Weekly Photo Challenge: eerie

What characteristics does an image need to be described as "eerie"?

What characteristics does an image need to be described as “eerie”?

ee·rie or ee·ry

adj. ee·ri·er, ee·ri·est

1     a. Inspiring inexplicable fear, dread, or uneasiness; strange and frightening.

       b. Suggestive of the supernatural; mysterious. See Synonyms at weird.
2.    Scots Frightened or intimidated by superstition.
Source: The Free Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/eerie)

How does an image denote “eerie.”

Is it subject? Composition? Light? Focus? Colour palatte? Or – as is likely – some combination of all of the above.

It was with with some pessimism that I went through my photo archive looking for an image for this week’s Daily Post photo challenge. The shot illustrating the post was awesome – Merilee Mitchell‘s “Ghost Child”  – for me this photograph absolutely exemplifies the word “eerie.”

In the archive I found shots of graveyards and old churches and of isolated places taken at the beginning and end of the day; many, I thought could be called moody. I also found quite a few of myself reflected in objects I was photographing – a poster in an art gallery, a bus shelter and a jar of pickled onions. They had an ethereal quality, but were they eeerie? In the case of the pickled onion shot I think the word is “creepy.”

What characteristics does an image need to be described as "eerie"?

What characteristics does an image need to be described as “eerie”?

I find isolated places a bit sinister anyway, so those were the shots I gravitated towards. An abandoned church with the door partially ajar ticked quite a few of my “eerie” boxes for subject and composition, but my original photo wasn’t particularly eerie.

Rendering it in black and white helped, but I think this shot, filtered and with the focus changed, does “eerie” much better.

Photo editing is quite new to me; apart from a few brightness and colour adjustments, it’s something I’ve only really begun exploring as a “fun” thing on my iPad. But it seemed to me that if composition and subject matter weren’t enough to make my photographs eerie, then perhaps I could use some basic editing tools to create the mood I wanted. In particular I found a filter in Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor that gives a violet-y colour which seems to denote eerie quite nicely. The other thing I’ve done is play with the focus to blur the edges of the photos.

Here are the results. I’m interested in what you think.

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013.

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013.

After using the same filter on a whole series of photos, I decided to go back and re-edit without it; playing instead only with saturation and focus. The shot above benefited most from this.

Perhaps it's just the subject matter here, but after Dr Who's Stone Angels, cemeteries will never be the same for me.

Bayswater Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2013. Perhaps it’s just the subject matter here, but after Dr Who’s Stone Angels, cemeteries will never be the same for me.

What characteristics does an image need to be described as "eerie"?

The Stone Bridge, Tyringham, Buckinghamshire, England. Su Leslie 2013. The question of what might be on the other side plays with my sense of unease.

Wintergarden, Auckland War Memorial Museum. Su Leslie 2012. I often dream of walking down empty corridors or arcades and there is always a sense of foreboding and unease.

A dream-like colour palette and anxiety about what is around the corner; eerie? Or just disturbing?

A back wynd, Falkirk, Fife, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013. A dream-like colour palette and anxiety about what is around the corner. Eerie? Or just disturbing?

What do you think makes an image eerie? Join the challenge by clicking the link here, or enjoy some of the posts I found captured the theme well:

http://pondertheirrelevant.com/2013/11/01/weekly-photo-challenge-eerie/

http://jaspasjourney.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/travel-theme-eerily-delicate/

http://scotnor.com/?p=4695&preview=true

http://lynneayersbeyondthebrush.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/who-believes-in-ufos/

http://sixdegreesphotography.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/weekly-photo-challenge-eerie/

http://autopict.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/weekly-photo-challenge-eerie/

http://picolourme.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/weekly-photo-challenge-eerie/

http://pursuingthevoid.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/weekly-photo-challenge-eiree-or-at-least-it-was-at-the-time/

http://pondertheirrelevant.com/2013/11/01/weekly-photo-challenge-eerie/

http://nando67.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/weekly-photo-challenge-eerie/

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23 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: eerie

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  3. Love these and what you’ve done to them… it’s amazing how a black and white image is more eerie than a colour one straight away, as in your first shots of the partially open church door. The blurring around the edges definitely enhances the eerie quality of all the photos! 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you; I guess it shows how much of our perception of emotion is guided by visual clues that can be manipulated – and have been by film and photos in the past, so we have visual language to work with.

      Like

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