Have you ever wondered why you look so funny in pictures?
It is apparently a misconception that thirty frames per second is as fast a speed as the human eye can appreciate. Tests have proven that our eyes can discern the increase of quality between footage shown at 30fps and 60fps, and past double that at 129fps; an average would seem to be from twenty-five to fifty. Still, there is definitely an upward limit of how many individual subdivisions of a second our eyes can discern before something appears to be in a wholly fluid state of motion. Furthermore, our ability to enjoy movies (24fps), television shows (30fps), and computer games (90fps+) is aided and abetted by other functions of our human machinery … specifically our (somewhat selective) abilty to perceive motion blur.
A typical point & click camera has an approximate shutter speed of a sixtieth of a second if you’re using a flash, which i do on almost all occasions. Shutter speed denotes how quickly the shutter opens and closes when it does all of its camera magic to get an image onto your film. To crib from my last link a bit, this means that something moving 60 miles per hour would probably be a blur in my own flash photography; the object would be moving 17.6 inches in a sixtieth of a second – plenty fast enough to be blurred in a photograph.
My camera catches a glimpse of something which occurs in an amount of time as proportionally small compared to a second as a second is compared to an entire minute, which is something the human eye usually refrains from observing unless it’s paying very specific attention. Totally forgetting for a moment about angles and lighting and contrast and all of that, a camera is probably more likely to capture a likeness of you that you don’t recognize than it is to reaffirm what you saw in the mirror this morning. The click of a shutter can capture our brightest smiles just as easily as it can catch that strange inbetween moment before the smile has fully formed or that slow downturn of lips after a false photo-smile has been prematurely disposed. Add to that the lighting, and what angle the shot is from, and what color the wallpaper is … it’s almost a wonder that we recognize ourselves at all.
The photo newly appearing to the right of this block of text is how i really look; rubber-stamped and approved as an faithful likeness of myself. On the way to and from Boston i took seventy-five pictures; only a few of them actually caught the images i thought i was seeing at the time, and i don’t think Elise & I look especially like ourselves in any of them. Nonetheless, here are 42 of them, so that you can judge for yourself.