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By on January 21, 2010, with 57 Comments

Eyes or Eyelids IllusionHere’s a funny story: when I first located given optical illusion, I thought it was great, and saved it for one of my future articles (today’s one). There was an interesting article accompanying it, explaining the event when this vintage photo was taken, along with the twist I found fascinating. The problem is, I forgot in which direction did the twist go

So let me tell you what is happening here, and leave it up to the majority to decide the direction of the twist. I can see the photo realistic in both ways; either as woman with her eyes shut, having her eyelids painted to appear she is staring at us, or the other way round – woman having her eyes opened, but her mascara done in such way, to appear her eyes are shut.

Don’t take me for granted, but I lean more towards the first option. I just know that when I first saw it, the twist was opposite to what I imagined it to be. It’s just that I forgot, and don’t remember what is the proper way of seeing it.


57 Responses
  1. anonymous says:

    Definitely eyes shut and painted eyes. The painted eyes look freakishly big Oo

  2. Quadrani says:

    I agree, it does look loke her eyes are shut, but however they did it its very good.

  3. Fred says:

    I think it’s obvious her eyes are closed in the real picture. They look fake.

  4. Jademan says:

    Her eyes are closed. Look carefully! :)

  5. Eric says:

    i think her eyes wer origanally painted open. then the artist decided to paint shadows under her eyes as if there was a light source above her.

  6. lolipop2836 says:

    omg thats scary

    • Alexis says:

      ummmmm i somewhat agree i think her eyes were open but the painter wanted to trick you and make you think her eyes were shut.

  7. anonymus says:

    both used a camera that took a wile to take the picture and she closed her eyes mid way through so we see bit closed and open eyes at once

  8. J Hansen says:

    I wonder if she blinked during the exposure.

  9. Mona Karen says:

    My goodness taht is creepy. Suddenly I see her big eyes staring at me. It’s a very good optical illusion.


  10. Krystall says:

    thats awesome but when i first looked at it i only saw her eyes closed.

  11. popesantaxiv says:

    One minute she looks like a normal girl with her eyes closed and the next second I blink, and she’s STARIN’ at me!

    I’m going to hug my mommy now.

  12. Denise says:

    Old photos were often taken of people after they died. Family would prop them up, dress them up, take a picture that made them look as if they were alive. This woman was probably dead when the picture was taken and the makeup was put on to make her look like she was still alive.

    I have a picture of an ancestor that was done this way (1871, I think). It even says on the back of the photo that she died of consumption. She’s propped in a chair (leaning over oddly) with a cane laid across her lap and hand like she’s holding it. A historian friend of mine told me about this, but I imagine this is a similar thing and the lady is dead in this pic. No expert here, but an educated guess.

  13. Ingrid says:

    It’s funny that everybody thinks her eyes are closed with painted on irises. I totally think it’s the other way around. It’s much easier to paint dark eyeliner and shadow under the eyes than to paint irises complete with light reflection. And why make them looking to the left instead of straight on? Also the eyelid crease (which looks a little too sharp) is much more believable as upper eyeline.

    I like the idea that she’s dead, though.

  14. HEMIII says:

    If it’s not what Denise said I believe it’s that the woman blinked during exposure. I’ve done this with my camera messing around with exposure times.

  15. Ed says:

    It is actually both. Camera was a shutter camera that would require the lens to be open for a few seconds. Person sits still and first opens eyes then closes….image burns into the sheet.

  16. Nizati says:

    I heard in the old days, it took a long time to take a photo, as the “film” needed to be exposed for a much longer period of time. Any movment during that exposed film time was caught, causing a blur. Could it be she merely closed and opened her eyes during the picture taking, giving the above effect?

  17. DoM!n!Qu3 says:

    I think her eyes are closed, the actual colored parts of the eyes look to big to be real…

  18. Janice says:

    I think the person had their eyes closed.

  19. Darm58 says:

    Cooooool…..the eyes are closed….look at her eye lashes….they are on the bottom instead of the top….thus etes closed…. :)

  20. I think the eyes were painted on. If you look long enough at her left eye, it appears higher than the right.

  21. Nobody says:

    kinda freaky… but i would say that her eyes are probably most likely closed, and painted to look open. as PP’s said, the “open” version of her eyes are too big to be natural. cool illusion!

