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2. Seeing: Hacks 13–33 > 21. Objects Move, Lighting Shouldn’t

Objects Move, Lighting Shouldn’t

Moving shadows make us see moving objects rather than assume moving light sources.

Shadows get processed early when trying to make sense of objects, and they’re one of the first things our visual system uses when trying to work out shape. Fool Yourself into Seeing 3D further showed that our visual system makes the hardwired assumption that light comes from above. Another way shadows are used is to infer movement, and with this, our visual system makes the further assumption that a moving shadow is the result of a moving object, rather than being due to a moving light source. In theory, of course, the movement of a shadow could be due to either cause, but we’ve evolved to ignore one of those possibilities—rapidly moving objects are much more likely than rapidly moving lights, not to mention more dangerous.


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