Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Matrixing and Pareidolia

Your brain is accustomed to trying to make sense of what you see, but with low resolution digital photographs, your brain will start to fill in the missing parts and you may see things that aren't really there. In computer displays and printing, resolution is related to the number of pixels (dot-matrix) per inch used to create the image. When looking at a low resolution image, you may experience matrixing. Your brain will start filling in the image in the photo (matrixing) in an effort to make sense of what you are seeing. If there are dark spots in the right place for eyes, the brain may see a face. This is called pareidolia.

The better the photo, the higher the resolution, the fewer mistakes the mind will make, and the more likely someone will be able to see details in a photograph accurately. The lower the resolution, the more likely fuzzy images will be interpreted as things they are not.

Here's an example from the Ordsall Hall ghostcam.

The area under the stairs and on the balcony are prime ghost-spotting areas, but I'm betting all of these images are just examples of matrixing and pareidolia, big ugly pixels with our minds interpreting the spots as faces. Here's an old favorite of mine I call "Old women," because it looks like there's old granny in the stairwell and another face looking down from the balcony.

So, don't jump to conclusions, especially when looking at low-resolution ghost cams. Is that really a face, or just your mind playing tricks on you?

Peter Doyle explains this very well in this video:


  1. I get so tired of all the "smiley orbs" and tree phantoms people pawn off as paranormal. I swear, more people need to read this post!! Quality of images is important... I guess that's why I wish we hadn't strayed so much from the 35mm camera. At least you can enlarge a photo without bit becoming a pixelated Seurat painting.

    Aah, technology. The bane of our existences... loll

  2. Technology is wonderful when it works. But, it helps to understand it, and I so agree. It's amazing that with all the good information out there on what causes them to appear naturally in pictures, that people are still posting orbs and thinking they are being literally swarmed by spirits! Thanks for your comments, Ken.