Sunday, June 3, 2012


My perception of noise has always been rather simple--sound I don't like. I have to expand my sensory definition of noise to include more than only sounds I hear and dislike. Noise can also be visual as found in playing with the word to include "visual noise".

This picture is a perfect example to me of visual noise: 

This "dithering" effect in digital photography produces an unpleasing "image noise". The photo was taken with a 5 megapixel camera that leaves too much "noise" in brown, blue or green sections of pictures. Digital photography fills in areas but it produces an unpleasing effect.

In contrast, these pictures below were taken with a 16.2 megapixel Nikon D5100 DSLR camera which produces a more pleasing photograph. The brown, blue and green colors look more as the natural eye would see them. The image noise reduction of the camera is outstanding.

I tend to be a purist in photographic effects. Artistic renderings in photographic form that plays with reality can sometimes be pleasing to my eye, but that is distinctly different from "visual noise". Beauty is in the eye of the beholder perhaps, but it seems to me that whatever was intended and fails is what produces "visual noise." You recognize what is visual noise and what is artistic "photoshopping" or enhancement of photos. A deliberate manipulation of digital media can produce some very pleasing effects not unlike impressionistic painting. There are those who claim  impressionists were just near-sighted artists. Even if that were true, I find the effect is a pleasing variation on reality. I wouldn't call it "noise".

According to that great expert in cyberspace, Wikipedia, noise can be expanded from acoustic noise to other applications as well as cellular noise, vibrational noise, electronic noise or thermal noise. The technical details of each makes very interesting reading. I don't need to try to paraphrase their definitions, but the idea of "noisy genes" tickles my fancy. It makes me wonder if there is such a thing as "tasty noise" or "smelly noise"--whatever interferes with the pure reception of a sensory experience.

At the core of all of these "noise" events, is the idea that something is unwanted. So I suppose I would define noise as whatever is unwanted or distracting and produces stress in the receptor. I like the notion of "white noise" which I would define as something so all inclusive that it soothes and ceases to stress or annoy.


  1. Unwanted noise is so annoying and jarring to the nerves. I like your explanation of the visual from noise to calm.

  2. Well put, R.J. I hadn't actually considered the thought that noise is unwelcome, no matter whether auditory or visual. Sort of like weeds: different for different people. :-)

  3. Neat iguana! We used to have one but adopted it out when it grew very large.
    I play with all my photos. Very rarely do I post anything that hasn't been 'fixed' in some way. Sometimes it's just for color, but other times I might want to see the photo in a different way... like changing to b/w or sepia, etc.
    I can appreciate that you prefer the pure images though.