Bidens tower over Carters in viral photo: 'How is this real'

During their trip to Georgia last week, President Biden and first lady Jill Biden met with former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter at their residence in Plains, Ga. It was their first in-person get-together since Biden took office.

The meeting was held in private, without any reporters present — Jimmy Carter, now 96 years old, has had health problems, and his abilities to speak and hear are diminishing. But the Carters and Bidens did pose for a photo, which was released late Monday by the Carter Center.

The release of the image of the current and former presidents and first ladies begged two obvious questions:

Are the Bidens giants?

Or are the Carters tiny?

The answers to both questions would seem to be no.

Joe Biden is listed as being 6 feet tall; Jill Biden is 5-foot-6; Jimmy Carter is 5-foot-10; and Rosalynn Carter is 5-foot-5.

The likely explanation is that the photographer used a strong flash and a wide-angle lens to capture the group in a tight space, and created an optical illusion in the process.

“Although President Biden is kneeling much farther in front of Rosalynn Carter, the flash reduces shadows, a key part of what allows objects to have depth,” the Washington Post explained. “The resulting effect is that Biden and Rosalynn Carter appear to be side-by-side on the same plane.”

Canon’s website offers further explanation:

On images shot with a wide-angle lens, perspective appears to be exaggerated: Nearby objects may look much bigger (and hence nearer) than they really are, and faraway objects look even smaller and further away. This effect also amplifies distances between objects, i.e., things look further away from each other. The shorter the focal length, the bigger the perspective exaggeration effect. The perspective exaggeration effect is why wide-angle lenses are not ideal for shooting portraits or any other subject where it is important for the shape of the subject to be faithfully captured.

No matter, the internet has had a field day with the photo of the seemingly giant Bidens and tiny Carters.


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