Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Pictures show a photographer making a dangerous leap from rock to rock in the Grand Canyon.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Origins: One common technique employed by stage magicians in pulling off convincing illusions is to show only part of something, suggest the whole, then take advantage of the human mind's tendency to fill in the blanks. For example, a magician might announce that he is holding a knife and show the audience a blade
That's the principle at work in the images displayed above (taken by photographer Hans van de Vorst), which seemingly show another photographer making a foolhardy, death-defying leap across two Grand Canyon outcroppings — wearing only sandals on his feet, and clutching his photographic gear in one hand! The key to the illusion is what the viewer doesn't see (thereby leading him to make inaccurate assumptions about the whole).
The area shown is a popular photographic spot in the Grand Canyon, for the very reason demonstrated above: if a photographer frames his picture just right, he can make it appear that his subject is leaping across a yawning chasm where the slightest misstep will seemingly result in the risk-taker's plummeting hundreds (if not thousands) of feet to certain death on the canyon floor below. What one doesn't see in these kinds of close shots is the connecting ledge just beneath the two rock formations, revealing that the jumper who misses his mark risks falling only a short ways, not plunging "
Although the leap still has an element of danger to it, a reasonably careful jumper primarily risks some bruises or maybe a broken arm or leg, not a plunge into the depths of the Grand Canyon.
Last updated: 1 January 2007
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