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.