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People are loving ‘optical illusion’ image of a Welsh mountain range

21 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Carneddau mountains in Eryri National Park (Credit: Chris Owen)

It’s the image that has set social media ablaze – and dumbfounded the person who took the picture.

When amateur photographer Chris Owen posted a picture on X (formerly Twitter) he’d taken in 2021 of the Carneddau mountain range, he thought nothing of it. That is until his phone started pinging furiously with notification after notification of people liking and sharing the image.

It’s easy to see why it has captured the imagination of thousands of social media users in such a vivid way.

His stunning photograph of the A55 on Anglesey with the snowcapped mountains of the Carneddau range – part of Eryri natonal park – towering in the background is absolutely breathtaking.

It looks so incredible and the mountains so huge, it prompted many to question whether the image had been tampered with.

However, the picture is untouched and there is a very good reason why.

Tregarth photographer Chris took to X to explain how it was captured. Taken from an elevated position at St Cristiolus’s Church, a medieval church near Llangristiolus, Anglesey (Ynys Môn), the amateur snapper pointed out the picture took advantage of a powerful zoom lens and his own artistic eye.

“The zoom lens created the optical illusion of bringing the mountains closer to the foreground, an effect known as lens compression, which squeezes the image” he said. “The only editing was to bring out the colour and details, as the image was taken in raw mode.”

Lens compression is a technique familiar to photographers and filmmakers worldwide. Using bigger lenses, images are foreshortened, making backgrounds appear larger. It enables photographers to “fill the frame” and capture spectacular images such as large moons hovering over cities.

Since he posted the image it has attracted thousands of likes and shares – something he says he is genuinely bewildered about.

“It’s been surreal really,” he said. “Having messages of wanting to have my image featured in news articles and shared on other social media platforms. I never thought an image I took nearly three years ago would get so much attention!”

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