Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Maybe the Camera Does Add Ten Pounds

Picture time. I look at these pictures and find they’re completely different from the image I get back when gazing in the mirror. I really mean completely different. I don’t see anything near the same degree of warp in my back when studying my posture in the mirror, and this body as portrayed in the pictures is much heavier looking than I feel is true (at least based on my own personal body image). I mean, a waist measurement of 34” isn’t that bad is it? Now considering myself a reasonably rational being I’ve given considerable thought to this disparity between captured image and actual viewing and I think I’ve come up with explanations. The first is when I view my torso in the mirror I typically do so from fairly close in (around a meter away) and looking slightly down. This gives a foreshortening effect on my body and tends to minimize my back’s horizontal deformity. My nephew who shoots these pictures is considerably shorter and takes the pictures from around two meters away which results in the different perspective.

To test this theory I viewed myself a similar distance from the mirror and voilá, my back’s kink was much more apparent. Score one for pictures. The second hypothesis is when we look at an image with our binocular vision we perceive depth whereas a camera with its single lens can’t, so a camera ‘sees’ only the widest aspects of face and body. I think the effect is like squishing yourself up against a pane of glass. Thus the well known saying ‘the camera adds ten pounds’. Score one for human sight. But I’ve never really thought before about this and its ramifications. To look as thin as those actors and models seen all the time on screen and print they would have to be really thin! The restrictions on model weight some fashion shows in Europe have been imposing recently are almost certainly justified when you think just how thin a model must be to get the ‘waif’ look in print. Clearly unhealthily so.

So now realizing this I’ve come to a new decision – I’ll make my target waist 30” instead of 32”. Doesn’t everyone want to look good in their pictures?

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