Last week, we asked readers if they could tell which of these two photos, offering only 12 × 14 pixels of information apiece, represented a face:
Nearly three-quarters of respondents accurately identified the photo on the right as a face. But what face? It only took 6 guesses for readers to guess that it’s a picture of Greta. No one successfully identified the subject of the photo on the left, though.
One thing a couple readers noticed as they participated is that blurring their vision or stepping back from their monitors helped them select the right picture. When I was creating the pictures, I found that they were easier to interpret when they were displayed at their native pixel resolution. When the pictures were just 14 pixels high, they seemed to leap into clarity:
Now can you identify the subject of the picture on the left? Make your guess before you read on, because I’m going to show the original photos below.
Actually, first I’m going to show you color versions of the tiny pictures. When they were in color, they seemed too easy, so that’s why I converted them into grayscale in the first place. So here are the tiny versions, in color:
Now can you identify the picture on the left?
I’ll leave a few blank lines for you to contemplate your answer.
Scroll down to see the original photos.
Here they are:
So the people who guessed “flower” for the photo on the left were indeed partially right. It’s actually a tiny butterfly, which fascinated Nora and me when we took our hike through the North Cascades last summer.
These butterflies congregated on the trail near the smallest trickles of water:
Sometimes there were literally dozens of them, but these were the best pictures we could get, because they flitted away if you approached too close: