Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: arenaceous* pareidolia**

with 40 comments

I don’t want to influence you so I won’t say what I see in this downward view of the sand on the beach at Moeraki. I didn’t see it on February 27th when I took the picture, but only weeks later on my computer screeen back in Austin. Let’s compare visions: voice yours.

– – – – – – – – –

* arenaceous

** pareidolia

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2017 at 5:02 AM

40 Responses

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  1. A lion?


    April 13, 2017 at 5:13 AM

  2. Instant first thought – a bat. Like the batman symbol LOL :).


    April 13, 2017 at 6:39 AM

  3. A rising angel. At least something ethereal.


    April 13, 2017 at 6:50 AM

  4. I see an owl.


    April 13, 2017 at 7:10 AM

  5. An Edward Gorey-like man in the lower left, being hovered over by a cloaked apparition with upraised arms.

    I smiled to read that you didn’t see it until you got back to Austin. To quote one of my favorite photographers, “I think most people who’ve photographed for a while have had the experience of discovering something in a picture they hadn’t noticed at the time they took it.”


    April 13, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    • Good quotation.

      I had to look up “Edward Gorey-like man.” I take it you were thinking of:


      Your vision of the main figure as “a cloaked apparition with upraised arms” is the same as mine. For me, the figure has on some sort of conical headwear.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2017 at 8:04 AM

      • That’s the Gorey. I was one of those introduced to his work through PBS Mystery!


        April 13, 2017 at 8:11 AM

        • I don’t believe I knew of him. From what I see online, a few images by Gorey verge toward the gory.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 13, 2017 at 8:23 AM

          • I’ve never thought of them as gory, precisely. But I was raised by a father who used to read Little Willie poems with me, along with selections from Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes, while my mother looked on in disapproval. They’re morbid in their own way, but they certainly set me up to enjoy Gorey when I finally ran into him.


            April 13, 2017 at 8:47 AM

            • I wasn’t familiar with either collection of dark humor. I noticed a common theme of people falling or getting pushed into fires, wells, etc. Not far into the second book there’s even a poem in French about a guy falling off his bicycle and getting devoured by a lion.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 13, 2017 at 11:12 AM

  6. I see a rather ominous hooded, masked, caped dancer, cape aswirl. The eyes, nose, moustache, and beard are quite clear.


    April 13, 2017 at 7:24 AM

    • I, too, saw a hooded figure with cape aswirl (I like the way you put that). I also clearly saw the eyes, nose, and mouth. What for you is a moustache for me was an upper lip, though now I can see it your way. For me the figure was standing still, but I see how you could attribute movement to it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2017 at 8:31 AM

  7. Quite the screaming demon.

    Vicki Bell

    April 13, 2017 at 7:29 AM

  8. It’s a figure from Lord of the Rings!


    April 13, 2017 at 7:35 AM

  9. ET and a long-tailed butterfly

    Judy T

    April 13, 2017 at 9:26 AM

  10. I didn’t look to see whether this was mentioned, but the first thing that came to my mind was a swallowtail.

    Susan Scheid

    April 13, 2017 at 8:57 PM

    • The comment prior to yours mentioned a long-tailed butterfly, which could well be a swallowtail.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2017 at 9:03 PM

  11. I have skipped quickly to the bottom so not to be influenced by other comments. At first glance I saw a butterfly, then a bat, then a manta ray. Going back to it, I then saw a figure. Slim legs rising to the body with arm out above their head and wearing a cloak of some sorts. In the centre top is a face, turned to their right. Eye, nose and wide open mouth as if shouting. Could be a dancer in a scary fairytale. Am I in need of help??


    April 14, 2017 at 5:37 AM

    • We’ll have to designate you a seer: you’ve seen more than anyone else who commented. To see how comprehensive your visions were, I’d suggest going back now and reading the other comments. Except for the manta ray, at least one other person saw each of the things you did, but nobody else saw so many.

      This little patch of sand has lent itself to more interpretations than anything I’ve ever shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2017 at 7:32 AM

      • 😀 I obviously have a vivid imagination! I see that you also saw a person screaming or shouting.


        April 14, 2017 at 2:01 PM

  12. I see a butterfly with a long torso


    April 14, 2017 at 2:14 PM

  13. Someone cloaked and rising .. and he is in a hurry


    April 15, 2017 at 3:30 AM

  14. I decided not to read the comments. I see an angel or a demon. Down to the left is either a creature who wants to devour / or threatens the apparition. Maybe the angel/demon is trying to either conjure up this “thing” or put a spell on it to make it go away.
    Now I will read the other comments!


    November 25, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    • Thanks for offering your interpretation. Now that you’ve looked back, you’ll have noticed other people’s visions including elements similar to yours.

      I’m so glad I photographed this patch of sand for what I took to be its abstract patterns. Little did I know how much more was lurking there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2017 at 4:50 PM

      • Yes, I saw similar interpretations, and other interesting ones. The manta! I was also thinking about Tolkien of course.
        When these things occur in real life – the interpretations given always make me think about the question of Truth. There are as many stories as there are people. This is a good example of the positive side of this fact. thank you for letting us in on this sand story!


        November 25, 2017 at 5:03 PM

        • You’re most welcome. The negative side of this is that it can be very hard or even impossible to figure out the truth in a certain situation, as when someone is accused of a crime. Studies have shown that eye-witness accounts are often wrong, even when the witness got a good look at what was happening. Yikes! I hope I’m never on trial.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 25, 2017 at 5:09 PM

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