How do you make a full-sized commercial airplane look like a toy, or give the illusion that your human subject is touching a cloud? Photoshop is an easy answer, but a much more low-tech method produces results that are just as amazing: forced perspective photography. Just as in filmmaking when miniatures convincingly stand in for buildings, landscapes or fantastical creatures, the trick is all in positioning, lighting and timing.
The Old Tower of Pisa Trick
(image via: martyportier)
Everyone is familiar with this iteration of the forced-perspective photography trick: pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It's all about where you place your subject in relation to the background. At least this photographer took a different tack, giving his model a 'relaxed' pose.
Pluck a Sphere of Light
(image via: mr. moog)
Take that same idea and apply it in a new way and you've got the kind of photo that makes you look twice. To achieve this effect, photographer Lee 'Mr. Moog' used shallow focus and allowed the lens of his camera to render out-of-focus points of lights as little floating spheres.
Mind Your Step
(image via: maybemaq)
Is that the foot of a giant descending from the sky to crush a priceless historical site into bits of gravel? From this angle, it sure looks like it.
The Scariest Watering Can Ever
(image via: froodmat)
When a watering can is big enough to suck you up into its spout, you'd better run.
Blowing in the Wind
(image via: jeppe olsen)
Photographer Jeppe Olsen took a whole set of forced perspective photos out in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia, which provide a minimalist background ideal for deceptive shots like this one, making both the foreground and background subjects stand out equally.
Fixing the Washington Monument
(image via: mjsmith01)
What kind of monstrous crane would be required to pluck the Washington Monument right out of the ground? The silhouetted crane and illumination of the monument make this photo even more effective.
(image via: alexandre duarte)
Forced perspective photography takes more than just selective focus or using the blur/sharpen tool in Photoshop. Clever positioning and light are also crucial elements in a successful photograph.
Tiny Plane Crash
(image via: maybemaq)
In some cases – like this one – timing is everything. No special effects or Photoshop necessary.
Hold On Tight!
(image via: emikw)
One of the famed natural formations in Arches National Park, Utah is in the palm of this photographer's hand when sharp focus is maintained on the entire image.
Giant Jesus and the Toy Plane
(image via: david leeth)
Even 900-foot-tall stone Jesus gets bored sometimes, so having a toy plane to play with is a plus.
Toy Cars, or Giant Man?
(image via: erkannix)
This is definitely one of those photos that make you go, "what?" It's hard to tell exactly how the photographer achieved this effect, but according to his Flickr, there was no Photoshop involved.
Please Don't Fall, Cloud
(image via: p0rg)
The artist says "I kept messing it up and not aligning myself ( I was using tripod & self timer) and did it about 10 or so times. When I was happy with the result, I turned and saw that an old man walking his dog had stopped to watch my bizarre antics. He smiled and walked off. I must have looked completely mad because he was not in line with the cloud, so he would have seen my press my camera, run like a madman to the same spot 10 times and preform a melodramatic pray to god."
(image via: laura deangelis)
"Three years ago, I picked this guy up, put him in my pocket and claimed him as my own," says photographer Laura DeAngelis.
(image via: the moronic inferno)
Believe it or not, this photo wasn't staged. Photographer Dave Brownlee calls it 'serendipity' that the heads and bodies of four separate people just happened to line up so well.
Puzzling Place, Indeed
(image via: richard heeks)
In this case, it's the location that's providing the illusion, not a trick of photography. The Puzzle Museum in Keswick, England contains an oddly-shaped room with a sloping ceiling, walls and floor so that from a certain vantage point, turning one person into a terrifying giant.