The English podcaster Tessa Coates is dressed as a bride, with two mirrors in front of her: in one she appears with her hands folded, in the other with her arms at her sides. But the photo of her is taken from behind her, and she—the real one, not the reflection of her—has her right arm bent, her left extended. “I went to choose my wedding dress and the fabric of reality crumbled. This is a real photo, not photoshopped, not a panorama, not a Live Photo. If you can’t see the problem, keep looking and you won’t be able to unsee it anymore. Please enjoy this glitch in the Matrix that almost made me vomit on the street. Oh, and I’m also engaged!”.
The photo, as they say in these cases, has gone viral, with up-to-the-minute experts scrambling to find imaginative explanations: some say it’s a bug in computational photography, some talk about a technical problem with Live Photo. Others think Coates did it on purpose, creating a fake image just so it would go viral.
Faruk of the YouTube channel iPhonedo posted an explanation on Threads on Friday evening. Faruk examined the image’s metadata and discovered that it was taken, likely by mistake, with the panorama function of Coates’ iPhone 12.
Technically it is true that it is not a panoramic image, but it was still taken with the panoramic mode on his iPhone 12. On iPhonedo the explanation goes more into the technical: the main camera of the iPhone 12 takes a photo with 4516 x 3874, but Coates’s is 3028 x 3948. A bizarre format, unless you use the panorama mode, which combines many images on a circular trajectory into a single photo. But even for that the calculations don’t add up: with these dimensions, it is not large enough to be classified as Panoramic, but if anything it is a piece of a larger photo. It is not even essential that it has been cut afterwards, just stop the recording before reaching 360°.
The photo, its virality, the efforts made to explain it, appear absolutely inexplicable, since images of this kind can be obtained without effort for at least ten years, when panoramic photos arrived on smartphones (but it was already possible to do so first with a camera).
How you do it
Let’s imagine you want to have a person both on your right and on your left, in two different poses: just start the panorama mode and start shooting from left to right. the person will be on your left, let’s say sitting. While you rotate the smartphone to the right, the person gets up, passes behind you and sits down on your right: all the movements obviously take place outside the field captured by the camera, and so in the end that same person will be in the same photo, once sitting and once standing. The trick can be repeated several times, so that the person appears in the same shot in several different poses.
No generative artificial intelligence, no Photoshop, no stretch marks in the Matrix. On the other hand, Coates’ Instagram bio says: “Writer, performer, podcaster, enthusiastic teller of anecdotes that may or may not have happened.”