Trompe l'Oeil

March 24, 2016  •  1 Comment

Trompe l'OeilTrompe l'Oeil


The Plaza Hotel New York, reflected in “The Pond” in Central Park is a kind of “fools the eye” use of a water reflection. This image can’t be trusted in other ways too. Primarily it is shown here upside down, given that its natural aspect was the wrong way up. The eye accepts this trickery and quickly identifies the trembling image with the real building, for anyone who has enjoyed a stroll in mid-town Manhattan. Such is the skill of human memory and eye-brain coordination.


Also the brain somehow presumes that the lower section of green is “watery”, while the upper section of grey-blue is cloud. Neither is true, as seen in the correctly aspected image below.


Trompe l'Oeil BTrompe l'Oeil B


Water Off A Duck’s Back?


I have processed this version of the image to make it easier for you to see that there is a duck standing on the rocks on the bottom right of the photograph. From this view, you can see that I was standing on the lakeshore in front of the duck, which I failed to notice in my excitement to capture the reflection, before the ripples of other passing ducks in the water destroyed the image. The poultry intrusion was somewhat mitigated by the camera’s excellent focus on the reflection of a far away object (the hotel), thereby rendering the near foreground somewhat blurry.


Once I noticed the duck, I could no longer blind myself to it in the 180 degree rotated version. However I share it with you, presuming that you  - like me – could not see it when all the initial attention was on identifying the hotel. If I scroll between the two versions, I now find that the duck irritatingly intrudes each time.


The first lesson that I like to encourage new photographers to learn is “Look carefully in the viewer”, which I failed to do here. Playing golf is said to be one way to learn humility. Being a photographer is another.  




Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm f3.5- 4.5G 

Focal Length: 46mm

Focus Mode: AF-S

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/9

Shutter Speed: 1/800s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held


If you like trompe l’oeil, take a look at the Abstract portfolio on the website.  


Copyright Paul Grayson 2016


Hé hé, le diable est dans les détails et ici dans le canard... Toujours vérifier ce qu'il y a autour du sujet principal. Lui on l'a, donc il reste à s'assurer que rien ne vient troubler la prise de vue.
Image classique de reflet, mais ici réussie grâce à la superbe lumière que tu as su capter.
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