Photo: Dan Kitwood (Getty Images)
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The aerial photo here is of the same beach, on the same day, by the same photographer, as the one at the top of this page. See the red and white umbrella in the lower left of the aerial shot? Okay, good. Now find the red blanket with dark green umbrella at the top center.
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Now scroll up and look at those two umbrellas in the other shot. (The red and white umbrella is in the center of the photo, the dark green one near the camera.)
From that original shot, you’d get the idea that the green umbrella people are right up against the dark blue towel. From the aerial view, it’s clear that they’re quite far away. Considering that most people are between five and six feet tall, you can use sunbathers for scale—are people staying six feet apart? In most cases, far more.
For a further tutorial on how different camera lens lengths can change the appearance of a crowd, landscape architect Jeff Cutler
to show exactly what each one sees. photographed a local beach with several different lenses
This camera trick works with video, too: The one in
is an especially egregious example, as pointed out in this tweet . Is this boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland “packed”? There are definitely more maskless people in one place than is probably wise, but the camera lens exaggerates the density: one of the replies
Watch the video and count for yourself. The man in the baby carrier appears at 0:03 and seems like he’s just over the shoulder of the woman standing still in the foreground:
…but by the time the clip cuts off—20 steps and 13 seconds later—he’s still behind her.
These misleading crowd shots are a problem as we reopen because people are nervous. A lot of us are trying to avoid crowds and these shots make it look like our neighbors are ignoring rules about physical distancing. Maybe some of them are, but the situation is probably not as dire as the photos show.
Here’s another example, of a restaurant that reopened when rules required that tables be separated from each other by more than the usual distance. A photo appears to show that the rules aren’t being followed; a photo from another angle (supplied
) tells a different story. by the restaurant
Meanwhile, these photos and videos give us fodder to argue with each other on social media, driving tensions ever-higher. If infections
don’t rise with reopening—perhaps because people are being cautious during their outings and maintaining proper distance—you know someone’s going to dig up these photos to claim that everything was crowde
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