The geometry of seeing




A photo essay about the invisible geometry of light, from distorted reflections to peculiar points of view.


Seeing has a geometry that we often ignore, until something unusual catches our eye.

Though we normally can’t see them, rays of light always follow straight-line paths.

These straight lines of light converge on our eyes from all directions.

Although we see a three-dimensional world, each of our eyes only receives a tiny, flat projection of light.

Shadows are distorted 2D projections made when light shines past the edges of 3D objects.

The straight-line geometry of seeing gets more complicated when light reflects, especially when the reflection isn’t flat.

What you see depends on where you stand—objects that are far away usually look much smaller than those nearby.

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Seeing exhibits
Exhibits that reveal the invisible geometry of light, from distorted reflections to peculiar points of view.
Check out our Exploratorium Geometry
image pool on Flickr,
and contribute
your own photos.

Geometry Playground is made possible by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

National Science Foundation Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

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