One Word Photo Challenge: Eigengrau

This week Jennifer Nichole Wells presented the one word photo challenge: Eigengrau, which inspired me to post these first two photos.

The word, eigengrau, which I had never heard before, has come to mean the dark grey colour seen by the eyes in perfect darkness as a result of signals from the optic nerves. Its origin is German meaning ‘intrinsic grey’.

Although narrow slits cut into the tunnel wall allow some natural light to filter in, and low watt bulbs add a little more light to keep the tourists from tumbling, there is still a feeling of eigengrau in this long, but claustrophobic place. A large man would fill the width and height of the tunnel, and if tall, would have to stoop a bit to keep his head from being bruised.

Where is this, you may wonder…

I couldn’t help but include an exterior view, a view showing the ‘container’ of this eigengrau; the stone wall that connects the octagonal lookout tower with the fortress Rocca Maggiore in Assisi, Italy.


Although the first castle here was built in 773, the earliest reference to a fortress on this site dates from 1174. The octagonal tower wasn’t begun until 1458 and the wall containing the tunnel was finished in 1460.

Here is a gallery including a few more photos that I took of the Rocca Maggiore. Inside the tunnel it was dim and forbidding. Outside it was a glorious, light-filled day.

(Click an image to see it larger or to start slide show.)

For more info on the Rocca Maggiore you can click here.


Words and images copyright © Terry Boswell


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21 thoughts on “One Word Photo Challenge: Eigengrau

    1. Wow, I’m impressed that your mom contemplated this and gave it a name! I have noticed a number visual phenomena in my life, but have never thought to give them a name… a description, yes, a name, no. I wonder why she picked blish?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, to be more precise, blish is the color you see when you close your eyes, so it’s not the optical compensation for total darkness but the color of available light passing through your eyelids. I have no idea where she got the descriptive sound, but I think it fits.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Ah… So blush would change it’s value depending upon the amount of light coming through the eyelids… I always thought there should be a word for that. If you can circulate bluish enough and get people to use it, maybe it will make it into a dictionary 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Proofreader note: ‘blush’ and ‘bluish’ are already in the dictionary. The new one would be ‘blish’…which I suppose you could argue is created when you blush with your ‘i’s or take your ‘i’s off blue. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I meant blish to quote your mom! … that auto correct drives me nuts sometimes… I hit send on a comment and then realize auto correct has wreaked havoc with my meaning! 😛

            Liked by 1 person

        1. The first time I visited this place, I was on my own. There weren’t too many tourists there that day and I ended up being alone in the passage the whole time I was there. It felt more creepy than clastrophobic, although I felt that a bit too. I had a sudden panicky urge to be out the other end when I got about half way through. I almost broke into a trot… Silly really, but I could imagine people being trapped in there during a siege. I got out into the sunlight on top of the octagonal tower, took a bunch of photos and then collected myself for the walk back through the wall. I still hadn’t run into anyone else the whole time, so the walk back was just as creepy. I forced myself to walk at a normal rational pace and take a few more photos out of the slits in the wall and down the tunnel. The second time I visited, two years later, there were other tourists around and I was with my teenage son. Any feelings of creepiness were easily ignored and I snapped a whole new crop of photos! I would definitely visit again. The view from the tower is superb… but, yes it is a loooong tunnel! 🙂


  1. I really love these. I can feel myself in these dark, small spaces. Feeling about to get my bearings. I think you really captured the feel of eigengrau. Thanks for including the outside shots as well – looks like a spectacular place to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m so happy I could convey that feeling! When I read in your comment about getting your barings I suddenly remembered stopping to take pictures, turning one way and then the other, and then the other, and forgetting which way I had been going. I had also been distracted chatting with my son. He pointed me in the right direction. The first time I was there I was alone and got a case of the creeps… Losing my sense of direction that first visit would have probably been unnerving! 🙂
      It really is a spectacular place to visit. I hope I’ll see it again sometime. The countryside is breathtaking!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can imagine it must be such a wonderful place. Thank you for sharing your story, whether you realized it or not, you captured it so well in your images. A wonderful feeling to get lost in conversation, being brought back to reality is a bit of a jolt.


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