I was staring at my face today. It’s one of the penalties of having a very reflective laptop screen. So I messed around and took a couple of photos with my laptop camera. One of the things I hadn’t really played with was Photo Booth, so I had a look at how I could distort my features. None of the distortions led to any improvement, although some of them made me laugh (no, I’m much to vain to post those!). But the effects that really fascinated me were the colours.
The thermal imaging reminded me of Warhol and the Pop Art movement. It’s amazing how making thing the “wrong” colour forces us to look at them far more closely than we would otherwise. A red sky, a blue house, a green and blue face all conspire to make a strange, odd image. My brain is trying to resolve it back into my face by changing the colours for me, but it’s hard work. I like the brickwork most, where the mortar stands out because of its thermal properties being slightly different to the brick. The fence sits just above concrete slabs, and so again the heat makes the difference. The thermal imaging camera doesn’t care about spots or freckles or tone, it just records the temperature in a visual way. It’s very forgiving to faces.
It was when I looked at the sepia image that I got the shock. I’ve always looked like my Mum, but I’m now around the age she was when she died. The photos I have of her are mostly colour, although I have some black and white from when she was much younger. But her colouring was different from mine. So when I saw an image which was just tone, not colour, it was quite a shock to see how like her I am. Take away the colour, leave tone, and I am in the image of someone else.
We all think we know what we look like. There are mirrors all over the place. But seeing myself as others see me is a gift I don’t often get.