Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Hey, that isn't a real city!
February 20, 2011 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Why can I tell the difference between an aerial shot and a picture of a model?

Here is a picture of a miniature/model city. How can my eyes tell that it's not real? Especially if it were real, any detail in the building and trees would be too small for my eyes to pick up.
The only thing I can think of, is that if you were to look at both of them close up, there are more flaws and variances in color, texture, etc in the life-size buildings. Can I really tell the difference when the shot is taken that far away from a real source? Or is it a lighting thing that my brain can pick up?
posted by shesaysgo to Science & Nature (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
My guesses:

1) There's far more detail in a real city than a model can capture. You'd see less uniform trees and bricks, and even though your eyes couldn't pick up most of the details, small imperfections still make things look more real.

2) Atmospheric perspective. Things look lighter and bluer the farther they are from you due to the amount of air/oxygen between you and the object: something a model really can't replicate.
posted by girih knot at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2011


Can you really tell them apart? Have you seen these photos taken with photographic techniques designed to make them look like models?

The obvious difference between the model photo and most real aerial photos is that the photos of models have much shallower depth-of-field, which is of course specifically countered in the photos linked above.

So do you think you could pick out a photo of a model if it was mixed in with the photos in the linked gallery? If not, then maybe your whole hypothesis is wrong in the first place.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:39 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


In this picture, depth of field blurring. With a normal camera, taking this photo would require being far enough back that all of the scene would be focused the same. you wouldn't have one part in focus and the rest blurry. on a model, you would be close enough that you can focus on one building/line of distance and everything else would be blurry.

That said, you can get the model look using a tilt-shift lens. It is hard to tell on the phone screen if this is tilt shifted real city or a model, but the look is that you'd get from such a lens.
posted by ydant at 11:42 AM on February 20, 2011


Along the lines of what tylerkaraszewski said, take a look at this Wikipedia article about the technique commonly referred to as "tilt-shift" photography (though apparently it technically isn't most times), and also run an image search for "tilt shift." Whatever you decide about whether you "really can tell" the difference, that's some useful info about the photographic techniques and their visual impact.
posted by rkent at 11:45 AM on February 20, 2011


shesaysgo, I hate to break it to you but I'm pretty sure that your example photo is a tilt-shift aerial photo of a full size city.
posted by telegraph at 11:56 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


shesaysgo, I hate to break it to you but I'm pretty sure that your example photo is a tilt-shift aerial photo of a full size city.

This is funny if true. Does anyone know the source of that image?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2011


It's here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jordimartin/2921678342/

It's a real city picture.
posted by Brockles at 12:02 PM on February 20, 2011


Agree that the example looks like tilt-shift. If it is a model, it is truly superb.
posted by molecicco at 12:03 PM on February 20, 2011


Apologies, I thought it was a crop of the same one, but there's no crane in it, on closer inspection. Either way, I'd be pretty sure they're both tilt shift from the same location.
posted by Brockles at 12:05 PM on February 20, 2011


Yeah, your example looks like an actual shot of the city on an iPhone or Android phone with a cheap tilt-shift app.
posted by The World Famous at 12:06 PM on February 20, 2011


Assuming the linked photo is a tilt-shift shot of a real scene, the question then becomes effectively the same one as in this previously asked question: Why does tilt-shift photography make things look tiny?
posted by oliverburkeman at 12:14 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a trick because your brain interprets anything where the depth of field is very narrow as being something small and close.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on February 20, 2011


The picture in the example is of Paris, by the way. It's the view of l'Arc de Triomphe from the top of the Eiffel Tower. A Google image search of "paris tilt shift" brought up a lot of similar images but not the exact same one. I bet it's a fake tilt-shift picture made in Photoshop by blurring the foreground and background of a regular image. Oversaturating the colours helps add to the effect.
posted by nowonmai at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2011


Sorry, but the source I got the photo from doesn't actually list their own source, so I'm going to do some hunting and get back to you.


And the tilt-shift idea leads a lot of light into the actual question I'm asking. As Justinian put it, the depth of field is vastly different in close-up shots than shots of landscapes.
posted by shesaysgo at 2:04 PM on February 20, 2011


What's amazing about tilt-shift is that you can do it with video. I've seen a video done that way which showed surf, and people walking around near the ocean, and it still looked like a model.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:34 PM on February 20, 2011


Yeah, I think the answer is basically "depth of field".

Here's a video that uses a tilt-shift effect, along with an explanation of how it was done.
posted by mhum at 7:04 PM on February 20, 2011


I've seen a video done that way which showed surf, and people walking around near the ocean, and it still looked like a model.

This video I think.
posted by exhilaration at 7:30 AM on February 21, 2011


« Older How do I replace both drives i...   |  Movin' on up filter: Nikon D31... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.