Sunday, November 30, 2008


I was in the shower today when my eyes caught a glimpse of something that I couldn't believe. A face, a marble face was hanging on the bathroom door. My imagination is playing tricks, I thought, there is no face. But the smoothly sculpted female ghost with heavy eyelids didn't go away. It took a few more second for my brain to grasp that my underwear hanging from the door handle was accidentally draped in such a way as to suggest this apparition.
I fetched the camera and took this photo and I swear I haven't altered or enhanced the picture or the objects in any way: this is exactly what I saw. Once you've noticed the face, you almost obliterate the fact of what it actually is. But if you focus on the facts, then you might not see the face at all.
I often see faces within random objects but this was one of the most striking examples I've ever encountered. Leonardo da Vinci wrote about seeing images in clouds, on walls etc. Face-recognition patterns are built in to our brains right from the start but these unexpected and fleeting ghosts are interesting in their own right. Are there some around you right now that you could photograph?

UPDATE: For the benefit of those who couldn't see the face in the first photo, I've added a smoothed-by-Photoshop version.  Now do you see it?


Dominic Rivron said...

Interesting. I've often seen similar things in tree bark, rough stone, floral curtains, etc. I often wonder if they have anything to do with primitive people first seeing spirits in things.

Anonymous said...

Dominic, I take it you do see the face I saw?
The commenters on my main blog (Blaugustine- click on MORE) have given some interesting links to this phenomenon - pareidolia - and I learned that there's a flickr group devoted to posting such pictures! Have you photographed some of your examples? You may well be right about the 'seeing of spirits' being linked to this.

Dominic Rivron said...

Now you've put up the extra pictures - no. I saw a different face! Strange.

I've no photos of examples, unfortunately. I'll bear it in mind next time I see one.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

I wonder what face you saw the first time, Dominic? Do you use Photoshop or similar software? If so, why not post my first picture and draw an outline on it of whatever face-pattern you see? It's an interesting experiment in perception.

Dominic Rivron said...

I saw a profile of a scowling face, looking right. The obvious bit sticking out to the right was the nose.

Oddly, I've just dropped by today (14.12.08) and, amazingly, saw the same face you saw in it straight away, without thinking about it at all. Previously I'd been unable to find it. The way the brain sees things in things is very interesting.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dominic, maybe your brain registered it the first time but didn't acknowledge it until now!