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explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo - Photography

This may or may not be the best place for this question, but it came to me as I was trying to photograph the moon. I got the shot okay, nice and clear and properly lighted but it looked so small! Can anyone give me a good solid explanation for why objects in my digital camera appear so small compared to what I see with my eye? I (no pun intended) was expecting to have my shots turn out to be identical to what I was seeing but when the camera displayed them it was like I took the shot ...

  1. #1

    Default explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    This may or may not be the best place for this question, but it came to me
    as I was trying to photograph the moon. I got the shot okay, nice and clear
    and properly lighted but it looked so small!

    Can anyone give me a good solid explanation for why objects in my digital
    camera appear so small compared to what I see with my eye? I (no pun
    intended) was expecting to have my shots turn out to be identical to what I
    was seeing but when the camera displayed them it was like I took the shot
    from 50 miles away. Why do cameras in general display the objects in
    question so much smaller that what the photographer sees when he takes the
    shot.

    http://photos.imageevent.com/eigenvector/blethemlake/large/P7160643.jpg

    That is a representative shot - full 8x zoom, in reality that mountain is
    huge from that spot, but in the shot it looked dinky.

    http://photos.imageevent.com/eigenvector/blethemlake/large/P7160644.jpg

    Here is the unzoomed version.


    Eigenvector Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    "Eigenvector" <com> wrote 
    clear 

    The brain likes to play tricks with distant objects like the moon (and
    mountains, etc.), especially when it's close to the horizon or there's some
    other reference to view it against. The brain makes them look bigger than
    they really are. The moon is about 0.5 degrees in diameter (give or take a
    smidge), no matter where it is in the sky... high or low. But when it's low,
    we see it as bigger than it really is. Our brain says that any distant
    object visible must be really big, so we see it that way.

    Here's a way to partially "untrick" your brain. Bend right over and put your
    head upside down and between your legs. Then, look at the full moon as it
    rises over the horizon. Note that it doesn't look so big any more, because
    your brain doesn't have a good reference to place it against. (At least I
    hope you don't normally go around bent over with your head between your
    legs...)


    gr Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    "gr" <net> wrote:
     

    Anyone watching you would see the moon too. ;)

    --
    Charlie Dilks
    Newark, DE USA
    Charlie Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    "Charlie D" <net> wrote 
    >
    > Anyone watching you would see the moon too. ;)[/ref]

    :-) Yeah, it's best not to do it in a public park.


    gr Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    On Mon, 28 Jul 2003 18:58:00 -0700, "Eigenvector"
    <com> wrote:
     

    You got closer than 50 miles from the moon?

    Sorry, I couldn't resist.



    Rodney Myrvaagnes J36 Gjo/a


    "In this house we _obey_ the laws of thermodynamics." --Homer Simpson
    Rodney Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    These 'illusions' have been much discussed in the professional
    (psycho-physics) literature, and I have never seen a good explanation.

    However, keep in mind that what the brain perceives is not at all what
    is on the back of the retina. Much of the effect you mention appears to
    be an 'attention' related effect.

    Eye is highly distorting, brain remaps. Brain sees different estimate
    of horizontal angles than vertical ones. Retinal image is sharp only in
    center degree or less of angle, very fuzzy at edges, but brain makes it
    appear that resolution at edges is same as center. A full list of these
    effects is very long.

    I would say it is only the way our visual cortex is 'programmed.' There
    is no physics explanation.

    Eigenvector wrote: 

    --
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota
    net
    webpage- http://www.usfamily.net/web/stauffer
    Don Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    On Tue, 29 Jul 2003 12:59:40 GMT, "ralford" <com>
    wrote:

    }It is a mental illusion, more than an optical illusion.

    I vaguely remember from school that the reason the moon appears
    larger/orangish at the horizon is because the atmosphere is thicker
    (between the moon and the observer). The added air means added
    refraction. BTW, the sun shows the same effect at sunset/sunrise and
    is for all practical matters the same apparent size as the moon...

