Pareidolia Play Along 2: The Reveal

This is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger

In this installment, Ellen reveals the answer to last week’s Pareidolia Play Along. Here’s the image she teased us with:

Pareidolia Follies 2 Studio © Ellen Bulger

I have a pair of hip waders. Nothing fancy. Not your hootsie tootsie high-end Orvis sort of hip waders. I’d taken an aquatic entomology class (Say Didymops three times fast!) and the smallest size of wader available for use was two sizes too big for me. I did what I could by wearing extra socks to make my feet fit somewhat more securely in the boots, but it didn’t help much. I had to walk into streams and rivers to do kick samples and the rocks were slippery. If the current was running fast, it was tricky. I did not like sliding around inside the boots, thank you very much. So I went out and bought myself a cheap pair of waders.

If everything is a nail to a man who has a hammer, then rivers are roads to a woman in waders. I was used to walking beside streams, not in them. But with my tall boots, new areas opened up to me. I could explore places with thick growth along the banks, places I had never been able to reach before. I went exploring.

The woods looked different from the water. I got a visceral appreciation for the way that streams move: following drainages, meandering through flood plains. I climbed over rocks in active areas, picked my way through the braided sections. The surface of the water sparkled, but what I liked best was the way patches of sunlight would hit the rocks, pebbles and sandbanks on the bottom. The glaciers dumped all kinds of beautiful rocks here, and the streams are full of color.

Wepawaug Riffle © Ellen Bulger

Last week’s pareidolia picture was water running over some rocks. The surface is curved and almost pleated. Mostly the spot was in shadow, though you get a hint of gold where a small patch of sun is hitting the bottom. Gold is direct sun. Blue is the sky reflected. You can see squiggly bits of branch reflections. It’s a spot where the Wepawaug has decided it might just be a river instead of a stream, the site of what used to be a small dam. Now it’s just stray rocks and riffles where the water drops down to a lower level.

Shooting it, I was all wrapped up in the water and the light. I was digging the stuff you can’t see in the photo, the sound and the movement. I didn’t have a pareidolia moment until I uploaded the photos to my computer and saw them on a big screen. Then I saw wings: bird wings, angel wings, blue bird of happiness wings.

Shedding Water Feathers © Ellen Bulger

But that is just me. There is no one correct answer.

Enkidum pegged it right out of the gate.

Dpearson, some sugar cubes might make that water move for you.

Michaeld, you saw what I saw.

maddog1129, an elephant in a carwash is all well and good until you hit the hot wax.

E.V. might have had an enhanced sugar cube experience.

wholething, PZ ain’t the only one with a fetish for cephalopods.

Nathaniel Frein, you’re right on the money and that blue is the sky.

Dendritic Trees, yes, yes.

machintelligence, there ain’t no supposed to about it, just enjoy.

JuliaL, you sound like me. Do you also take spontaneous vacations on Google Earth?

Bob Jase, there were no telltale pizza crusts in the area, but you never know.

articulett, I don’t believe their range extends to New England, but I could be wrong.

Charles Sullivan, that’s what I saw.

lochaber, you are on the money. And as for the last one. I didn’t even see what that plastic stuff was at first, and I took the dang picture!

rookieatheist, I double checked to make sure that wasn’t my reflection!

Coragyps, I looked and looked but I couldn’t see a chair.

left0ver1under, I will have some ice for you down the road. Good ice.

Tabby Lavalamp, again, I checked, and that monkey ain’t my reflection!

Jake, at least I think it’s not me.

Robb, yes and probably sticks, but certainly rocks.

Chris, an angel? Sure, why not. And as for the dead god dreaming beneath the sea, you’ve read the story? I went to RISD. I’ve made tiles. My sanity has been questioned. Coincidence? Would you like to see some of my old work that I did BEFORE I read “The Call of Cthulhu”?


A+ Hermit, I’ve been known to shoot weird stuff growing, sometimes under plastic, sometimes not.


Thanks to all for playing. Stay tuned for the next installment of PAREIDOLIA PLAY ALONG, which will go up tomorrow!

UPDATE 9/18/12: I’d like to address a few guesses from Pareidolia 2 that showed up after I’d sent Brianne the reveal.

anne mariehovgaard, yeah, I could see it as an Archeopteryx. But in order to look like the classic fossil specimen, it needs a little beaky head bent back on a neck twisted like a smoked duck in a Chinatown shop window.

mildlymagnificent, if there was a photo-bombing kitty, he was sneaky and I never saw him. I have found deer skulls and vertebrae by the river where I took that shot. I assumed they were coyote kills.

DaveN, you are the second person to suspect there was a great ape in the picture. Hmmmm.

Pareidolia Play Along 2: The Reveal
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