One of my many confounding questions is why readers keep coming back to Krahnpix. I have chased dead ends, missed humourous opportunities by a city block and unintentionally, as well as intentionally, confused everyone at some point. And yet here we are!
Just as confusing is why people like some wildlife photos better than others even though the photographic quality seems comparable to my squinting eye. Enough with questions and time for answers! This week I solved the latter knotty problem, knocking off one of life’s great mysteries. It’s all about familiarity.
People prefer pictures of wildlife that they have actually seen. For example, a deer is a pretty good-looking animal. The problem comes if you see a couple on your lawn every morning. The thrill just doesn’t last.
“Oh look honey, there are those lovely deer eating our garden again.”
The response may be a yawn or, “Great, can I look next year? I’m going through a mid-life crisis right now.”
But if that same person catches only a few glimpses of great horned owls over the years, the reaction is much more likely to be, “Whoa! Is that ever beautiful! That photographer must have a good camera.”
That all seems pretty straight forward but there’s a tricky part. If you see a photo of a creature you’ve never seen before, then the photo is once again less appealing.
“What is that thing and which end is the head?
“I’m not sure. Let’s get some pie before exercizing.”
To help make sense of this phenomenon I created a helpful system called the familiarity index.
Here’s how it works. Unlike most indices where high is good, in this index photographers are striving to hit the sweet spot in the middle. For prairie people in my area code, it might look something like this:
1 = Sightings are common – think gophers
5 = Sightings are just rare enough to peak people’s interest – how about moose
10 = Sightings never happen – way out there like a frilled lizard
A simple number can now provide an accurate prediction of public response. When Krahnpix readers see the wildlife familiarity index referenced all over the web, they will knowingly smile. You read it here first.