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Photography is an Anomaly

23rd November, 2010

Before you punch the living pyjamas out of me, just hear me out. Or read me out. Whatever. Basically, I believe that photography is an anomaly.

The Photograph

I was walking home one night. No slow-moving cow pushing me to a corner. No cyclist on the phone, oblivious of the fact that we would collide in the next 7 seconds. I only had to tackle the usual road bling: fresh cow-dung, strewn garbage, puddles of water and camouflaged manholes. No biggie.

I continued walking around my colony and reached a dead-end. Damnit. Dead-ends are quite useless. You don’t get much parking space and its very difficult to get cars out. They’re dark, dingy and desolate.

Except on that day, when every corner had a major Durga Puja celebration.

That dead-end became alive! There were lights, people, music. Laughter, giggles, and children being scolded.

That’s when I clicked this atrocious photograph:



I know. I understand.

Film camera enthusiasts, the ones who click 35 photos in a span of three months, would shake their heads in disbelief seeing this photograph.

Digital camera enthusiasts, part of the trigger-happy generation, would move this photo to a ethereal world reserved for the special few: the Recycled Bin.

Either way, this photograph is crap.

But that’s exactly my point!

So Basically, Your Point is Crap?

This paragraph feels insulted by the bold header above it. This paragraph doesn’t like the constant nagging and will soon develop an inferiority complex. Please, let the paragraph speak.

Ok, Ok. Don’t Get Senti, Para. Go Ahead.


Anyways, let’s go back to the atrocious photograph above. A normal human eye can’t see such an image!

Quoting Wikipedia, the eye is a very complex organ, as it uses an optical system to collect light from the surrounding environment, regulates its intensity, focuses the image using adjustable lenses and converts this image to a set of electrical signals to transmit to the brain.

All this, in a tiny little blob that fits in your face.

STOP With the Biology, Will You?

The point is that the human eye adjusts to ensure you always see a focused image. Its internal lenses move so fast that you feel like nothing happened!

It’s difficult to “see” an image such as the one shown above with your naked eye. The moment you look at something, direct your attention to it, the eye focuses it in place.

So It’s Unreal?

Before photography was invented in the 1800s, there was no human being (with normal eyesight) who could have seen such a sight! The photographs we see go beyond what our senses can show us. Technically, this is not unreal (it’s not like the subject changed, it’s just that you used technology to sense something you couldn’t earlier).

We’re now used to it, as if it’s nothing new. We’ve all seen fisheye photographs, or ones with different hues, some without focus, and others in very low light.

Photography may be an anomaly, but it’s helped us see the world in entirely a new light!


There is a condition when the human eye can see images like the one in the photograph above. I have that, and I use glasses to correct it.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. 23rd November, 2010 5:03 PM

    You can alter the focus of your eys as well. Quite easy. So even a normal sighted person can see this colourful display. Just the matter of using your focussing muscles.

    PS I wanted to write “Yeah whatever. Whats your point anyway?” But I guess that would have been mean. 😛

    • 24th November, 2010 11:18 AM

      Haha! By the way, I hear this “So what?” many times, so I think you should just go ahead and say it!

  2. Navneet permalink
    23rd November, 2010 5:47 PM

    It’s nice to see one sentence in there that’s an interesting observation. But this comes too late. You’re too old to realise this now, Sahay. You should be closer to a level of critical thinking showcased in this article –

    Am disappoint.

    *end of sarcasm*

    But, yeah… those kinds of articles alienate. If you read Susan Sontag, you’ll find SO MUCH brain food about photography, you’ll die.

    • 24th November, 2010 11:22 AM


      I didn’t know that there is this world out there full of “photography theory” and “some thoughts on the ‘exscription’ of photographic meaning.”

      By the way, I could only read the abstract of the link you sent – is it free to read the whole thing?

      And and and .. any more articles you recommend ?

    • Navneet permalink
      24th November, 2010 11:49 AM

      I thought you were one of the intelligent ones among all the droning at MIT. But I guess bees of a flock buzz together, huh!:P

      Yeah.. Sontag is the only one I know. The death mask is an old concept. Look for Heidegger’s article on it, because I couldn’t find it… and email it to me when you do!

    • Navneet permalink
      24th November, 2010 11:54 AM

      (you’ll only find the full one in a journal… darn the hidden web (did you know most of the interpubes is hidden from us because of articles and websites like that? (I guess the interpubes wears Rupa)))

    • 26th November, 2010 10:49 AM

      Haha! Me? and a smart one? Good joke, I say!

      I face the same problem with the internetz. Any decent article is only available in its abstract (which is abstract enough). You’ve really got me interested in a field I had no interest about – the search for “MOAR” has begun!

      And Mahay, saw your portfolio on your college website – kickassery I must say! Loved the video where you moved the point of focus through an arrangement of wires – gave an awesome sense of movement!

  3. 23rd November, 2010 5:49 PM

    Stooofid! Did you click this pic without your glasses on? 🙂

    So, you focused, and thought that the picture was perfect and went ‘Cllllickkkk!’.

    • 24th November, 2010 11:23 AM

      Oh you haven’t seen anything yet. My pretentious photographs make even cats curl up in disgust. Yes.

  4. delhizen permalink
    23rd November, 2010 6:32 PM

    I have a question. I have a question? Did you or anyone capture the expressions on your face when you wrote this post?

