BBC photographer Jeff Overs was in Newhaven earlier this week, capturing images of the storm in East Sussex when he snapped this image.
Timing is everything when it comes to photography. Many iconic moments have been captured in a split second and have gone on to become memorable additions in human history. When BBC photographer Jeff Overs was in Newhaven earlier this week, capturing images of the storm in East Sussex, the Roman God of the sea, Neptune, seemed to make an appearance. Overs was in the right place, at the right time, and was able to capture the image of a rising wave that had a striking resemblance to the "face" of the Roman deity. The image is now making rounds on the internet.
"It's become a popular location for photographers because the sea 'boils' in the high wind against the sea wall," Overs explained to BBC News. "The waves splash into the high wind and when blown back occasionally make patterns that look like (pareidolic) ghoulish faces." He even added that the small wave in the foreground resembles a hand if you look close enough. "It's a straight shot and I haven't manipulated the image at all," he assured. This picture was captured at about 09:00 British Standard Time at high tide. The winds were raging at more than 50mph or 80km/h.
The face of Neptune made an appearance earlier this week. A popular location for photographers, if you visit Neptune or other 'faces' at the coast, make sure you keep a safe distance from stormy seas/large waves -— HM Coastguard (@HMCoastguard) July 9, 2021
you might not want to meet him up close & personal by falling in! https://t.co/6SfW7EOUzA
People on the internet were fascinated by the image. One user wrote: This is giving me an “end of times” vibe. Another user tweeted in jest saying: Dude looks like he was sleeping and was awoken abruptly after he hit his head against the seawall. Many others stated that it was actually Poseidon the Greek equivalent of the god of the sea.
Oh, that's quite good. I like that!— Peter Ward (@claytonblue1970) July 8, 2021
There were people who seemed to see the faces of other people in that wave as well.
That looks like Trump to me lol— The Wheelchair Guy on Youtube (@theBahjat) July 8, 2021
Being able to see faces inanimate things is not uncommon. It is the same phenomenon that makes us see Jesus on toast, Mary in your coffee, or a power outlet smiling at you. This is called pareidolia. Human brains tend to make familiar shapes out of an otherwise random pattern. A recent study from the University of Sydney looked into this in detail. "From an evolutionary perspective, it seems that the benefit of never missing a face far outweighs the errors where inanimate objects are seen as faces," Professor David Alais, lead author of the study from the School of Psychology stated.
The ability to perceive facial features happens in milliseconds. "We know these objects are not truly faces, yet the perception of a face lingers," Alais explained. "We end up with something strange: a parallel experience that it is both a compelling face and an object. Two things at once. The first impression of a face does not give way to the second perception of an object." Our brain goes beyond just making facial features out of random patterns and even gives them emotional attributes. The researchers say this is because as deeply social beings, simply detecting a face isn't enough.
"When objects look compellingly face-like, it is more than an interpretation: they really are driving your brain's face detection network," Alais said. "And that scowl, or smile; that's your brain's facial expression system at work. For the brain, fake or real, faces are all processed the same way."
Do you see faces in everyday objects? 👀— Sydney Science (@Sydney_Science) July 6, 2021
A new study from @Sydney_Uni #Neuroscientist David Alais has identified the #Cognitive process that causes us to see human faces in inanimate objects as an evolutionary side-effect.#SydneyScience #FacePareidolia #Pareidolia pic.twitter.com/BcfsIZpAdb