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News & Insight

Creative Gravity Illusions Tilt the Hilly Streets of San Francisco

By Hanssie on June 12th 2015

tilting-san-franWhen I was about 14 years old, we took a family trip to the Mystery Spot in San Jose. This tourist attraction seemed to defy gravity, where the laws of physics didn’t seem to apply. There is a house on the property that is tilted and created visual illusions where water flowed upwards; people would stand slanted and everything was tilted. My 14-year-old mind was blown.

On that trip, we also made our way to nearby San Francisco, where we visited tourist favorites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the windy Lombard Street. My calves still remember the steep hills we had to climb to reach some of these places. San Franciscans must have killer leg strength. Oh, how I wished for gravity-defying streets then.


After seeing some photos with the tilted camera effect, Ross Ching got an idea to take a camera to the hilly streets of San Francisco to create a gravity defying, illusion filled, and super fun video. The week before the shoot, Ross and Karen X. Cheng walked around the San Francisco streets looking for the steepest hills and thinking up ideas. The final footage was shot on the streets of Potrero Hill, Nob Hill, and Dolores Heights with a Black Magic Cinema camera. By using some camera magic (positioning the camera parallel to the ground while on a hill) and some post-processing wizardry (the rotating world), the result is a crazy, trippy video that my inner 14-year-old self is still geeking out over.

Tilting the Streets of San Francisco (Gravity Illusions on Hills)

To see more of the duo’s work, including Karen’s viral Girl Learns to Dance in a Year video, check out their sites here: Karen X. Cheng and Ross Ching.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jesper Ek

    The amount of effort it takes to walk up those street is horrifying! Rather sit at a bar down by fishermans wharf and shoot sea lions (with my camera that is…)

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  2. Brandon Dewey

    very creative

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  3. Thomas Horton

    It is important to keep the horizon level… except when the horizon ain’t. :)

    Some interesting effects here. I bet you can do some cool optical illusions.

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