Image conscious

It’s a stunning image, no doubt about it.

Published in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic, this photograph by Frans Lanting of camel thorn trees in Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia quickly went viral.

Why is this photo mesmerizing to millions of people?

The answer is not: Namib-Naukluft Park is an eye-popping natural wonder. But rather: We’re not sure if this is a photograph or a painting.

Our collective focus — on the image instead of on the subject — helps explain why our Society refuses to shut off the media spigot on Earth Day.

It also helps explain why our Society’s mission statement ought to have two additional words: To inspire people to care about pictures of the planet.

Reality and pictures of reality: They’re not the same thing.

  • PhotoCaptureLB

    Great article. The photo of Namib-Naukluft Park by Frans Lanting, appears impressive to view as a painting and a photo. Being a photographer and painter, I firstly passed this off as a painting. Only after a few moments, I was able to see the true photographic landscape. A great illusion.

    Although this is not as simple as Namib-Naukluft Park, I accidentally captured a photo, which appears to be similar as an oil painting. Taken in Italy, these farmland horses were sheltering themselves under the trees during a rain storm. This illusion was not graphically manipulated, yet just a slight blur from the rain, with just enough light from the day, to unexpectedly create this effect.

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