Soon after the departure of our house guests we determined that the dramatic shift between full steam ahead and full stop couldn’t be very good for a person so we jumped into the car and took a bit of a look for photos in the Nippenose Valley. On the way home we passed an old poultry barn that I had stopped at back in July. What I hadn’t noticed then was a beautiful pair of cast railings which were part of a foot bridge which spanned a small Susquehanna tributary stream. Its details were captivating. At first my brain sorted heart shapes from the metal … then lyres … and then clovers. It would be fascinating to know how my visual centers were wired to render this sequence. The effect was disorienting, so much so that I stumbled as I crossed the little bit of water to get from one side of the run to the other. Have you ever seen the illusion which looks to some like a profile view of an elderly woman and to others like a profile view of a younger woman? This is an example of what is called an ambiguous illusion. Although I am not sure that we fully understand why you see the elderly women and then the younger women (or Visa versa) it is plain that the image sends misleading or uncertain visual signals. The effect is that the brain switches between alternate interpretations of the data in sequence. Perhaps this is why the cast railing caused me to stumble. My brain and visual systems were so busy trying to sort out the various stimuli that they ignored the precise control of the locomotor systems which were helping me navigate the stream. What image first presents itself to you when you look at the photo?


8 thoughts on “Illusion

  1. Mmm, I see fleur-de-lis first, like the old icon on our fife and drum costumes 🙂 A very Merry Solstice to you both, and a happy New Year full of beautiful pictures waiting to be taken!

    • Hey Leanne .. how very nice of you to take the time. From reading your early-morning post I gather that you’ve had a busy day. We tend to focus our Holiday celebrations on the Solstice so although Joanna and I enjoyed a roasted goose together this evening (very delicious), there hasn’t been a lot of holiday chaos today – it’s been pretty quiet with a little dusting of snow to provide a bit of contrast to what has been a really warm spell for you ‘down’ there! One of the very nice things about being a WordPress blogger is the opportunity to get to (electronically) know very nice folks like yourself. In the bargain I’ve been able to learn a thing-or-two as well … and that’s due to you … many thanks. I hope you and your family have had a nice day … the puzzle building sounded especially relaxing! Dave

      PS: I’m very excited to report that Joanna gave me a Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 for the Holiday! She’s totally nuts and I’m very lucky indeed!

  2. Looking forward to seeing it. I love a good classic. BTW, I mailed out your “jackpot” win today. It should arrive by the end of the week.

  3. I see shades of sienna and ochre against a cerulean sky. The shapes are very appealing. Terrific combination of form and color. Love it. Each new image is prettier than the one which preceded it. Gorgeous.

  4. I have to say I saw the hearts first, but all three are pretty much the same size such that the clovers and lyres closely followed. Perhaps I saw the heart first as it’s the most common shape. Such beautiful craftsmanship! Interesting that the subject of illusions has come up so often! Glad you didn’t sit down in that stream! 🙂

    • Glad you liked the image. It was taken with the new lens that Joanna just surprised me with, a 14-24mm wonder. I’ve got a few others taken on the photo expedition I mentioned – they should be showing upr over the next couple of days. If I can remember to do so I’ve got to take a photo of a stocking-stuffer that Molly found somewhere and pass it along to you. It’s a classic among classics. D

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