Monthly Archives: April 2008

Understanding the histogram

Ever wondered what the histogram in your camera or your photo editing software is and how it might help you to improve your digital photos? This week in photography had an excellent screencast recently describing the histogram and how you can use it to recover a poor exposure. There’s a lot more to learn, but it’s a really good start in only 7 minutes.


Coincidence? Synchronicity? Mapped path?

I’ve just seen Amy Tan’s talk about creativity on Ted today. She spoke about many aspects of creativity including the many coincidental events she has while she gets on a thread for a book. She also looked at what we would call superstition from the perspective of the people who hold the superstition. It’s an interesting talk and worth watching.

I began to think about events that I could consider to be these types of coincidence or path markers. From the times when a film I haven’t seen for a very long time comes into my thoughts and then appears on TV a day or so later to the times when I have thought about a business idea and then several companies launch with a similar theme.

Earlier today I read an article about magical thinking in Psychology today (linked via 43 folders). The article looks at how we attach meaning to objects and events, such as John Lennon’s piano or the lucky ritual some people have and how that may affect our outlook on life. Was this coincidental or is it one of those path markers?

For a while I have been thinking about a form of community writing. A collaborative site that would allow people to create elements of stories or build full stories. Others could also write elements and take the story in another direction. Readers could assemble favourite chapters into a path and share this with others. Yet another social medium, but one that I hoped would allow creation and participation from a broader section. If you don’t feel you want to write a whole book, then put down an idea and let someone else turn it into something. I had played around with writing a bit of code to do this, but it ended up as another background task. In the last few weeks I have found a few sites via Emily Chang’s Ehub such as Paragraphr and Storymash.

So what goes on with these types of events? Is it that there are some queues around that lots of people pick up on at the same time? Is there some kind of hive mind process going on? As the Psychology Today paper describes, there are many possibilities and beliefs, and it’s not easy to prove or completely disprove any one of them. Even a cargo cult science may be based on a reality that just can’t be explained with current terms (see also Richard Feynmans original speech).

From my point of view, I get the message that I should either do something about any new ideas I get or publish them so that other may take them forward.

Photography on the right side of the brain

If you use the viewfinder (not LCD) in your camera to compose your pictures, which eye do you use and will that affect how creative, logical or abstract your photography is?

I thought of that question while I was listening to Dr Alice Gaby talking about how the left eye connects to the right brain hemisphere and the right eye to the left hemisphere. Given that the left brain is the logical side and the right brain is the spatial, pattern matching side, how would this affect image composition.

On further investigation, I realised that the eye-brain wiring is not quite as straightforward. David Hubel describes how the left half of the retina of each eye is wired to the left brain, and the right to the right brain. As light is reversed by the eye lens, the right side of the field of view ends up in the left brain and the left side of the field of view in the right brain. So the question would then be is there a noticeable effect on image composition in the two halves of the field of view? Would we find that what we consider to be a pleasing photo is no longer so if it were reversed? Maybe this is subjective, depending on which eye is dominant in the photographer and the viewer.

I also came across an interesting article about facial symmetry. It starts with the description of an experiment: –

“About ten years ago, I saw an interesting exercise in which a college psychology professor had taken photographs of her students, made copies that were flipped left to right, and then had them cut in half vertically. She reassembled the images using the two similar sides of the face.”

then goes on to give the “how it works”.

Whilst you read this, consider where this text is in your visual field. According to an article on Science Daily, the speed you are able to read may also be affected by the position of the text in your field of view and whether your have a left or right dominant eye.

The workings of the human body never cease to amaze me. Maybe adding tags on Flickr (right-eye, left-eye) could build some working data for an experiment.