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Preview: Optical Illusions Etc...

Optical Illusions Etc...

The ORIGINAL Optical illusions blog, a vast collection of many different forms of Optical Illusions conveyed through fractals, photographs, architecture, art, 3-d imaging and old fashion sketches. Our Optical Illusions Etc motto "seeing is not believing.

Updated: 2017-12-23T07:24:40.473-05:00


Tesla Coil Etc...


No illusion here. This is the real deal operating at 15 kva or 15000 watts. Every now and then I have to place a non illusion post up because the name is Optical Illusions Etc... This tesla coil was created by David Riebens.

My favorite Tesla Coil.
Flickr Artist: tesla1000

Night time home made lightning must wake the kids and get the dogs barking.

Kens coil.
Flickr Artist: tesla1000

Real Impossible Construction?


This optical illusion is very well done. Can you guess the exact nature of this construction.

Hint: Not all seemingly 90 degree angles are even close to 90 degrees.

side by side???
Flickr Artist: erik minnema

Bonnie Tyler on Tour


In her new "Total Eclipse of the Toilet" tour Bonnie Tyler debuts her sequel to her 80s hit Total Eclipse of the Sun.

Total Eclipse of the Toilet
Flickr Artist: Driely Schwartz

Sexy Silhouette Optical Illusion


I love good silhouettes. They are almost always ambiguous. When dealing with a silhouette the subject can be looking toward you or away from you and the lines can be drawn in to show either perspective.

Which way is this lovely girl actually facing?

P2 - Beach 3
Flickr Artist: ZaksterNT

Trompe l'oeil Ad


This is an ad for ramen in the causeway Bay Station in Hong Kong. I love this kind of art. I would love to see this from a angle that reveals how distorted this image needs to be to get this one perfect view.

Trompe d'oeil Ad
Flickr Artist: djwerdna

Radiohead In Rainbows Optical Illusion


Here is a possible cover art for Radiohead's album In Rainbow. There is some nice anomalous motion going on in this art.

Nicely done!

inrainbows 800x800
Flickr Artist: pixelbaustelle

Impossible Objects Optical Illusions


Here are a few excellently rendered impossible objects by Josh Sommers. Excellently done, thanks for allowing these via the "blog this" feature of Flickr. Josh talks about the first optical illusion presented.

"A variation on the 2 or 3 prong image, inspired by the work of Walter Wick, who managed to photograph his version using a partially reflective piece of glass and very careful lighting to create the illusion. "
Flickr Artist: Josh Sommers

Impossible Something
Flickr Artist: Josh Sommers

Impossible Posts
Flickr Artist: Josh Sommers

Two or Three?
Flickr Artist: Josh Sommers

Out of Frame Optical Illusion


Here is an interesting photograph. This photo was not manipulated with Photoshop or any other photo manipulation software.

How is this illusory effect accomplished?

Optical illusions
Flickr Artist: zm

Dead Paper?


Here are a couple of fascinating creations by artist Peter Callesen the first creation is a closeup of the original piece. The only material used is Acid free paper, pencil, and glue.

I love the skill and creativity of this artist. Is this skeleton breaking free of his two dimensional chains or settling in for a nice long nap.

Half Way Through (Detail view)
Peter Callesen

This image is also just paper and glue. Makes me yearn to be a kid, just to have the chance to play with the glue again. Check out Peter's other works at his site.

Looking back
Peter Callesen

Peter, You do great work. Well Done!

Escher in the City


Here is a digitally manipulated photo created in the style of M.C. Escher, purposefully designed to make you question which way is up. How many different photos were used in creating this photo?

Which Way
created by sirchopsalot

Kudos to Sirchopsalot for a wonderful creation.

Below is a montage of the original images used to create this very interesting Escheresque image. If you guessed nine different photos, congratulations you are correct.


Shadows in the Mist


Again I take you into the Etc... of Optical Illusions Etc... Not everything in this blog is an optical illusion, some of it is frightenly real.

On August 11, 1999 a mysterious black mass swarmed across the surface of the planet. This might be biological in nature if it wasn't for the fact that it moved at almost 2000 kilometers per hour. Could this be extraterrestrial in nature? Is this phenomenon proof that we are being visited from other worlds?

Credit: Mir 27 Crew; Copyright: CNES

Explanation: Here is what the Earth looks like during a solar eclipse. The shadow of the Moon can be seen darkening part of Earth. This shadow moved across the Earth at nearly 2000 kilometers per hour. Only observers near the center of the dark circle see a total solar eclipse - others see a partial eclipse where only part of the Sun appears blocked by the Moon. This spectacular picture of the 1999 August 11 solar eclipse was one of the last ever taken from the Mir space station. The two bright spots that appear on the upper left are possibly Jupiter and Saturn, although this has yet to be proven. Mir was deorbited in a controlled re-entry in 2001

Whichever, Optical Illusion Animation


This film is the creation of Yutaka Akita. This short film has bits and pieces of many favorite illusion topics such as recursive, fractals, tessellations, and perspective. He describes this video as follows:
"This is application experiment of optical illusions commonplace in 2-D animations in 3-D spaces. The animation develops through illusions caused by concurrent different perspectives of simple lines and surfaces. It is a non-narrative film aiming to make viewers feel bizarre yet fascinated by a feeling of floating between real and unreal."

