Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Asserting that the airplanes pictured were actually dangerously close to one another based upon this single photograph is problematic. Photographs of large objects far from the observer taken with telephoto lens are frequently deceptive; their "flatness" (i.e., the compression of depth of field) can make objects appear far closer together than they actually are. (With no other visual reference points to go by, and without knowing how far the photographer was from his subjects, estimating the true distance between the planes shown in this picture is quite difficult.)
As a DHL spokesman quoted in a BBC news report noted:
"In the picture, they look like they are close together but it doesn't mean they are. And in fact they were not," he said.
"If there had been any incident of them being close together, there are all sorts of systems which would have gone off, both in the plane itself and at air traffic
The spokesman said there was no question that either aircraft had strayed from its proper path, which should mean there was a distance of some two and a half miles between them.
BBC News. "Planes 'Seen in Close Encounter.'" 29 January 2006.