Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here's how to make this optical illusion work

Taking photos like this is one of the most primal of photographic impulses, probably because it plugs directly into that undercurrent of magic on which the photographic enterprise rests -- we wish we could pick up tall buildings with our hands, and briefly, the camera makes it so. But usually it doesn't work. The illusion isn't this seamless. Usually, the picture just looks silly. But this one works (posted by Dave Gray at Visual Communication).

What makes this photo work? It's the tilt of the Washington Monument that tricks your eye. Dave, or rather Dave and his unseen partner behind the camera, made sure he was leaning toward the monument and that the horizon line was not clearly visible. Then, by cropping the photo at the waist, tilting it and aligning it along the axis of his torso, the monument comes out tilted.

We see what we expect to see. If the monument were photographed in its "original upright, vertical position," the eye would see it as the Washington Monument and the hands as an intrusive trick. Break that alignment, and the monument looks like a toy in Dave's hands.

A very nice effect, and one that could be cloned with many different background objects. Remember to 1) Lean toward the object; 2) Crop at the waist; 3) Make sure the horizon line isn't visible, so viewers can't see at a glance that you're going to 4) Tilt the picture, aligning along the axis of the subject's torso. Enjoy!

3 comments:

Moral Turpitude said...

Heeehehehehe..."one of the most primal of photographic impulses". You're funny.

alphabitch said...

fun!

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