The Growth of Photography, Photos per Year, and the Illusion of Frequency

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The growth of photography has been a mixed blessing for debunking. On the one hand the vast number of photographs of events like the Boston Bombing helps to quickly disprove (but not prevent) the spread of conspiracy theories. Also the sheer number of cameras around makes it highly improbable that things such as Bigfoot and Alien UFOs could be appearing to people, and yet avoiding having good photographic evidence.


But on the other hand the vast number of cameras and photos means that there are far more photos of everything now than there were 10 or 20 years ago. And this leads to a special problem, the illusion of frequency.

The illusion of frequency is the impression that something is more frequent now because you can find more photos of it now. It's an illusion because the increase in the number of photos of a thing (say, persistent contrails) is due to a combination of several things:
  1. There are more photos of everything now
  2. If interest in a thing increases, people will take more photos of it.
  3. More recent photos are vastly more likely to be found online that older photos
How many photos are we talking about? What has been the growth? Have a look at the growth of Flickr:


or Instagram:


Then realize the Flickr and Instagram are small fry compared to Facebook and Snapchat:


Note Flickr barely even registers on that graph, and yet it has over six billion photos, nearly all of which are since 2005. At 300 million images per day, Facebook uploads that many photos every three weeks.

So if we are comparing photos now with photos then, we have to do it honestly. With "chemtrails" we are comparing the very best photos from a time when hundreds of millions of photos are taken and shared every day, and when thousands or even tens of thousands of people are really interested in the chemtrail theory, and when photos are free to take and share. This is being compared against a time when relatively few photos were taken, and these photos were not shared, and nobody had heard of "chemtrails", and photos actually cost money to take and share.

But really the key here is the sheer weight of the number of photos. It's just easy to find a photo of anything taken in the last five years. But unless that thing was a typical subject of photography, then you will find vastly fewer online photos of that thing taken over ten years ago, and probably none taken over 20 years ago.

Take, for example, sidewalk gum. Easy to find recent images of it, near impossible to find old images


Does this mean it suddenly sprang into existence around 2000? And we got more and more sidewalk gum in the last five years? Of course not. There's no conspiracy here:
Although you could invent one that's just as well based in fact as chemtrails, like "chemspots", as in this spoof:

http://chemspots.wordpress.com/
 
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Gavriel

Member
Also the sheer number of cameras around makes it highly improbable that things such as Bigfoot and Alien UFOs could be appearing to people, and yet avoiding having good photographic evidence.
This is very true. Gotta love applying statistics to real life.
 

cloudspotter

Senior Member.
As I understand it the rise in photography and improvements in cameras and post processing are what led to the asperatus classification
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
As I understand it the rise in photography and improvements in cameras and post processing are what led to the asperatus classification
That's what I thought. You only have to look at the photos of asperatus undulatus to see they are essentially modern high quality photos revealing something by enhanced contrast and dynamic range. Plus that phase of the cloud is relatively short, and the most interesting photos have the sun in just the right position.

The ability to do even simple contrast adjustments has essentially opened up a whole new world.

upload_2013-10-8_6-19-22.png

Becomes:
upload_2013-10-8_6-20-41.png
 

cloudspotter

Senior Member.
That's what I thought. You only have to look at the photos of asperatus undulatus to see they are essentially modern high quality photos revealing something by enhanced contrast and dynamic range. Plus that phase of the cloud is relatively short, and the most interesting photos have the sun in just the right position.

The ability to do even simple contrast adjustments has essentially opened up a whole new world.
Yeah I take pictures of what to the eye looks pretty good but comes out fairly drab. A quick tweak in Photoshop and it looks much better. We never get any asperatus worth getting excited about round here though. Or mammatus either :(
 

M Bornong

Senior Member.
Cloudspotter and Mick West, you beat me to the punch, I had to search my archive to find these photos I took on Sept. 23, 2011. At the time, I knew it was an unusual formation, but not how unusual until they started popping up on the CT pages. Yes, I added a little contrast and lowered the brightness to bring out details, something that was very difficult with film, unless one had their own darkroom.

DSCF0623b.jpg DSCF0629b.jpg DSCF0637b.jpg
 

CbIncus

Member
Yeah I take pictures of what to the eye looks pretty good but comes out fairly drab. A quick tweak in Photoshop and it looks much better. We never get any asperatus worth getting excited about round here though. Or mammatus either :(
But we still have things as on the photos below, and they are possible without any contrast adjustment.

 
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moderateGOP

Active Member
more people have cameras today. Yet, that doesn't account for all the blurry UFO pictures. You'd think with everybody having HD cameras in their pocket you'd get better results.
 

Josh Heuer

Active Member
Same thing for Internet, television, radio...anything to do with news. They would all have this effect on some people.
 

lemonman

Banned
Banned
The NWO is no longer a conspiracy theory is actually a fact because David Rockefeller admitted it in his 2002 autobiography .....
 
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