Photos That Make You Look Twice

Rusted chains, pilled up, take on the look of sausages, snakes or even human intestines in this very suggestive image.

Have you even seen a photo where you have to look twice to understand exactly what you’re looking at? And are you sometimes surprised with what’s revealed?

Iceland: Faces In The Landscape

Iceland is an amazing country for landscape photography and there are surprises around many a corner. During my drive around the island I don’t know how many times I’d look up at a hillside to see one or more faces in the rocks or earth. No wonder mythic beings still hold sway in local beliefs. They’re every where.

All Is Not As It Appears

The above photo was made at Grytviken, an abandoned Whaling Station on South Georgia Island in the Southern Atlantic. It’s the resting place of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

I approached the making of this photo pretty much the same as any close up photo. I ensured critical focus and depth of field was achieved to render the scene with sufficient detail. The photo seemed to be all about color, detail and shape.

But when it came to processing the image it became clear that the way each individual link in the chain was linked to another and the way the chain seemed to move in, out and around itself was interesting.

I began to separate the colors to bring out the differences between the orange and red/magenta colors within the image. I then employed some dodging and burning techniques, akin to those used in the darkroom in days gone by, to emphasize a foreground/background relationship in the scene.

Moving Towards Abstraction

Along the way the chains started to resemble sausages, snakes, worms and even intestines. Depending upon the time of day you might even see bagels. And that’s when the image became interesting to me. While it was still a photo of a pile of old, rusted chains it now began to suggest alternative outcomes. Moving away from reality is interesting. And suggestion is the point between reality and abstraction.

I could have taken the image further with filters in Photoshop. For example, I could have produced a kind of Salvador Dali dripping clocks effect. But that’s not what I was after. I still wanted the image to look like a photo, but I was happy for the subject matter within that photo to be a little more open to interpretation.

While in no way a radical result, I think this image illustrates how process, as much as concept, can be the difference between the snapshot and art.