(object) (embed)
Uploaded by yutakaaki

For more films from this artist go to this site. Here is a short biography he provided on his Dailymotion page.
"Born and bred in Yokohama, Japan. After a study of Byzantine art at Waseda University, surprisingly Yutaka started his career in the film industry where crazy yet creative people are working hard every night and day to make something amazing. Couple of years after, he alone went all the way to the UK to cultivate his style and techniques as an animator/director. And here he is, working on a variety of projects including promotion video for Madame V spring/summer collection 2007, James Bryan “Beautiful World” video, etc. He also worked for Johny Mourgue, one of the film director in FLYNN Productions and made a pitch for Beck’s album “Cell Phone’s Dead” TV spot. *showreel available on requests."

Fire and Water Optical Illusion


If you had a need to boil water and only had a candle and a glass, what would you do? If you were photographer Georg Pillwein you would be creative and boil the water from inside the glass.
Fire and Water
Georg Pillwein
Used w/permission

Having the flame directly in the water has to be a very efficient way to transfer energy to the water. I only wonder why other folks didn't think of this earlier.

If you wish to use this photograph or any other that Georg has on his site drop him a line.

Optical Illusions of Smoke


The following are actual photos of smoke, true some post processing was done but everything you see in these images is photographed smoke. These are the work of Csaba Mészáros of Budapest, Hungary. I asked him permission to use the "Intimacy" image and he suggested two others. The most amazing of the three is the one below titled "Mom and Baby".

Mom and Baby
(c) Csaba Mészáros 2005
Used w/permission

You can read a brief biography on Csaba and find out exactly how he accomplished these amazing images in the January 2007 issue of PBase magazine.

Here is a short starter explanation he gave in a comment a couple years back,
"The setup is quite simple: the smoke comes from incense sticks (made in India), they are cheap and produce a constant smoke for a long period of time (and also a pleasant scent). The light source is a fashgun from side and behind. You need a black material for the background and something to shade the direct light from the flash to the lens. Plus some patience and some trials. "

(c) Csaba Mészáros 2005
Used w/permission

In the above image "Intimacy" two separate photos were merged into one during post processing to complete the duality of a male and female.

(c) Csaba Mészáros 2005
Used w/permission

Csaba, Thank you for sharing your images here. You can find more photos of his on PBase.

Graffiti in the Sky Illusion


This was a truly interesting photo. No digital manipulation, just a straight up old fashioned photograph.

motel illusion
Flickr Artist: źéń
See more of his photos
at Zenography

So how do you think this was accomplished?

The photographer only says this about the image, "Taken from the pool at the Duke Inn, VA".

Now you know what I know. Exactly how was this done?

Bending Lines Optical Illusion


Here is an anomalous motion/distorted perception illusion.

The apparent motion induced by the blue spots seems to cause the red lines to bend and wave. If the whole image is in motion how could red lines not be bending with the motion?

These types of motion images confuse the eye and brain. This confusion allows the viewer to perceive motion in a static image. That's right the below image is a static image and is not animated in any way.
Herman J. Verwaal
copyright 2007
used w/permission

Herman has an excellent collection of Pop art, Paintings, and Optical illusions. He has given me permission to feature his pieces here. This is just one of many. His illusion art ranges from color perception to distorted illusions.

Thank You for sharing these excellent illusions Herman.

*** Herman J. Verwaal's Trick Art, Pop Art, and Fine Art are available for purchase.

Optical Illusion Arches


Jos de Mey

The below unretouched real photograph reminded me of the above piece of art by Jos de Mey. Jos paints an arch that clearly can't exist in the real world. At least that's what I thought until I saw this photo. How do you think the effect in the below photo was accomplished

Locus of control
Flickr Artist: ilConte

Lego Impossible Object Optical Illusions


Like the impossible triangle illusions of the past here is a modern day impossible object. Utilizing legos, a Sony Cybershot camera and some old fashioned know how the artist created this exceptional optical illusion.Impossible!by bbzippo(c)2004He isn't the first to create illusions out of Legos. Andrew Lipson has done some amazing optical illusions using Legos...Here is Escher's Balcony(c) Andrew Lipson ........................ (c) M.C. EscherHere is Escher's Relativity(c) Andrew Lipson ................................... (c) M.C. EscherThe amazing aspect of Andrew's work is his behind the scenes photos and explanations go to his site and check out all of the illusions that he has created. [...]