    Though as random and not so good this picture may have come out to be… It is still better than many I know who click as random shots as their own shadow, just to see how it looks on camera!! Bizarre 🙂

    Are we living in a camera obsessed world? and I don’t make this statement out of envy for all those who not only boast possession of a SLR but also show off their photography skills..

    • Navneet permalink
      23rd November, 2010 6:53 PM

      @delhizen: I like your comment, mr. zen.

      I think we are obsessed with the camera and generally, with things that capture our personal world and alter reality (facebook is good example). If we’re not given something new (which, as a problem, has a business model to solve it) we get bored and stop taking photographs. But not for long, because of said business model. Each year, a company will develop a new feature, then roll it out. Then other companies will crowd the market space with that feature until everyone has that camera. Then ppl start to get bored with awesome SLR shots and then another company will roll out their next big feature, like say, a super expensive lomographic camera (lomo cameras are really cheap now). These are actual processors working to make your ‘graphs randomly bad ( Then ppl will want their ‘graphs to be bad as well. Everyone will buy a lomo camera…

      Rinse and repeat…

      No one wanted an SLR 5 years ago. Everyone wanted MegaPixels.

    • 24th November, 2010 11:45 AM

      Confession: This is one of the worst photographs on my computer. I selected it for that reason 🙂

      I completely agree with the “photo-obsessed world” that we live in. [I’m a prime example!] The photograph, a technological invention just 200 years ago, has transformed our society forever.

      But this obsession has lead to good things, no?

      @Navneet I think you’re venting out your anger against product “re-invention” and marketing hype around a product that has served its functional use.

      I will give you 1200 brownie points for that! YES!

      But this must-buy-newest-coolest-camera concept pales in front of companies like Apple and their products like the iPod and the iPhone. Rinse and repeat, but at a much higher frequency (1 year).

    • Navneet permalink
      24th November, 2010 12:05 PM

      You’re right about the anger. But it’s not the products I’m against. It’s the mind-numbing ADVERTISEMENTS. I’m all for having my extensions (the McLuhan ones) extended.

      I hear desperately greedy bastard behind the happy and innovative facade of adverts, looking to steal yo moneys just so you could have yo hands at something most people don’t need. You could say it’s my superpower.

    • 26th November, 2010 10:51 AM

      Money is the language of mankind now, you might as well get used to it Mahay!

  5. 23rd November, 2010 8:30 PM

    @Navneet: errr…….she is Miss not Mr.

    • Navneet permalink
      23rd November, 2010 9:03 PM

      I did not know! But thanks!… and apologies to miss delhizen… btw, a lot of girls are named Navneet, just so you know (which you probably do).

    • 24th November, 2010 11:46 AM

      Haha!! What a come back Navneet!

      Lets invent a new language man. One that is ALWAYS gender-neutral!

  6. delhizen permalink
    24th November, 2010 11:59 AM

    @ K: Of course it has lead to good things, I just have one picture from my childhood and now I have one album for almost every special occasion and a lot of those clicked in just like that random moments 😉

    @ Navneet ( still not sure if you are Mr. or Ms, not that it matters 🙂 ) but that’ Rupa’ thing was one bad joke!

    • Navneet permalink
      24th November, 2010 12:09 PM

      Mr., thanks. And about the Rupa joke… blame Sahay, I’ve been ‘schooled’ by the likes of him.

    • 26th November, 2010 10:52 AM

      Really? Mahay, you’re crediting me? *sniff* .. no one .. no one has done that! *sniff* .. Thank you man … *sniff* … thank you!

  7. 25th November, 2010 1:38 PM

    They didn’t let you in or what? You almost look like a Bong.

    And I quite like your “atrocious” pic, even though it doesn’t make much sense.

    • 26th November, 2010 10:56 AM

      This photograph was taken before I walked in – but I did go in!

      Btw, I can pass off as a bong? Cool! What all privileges do I get now? Hehe!

  8. 22nd December, 2010 10:41 AM

    I like the way you’ve scientifically analysed the eye..

    • 22nd December, 2010 10:56 AM

      Muahaha! You’re calling this science? I will, henceforth, doubt all your future judgements 🙂

  9. 20th January, 2011 9:25 AM

    Actually I like the photograph. It has a blurry & vague feel to it, just like when you close your eyes and you can’t remember anymore why you’re doing what you’re doing.

    • 20th January, 2011 9:38 AM

      You mean to say that I can take credit for that photograph and not feel embarrassed about it? Wow!

      I have to agree with you, though. It’s the haziness and fuzziness of that photo that you would associate with the gradual progression to a deep sleep!

  10. 4th February, 2011 1:19 PM

    Can’t believe you actually dug deep into the matter and found out so much about human eye and other theory! And what’s with your eyes, what is the “condition” called? Just curious 🙂

    • 4th February, 2011 7:37 PM

      There’s this thing I suffer from. It’s called boredom. Suddenly, somehow, I have time to look up stuff like that.

      And about my eyes? Oh they have to face the torture of power-5 glasses day-in and day-out. Ouch!

  11. shreyashively permalink
    24th July, 2012 12:59 PM

    Hehehee….I think my favourite part of the post was your post script!! Loved it!! 🙂

    • 27th July, 2012 7:40 PM

      Hehe! We all love post-scripts, don’t we?


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