Visual Palindrome

A palindrome is a phrase that is the same read backwards and forwards. Some examples are Madam I’m Adam, A man a plan a canal Panama, and of course Napoleon’s plaintive exclamation, Able was I ere I saw Elba.

Reflections in the Untersee isn’t exactly a backwards-and-forwards palindrome (if such a concept exists in the visual world) but it does manifest a related phenomenon: an image that can be read in either vertical direction.

My blog story about Reflections in the Untersee shows the image composed “As Shot,” and as seen in real life by yours truly.

Several people pointed out with varying degrees of asperity that they thought the photo was upside down. There was some suspicion that I had flipped the image as intentional trickery. This was not the case (although I am certainly capable of doing so in the right situation). I really hadn’t seen this until it was pointed out, but the image does work as well (or better) flipped vertically.

In the “correct” version the dark shallows of the lake in the foreground looks a little weird, but when flipped these dark areas make visual sense (but are not authentic) perhaps as deeper water.

The poles, and their reflections, and the duck, and its reflections, seem to work either way.

I think that when I print this image I will do it as a palindromic diptych. The original version as it was in real life will be on the left, and I will flip it horizontally as well as vertically on the right, something like this.

Reflections in the Untersee © Harold Davis

Reflections (Flipped) © Harold Davis


This entry was posted in Photography.

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