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By on July 20, 2012, with 31 Comments

Few years ago I’ve received these two photos as a submission for Mighty Optical Illusions blog. Somehow they’ve slipped my attention and I never seem to have published them. I apologize to the submitter as I don’t have his/her original email any more, so can’t credit the source properly. Anyway, it is truly amazing what happens when you take an ordinary photo, cut out the people in it, and paste them back out of their original context. Just look at the two photos below, and you’ll immediately see what happens!

Desert People Optical Illusion
Desert People Optical Illusion


31 Responses
  1. Yura says:

    where is the illusion?

  2. Kairho says:

    Wow!!! …perspective.

  3. carzy chick says:

    lol there is a mimi me!!!!!!!

  4. Anand Ghurye says:

    This is a psychological phenomenon described in gestalt . Our brain always tries to explain things in terms of what is known prior . In the first photo the primary information is the people . So in the second photo we look for the people . The foreground changes the background and we are forced to see the slope as inverted one as compared to the earlier photo .

  5. RN says:

    I don’t quite get it, but maybe I’m just tired…

  6. Colleen says:

    I think this is so cool.

  7. Weebo says:

    I could tell from looking at the first photo that they were smaller. It’s not that hard to see…

  8. Brooks Masterton says:

    This really illustrates just how efficient the mind is in gathering data and registering incongruity or lack of consistency. Perceptually the mind is troubled by the size of the fourth person in the second picture because the depth and space cues to not match. Because they do in the first picture it is not a difficulty. Interestingly you do not seem to need to be taught this, you just “learn” through experience and therefore the rain forest people of Papua New Guinea ( never seeing more than a distance of 100 or 200 feet do not have the same experience of distance and perspective and find the size of the fourth person in both pictures troubling.

  9. Vincent says:

    This just PHOTOSHOPPED
    You see the people are EXACTLY same as the first picture

    • Vincent says:

      Oh, and I forgot. THEY DON’T HAVE SHADOWS

    • MasterSpyro001 says:

      well, shadow wise, it probably wasn’t sunny
      and DUH!!! ITS SUPPOSED to be shop’d!!!! Thats the POINT!!! Read the paragraph before u see the pic…

  10. eric says:


  11. quack yup quack says:

    awesome i didnt see that coming(first??)

  12. SmartGirl says:

    Omg no shadows! Anyone can guess its photoshopped!

  13. Warwick says:

    That’s not an optical illusion that’s called perspective.

    Refer to Father Ted episode with the Giant Ants. Big, Far away. Big, Far Away.

  14. Terri says:

    I have nothing to say about the picture, I just wanted to be first. :)

  15. Terri says:

    dont know if you’re aware of this or not but igoogle is going out of business! if I’m not mistaken it will happen in 2013.

  16. mike says:

    so what’s the illusion?

  17. eee efff geee says:


  18. NeatNit says:

    I don’t see the illusion – can someone explain?

  19. Don Know says:

    It’s not so much an illusion or a lousy attempt at PhotoShop… Looking at the top picture you would say Those people are all about the same height – your brain makes up for the fact that they are further and further away.
    The bottom picture shows their actual size in the top photo, wow brain worked really hard to compensate there.

  20. waterfeller says:

    I just returned from vacation to see my photo was published a few days ago. This was taken at Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley N. P.

    The first picture is unretouched. The second is a composite by cutting and pasting the four people into the foreground.

    It is simple perspective, but the brain adjusts the sizes in the first picture so they all look normal. The sizes are the same in the second, but they look much smaller. Don has it all figured out.

  21. Emma Lou says:

    All I can say is “You had to be there!”

  22. julie says:

    where the heck is the illusion. this stinks but the second one was kind of cool

  23. gokalp says:

    That’s not an optical illusion that’s called perspective


  25. Kobkiat says:

    Don’t feel amazed at all. It’s photoshop made, not illusive phenomenon.

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