Though you may not already know this, our brains don’t actually process the world exactly as it is. To create the things we see, our eyes and our visual cortexes are responsible for putting lots of complex information together to form a coherent picture. Once that picture is finally put together, that’s what we “see.” With that in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that the world is full of situations and scenarios where our brains are tricked by what we think we see. Fortunately, we just call these moments optical illusions!
With that in mind, here are 30 of the best optical illusions that are sure to tickle your brain.
1. This confusing shot of a normal backyard.
The trick to this one is where your eye decides to focus first. If you look at the tree, the clouds in the background seem to just be an image of the sky above… but then why is that deck jutting up at that weird angle into it? If you focus on the deck, you’ll see that it’s actually a crystal clear reflection of the sky above in a lake.
2. Is this really a picture of a concert?
On first impression, this definitely looks like a crowd of people at a big show at night. Still, look a little closer and you’ll see that it’s just an illusion—it’s actually a field of cotton and the big highlights on the horizon are big green tractors. Now that you see it, it’s pretty hard to miss, right?
3. Look out! Two enormous pigeons!
Who knew that pigeons could drive cars? Just kidding—even though it looks like these birds are huge, take a second look and you’ll see that it’s an example of forced perspective. The pigeons are actually perched on a roof looking down on the parking lot. Still, this one is pretty convincing.
4. Have you ever seen a two-headed dog?
If you have dogs at home, you know just how excited they usually are when you come home from work. That’s the case in this picture as well except something is a little off. Although it looks like this dog has two heads, it’s actually two dogs smushing into one another—still pretty convincing though!
5. This is a pretty impressive view—or is it?
This is one small step for man, one giant task for… an ice scraper? Although this looks like it could be a view from outer space, it’s actually something much more mundane and inconvenient. If you’ve ever looked up at the roof of your car in the winter time, you can probably figure out what this is actually a picture of.
6. We never knew that ice tornadoes actually existed.
Sometimes, the timing on a picture is just perfect. This photo is definitely one of those times. Although it’s pretty clear that ice tornadoes aren’t really a thing, the way the perspective is set up on this photograph makes it look pretty convincing. In reality, it’s just an icicle hanging above the frame.
7. Oh no, that dog’s been cut in half!
File this one under the oldest trick in the book. Have you ever tried that magic trick where you pretend like you’ve chopped your thumb off but it’s really tucked behind? The same principle is at work here: the left part is a dog, the right part is a log.
8. But where are the customers supposed to sit?
Given that this is a bar, you wouldn’t be wrong to say that the barstools look exactly like giant martinis. Honestly, we’re not convinced that they’re not from this angle. They’re just bar stools. Just kidding! They’re normal sized-martinis… pretty weird, huh?
9. Something has gotta be wrong with this, right?
It’s pretty clear that these are simply some yellow poles mounted on a sidewalk. Still, something feels a little weird here. To provide some context, this photo was taken in Hawaii while the sun was at its highest point in the sky. As a result, there are absolutely no shadows in the picture—which makes everything seem a little surreal.
10. What’s packed in the back of this car?
This one is a little tricky. On first impression, it really looks like the car in front of the coffee shop is packed full of pastries that it’s selling. On second look, we see that’s not actually the case. In reality, the pastries are a reflection of a pastry case that’s behind the cameraman and out of frame.
11. Perfect framing or perfect Photoshopping?
In a photo like this, you have to admire the circumstances that came together to create it. At first look, the way it’s framed makes it seem like the white shaded corners are a photoshop filter or a double exposure put over it. In actuality, the photo is simply taken through the walls of a tent.
12. If you don’t see this one right away then it’ll be pretty hard to explain.
Wedding photos always have a vibe of celebration about them and this one is no different. Still, doesn’t this one seem a little off? It’s probably because the back of the groom’s shirt and his arms look quite a bit like they’re the bride’s legs! If you look closely, you’ll see what’s really going on.
13. Who gave that monkey a cell phone?
Have you been to the zoo recently? If you have, you may have seen a primate exhibit and the plexiglass that usually surrounds it. Although you can take pictures through it, you definitely aren’t allowed to pass things to the monkeys! Even if that’s what this looks like, it’s actually just a reflection of a picture taken from the outside.
14. Are those hovering eyeballs?
When you take your glasses off and put them down on a table, it’s probably because you’re tired or you want to give your eyes a rest. What you really don’t expect is for a ghostly pair of eyes to stare back at you! Fortunately, that’s not the case here, either—it’s just a reflection of a lamp.
