Friday, November 17, 2006

Photographic Scotoma

So I'm watching The Da Vinci Code the other night and there's this part where Sir Lee Teabag (or whatever his name is) is explaining something to the main chick in the movie who, it turns out, is the actual descendent of Jesus H. Christ (Himself) and Mary Magdalene who, according to the book and flick, was JC's wife and mother of His children. In the scene, this Sir Lee guy is explaining the finer points of Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper. According to Sir Lee, the person sitting to Jesus' right is not one of the disciples and is, instead, Mary Magdalene. Sir Lee explains that the reason most everyone thinks this person in the painting is a male rather than a female is because many people are afflicted with a psychological problem called scotoma. According to Sir Lee, scotoma involves the mind seeing what it wants to see.

"That doesn't sound quite right," I thought. So I clicked Pause on the remote and went online to look up the word scotoma for a more accurate definition.

Unfortunately, on my first try, I spelled it wrong and typed in the word scatoma which, according to, is "a tumorlike mass of feces in the colon or rectum."

"Shit!" I thought (pun intended), "That doesn't sound right either," and I decided to amend my spelling and go for it again.

On my second try I got it right and was near-instantly cyber-shuttled to some definitions for the word scotoma. As it turns out, Sir Lee took a bit of dramatic license with his definition. It seems scotoma is a physical malady which produces, "loss of vision in a part of the visual field; a blind spot."

Okay, that's not exactly a condition where, as Sir Lee explained in the movie, the mind sees only what it wants to see but, I suppose, it's kind of close.

Anyway, this got me to thinking about photography and how, as photographers, we are sometimes afflicted with this scatoma thing. In other words, we're not always paying attention to what we're paying attention to when our attention is all wrapped-up in producing our photo masterpieces. It's like we suddenly develop a blind spot, or a mild case of scotoma, when it comes to noticing details. Or, as Sir Teabag would have us believe, we're only seeing what our minds want us to see. Either way, this is a definite problem because, as I've said before and as many others will tell you, when it comes to photography, all genres of photography, so much of it is all in the details.

I'm not going to belabor this point. I'm simply suggesting this: If you hope to produce images that aren't akin to scatoma you should work hard at avoiding photographic scotoma.

The images accompanying this post are of the lovely Gigi. In the first image, she seems to be having some sort of opthalmic problem going on. I'm not sure if it's an actual case of scotoma. It might be that she simply has some sort of scatoma in her eyes.


mad photog said...

I actually thought the top photo was a visual pun: "crossed eyes are the new cleavage". I usually do a few "joke" shots at the end of a shoot, just to end up on a light note, so I thought you were doing the same...

Kevin H. Stecyk said...

**>>According to Sir Lee, scotoma involves the mind seeing what it wants to see.<<**

And according to Simon and Garfunkel in their song, The Boxer Lyrics,...

Lyrics007: The Boxer Lyrics

I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

I guess we all believe what we want to believe and disregard the rest.

Great blog. :-)