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Tuesday, 11 May 2021


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Two things.

1. President Biden appears to be kneeling next to Mrs. Carter, but I think he’s really a couple of feet in front of her.

2. I photographed President Carter a few years ago. He’s a total pro. He would have happily followed any directions. Great guy.

[Mike replies: You might be right about it but I'm not so sure about point 1. Joe B. appears to have his right hand on the front of the left arm of Mrs. Carter's chair, and his right knee on the fringe of the rug, which appears to be only a few inches from the corner of the chair. His head might be two feet in front of her head, though. --Mike]

For a fraction of a second, I thought you spelled Cartier-Bresson incorrectly.

According to this article White House photographer Adam Schultz took the picture. Pete Souza who had his job during Obama gave a comment on the large shoes of Carter. For me this proofs you shouldn't picture people this way, unless you don't like them.

Mike, any possibility that iphone-wizardry took place here? In your illustration images, the ball clearly gets distorted at 14mm focal length, and the same I would assume should have happened with Pres. Biden's head. It obviously did not, and that makes me suspicious that something must have had doctored the optical rendering of this scene. Too much AI for my taste...

So why would a pro release a photo like this? I'd say he didn't look at it before he did.

I’m sure Biden’s right hand a knee are at the front of the chair of the chair and his body is angled so his left hand must be well in front. My guess would be the photographer was constrained by the size of the room and maybe other furniture and people and the request of the subjects to take a photo at that moment.

Strangely this sort of distortion can be seen in some paintings made before photography was invented. It is thought that artists were using lenses and concave mirrors as aids. A good example is a Van Dyck portrait of a Genovese lady with her son. She seems to be about 12 feet high. This from David Hockneys fascinating book "Secret Knowledge. Rediscovering the lost techniques of the Old Masters"

I guess this is sign of the times/last decade or more, that we are inundated with poorly done photos, and many people seem to accept it. I don't accept it. And, at this level, it is an inexcusable example.

And then there's the old standby ... "We'll fix it in post."

The room itself may have something to do with it. It looks an awful lot like an Ames Room. The angle of the walls, the sizes of the pictures, probably pretty large chairs that the Bidens are in front of, etc.


To me it is just a bad picture. It is doubly bad because it is supposed to be editorial or news, so telling the ‘truth’. I don’t care if it was taken by a junior on his first handed down iPhone with the wide lens, or a Pulitzer Prize winner pro. It is still a bad picture.

Soeren Engelbrecht, you are quite right about the perspective, but when using an ultra wide angle lens at 6 inches, there wouldn't be a problem with the nose looking twice as big as the ears.

That close to the face you wouldn't be able to see the ears at all! :)

Consider the possibility that this was intentionally staged with the wit and good humor of the Bidens, Carters Mr. Souza offering a bit of mirth in an otherwise dismal news climate.

Jimmy Carter proves my personal theory of old age. Since somewhere in my 50's, I've been shrinking in size, while my feet have been growing! At my peak, I was 'near' 6 feet, now I'm barely over 5'10". In the same period, my shoe size went from 10, to 12! I'm literally melting into my shoes! Easily viewable with poor Jimmy here!

Well, it’s an interesting discussion regarding “how this happened.” But I’ll just go with my visceral reaction to the photograph. It is a cartoon. It demeans President and Mrs. Carter. It makes President and Mrs. Biden look like “keepers of the little people.” It’s awful. Whatever else it may have been intended to illustrate, if has failed miserably. It’s like looking at Diane Arbus’ photo of Eddie Carmel.


But for the famous faces, IMHO this would be dismissed by most people as a photoshopped bad joke.

Sounds like Schultz is trying to cover his mess up by saying:

"It’s for people to figure out and think about."

Clearly, he knew that he made a gigantic boo boo.

You nailed it: How I was longing for a 24 mm lens in 1980; a colleague of mine had one, he was a professional photographer. Later my father gave me a 24 mm Makinon as a birthday gift - it was the worst lens I ever had in my life. Not sharp at all, to say the least.
Nowadays, 24 mm is nothing!

When I was working as an archaeological dig photographer, I would take a group photo of the dig crew at the end of every season. Fifty or sixty people in a three-layer group. Since I wanted to be in the photo, I'd set up the shot, tell everybody to shut up and smile, press the trigger, and hurry to the far end of the group and sit down in the front row. I needed a somewhat wide angle lens to get everyone in -- probably a 24. Sitting at the end of the far right row, I looked like a gorilla compared to people in the middle of the shot. Always made me laugh. I could have used a long lens, but then would have lost control of the shot because I'd have to run farther, and big groups, when they're not sure of when the shot is going to happen, tend to start talking to each other, and we'd get closed eyes and sideways faces, etc. So, I went with the gorilla.

Hell with the camera. I couldn't get past the $618 for a two dog tune up. That's outrageous.

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