Here is a drawing of an old picture. Your task is to answer all 8 questions correctly AND give a good reasoning for it

enter image description here

  1. What time of day is it?
  2. Is it early spring or a late fall(autumn)?
  3. Is this river navigable?
  4. Which direction does the river flow? (North, East, South or West?)
  5. Is the river deep or shallow at the side where the boat is?
  6. Is there a bridge across the river somewhere nearby?
  7. How far is the railroad from here?
  8. Do birds fly North or South?
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Any source for this? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 11:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @yjo It appears its from some Russian book. (A reverse image search on google turns up a lot of results. It certainly should be cited by the author) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 3:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ FYI: I've moved the answer out of your question into a community wiki answer. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 9:47

9 Answers 9


1.What time of day is it?

Late afternoon, people are still working, yet the person with the suitcase is wearing a lamp, so nightfall is coming soon. Took a double take, but didn't notice the shadows first, which suggest morning because they are walking eastward.

2.Is it early spring or a late fall(autumn)?

Early spring, people aren't harvesting, they are sowing.

3.Is this river navigable?

Yes, else there wouldn't be a reason to place a buoy (atleast I think it's a buoy, could be a tide-gauge).

4.Which direction does the river flow? (North, East, South or West?)

It flows South, you can determine the direction with the "buoy" and with the fact that the bids fly north.

5.Is the river deep or shallow at the side where the boat is?

Deep, the fishing line is too long for shallow water.

6.Is there a bridge across the river somewhere nearby?

Probably not, crossing a bridge is usually free, using a ferry isn't.

7.How far is the railroad from here?

Probably on walking distance from the boat, the people seem to be travelling to the countryside so it seems likely they just came from a train station.

8.Do birds fly North or South?

North, because it's spring.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ What if this is in the southern hemisphere? $\endgroup$
    – user9771
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 13:02
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Runemoro European culture, european climate (by clothing and bulding style) = Probably northern hemisphere. $\endgroup$
    – Taemyr
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 14:05
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Taemyr, that and simple statistics. Only 1 in 7 humans lives on the southern hemisphere. And most of those people are Africans and South-Americans (i.e. colored people). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 14:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ you could also add that the way the boatman is navigating his boat, it would not make much sense if the river's current was in the other direction. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 20:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Winter wheat is sowed in the fall. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 23:10

Answer 1:

Morning (shadows fall on the West)

Answer 2:

Early Spring (harrow on the field)

Answer 3:

Yes (Shipping buoy)

Answer 4:

South (determined by the passage around the displacer water.)

Answer 5:

Deep (Fishing line)

Answer 6:

No bridge (the man in the boat - the ferryman)

Answer 7:

Close (a man with a lantern rail)

Answer 8:

North (because spring)


This answer has been copied and edited out of the question, and is not produced by me. (It is thus Community Wiki, which does not earn reputation.)

If you look at the picture, you will see that people are sowing and not harvesting. Sowing can be done either in the fall(autumn) or early spring. Fall sowing happens when trees still have leaves, but on the picture the trees are naked, so it's early spring.


Because it's early spring, birds(cranes) fly from South to the North. Knowing that birds fly to the North and looking at the buoy we can say that this river is flowing South.


Buoys are only placed on the navigable rivers to show danger areas and let ships navigate easier/safer.


Shadow of the tree shows that the Sun is somewhere South-East. During the spring, that position of the Sun happens normally around 8:00-10:00.


The guy with the lantern is the railroad conductor, so he probably lives(or works) somewhere nearby.


The pier and the ferry show that there is no bridge nearby, otherwise people would just walk on the bridge. Similarly, the fishing boy has set his float quite far from the hooks, so we can assume that river there is fairly deep. If it would be shallow, the boy would put his float much closer to the hooks, so that hooks are not on the ground in the water.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As an aside, I'm not totally sure what the best way to format it is, so if someone else wants to take a stab at it, please do. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 9:46

It's hard to tell in a lot of cases. I notice there are other answers, and though some of my answers match theirs, I disagree on some of them. Here are the things that stand out to me:

  1. Time of day?

    Morning. The shadow length suggests either early or late hours, and the fact that people are working/fishing suggests early.

  2. Spring or fall?

    Spring. This one is clear, because the farmer is sowing his field.

  3. Is the river navigable?

    Yes. Besides there being a boat in the river, I think that's a floating buoy in the water on the left; if that is what it is, then it would suggest shipping boats travel down the river.

  4. River flow direction?

    East. The buoy-like object on the left leaves ripples in the water's current, which shows that the water is flowing left-to-right in the picture. If I'm right about it being morning, then the water is flowing East (towards the sun - note that the shadows are parallel to the water).

