OK, stupid title. Sue me.
So I'm reading The Superficial (yes, I read some snarky celebrity sites. Why, you ask? It's a mystery of the Universe. But they make me laugh), and they post a picture of actor Eva Longoria standing next to fellow actor Marcia Cross, claiming that Ms. Longoria is a garden gnome:
She does look pretty dinky there, I'll admit. But I knew right away what was going on. This is an illusion: see how the driveway slopes down to the right? She's standing downhill from Ms. Cross. That completely throws off your perspective.
Don't believe me? Well, I did a very simple Photoshopping, cutting Ms. Longoria out and moving her up so that the bottom of her feet match the height of Ms. Cross:
See? She's still rather petite, but not in the paramecium category. I looked up their heights: Ms. Longoria is 5 feet 1 or maybe 2 inches (155 - 158 cm); Ms. Cross is 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm). So in fact, Ms. Longoria should come up to about Ms. Cross's chin, which looks about right. You can see Ms. Cross is slouching a little in the picture, and my cut-and-paste wasn't exact. We're well within the errors here.
Why bring this up? For one thing, I love optical illusions, and that has done very well for me when arguing about why the Moon looks bigger on the horizon than overhead, and why shadows on the Moon do tricky things.
But also because it's just cool. Perspective, light, and shadow can be tricky, especially when you are taking 3D objects and projecting them onto 2D in a picture. Hollywood may be all about illusions, but some are pretty easy to reveal. It always pays to look for the man behind the curtain.
Image courtesy FlyNetOnline.