As a cameraman or photographer you always need to remember you can make things look like what they are not. Your choice of lens and lighting can make anything look completely different to what it does to the eye. In fact to eye is easily tricked by use of perspective, height and other visual clues we put in our images which can make our brains see what is not there.
The image above of the arrow always pointing in one direction was created by Mathematician Kokichi Sugihara, of Meiji University in Japan. He creates real-life 3D objects that appear to ignore the laws of our universe. How can this arrow, that perpetually points right, no matter how you turn it, actually exist?
The illusion still works even when the arrow is placed next to a mirror, with the reflected version instead always pointing left, while the real one continues to point right.
Sugihara uses his skills as a mathematician to design uniquely-shaped 3D objects that can change their appearance based on the angle you look at them. When viewed from above, this ‘arrow’ is a perfectly symmetrical, but ambiguous shape. From a different perspective, however, the undulations on top of it make one side appear to have more of a point than the other, and when your brain tries to match what it’s seeing to something it’s seen before, a pointing arrow is the obvious choice.
This is an extreme example of tricking your brain with the use of camera height and angle, but remember by changing you perspective on something will make it look different. Many years ago, a friend of mine who is a very creative video director once commented to me that the shot that I had setup looked too “news camera”. I asked what he meant and his reply was that it was shot from shoulder height a very typical thing for the “news” guys. I immediately looked at the scene and lower the camera to get a alternate view.
When setting your shot don’t forget to explore camera heights as well as the best angle to view and capture what you want.