  5. Is the water deep or shallow under the boat?

    Deep. The presence of a dock and a fisherman are good indicators that the water is fairly deep.

  6. Is there a bridge nearby?

    No. There's a ferry, which would probably not be in business if people could just cross the bridge.

  7. How far away is the railroad?

    Nearby. The person on the left looks like a traditional railroad worker. His presence is the only really fair amount of evidence.

  8. Are the birds flying North or South?

    South. The water flow direction and sun's position help with figuring this out, noting the birds fly in a V-shape to the left (Southwest) and roughly toward the nearer shoreline.

  • $\begingroup$ Love your answer! Even though it doesn't match the answers I found on the internet where I saw this picture, your reasoning is matching really well! +1 $\endgroup$
    – Novarg
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 8:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I also thought the shadows were parallel to the river, but I think this is an issue with the perspective. If you look at the railroad-man, he is moving straight to the ferry man and the shadow is right behind him (so a right angle to the river). But the tree-shadow looks parallel, while the shadows of the two on the peer look like a 45° angle to the river... So maybe it is curving and flowing roughly south-east $\endgroup$
    – Falco
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 9:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I questioned this too. I'm interested to find out what the original artist's intended solution is. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ Your answers don't make sense with each other. If it is morning, then shadows would be going west and birds would be flying north. Not to mention, birds wouldn't be flying south in the Spring. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Kevin I believe I explained my answers well enough to at least make sense. I agree that the shadows are pointed West. I am claiming that the birds appear to not only be flying in roughly the same direction as the shadows, but also towards the shoreline that the POV is currently standing at. That doesn't mean I'm saying the birds are flying towards us, the viewer; it means I'm saying they're flying toward one side of the river more than the other, which would be more like South than North. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 4:15

General remarks:

The location must be somewhere temperate as we see a tree bare of leaves, so let's assume it's somewhere like Yorkshire.

What time of day is it?

It must be about noon. Yorkshire is about 54 degrees North, so the maximum height of the sun at noon near the equinox is about 36 degrees, and the shadows seem to be less than the height of the objects casting them, so the sun must be very high in the sky for early Spring or late Autumn.

Is it early spring or a late fall(autumn)?

Spring, because the farming activity looks like preparation of the ground rather than harvesting. However, whatever is being done seems to leave no mark, since the farmer and tractor are in the middle of the field, yet neither left nor right is there a visible difference showing the part already worked on.

Is this river navigable?

Obviously. There's a boat in it. But navigable is a relative term. It's very unlikely to be navigable for an aircraft carrier.

Which direction does the river flow? (North, East, South or West?)

Since it's close to noon, the sun must be to the South, and the river is flowing left to right, so it must flow South.

Is the river deep or shallow at the side where the boat is?

Compared to what? It's probably about waist deep. Where rivers are straight they tend to slope down from the bank. The presence of the jetty proves that it's not deep enough to get the boat right up to the side. It looks like there's a float on the boy's fishing line, so within the reach of his ability to cast, the water must get deep enough that the hook is still above the bottom - probably over 3m. Note that the total length of a fishing line on a river is irrelevant, as it is often used to cast futher away from the bank rather than to get deeper.

Is there a bridge across the river somewhere nearby?

It's impossible to tell. The people using the boat suggest that they cannot use a bridge, but that may be be because they're going to an island in the river whereas the bridge is further downstream and only goes to the other side. Also, there could be a railway bridge which is not open to foot traffic.

How far is the railroad from here?

It's very difficult to tell. The man on the left might be a railway worker, but even if he is, he's carrying quite a large case in his left hand, so he could be travelling some considerable distance from it. Either that or he has an extraordinarily large lunchbox.

Do birds fly North or South?

Some do, some don't. Some overwinter in England, having come from further North, some spend the summer in England and overwinter in Africa. The ones in the picture are flying more-or-less West.


While I agree with the others on most answers I have a different oppinion on Number 5:

I think it is shallow. Why? Because it looks like the Boy is standing in the river. Also there is a buoy near the first third of the river which maybe indicates where the river gets deep. To the argument with the long fishing line: Is is quite common to use a long line while fishing in a river, so that the line can flow in the water.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes the buoy is a good argument, signing ships where it is still deep enough to travel and where it gets to shallow... $\endgroup$
    – Falco
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 9:29
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think the boy is in the river. Because I don't think his bucket is in the river. $\endgroup$
    – Taemyr
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Taemyr placing a floating object in a river may not be the best idea. Therefore the boy may have left his bucket outside of the river $\endgroup$
    – Tokk
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Tokk What I mean is that the bucket is as far down compared to the crest of the bank as the boy. So if the bucket is not in the river there is no reason to assume that the boy is in the river. $\endgroup$
    – Taemyr
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Taemyr the bucket almost reaches the boy's butt. This would imply that the bucket is standing superior than the boy. Except it is a really high bucket $\endgroup$
    – Tokk
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 14:12

First of all I want to point out that IMO the shadows and the river make something around a 45 degrees angle, just for your consideration.

