Foreshortened COVID-19 Photos Are a Deliberate Deception

For some reason the issue of lens foreshortening has invaded my Twitter stream in the past couple of days. I happen to have a couple of pictures that show this pretty well, so I figured I might as well post them. The first is a picture of the line outside my local Trader Joe’s:

Everyone is waiting patiently and is properly distanced from each other. Now here’s the same picture, but taken from the front with a zoom lens fully extended:

Yikes! What a bunch of idiots? Don’t they know they’re supposed to stay six feet apart?

This is entirely an effect created by using a long focal length lens, which produces foreshortening, and shooting into a crowd instead of across from it. And for what it’s worth, every photographer and every photo editor—without exception—knows this. If they run a picture like the bottom one, they’re deliberately trying to deceive you. It’s one thing to use this technique as an artistic choice at a fair or a crowded street, but it’s quite another if it accompanies a story about social distancing, where it’s assumed to make a concrete photojournalistic statement.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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