Urban Rapids Optical Illusion


Julian Beever, sometimes referred to as the "Pavement Picasso" is in West Virginia. Julian is a resident of the United Kingdom. He has been making pavement drawings for about 15 years and has worked across Europe, Australia and the United States.Julian Beever(c)2007Photographer Rick LeeUsed w/permissionHe has just finished his latest masterpiece as part of FestivALL Charleston 2007“A City Becomes a Work of Art”. Julian's preliminary sketches depicted an urban theme with a skyscraper. However, the FestivALL committee suggested a drawing more in tone with the state.The Beginning(c) 2007Photographer Adam HarrisTypically his creations take about 24 hours of work to complete. Julian started his latest work at about 11am on Monday 18 June and he finished it up about 6pm on Thursday the 21st. Rick Lee was on hand for the final hours and has allowed us the honor of showing his photos here.The following photographs were all taken by commercial photographer Rick Lee. To start with here is one of Julian Beever putting the finishing touches on this excellent work of art.Work in Progress(c)2007Photographer Rick LeeUsed w/permissionBeing the only professional photographer left when Julian was finished Rick got to push the button on Julian's camera and get the artist trying out his latest creation.Julian Beever taking the first ride down the "Urban Rapids"(c)2007Photographer Rick LeeUsed w/permissionThis type of art is anamorphosis, which means the image appears distorted unless it is viewed from a special angle or with a special instrument. Below is a view of the finished artwork from the back angle. Our cute little raft is now very odd and the little ledges at the edge of the pavement are now huge.Reverse image "Urban Rapids"(c)2007Photographer Rick LeeUsed w/permissionFor more behind the scenes and "work in progress" photos check out this post by Rick Lee. Thanks a lot Rick for allowing me to use these images and keep up the great work in allowing us the peek into your world. [...]

Erotic Silhouette Optical Illusion


This came to my attention via I know what some of you might be saying, I said the same thing when I first saw it. "How the heck does this classify itself as an optical illusion? For that answer you'll have to read the full article.
(c) Nobuyuki Kayahara 2003
Ambiguous Rotation

This is very much like the Ferris Wheel optical illusion I posted previously, depending on how you look at her she will either be spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise. You don't believe that it is possible for your mind to see this image rotating any way but the way you see it now, do you?

One of the reasons that this is possible is that it is a silhouette and the very nature of a silhouette is ambiguous.

Try looking at the reflection and see if she reverses direction. I shift my focus to the side and can tell in my peripheral vision that she has changed direction, I then move my eyes back on the silhouette and walla she is rotating in the other direction.

What is even more amazing is that if you see her spinning clockwise then it is her right leg and arm that is up in the air, but if you see her spinning counter-clockwise then it is her left leg and arm that are up in the air.

My initial view of this illusion is that she is rotating counter-clockwise, but once I manage to see her spinning the opposite way it is hard to switch back. Which way does she appear to spin to you? Can you see her spin in either direction?

Duck or Rabbit Illusion?


This photo was taken by Flickr Artist Dropped_Stitch during a visit to the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in Branson, Missouri. The duck or rabbit reversible image has been around for over 100 years. This particular version came to my attention via Noticias de ilusionario.What do you see a duck (looking left) or a rabbit (looking right). If you slide your mouse over the image the photo will rotate giving you a slightly differ perspective.Flickr Artist: Dropped_Stitchbackground blacked out by WaltJastrow's Cartoon (1899)The interesting thing about this illusion is that it is frequently credited to Joseph Jastrow 1899.Joseph Jastrow, an American psychologist, was the first to note this image in his work (see left). He used the duck-rabbit to make the point that perception is not just a product of the stimulus, but also of mental activity – that we see with the mind as well as the eye - source.I obviously agree with Mr. Jastrow. You may have noticed that I frequently couch my words in setting up illusions in the hope that you will be more disposed to see the image from a particular perspective.Original in Fliegende Blatter (1892)The truth though is that while Jastrow used his image in 1899 it had appeared in print at least twice before both times in 1892.Jastrow's 1899 cartoon version was based on one originally published in Harper’s Weekly (November 19, 1892, p. 1114). The Harper's cartoon, in turn, was based on one that had appeared earlier that year in Fliegende Blatter, a German humor magazine (October 23, 1892, p. 147) - source.So what do you see in this image a duck or a rabbit? Which version is most effective for you? [...]

Sea Sickness Optical Illusion


I decided to try my hand at some illusions. The below image is the result. This is an anomalous motion illusion so please read the caution at the top of this page.

This is how I visualize the results of sea sickness in the optical illusion world. You can see the center spiraling down toward the deck and the outside splashing out after hitting. I know it doesn't sound nice, but that's life in the world of illusions.