Q0: hemisphere?

Since all people look caucasian and to be wearing late 19th/early 20th Western attires, I'm saying it is north hemisphere.

Q2 + Q8: Is it Spring or Autumn? + Do birds fly N or S?

True and True.

Wait. Not boolean questions? Kidding.

Birds look to be flying in about the same direction range (really hard to tell) shadows are cast to. This happens in Spring in both hemispheres and while they are flying North in North hemisphere.

* Taking a look to the other answers I see references to landfarmers sowing, not harvesting, which is even better reasoning for Spring, but wasn't my first thought I'll admit.

Q1: time of day?

It's really hard to make a perfect appreciation, but IMO shadows are cast towards NW or so.

So I'll say morning but not too soon, since shadows are already well defined.

Q3: navigable river?

With the right craft, any river is navigable.

Aside from that, the boat and the dock strongly suggest the river is navigated frequently.

Q4: Which direction does the river flow?

From North to South. You can tell by the trails on the water plus achieved knowledge from previous Qs.

Q5: Is the river deep or shallow at the side where the boat is?

I think it's deeper at this side. The riverside ends more vertically here and looks smoother on the other side (also hard to tell).

Q6: Are there bridges nearby?

At least the people in the forefront doesn't look to think so. They will probably rather cross the bridge since it's faster. If the boat has already departed when you reach the river you'll have to wait for it to deliver the passengers, return, and then carry you to the other side. One lone old guy rowing won't get a very high peak speed I bet.

* Also, other answers suggest the ferry costs money, which adds up for the bridge to be the first option if available.

Q7: How far is the railroad from here?

Far enough to not be in the drawing.
Close enough to be reached by walking by a railroad worker with no more equipment or luggage than a lantern and a rather thin suitcase.

That's the better answer I can give.


Going to answer in the order I figured them out instead of order presented:

  1. Is it early spring or a late fall(autumn)?

Spring. They are sowing not planting

  1. Do birds fly North or South?

North. Because it is Spring

  1. What time of day is it

Morning. Birds are flying North and shadows are going West, so sun must be in east.

  1. Which direction does the river flow? (North, East, South or West?)

South, based on ripples around buoy.

  1. Is this river navigable?

Yes, because there is a buoy

  1. Is the river deep or shallow at the side where the boat is?

Shallow, the buoy marks the shallow/deep line for larger boats.

  1. Is there a bridge across the river somewhere nearby?

No, otherwise people would be using it.

  1. How far is the railroad from here?

Close. Guy carrying lantern is walking to/from work.


Answer 1:

The scenery suggests that it is not close to the equator, because of the tree with no leaves which suggests sufficient temperature difference between seasons. This means that the sun will not rise extremely high into the sky and thus will always cast some shadows. The shadows in the picture are relatively short, thus it would have to be close to 12:00.

Answer 2:

The tree has lost its leaves, however there are no visible leaves on the ground. This suggests that sufficient time has past since the tree lost its leaves, such that the leaves might been blown away by the wind or washed away by rain. Thus it would have to be early spring. The farmers seem to be plowing the fields, which might also give some clues, however I do not know enough about farming, but after a few searches it seems that fields can be plowed in both spring and autumn.

Answer 3:

The buoy in the left of the picture most likely would function as a lateral marker, which marks the edge of a save water channel, which suggests that boats will navigate the river regularly for transport.

Answer 4:

The buoy causes waves, which travel to the right, so the river is flowing to the right. Also the small boat seems to be docking, which is easier when the front of the boat is turned into the flow of the river. Given that it is roughly midday, then the shadows would either point north or south, depending on the hemisphere this picture was taken. The people in the picture seem European, so it would be the northern hemisphere. Thus the river is flowing towards the west.

Answer 5:

The buoy is relatively close to the side of the river, so the river would have to be deep enough for large ships. Depending on your definition of deep and shallow, I would say the river near the boat would be deep.

Answer 6:

The small boat is most likely not meant for transport along the river, but for transport across the river as a ferry. This suggests that there are no nearby other means of getting across, thus there is no bridge nearby.

Answer 7:
I do not know the answer to this question.

Answer 8:

Since I assume that this is the northern hemisphere, then the birds are flying in V formation towards the north.


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