Was it really like that?

Has it been “Photoshopped”?
Regular questions, and not really surprising if you think about it either.

On the 6th July 1997, I was SCUBA diving near Plymouth; our boat skipper was going to drop us onto the shipwreck of the “Rosehill”, 29 metres under the water.

He said” if you look under the hull, there’s a conger with a head as big as an Alsatian’s”. Oh yes; really? Most of us, including myself, dismissed this as pure exaggeration. But I thought I’d look anyway. I shone my torch into the darkness, and there it was; an absolute monster, and I mentally apologised to the skipper for my doubt. My dive buddy (no, not Carol) sometimes presented as a “bit short-sighted”…… I pointed under the wreck and indicated that she might like to look. She did, then turned around and shrugged…. surely she couldn’t miss that! It was enormous! I checked: it was still there. So she had another look; again turning around and shrugging. Hmmmm. I looked again; yes still there. I tried to signal with some degree of assertiveness, as we can’t actually talk underwater. My buddy dropped onto the seabed and wriggled slightly under the dark hull with her torch on. How close she actually got to this massive fish, I’ll never know, but it must’ve been inches, not feet. Then she saw it. High speed reversing underwater is really funny, and also creates clouds of sediment….. She emerged from the soup and looked at me with eyes popping out of her mask! I was laughing just a bit.

So what’s the relevance of this story? About 23 years later, I’m watching a Horizon programme on telly called “Do you see what I see”, a fascinating insight into the differences in the way we all see and interpret the world, and there she is; my dive buddy is one of the guinea pigs!

Regardless of deficiencies or inadequacies that you might consult an optician about, its quite clear that none of us actually see the world exactly the same as anyone else. Including big conger eels.

Then you stick an electronic gadget (a camera) into the mix, which is seriously compromised in several ways compared to the average Human (and therefore automatically needs “enhancement”), and it really isn’t surprising that this “was it really like that” conversation takes place.

No camera can see details in the extreme lights and darks of a scene that most of us take for granted. It’s not just colour saturation and vibrance that are part of this mystery.

Personally, I find some of the quirks in my vision remarkable.

Whilst I was doing some (more) shots of a tree in Glenleraig, I thought I’d try to illustrate a point, and yes, you can try this at home!

Find a window with a vertical frame between two panes of glass; sit or stand a few feet away and look at an object in the distance, just past one side of the vertical frame. Got it?

Now close one eye, and then the other….. The object you’re looking at will only be visible with one eye; for the other one, it’ll be obscured behind the frame. But with both eyes open, your brain has filled in the gaps. I think that this is called “parallax error”.

Let’s try another one: Focus on an object (anything, even this text). Now without shifting your gaze, notice what else you can see at the same time? Even words of text about 6 or 7 words away are now unreadable blurs. You know they’re there, but you can’t actually focus on them simultaneously. Same in a landscape; you’ll only see one point at a time. Your brain makes a good job of stitching them together.

Put these two concepts together? I suggest that the result means that you can only properly see a little bit of the world at a time; and a much smaller bit that you might have expected.

Up at Glenleraig, I took two particular shots. They both focus on a rock in the middle of the scene, but they’re taken a few inches apart, just like two separate eyes. Then I overlaid one on the other to mimic what we saw with the window frame. Hey presto, twice as many branches on the tree. I also blurred everything outside the central point of focus (like our peripheral vision).

The result? Is that what I see? Is that what you see? Well, I suggest that it probably is, and you should give your brain a big pat on the back for sorting out this mess and creating the full jigsaw.

What planet am I on today, for goodness sake!

Well, take a look a bit more critically, and you might find yourself there too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s