    Dave Guest

  8. #8

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    "George Kerby" <com> wrote [/ref]
    some [/ref]
    than [/ref]
    a [/ref]
    low, 
    > BZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTT!!!!!!
    > WRONG!
    > The moon appears larger on the horizon because we are watching it through[/ref]

    up 
    the 

    I suggest you get out a telescope and measure the angular size of the moon
    yourself, both near the horizon and overhead. (Do it the same night, so as
    not to get minor size differences due to the moon's proximity to Earth.)
    You'll find the size difference imperceptible. So, as you like to say,
    BZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTT!!!!!!
    WRONG!


    gr Guest

  9. Moderated Post

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    Removed by Administrator
    George Guest
    Moderated Post

  10. #10

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo


    "George Kerby" <com> wrote in message
    news:BB4BF97E.107AE%com... [/ref][/ref]
    me 
    > > clear [/ref][/ref]
    digital 
    > >
    > > The brain likes to play tricks with distant objects like the moon (and
    > > mountains, etc.), especially when it's close to the horizon or there's[/ref][/ref]
    some [/ref]
    than [/ref]
    a [/ref]
    low, 
    > BZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTT!!!!!!
    > WRONG!
    > The moon appears larger on the horizon because we are watching it through[/ref]

    up 
    the 

    LOL I just love it when people are so convinced they know what they are
    talking about, when they actually have no clue... Water has a magnification
    factor of 1.4X?? Where in the hell did you hear that one?


    John Guest

  11. #11

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    you will also remember from school that the refracted apparent size would
    also manifest itself on film/ccd. It doesn't.

    refraction doesn't explain the illusion.

    cheers,

    rma

    "Dave Balcom" <net> wrote in message
    news:com... 


    ralford Guest

  12. #12

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    George Kerby writes:
     

    This is incorrect. Measure the size of the moon in both positions
    through a telescope or other optical device with a measurement grid, and
    you'll see. It is always the same size.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
    Mxsmanic Guest

  13. #13

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo


    "Mxsmanic" <com> wrote in message
    news:com... 
    >
    > It all depends on the lens and viewfinder of the camera.
    >
    > The perspective you see in person is identical to that seen by the
    > camera; that is, the relative sizes of different parts of the scene will
    > be identical in both the photograph and as seen by your naked eye.
    >
    > However, the overall area covered by the photo will influence the size
    > of individual elements. For example, a photo shot with a wide-angle
    > lens will cover a very large viewing angle (as in the second of the
    > photos you give as an example); as a result, individual elements in the
    > photo will appear small. A photo shot with a telephoto or narrow-angle
    > lens ("zoomed," as in your first show) will show less of the
    > surroundings in the scene, but individual elements in the image will be
    > larger. Note that the size of elements in each photo _relative to each
    > other_ does not change.

    >
    > Many point-and-shoot cameras use fairly wide-angle lenses, since these
    > tend to be the most useful for everyday photos, such as family and
    > travel shots. These cameras will make things look further away than
    > they did in real life.
    >
    > Even so, what you see in the viewfinder of the camera while taking the
    > picture should correspond closely to what appears in the final photo, so
    > be sure to look closely at that when you are taking the picture.
    >
    > --
    > Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.[/ref]

    Thank you all for the replies. I didn't want this thread to turn into an
    argument over why the moon appears larger than it is. I've seen those
    arguments and have come to the conclusion that we simply don't know yet.
    But back to the original question which was really on why photographs make
    objects appear so small. I appreciate your answers, thank you mxsmanic for
    clarifying the notion around wide angle and narrow angle lenses. I guess
    the better question would be to go to an optometrist group and ask them what
    is it my eye/brain does to the incoming light image.


    Eigenvector Guest

  14. #14

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    Moon over Kansas
    <http://f1.pg.briefcase./bc/charlesdilks/vwp?.dir=/general&.dnm=
    moon.jpg&.src=ph&.view=t&.hires=t>

    --
    Charlie Dilks
    Newark, DE USA
    Charlie Guest

  15. #15

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    In article <_kkVa.570$uswest.net>, com
    says... 

    A perfect exampe of this is a street in my community which terminates at a
    harbor. The distance across is about 5 miles. When you make the final turn
    down the street you see a straightaway which ends with a view of the water
    framed by houses along both sides, very similar to your example. With just
    water is looks quite normal but if there happens to be a ship in the view, as
    you make the turn from about 3/4 mile from the water, the ship looks like it's
    anchored alongside the waterfront! But by the time you get to the end of the
    street the ships has "shrunk" and you can see that it is really about 4 miles
    out.

    It's all about relative sizes and distances fooling your perception. Sme
    reason the settign sun/moon look so large.

