A photo of President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden with former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter rippled through social media Monday, appearing to show the Bidens as abnormally larger than the Carters.
The picture was taken by White House photographer Adam Shultz when the Bidens visited the Carters at their home in Plains, Georgia, on April 29. In the photo, the Bidens appear unusually large in comparison with the Carters and the room setting.
The photo was retweeted more than 13,000 times as of Tuesday morning, according to The Washington Post.
Photographers said the picture was probably taken with a wide-angle lens, which can distort elements in photos and create a difference in scale.
Wide-angle lenses are usually classified with focal lengths from 16mm to 35mm – the lower the number, the wider the angle of view. Lenses below 20mm are considered as ultra-wide.
They’re generally used for landscapes or crowded interior scenes, when a photographer wants to fit more into a frame than a normal-sized 50mm lens would show. The trade-off is that objects near the edge of a wide-angle photo can appear larger than those in the center.
Here are a few telltale signs that a wide-angle lens was used to take this photograph:
The room perspective
Training the eye on visible baseboards and the corner of the room, we can tell the photographer is a few feet away with a very wide lens.
As we understand framed portraiture to typically adhere to right angles, the artwork on the wall behind the Carters appears to be distorted.
Comparing similar items
Another trick to determining the relative size of the subjects is to look at similar items. If we look at the armrests on the chairs in which the Carters are seated, there is a sharp contrast between those heights.
The teacups placed on the end table between Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter look normal relative to the Carters, but strikingly diminutive when compared with President Biden’s left hand.
President Carter’s feet
Another byproduct of the wide-angle camera view in this image are President Carter’s feet, appearing much larger while extended only slightly from his chair.
Comparing focal lengths
When stripping everything out of the room except for chairs, it’s easier to see the difference between two focal lengths. In the 3D rendering below, the chairs are positioned in the same place relative to each other and the wall, but they take on a more accentuated perspective at a 10mm setting.
The presidents’ heights compared
Knowing that President Biden has a stated height of 5 feet, 11.7 inches, and President Carter’s height at his time in office was 5 feet, 9.7 inches, here’s how the two would compare standing next to each other, with no distortion, no chairs and no tea cups:
SOURCE USA TODAY Network reporting and research