1897a - The Mirror Conundrum

My image database has some keyboard shortcuts that I rarely use but sometimes inadvertently activate. It happened today, and the effect was, that I mirrored the image in the last post.

It really struck me. I had liked the image for its light, but nothing more. Somehow it was lifeless. It was just an image that I used for lack of something good, nothing I would have ever again thought about.

And then this mirrored image was suddenly completely different. I went back to Photoshop and reversed the number 30 in the traffic sign, the one obvious hint that the image had been manipulated. I guess I’d get away with everything else, the tiny number plates on the cars and the bus sign on the lane that’s heavily distorted and cut anyway.

For me this is an entirely different image and a much better one. This is obviously due to the fact that all action happens on the (now) left side and that I read the image from left to right.

Now the question is, is this connected to the fact that I read texts from left to right? Would an Arabian viewer prefer the original image? Or is it already impossible to find someone on the Internet who has not been so much exposed to the (supposedly) dominant left-right aesthetics of the West that he is not forever spoiled?

I have no answers. I am sure there is literature about it and I suppose there may be an answer. Any idea?

As this is an addendum to “1897 โ€“ Something Magic II”, the Song of the Day is still “Something Magicโ€ by Procol Harum. Hear the original 1977 version for a difference.

There are 4 comments

Subhash   (2011-12-29)

First I wanted to agree that this version looks better than the original. Maybe because of the "block" on the right side of the original one. This stops the eye before the frame which is not the case in the mirrored version. But ... but if I look longer at the first image I "learn" to see the beauty also there. So .. it's just a matter of habit. There are so many rules in photography and habits in seeing, I think its good and even necessary to brake them to refresh the view and avoid lulling the senses. Not to please at first sight may make the subtle joy last longer. I read an eBook by Andrew S. Gibson: โ€žBeyond Thirds โ€“ A Photographer's Introduction to Creative Compositionโ€ on this topic. Very nice. At my German blog there is a little review if one is interested. In fact it was the third posting in a few days about rules in photography and why they are boring and some times annoying. Surely breaking conventions can lead to failure but also there is great potential in it. So ... I had to see your second version to enjoy the first. I have to break the rules more often myself to learn to see anew!

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andreas   (2011-12-30)

I'm not sure if it's a matter of habit, at least not in that casual sense. It goes pretty deep for me and I think (but can't prove it) that it is connected to the left-right manner in which I read. Hmmm ... time to do some research ๐Ÿ™‚

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andreas   (2011-12-30)

Well, OK, no need for much research, it seems to be common sense. The UI guys say it and in photography it's one of those "rules". Have your subject on the side where you begin to read the image, have some room on the opposite side to move into. The original had it all reversed, this one complies to the rule - and it works for me. It's disturbing though that, regardless of what you do, you always frustrate a part of your visitors. Or maybe they just don't come back if you don't "speak" their visual language.

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Thomas   (2011-12-30)

I'd agree that it's simply connected to the left-to-right way of reading that we are used to. We're all creatures of habit in that way. So the "flow" feels more natural if also a photo tell its story from left to right.

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