    Glenn

    Glenn Guest

  16. #16

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    In article <WJEVa.120$uswest.net>, com
    says... 

    It places more emphasis on the central area of your vision. You still see the
    periphery just as you do the central part but you don't pay as much attention
    to it. When you create a 2D image and look at it you generally scan over the
    entire image rather than scan with the viewfinder which changes your framed
    view as you move.

    Glenn

    Glenn Guest

  17. #17

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    There are a couple of classic optical illusion examples that demonstrate
    this phenomenon. One is the two partial thick quarter circles that appear
    different sizes when placed one above the other - most older than 30 will
    have seen this? Another example, closely related to this discussion, is
    found at http://www.eyetricks.com/0502.htm

    cheers,
    rma
     
    for 
    what 


    ralford Guest

  18. #18

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo


    Here's a thought to ponder: If it were true that some atmospheric effect
    made the moon look bigger near the horizon then the wedge shaped slice of
    air would make the moon look elliptical, not just larger.

    Tim
    Browntimdc Guest

  19. #19

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo

    Glenn Woodell writes:
     

    Photographers use this trick all the time; that's the purpose behind
    wide-angle and telephoto lenses. I'm surprised that they need it
    explained to them.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
    Mxsmanic Guest

  20. #20

    Default Re: explanation needed for optical illusion in digital photo


    "Larry Caldwell" <com> wrote in message
    news:west.earthlink.net... [/ref]
    an [/ref]
    make [/ref]
    for [/ref]
    guess [/ref]
    what 
    >
    > OK, here comes the minority report.
    >
    > The appearance of a photo has as much or more to do with the display as
    > it does with the camera. The mountain looks small in the image because
    > the image is small. Hook your camera to a 52" TV screen and see if it
    > still looks as small to you.
    >
    > To reproduce the original scene, the eye should be placed in front of the
    > print at a distance equal to the focal length of the taking lens times
    > the magnification of the print (or display, for digital purposes). The
    > correct viewing distance for your 800x600 wide angle photo on a typical
    > .25 dpi monitor would be about 7" from the screen, or less than the width
    > of the print. If you displayed the same thing on a 32" TV screen, the
    > correct viewing distance would be about 2 feet. As you can see, wide
    > angle photography requires some pretty large enlargements, or a good set
    > of reading glasses, to get the impact of the original scene.
    >
    > Now, let's talk about your telephoto shot. Using the focal length times
    > enlargement rule, the correct viewing distance for the display (about 6"
    > x 9" on my monitor) is about 48". I'm guessing here, so give or take a
    > foot, but that's about it. You probably think that is absurd, since the
    > mountain was bigger than that. However, if you take a 6x9 print of the
    > shot to the original location and hold it up about 4' in front of you,
    > the mountain in the print and the mountain on the ground will be just
    > about the same size. When you hold it at normal viewing distance, about
    > 18", you are seeing about a 2x magnification of the original scene.
    > Instead of looking like it was 5 miles away, the mountain looks like it
    > was 2.5 miles away. If you want it to look closer, you can either get a
    > longer telephoto lens or display it larger.
    >
    > So, what does this mean to you? You need to figure out how to do life
    > size magnification on your monitor. Start by photographing a ruler at
    > wide angle and telephoto settings, then display them at your default
    > resolution and measure the display with the original ruler. Do you need
    > to display them larger or smaller? Once you know what a 1:1 display
    > ratio is, you can start calculating magnifications and viewing distance.
    > If you photograph the ruler from 3' and it is only 6" long in the
    > display, you know that the magnification of the display is 0.5 and the
    > correct viewing distance is 18" (half of 3') to duplicate the original
    > scene, or 9" for a 2x magnification.
    >
    > Just a comment, if you add a polarizing filter in front of the lens, it
    > will cut some of the atmospheric haze and turn the sky a darker blue.
    > This will substantially increase the contrast and saturation of your
    > photo without resorting to digital manipulation.
    >
    > --
    > http://home.teleport.com/~larryc[/ref]

    I'd always wondered how haze was filtered out of photographs. That's a huge
    problem with most of my outdoor shots, the haze is a serious problem. That
    was another part of my basic question, but I hesitated to ask. Why doesn't
    my eye see the haze, yet the camera is almost obscured with it. Sounds like
    the camera needs to have the incoming light filtered.


    Eigenvector Guest

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