Photography of Familiar Shapes and Patterns in Smoke

Have you ever watched smoke rise from a fire and form shapes in the air? In a photo series entitled “Smoke,” photographer Thomas Herbrich made order out of chaos and captured images of these familiar shapes and patterns as they formed in smoke.

After taking around 100,000 photographs, Herbrich narrowed it down to a final 20, in which the viewer can recognize common objects in the smoke like faces, flowers, swirls and more. This phenomenon where people see shapes and patterns in random images and data is called “pareidolia.”

On his website, Herbrich explains his photography mindset and style:

My pictures are about the spectacular, the entertaining; always with a touch of mystery. They are created with much attention to detail, and I do believe that one can feel this. For me, a good picture is like the first line of a story, the viewer would like to know how the tale continues. So they are always ‘pictures, that tell a story’.

What shapes do you see in the smoke?

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