Not Photoshopped: Just Incredible Forced Perspective Photography

Karl Fabricius
Karl Fabricius
Scribol Staff
Art and Design, September 10, 2009
  • From Gulliver’s Travels to Alice in Wonderland, the idea of people shrinking and growing has proven endlessly fascinating. What if, we wonder, we were that big or that small? Then along came mass produced cameras, and easy as eating a cake that says “EAT ME”, the more adroit shooters among us were able to realise just such size-shifting exploits – or at least the illusion of having done so. Places around the globe provide backdrops for these fine examples of forced perspective photography.

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  • Size is everything: Salar de Uyuni

    Bolivia’s Salar De Uyuni is a particularly conducive environment for photographers keen to test out their perspective-bending skills. The vast, expansive landscapes of the world’s largest salt plains have few features to shatter the illusion of big objects appearing small or small objects big.

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  • Scots bonsai: Carrot Hill, Scotland

    Taken in the Angus area of Scotland, this photo shows that with an isolated tree, a bit of imagination, and no little skill, you can pull the wool over the eyes of human perception. It’s all about the way scaled objects are made to relate to one another and the viewer’s vantage point.

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  • Hot dog: Kennedy Space Center

    This next pic could be construed as being be a little on the lewd side, but that’s up to you. The Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida is the launch pad for the visual gag. It’s a good job Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-121 Mission to the International Space Station wasn’t launched when the photo was taken.

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  • Ouch! Cape Canaveral

    What is it about Kennedy Space Centre and high jinks with forced perspective? The flat background broken only by the instruments of space launches obviously inspires some people. This photo of a guy doing a good impersonation of a cheerleader even made it onto Japanese TV. Who’d have thought it?

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  • Not amused: Peggy’s Cove

    Nova Scotia’s Peggy’s Cove provides the setting for this next addition to our list. This small rural community is nevertheless a busy tourist attraction, and its classic red-and-white lighthouse is major focal point for visitors carrying cameras. Believe it or not, it’s almost 15 metres (50 ft) high.

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  • Think big: Eiffel Tower

    This touching shot makes aiming for the top not such a fanciful dream after all. The most famous landmark on the Parisian landscape is the perfect prop to make this little girl seem like a giant standing some 324 m (1,063 ft) tall. The low camera angle and large depth of field do the rest of the work.

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  • Hangin’ around: Perito Moreno

    This shot was taken at the Perito Moreno glacier in the Argentine region of Patagonia. The 250 km2 (97 sq mi) ice formation is an important tourist attraction, and the sheets of frozen fresh water clearly offer ample opportunity for a little playfulness with visual perspective.

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  • Blowing off steam: Old Faithful

    This is one instance where you might safely accuse the subject of the photo of being full of hot air – except of course that it’s Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s most famous geyser, producing the steam for this gigantic breath. The creative snapping of nature’s geothermal force delivers a cool result.

    Sources: 1, 2, 3

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