What do you think? Do you see any motion in this image?

Sea Sickness
Walt Anthony (c)2007

You can click to continue reading full article, but the truth is, this is it, there ain't anymore.


Update: Steve Higgins over at Omnibrain has dubbed this "The Purple Nurple Optical Illusion".

Shadow Illusions


Here is a series of shadow illusions by Tim Noble and Sue Webster. A 2003 press release describes them thusly,Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Partners in both life and art, Tim Noble (1966) and Sue Webster (1967) explore the toxic influences of consumer culture through new modes of portraiture. Turning garbage into complex and visually arresting sculptural installations, Noble and Webster exploit, manipulate and transform base materials, often using self-portraiture to undermine the “celebrated” authorship of the artist.Tim Noble and Sue WebsterDirty White Trash [With Gulls] ©1998Six months' worth of the artists' rubbishTim Noble and Sue WebsterReal Life is Rubbish, ©2002Joe La Placa of Artnet had the following to say about the next two installations,"Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s aptly titled exhibition, “Modern Art is Dead,” is an irreverent version of a shadowy Plato's Cave. Riding on the wake of their successful solo exhibition at P.S.1 in New York, the naughty couple continue to astound audiences with their transgressive alchemy of light, shadow -- and scraps of steel!In the bawdily titled The Crack, we enter a dark room where an assemblage of welded steel scraps stands in the middle of the gallery like a lonely Giacometti figure.A light source in front of the sculpture casts a halo of light -- and a crack-like shadow -- against the wall behind it.Tim Noble and Sue WebsterThe Crack ©2004(installation view)Modern Art, LondonInitially confounding (most tend to see the shadow as a positive space) we realize that the shadow is the negative space between two standing nude figures facing each other -- self-portraits by Noble and Webster.The main work in the show, HE/SHE, is far more explicit -- there's no hiding in the shadowy crevices.Two modernist-looking steel sculptures produce distinct silhouettes of the artists -- taking a piss! Could this be the artist’s commentary on modernism, a metaphorical marking of art turf?Tim Noble and Sue WebsterHE/SHE ©2003(installation view)Modern Art, London I loved the skill needed to create these fascinating shadow self-portraits. They obviously are very passionate about their art. But they don't just do shadow illusions here is a word illusion very much like the one in this post.Tim Noble and Sue Webster" " ©2003I'll let you fill in the title of this piece. [...]

Levitating Helicopter Illusion


There are many videos going around showing helicopters flying apparently without the aid of their rotors. Here is the best example of this type of illusion to date.

(object) (embed)

Why does it look as if the helicopter is levitating without power? Is it possible that the helicopter is on a wire being lifted by a second copter just out of sight? I think that this is a Top-Secret test of a helicopter fitted with an anti-gravity prototype device, caught on tape by conspiracy theorists. Remember, just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

The answer to this question is simple enough. The frame rate of the camera and the copter are in sync thus creating the illusion of a copter being able to fly without it's rotors turning. The fact is the rotors are turning like always it just doesn't show with this camera setup. Or is that just what they want you to believe?

Here is a military test of the anti-gravity device caught on tape. This one uses the Mi24 helicopter seen here in this image.


This military Mi-24 HIND was the first helicopter to enter service with the Russian Air Force as an assault transport and gunship.

(object) (embed)

So what is the true reason these helicopters can fly without their rotors turning?

Triple Sunrise Illusion


Here is another illusion found on the Astronomy Picture of the Day. I stumbled upon it via Tricks and Illusions.


Triple Sunrise
Credit & Copyright: Jim Hoida

Explanation: Today, the Sun rises due east at the Equinox, a geocentric astronomical event that occurs twice a year. To celebrate, consider this view of the rising Sun and a lovely set of ice halos recorded on a cold winter morning near Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA, planet Earth. Produced by sunlight shining through common atmospheric ice crystals with hexagonal cross-sections, such halos can actually be seen more often than rainbows. The remarkable sunrise picture captures a beautiful assortment of the types most frequently seen, including a sun pillar (center) just above the rising Sun surrounded by a 22 degree halo arc. Completing a triple sunrise illusion, sundogs appear at the far left and far right edges of the 22 degree arc. An upper tangent arc is also just visible at the very top of the view.
Erik Axdahl

Erik has a blog called The Chronicles of Spaceman Axdahl and he had this to say about this photo he shot.
"I was poking through my hard drive and found this delicious morsel that I took last Winter outside of New Ulm, MN with my four year-old Canon Powershot A20 digicam.

What you see is a parhelion, better known as sun dogs.

Sun dogs are produced when the clouds between the Sun and the observer contain ice crystals rather than droplets. They always occur at twenty-two degrees on either side of the sun.

Being a nerd, when I first saw this I panicked and honked madly at the car I was following to pull over so I could take this shot. My day was then officially made."