Life in the Box: Seeing Things



Have you ever seen the “Man in the Mountain” or the “Grand Tetons?” Then, you know there’s a long tradition behind seeing or projecting human images on mountains, rocks, trees, and other natural objects. These days, some of us are seeing more than ever, thanks to the magic of digital photography and extreme processing.

I’m going to give examples—not as a “how-to” but as a visual stimulus for learning more about photography and photo processing. I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop (a Creative Cloud bundle that costs just $99 per year at the moment.) They both take a little getting used to, and I highly recommend taking classes if you haven’t done them before. There are many other photo processing apps and programs that are good, too.

So, last year in that wonderful cathedral, Muir Woods National Monument, I kept seeing animal faces in the liquid sequoia tree trunks. So, I took pictures of them and chose a dozen or so for my 2016 calendar (using a free calendar offer at Shutterfly.) calendar-sm



This one looked like a bear to me, but now I think it looks more like a cow. 

Another day, I was playing with a twig that looks to me like a little girl flying. After sharing this picture of her “coming out of her shell,” a few people commented that they weren’t quite sure what I was seeing. So, I went into Photoshop and drew a simple face on her.

That collection ended up as a personal book, “Twiggy Twig A’Dreamin’,”which I’m sharing with my nieces and their kids. They don’t call it “vanity press” for nothing. Small books can cost $25 each.  comingoutofshell2-sm comingoutofshell2wface-sm2


Now, I’m in a local camera club, and I’m really getting silly. They are encouraging us to enter a regional photo essay contest, and my theme is water reflections of trees. I’m doing extreme processing of some rather drab winter trees, and with extreme cropping, there seems to be no limit to what water reveals.Here’s an example from original photo to final treasure. DSC_8158-sm2

treated bw 8158arrow2donkey-titled-sm


Besides this donkey, I’m also finding kittens, atoms, cartoon moon maidens, and eerie faces in those now-un-gray swirls.

You can do this, too. But beware—once you start seeing these faces, you will never stop seeing them—and they will be seeing you, too! (Insert evil “Bwa ha-ha” laugh here.)


Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process both inside and outside the box. 


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Muir Woods National Monument info