Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Curtain walls and coincidences

click photo to enlarge
It would be great to believe that the modern world had done with the concept of "good luck", that the superstitious attitude that leads people to waste money on lotteries and other gambling would have gone the way of belief in fairies and the efficacy of a daily dose of castor oil. But no, people queue up to give away money they can often ill afford to lose in the hope - sometimes expectation - of becoming a millionaire.

But the fact is, despite the Enlightenment, despite the rise of modern mathematics and science and despite universal education, many people have only a hazy grasp of concepts such as chance, probablity and coincidence, and frequently fall back on the superstitious beliefs of centuries ago. If only I stick with the same set of numbers, some say, I'm bound to win the lottery one day, while another group are equally convinced of their belief that changing the numbers is a better way to beat the odds. A much smaller group realise that the odds are the same each time you play your numbers, whatever the numbers are. Similarly, many people will accept that the probability of two people sharing the same birthday is 100% when there are 366 people in a room (excluding February 29th birthdays), but will dispute the fact that there is a 99% probablity when there are only 57 people. (For further information on this probability theory paradox see here).

My most recent blog post was about my liking for using glass curtain wall grids in photographs. What a strange coincidence then, that on my next photographic outing (that happened to be in London), I should return with just such an image, a semi-abstract example taken around sunset. Not really. I like the subject, I'd been thinking about it recently, and I was in a city with a multitude of glass boxes, so the fact that I should take such a shot is not at all unlikely: it's simply the sort of coincidence that occurs regularly throughout our lives.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.2mm (48mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.6
Shutter Speed: 1/80
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On