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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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