Reality-distorting iPhone photo shows three versions of the same woman

Comedian Tessa Coates says this pic caused her to "nearly vomit in the street" (Tessa Coates / Instagram)
Comedian Tessa Coates says this pic caused her to "nearly vomit in the street" (Tessa Coates / Instagram)

A bride-to-be is shown in three different poses at once in a bizarre iPhone photo that has stupefied the internet.

Comedian Tessa Coates shared the image on her Instagram several weeks ago, but it only recently went viral after doing the rounds online.

In the snap, she can be seen standing in front of two mirrors in a bridal gown. That sounds normal enough, but things get weird when you notice that she looks different in both of her reflections.

Although Coates is standing with one hand by her side, one mirror shows her with both hands clasped together, while the other shows her with her arms slightly outstretched.

Aghast at what she saw, Coates wrote on Instagram: “I went wedding dress shopping and the fabric of reality crumbled. This is a real photo, not photoshopped, not a pano, not a Live Photo.”

So, what happened? Is this the real deal? Or has it been tampered with? Or are we through the looking glass?

Well, there are different theories floating around. A tech YouTuber posted a short video to Threads claiming that it is, in fact, a panoramic photo despite Coates’ claiming otherwise.

Faruk from the YouTube channel iPhonedo claims to have worked it out by checking the shot’s metadata, which shows that the resolution is cropped down from the main camera’s normal resolution. This happens when multiple pics are taken and stitched together to form one wider image in pano mode.

In an Instagram story about the incident, Coates herself told of a similar explanation she’d received from an Apple genius at the company’s store in Covent Garden. Still, she insisted that she hadn’t taken a pano, burst or live photo.

There have been other instances where people have questioned the validity of their smartphone pics. Earlier this year, detailed close-ups of the moon captured by Samsung’s Galaxy Ultra phones sparked a conversation about truth in photography. The tech also takes multiple shots to find the best one, and then enhances it using artificial intelligence.

Google’s Pixel 8 phones use a similar technique in order to edit people’s faces, swap out backgrounds, or move people or things around to create the desired look.

Panoramic photos, on the other hand, aren’t as fancy. Instead of using an AI overlay, they splice together multiple images, a process that can sometimes lead to janky results. That’s bad news for those looking for proof of multiple dimensions, but good news for those who have watched too many horror movies featuring eerie reflections.