15. Objects in pool may be larger than they appear.
We’ve all seen that Seinfeld episode about pools and shrinkage, but this is an entirely new level. Though some military units may do training exercises in a swimming pool for added resistance, they often aren’t expecting a photo to be taken that makes them look so tiny. Rest assured, there are all normal-sized men.
16. Can you tell if this bike is broken or not?
If your bike is going to drive properly, its wheels have to be round. If they’re not, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get very far. Needless to say, this picture is definitely confusing people for that very reason. No matter how it may look, this bike’s wheels are completely fine—it’s only a reflection from the puddle beneath.
17. What happened to the rest of this dog?
Have you ever seen that iconic picture of Marilyn Monroe over the grate with the wind blowing up her dress? This picture is pretty reminiscent of that, just with a dog this time! Even if this little guy looks like just a floating head, it’s actually a full dog—thank the angle of the shot and the extra fur for the illusion.
18. Sometimes it’s all about striking a great pose.
This one actually isn’t as tricky as it seems—it’s mostly what you think it is. The truth behind this picture is that a hurricane had done some damage to the nearby area and the young man in the picture decided to take advantage. If you look at the trees in the background, you can see which way the world is actually oriented.
19. This one has us pretty confused.
Ok, we know that this is a couple hugging. But look at the feet! Which one is in the front and which one is in the back? After looking at this one non-stop, we know there’s some kind of clothing-related trickery happening here. But we can’t figure it out.
20. How did this black hole get on my pillow?
Have you ever heard of Vantablack? If you haven’t, it’s a super-black chemical coating which is supposedly the darkest thing that the human eye can see. This picture may not be of that, but it’s definitely darker than we’re used to seeing! Have you figured it out yet? It’s actually just a cat curled up into a ball (but you could’ve fooled us).
21. But what happened to the rest of the camel?
Now that you’ve seen so many of this, you may have already figured out the trick behind this one. Even if it looks like this man is holding a free-floating camel head, the truth is that this is just a perspective trick—the rest of the camel is perfectly lined up behind him and out of sight. At least… we hope it is.
22. How is that boy controlling that boat?
This is, once again, a case of perfect photographic timing. The ship in the picture is actually a kite that the man in the picture is controlling! The fact that it’s perfectly aligned on the horizon is just a happy coincidence. After all, if that were a real ship it would have to be pretty huge!
23. The shadows on this building are actually pretty cool.
There’s not as much deception behind this picture, just some interesting play of the light. While the photo of the building is particularly striking all on its own, the left facade kind of looks like the windows are popping outwards and falling inwards at the same time.
24. Who knew there was more than one flying dutchman?
Have you ever heard the myth of the flying dutchman? As the name suggests, it referred to a ship that seemed to actually float above the surface of the ocean. This photo might help explain that myth—this strange effect is the result of Fata Morgana, an optical illusion that occurs when objects are seen on water from a distance.
25. What a beautiful beach this is… or is it?
Does this picture look like a national park or a beach to you? If you said yes, you’re not the only one. Although it gives the impression of being a huge place pictured from a great height, you’re actually just looking at a great picture of a puddle! Pretty unbelievable, right?
26. Reflections are the key to most of these optical illusions!
Remember some of the other reflections we saw in this list? This is another one of those, though it might be the best one. No matter how much that yellow thing in the coffee cup may look like a floating castle, it’s actually just a reflection of a lamp hanging from the ceiling above.
27. What are we even looking at here?
From this angle, it looks like we’re looking at some kind of three-dimensional orb made out of circles. The effect is definitely otherworldly, but it’s actually caused by a bunch of metal pipes stacked on top of one another! Once again, light produces some unusual effects.
28. Aliens are real!
Did you grow up wanting to believe in aliens and UFOs? Well, now there’s proof! Just kidding—even though this picture looks very much like a spacecraft shining a light down on a forest, it’s actually a close-up of an old rusted door and a door handle.
29. Is this a two-faced animal or is it just us?
On a first glance… it’s really hard to figure out what’s even going on in this picture. There’s the face of the first animal which is clear enough to see, but then there seems to be another half-formed head popping out of the side of it! Looking more closely, it’s actually a bird mounted on the side of the animal’s head—the red beak should be a clue!
30. Have you ever heard of the black dot illusion?
You may have heard of this illusion before, but it’s usually only illustrated with abstract examples and not in real life. Regardless, if you look at the number pad in the corner pretty intently, you may start to see floating dots between the intersections. These dots are not real, but the visual phenomena definitely is!
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Source: Bored Panda