Well, we're not getting a flood of responses to the latest postings on this topic. A pity! Just as the conversation was turning interesting. Maybe everyone's at the pub. You're right, Dansroka, it's a conversation for the pub where the beer helps fire the synapses.
Thinking about your concept of high and low cognitive processes, that wasn't quite what I had in mind. So many of our bodily functions are taken care of by the brain stem - or whatever - the beating of the heart, the breathing of the lungs, the eyesight and so on. What I was trying to get at, is the very selective role that consciousness plays in excluding or including information that the eye actually sees.
I'm reminded of a story I heard recently on a radio program where the topic was 'the nature of consciousness'. I can't vouch for the veracity of the story, but it rings true to me. Apparently, a group of uni students were shown a video of a basket ball game. One team was dressed in white. The other team in black. Half of the the students were given the task of counting the number of times the black players passed the ball to each other, and the other half was given the task of counting the number of times the white players passed the ball to each other.
About half way through the video, approximately one half of the audience burst into laughter. Why only half? What had happened?
Well, at some point a person dressed up as a black gorilla had briefly appeared, for two or three seconds, pranced around and pulled faces at the audience.
This event must have been seen by all. It wasn't a wide screen video with all the black players on one side and the white players on the other. The players were intermingled on a 4:3 format. Yet that half of the audience which had been given the task of 'concentrating' on the white players, had missed the joke. The 'eye' must have seen the black gorilla, but the brain didn't register it. Not important, I guess.
I would say that this sort of thing is happening all the time, in different circumstances and to different degrees.
Another example which really intrigues me, is the assertion by some Ancient Greek scholars that the ancient Greeks were not aware that the sky is blue. How do they know? Well, of course they don't know for sure. But it seems that in all of the extant ancient Greek literature, there is no mention of a blue sky and no depiction in their art of a blue sky. One can draw only two conclusions. Either they were aware the sky is blue, but considered it irrelevant, or their consciousness simply didn't register the fact.
To get back to earth, Jonathan's point about perspecive and vantage point should not be ignored. He's absolutely right. The great thing about landscape photography is that, no matter how many times a location has been photographed, there's virtually an infinite number of permutations of lighting effects, sky effects, weather effects, season effects, vantage point effects and lens effects. Have I missed any? Yes. A shot with a 15mm lens would be different to 3 or 4 shots with a 50mm lens stitched together. The creative potential is enormous.