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Scottish Nationalists and Optical Illusions

A Force For Good counted 773 at the Scottish nationalist march in Glasgow on Saturday 14th May 2022 – not quite the "5,000" which the organisers lied about. You can count them for yourselves via our video evidence below.

Here's a picture of the front of the march as it passes along West George Street, next to Queen Street Station, just as they're arriving at their rally in George Square. This, and the shot above, are screenshots from our video.

The march was led by a Pipe Band, followed by a group carrying a banner about the NHS. It is fair to say that they are not packing out the street! It is not densely-packed. It is quite dispersed.

Now compare these two photos with a photo of the same groups of people – the Pipe Band, the front of the march, and those behind it – which appeared on the Scottish Daily Mail website on the afternoon of the event on Saturday 14 May 2022.

We know it is the march on Saturday because it shows part of the banner and the "NHS" placards which were unique to this particular march.

It is a good photo, and in our comments below we emphasise that the photographer has done his or her job well, and that they have taken the most dramatic photograph they can, which is exactly what is to be expected of them.

It shows the march coming over the brow of the hill at the top of West George Street, just after the perpendicular intersection with Blythswood Street at Blythswood Square.

However, it looks considerably more densely-packed than what we witnessed in reality!

How is the eye being tricked?

In this article we explain...

The photo would be taken with a long focal length lens and we estimate that the photographer would be standing on West George Street, somewhere around the junction with Wellington Street, which is below the junction with West Campbell Street (both of which perpendicularly intersect West George Street) – that is, somewhere around the area of this photo from Google Maps.

We know it would be somewhere around that area because the Daily Mail photo includes the traffic lights which stand astride West Campbell Street (see the right of the Daily Mail pic).

The front of the march shown in the Daily Mail pic was somewhere below where the taxi is shown – that is, below the junction with West Campbell Street.

From the top of the hill to the junction with West Campbell Street is 100 yards, according to Google Maps.


Firstly, the photographer has picked a good spot for this dramatic image, because the marchers are coming down the hill on a fairly steep slope (as streets go).

This means, at that point of the road, the flags carried by the marchers are all going to be slightly higher than the ones in front. Therefore, the camera can be held in such a way as to fit them all in the frame and make them all look "piled high on top of each other" which helps to emphasise their number.

But above all though, it is the focal length of the camera lens, and the position of the photographer in relation to the subject, which makes the difference here.

The focal length is the distance, in millimetres, between the optical centre of the lens and the camera's sensor (which records the image).

The longer the focal length, the narrower its "angle of view" – the bit that it takes a photograph of – and the larger the subject will appear in the photograph, than if we viewed it with our own eyes.

If the photographer was standing around where we think they took the pic (or perhaps even further down the hill and below the junction with Wellington Street), then a long focal length lens would concentrate the "angle of view" very narrowly in the small area of the street around where the taxi is located – the little bit in the middle – and immediately around it and just above it.

It would turn that area – which seems quite small to our eyes – very large.


Furthermore, a long focal length lens (combined with the distance between the photographer and the subject) can have the effect of "compressing" a picture.

It does this by tending to pull the background towards the viewer, giving the impression that objects in the distance are larger and closer than they actually are.

This can lead to a distortion of perspective which can be an effective method for particular photographic purposes.

In this case, it makes the marchers look much more densely packed than they are.

As we say, the photographer is only doing his job, and in this case, doing it well.


Consider just how compressed this picture is. This will shock you!

Here's a Google Maps image from between West Campbell Street and the top of West George Street (the area the march is traversing in the Daily Mail photo).

On the left of the pic above, note the top of the black Rubbish Bin (behind the dark car), followed by the blue "P" sign on the parking meter, followed by the red Pillar Box, followed by the back of a road sign at the top of the hill, followed by a red No Entry sign.

Now look at that section of the Daily Mail photo (right) and you can spot all those items crammed together in the top left hand corner.

Yet, compare the distance in the Google Maps version, with the distance in the photograph and note the compression of the street furniture in the Daily Mail photo! It's extraordinary! It appears as if they are within touching distance of each other in the Daily Mail shot!

But here's the kicker!

See the looming concrete building with the 6 windows in the top left of the Daily Mail photo?

In the Google Maps image above, you can just see the top of it. It's peaking up above the horizon, the very last building at the back, on the left.

Incredibly, that is actually part of the top of the multi-storey building which sits at 375 West George Street, which is on the corner with Holland Street, which is way over the top of the hill and down the other side again, and which, according to Google Maps is 0.3 miles away (528 yards) from where the photographer was likely standing. In reality, it was nowhere near the march!

But look at the Daily Mail photograph! It looks as if it is within touching distance of the marchers – as if it is right up beside them – but it is almost a third of a mile away behind them!

Also, note the Palestinian flag (black, red, white, green) in the Daily Mail photo. It looks as if it is right at the front of the march. However, if you watch our video below, you'll note that it doesn't appear until 1 minute after the front of the march has passed our counting point (at 2.00).

Talk about a compressed image!

That's why the march looks so densely-packed!

These sorts of compressed photos give a distorted view of the numbers, making scores of people look like hundreds, and making hundreds of people look like thousands!

Thankfully, A Force For Good is here to provide another perspective!

Check out this article for the true counts of all the Scottish nationalist marches to date, and if you like what we do, please support our daily work:


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