that she doesn’t particularly like, and when I look at it again I can see what she means.and I make the necessary processing change(s). I have a tendency to over saturate in my processing and she keeps straight! 🙂
Relooking at the image I think I might have come across the differences between your reaction to it and your wife’s reaction. See if I’m right. You “entered” the image from left to right, same way you’d read a sentence. If you ask, I’ll bet your wife would say she “entered” the image from bottom to top. Left to right you see a beautiful mountain scene. Bottom to top you see that horrific face. It may have had something to do with the way you presented the image to her. Sliding the iPAD toward her with the image straight on would have given her the bottom up orientation. Had you been sitting to her right, her reaction might have been “pretty picture”.
Indeed an interesting “case”. I had your exact same reaction “what a great picture” and got intrigued as in “why is Matt sharing that nice picture?”.
I only saw the face when I read your wife’s comment. I’ll test it later at home with my wife 😉
My first reaction was that it was over-processed. It doesn’t quite look “real”. Perhaps oversharpened or oversaturated. My wife had the exact same reaction when I asked her to look.
I didn’t see the face till I read the rest of your post, and she didn’t see it until I pointed it out. If I look from further back, the face is prominent. I tend to look closer (due to my failing old eyesight…) and was more struck by the over-processing initially.
Magnificent photo for all the reasons you pointed out Matt. Didn’t see the face initially but, now that I know it’s there, I love the shot more! Can’t help think of a fairy tale mountain ogre alive and well in the Alps…
Didn’t see the face, nice composition and rhythm of the peaks, but the boosted, saturated green detracts.
I love it and didn’t see the face. But now I see the mouths of those cool aliens from Sesame Street and I love that photo even more! Yep, yep, yep, yeeeeeeep!
Interestingly, to me it was another sunset/sunrise photo that has nice colors and all that, but it didn’t really speak to me. And like all the commenters before me, I didn’t see the face until you mentioned it. But I also don’t generally see shapes in clouds either.
I just saw a nice landscape photo…but…my wife saw the face. Maybe it is a female thing.
Yes I can see a face, but not before you mentioned it. To me the light and colors and location mesmerised me and I could see nothing but beauty.
Matt, I saw it just as you did – with the incredible colors and everything. It’s a fantastic photo. I saw the face after you pointed it out, but it’s still an amazing image.