September 17, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture? Navigator Edition

Wouldn’t it be cool if I had a weekly feature called “What’s Wrong With This Picture” in which I posted pictures and asked you to come to some conclusion based on the pictures I’d presented? Yeah, I think that would be cool.

Unfortunately, that would mean I would have to be clever enough to come up with a good visual puzzle 52 times a year. It doesn’t seem realistic, considering my current schedule. But I took some pictures this weekend that I was going to show you, and instead of coming out and explaining the pictures, I’ll let you tell me “What’s Wrong With This Picture.” I’ll explain things later (and add a picture or two), but you folks will likely figure this one out fairly quickly. So think about the picture before looking at the comments, unless your thinker is on the fritz.

OK we have one picture and some additional details listed below:


  • Picture was taken in Fall River, MA.
  • Date and time of photo : approximately 2006:09:19 14:55:17 Eastern Standard Time
  • The girl in the photo is standing straight, vertically.
  • The photo was taken outdoors with no artificial light or flash.

What’s wrong with this picture? Read on to find the answer.


The short answer is that the compass rose is not correctly aligned to north. Details are in the comments, and in the next entry.

Posted by James at September 17, 2006 11:02 PM
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Are the directions on the stones not pointing to the true N/S/E/W? The shadow of the girl should be more to the North East.

Posted by: Patty S. at September 18, 2006 12:47 AM

The needle on your hand compass isn't pointing toward north as indicated by the stone compass. Further the shadow of your kid implies the sun is directly to the south. The sun can get somewhat south of east or west, but THAT much? I don't think so.

Clearly these two pieces of evidence imply that the stone compass is wrong.

Posted by: Chuck S. at September 18, 2006 2:14 AM

Yeah the shadow definately shouldn't be pointing almost due north at 3 in the afternoon in september. In fact it should be pointing much closer to east than north.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at September 18, 2006 7:58 AM

If I can get it this quickly, it's not tricky enough. Obviously the shadow is proving that the compass is wrong, but there must be more....

Ok - I see that you put an actual compass in the photo that is different from the stone one.....I'm thinking that the stone is right and that the magnetic field from that thingie (what it is a GPS?) is making the mechanical compass wrong and that the shadow is photoshopped.

Yeah - that it!

Posted by: Wormie at September 18, 2006 9:00 AM

Yeah, the sun shouldn't generally be due south. I'm also not sure if it should be that low in the sky at 3pm, although it is late in the year so maybe.

My guess is that this compass is ornamental, and would have looked odd in context if the directions were accurate. Like if its outside some Big Important Building the North probably points to the door.

Posted by: DG at September 18, 2006 10:41 AM

OK - I figure enough people have answered correctly that I will confirm it. You're all right on the money. The "compass rose" does not actually appear to be pointing north.

DG gave a theory as to why it is not pointing north. I have my own theory, but then, I have additional information.

Shall we make that the bonus question? I think we will. I will make a new post for this bonus question.

Posted by: James at September 18, 2006 11:08 AM

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