Who are you going to believe?

Me or your lying eyes?

I’m sure that most everyone has heard that particular line and I’m sure that most of us would believe our own “lying eyes” over some slick-talking conman trying to scam us. However, is that always wise? Is seeing always believing? Oddly enough, someone who has a deft hand at design and a working knowledge of the limitations in human vision and the brain can, quite easily, trick us into seeing all kinds of things that are not real. Richard Wiseman, a UK psychologist, came up with a great video to demonstrate just how easy it is to trick people into seeing things differently than they really are. I should warn you not to watch this video if you’re drinking or eating unless you want to explain the mess to your colleagues.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? Imagine what kind of things you could do as a photographer if you had the same level of understanding how to trick the eyes as Wiseman does. Think of things you could do to enhance your studio settings and backgrounds if you’re a portrait photographer. Or, if you wanted to recreate a historical (or even a fictional) event, if you knew how to use these little short circuits, you could make it so much easier to create a photo that would make people think you had captured the action exactly as it happened. With some of these tricks, you could make everyone in a group photo appear to be the same height. There’s no end to creative ways a skilled photographer could make use of these illusions.

If you doubt that, just look at how these cameramen and photographers made use of these very things for a Honda commercial.

The last bit where the car appears to be “floating” and then drives off is my particular favorite. Did you notice how they used mirrors with grooves cut in them to keep you from seeing the car’s real reflection (behind the mirror) and to focus your attention on the false shadow in front of the mirror?

If you’re curious about how these sets and illusions were constructed, lucky for us the good people at Honda don’t mind showing us how they use optical illusions and misdirection to make us all wonder about what it is we’re seeing and if we really can trust our lying eyes.

What are some optical illusions you’d like to integrate in your photography this winter when you’re confined indoors and have time to experiment? Let us know in the comments below!

— da Bird