Pareidolia or apophenia … you decide

I have posted images of tomatoes, and I have posted images of sunflowers. Those of you who follow Pairodox will, perhaps, think it an oasis in a red and yellow sea. It isn’t. It just so happens that the field shown here is situated between the farm and my day job, in town. Watching the fields come in each fall, as they lay fallow in winter, as they are planted each spring, and then trying to guess what will emerge from the ground sometime later is our entertainment. Playing this game of observation and deduction can be difficult, especially when farmers experiment with new crops and new patterns of crop rotation. Several farms have contracted to grow tomatoes down along the floodplain while others grow green beans, soy beans, corn, and sunflowers. The sunflower has been the most recent addition and arrived on our agricultural scene not more than two or three years ago. Sunflower seeds may be harvested for human consumption or as bird seed, or as a source of high quality vegetable oil with the meal then used in livestock feed. Usually the sunflowers have been planted adjacent to corn and soy beans. I believe this is the first year that we have seen them grown next to tomatoes. I am glad for this new pattern because it has allowed for just the sort of pleasant juxtaposition you see below. Beyond the vibrant play of color it struck me, even as I walked the field to position myself to best advantage, that the sunflowers, with their heads turned down and heavily laden stalks leaning in, looked disapprovingly upon the tangle of vines at their feet! The black and white presentation of the second image allows me to focus on the crowd milling around in conversation to the right. I see parents with their child down in front. There are others behind, looking forward, and wondering what all the commotion is about. In both photos the sunflowers seem to have noticed that the tomatoes are encroaching and they, the sunflowers, are seriously displeased. Maybe I need a vacation. Does anyone else see this? Before signing off let me point out that Pareidolia occurs when a vague or random stimulus is perceived as significant, while apophenia occurs when we discern patterns in random information.



15 thoughts on “Pareidolia or apophenia … you decide

  1. I see the second image as the sad result of such lack of respect from the larger species… kind of like the post-nuclear explosion images where all the colour goes out of the world. 😉

  2. I knew sunflowers were actually eerie aliens trying to dominate other life-forms 🙂
    I admit I have never seen tomatoes growing like this … very interesting!!

  3. LOL! I definitely see what you see. Those sunflowers sure do take a dominant position over those slumped over tomatoes! The b/w version looks so grim and forlorn. Wonder what those fields will hold next year!

  4. I’d heard of HyDRoponic tomatoes, but now I think you’ve introduced HDR tomatoes. Thanks for the dual introductions to pareidolia and apophenia. I was having a hard time distinguishing them, and my difficulty was confirmed when I read in your second link that “pareidolia is a type of apophenia.” Dan Brown made a lot of money by playing up the phenomenon in The Da Vinci Code.

  5. I see it now 🙂 Indeed, just what did the tomatoes do, or is it just a class thing? At any rate I imagine both will yield quite a bit of food. I imagine the sunflowers will eventually become oil or maybe just the seeds? And the tomatoes … hmmmmm so many possibilities!

  6. I really like the first image, David. So much to like … the perceived “attitude” and the color combination. If I have to choose, I’d say Pareidolia but I don’t see why both can’t be working at the same time. Disclaimer … both are entirely new terms to me although the concepts are basic to photography.

    • I’m glad you like it Steve. You know, there was a time when I thought that HDR was the best thing since … dental floss. I messed around with it and found that it was fairly difficult to ‘tame,’ if you know what I mean. I even find tone mapping a single image difficult … it’s so hard not to over cook stuff. Truth-be-told the color image here is tone mapped. The light wasn’t good when I captured the image and when I first looked at it it seemed really flat … it was difficult to juice it up. I thought tone mapping might help and I think it did. I hope it doesn’t look overly processed … I tried to pull in the reins as best I could. Anyway, thanks for the thumbs up. We’re expecting rain tomorrow … and it’s SATURDAY … totally not fair. D

  7. Disapproving sunflowers, I love it! I think also they look a little disappointed at the disarray in front of them. The colours against that sky are just wonderful.

    • Thanks Jenny. The first photo really didn’t look all that great when I first considered it. Subjected it to something called ‘tone mapping’ and that seemed to improve it. I’m glad you agree! D

  8. Apophenia for sure. I saw it instantly when I first glanced at the photographs. That, I think, is the nature of sunflowers. To lend themselves to scrutiny under many disciplines. They are artful, practical, striking, so that in their wake, everything else is juxtaposed. Of course, the sprawling tomatoes did it to themselves. Sit up straight, Tom!

    Love your photographs so much. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hey there Tammy … nice to see you in my comments section this evening. I have enjoyed all of your recent posts. I hope things may be slowing down for you up North! We said ‘Hello’ as we passed by you a week or so ago, on our way to White River Junction! Our daughter is living there now! Yikes! D

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