Photography: Reflection in the Eye of a Canary

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Canary Photo
Our subject… Joe Canary.
Recently I downloaded a beautiful photograph featuring a canary. I use it as a wallpaper on my desktop computer. There’s just something about a canary and the color yellow. In addition, included in the photo is a peculiarly attractive shade of its contrast color, blue. I’d had this photo for quite some time when the bird’s eye caught my attention. I wondered: Can I make out what the bird was seeing by examining the reflection in it’s eye?

Image Manipulation

So I cropped the image of the bird to close in on its eye (see image). The reflection in the eye was somewhat rectangular. It featured some pink and some blue regions. I zoomed in further in an attempt to recognize the regions. The pink was a tree, the blue was the sky. Then, too, there was a bit of green – grass! However, there was more, a figure.

Pupil Untouched
Focusing on the Pupil.

Surely the figure was human, undoubtedly the photographer. Is it going too far to suggest the gender? Perhaps so. Still, the person was wearing a white shirt or blouse, covered by some kind of jacket. Lastly, I deduced the time of the photograph was probably spring The tree was in full bloom.¹

One Last Endeavor

I decided to brighten the image to see if I could learn more. I believe I succeeded. It looks like the gender of the person was most likely female. The legs portion of the figure were particularly light. Although this could have been trousers, it seems an unlikely color combination, light trousers and a dark jacket. I’m somewhat convinced the figure is that of a female.

Brightened Image
Zooming in and brightening the image.


All of the above was accomplished using the most basic of computer software. I have sent off the original to a young friend of mine who is desirous of employment in the field of computer graphics. He has specialty software. I look forward to learning what further information he may have gleaned.


So, remember this: when you take a snapshot, it may contain more information that you think – more than you intended to share with others! Reflect on that thought…

¹ It ought to be mentioned that the image the bird actually saw would actually have been the left-right transposition of the image we’ve taken from the reflection.

Note: You might also enjoy How Much Does a Fly Hitting a Train Slow It Down?


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One thought on “Photography: Reflection in the Eye of a Canary

  • That’s very true. It’s not just the exif information you need to be careful of in photographs but also reflections. That was a great bit of detective work there. When I travelled to work by train, I often carried a small camera to take pictures from the carriage window. The track ran by the sea and sometimes you would see a seal or something else of interest. In winter, though, the carriage window steamed up and acted as a mirror. Pictures taken then reflected fellow travellers, not the outside scene. Many often asleep, catching up while the train carried them to work!

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