  22. manesha says:

    AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! How creepy is that?

    I love it though.

    Ewwww….how do U know people do that Denise?

  23. CRAZY says:

    I REAALLLY hope that her eyes are closed, because those eyes are just creeping me out…

  24. scary optical illusion for me!

  25. punkyitz says:

    Definitely shut. No eyes look like that.

  26. Samantha says:

    Her eyes are shut because if you look really close you cant see her top eyelashes so that means that her eyes must be closed

  27. Willem says:

    I think it’s the fotography technique.. slow shutterspeeds (> 2 seconds) wil give this effect.. one second with eyes open and one with eyes closed and PRESTO!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t this a repeat?

  29. dagger says:

    during the exposure she has closed her eyes.. so the picture is in fact both. just half explosed for both.

  30. mamala says:

    I had my 5 year old look at it and he immediately said she has tattooes on her eyes. I agree that it appears to be slow shutter speeds, she had her eyes closed/opened and blinked as it was being taken.

  31. kittycat says:

    i think her eyes r open but she has rly bad shadows under her eyes lol

  32. emil says:

    my first thought was that she closed or opened her eyes during the photography

  33. Someone says:

    It’s creepy…
    yeah i know her eyes closed and the eyes painted but whoever painted them is a real artist
    cuz i keep seeing her stare at me…

  34. person says:

    Sorry people, it’s a death photo.

  35. kim says:

    I don’t know…
    It’s better if it’s not a vintage photo..
    because in this photo her skin color looks like her eye/lids..
    I think it’s painted..

  36. assmunch says:

    this was done in photoshop for DOS. back in the day.

  37. coolez says:

    eyelids its like in tom and jerry haha :D jerry painted the dogs eyes tom tought the dog was awake.HAHA :D

  38. Troy says:

    This is So Cool But iv seen better

  39. Someone says:

    Though these Victorian mourning photos are sad, i still think they’re creepy

  40. Neuronaut says:

    Reminds me of the paper jesus prayer rug pictures I always get in the mail. You are told to focus on Jesus suffering and then his eyes open.

  41. sjn says:

    her eyes do looked closed but i do believe the eyes are real. you can see a highlight on them that you wouldnt get if it was just her eyelids. you can also see eyeliner at the top which really doesnt mean that much i guess but it does make it seem like her eyes would of been open. she probably did blink which made that Illusion like a couple ppl have said.

  42. ganjatoka says:

    if thats the case she has some big ass eyeballs

  43. Whatcamallit says:

    If you look closer the eyes are shut, but if you step back it looks open.

  44. Annastasia uses good english says:

    she has eyes painted on? P@Darm58 – the eyelashes could’ve painted on XD

    “I cant see the freakin eyes on her EYELIDS no jks just shadow so WTF”

  45. Nikki says:

    Maybe she drew on her eyelids

  46. Joshua says:

    To me it looks like the bodyless women to me.

  47. Caitlin says:

    I know back in the day when a family member would die.. they would take a picture of them (seeing it was probably the only picture they would have ever been in) and would paint the eyes to make them look “alive” I personally find it terrifying haha

  48. Missi says:

    Thats great. But what popped into my head was Pirates of the Caribbean 2, when Jack Sparrow has his eyelids painted like that. XD

  49. Matt says:

    Great pic!
    off hand, what i’m suspecting here is that this is not a long exposure, but that this image was created in the darkroom as an intentional double exposure, with the image of the iris being burned in on top of the closed eyes.
    if it were the result of a long exposure, there would be a second line up from the lower edge of the eyes from when the eyes were open; the ‘open’ eyes in the photo simply appear too unnaturally large.
    there aren’t many examples of early experiments in double exposures, but there are a few. one that i saw from the very early 1900s was a portrait of a local bigwig with a ghostly image of a relative hovering over his shoulder, as if a ghost. pretty convincing, but done in the darkroom. likely a secret joke between the subject of the photograph and the photographer at a time when very few people would have been aware that such manipulations could be done.
    i can’t guess as to what the purpose would have been in constructing this photo, but it’s very cool. :-)

  50. inmyshoes says:

    Zoom in and cover her bottom lashes.They have to be painted on.

  51. InvertFix says:

    This type of thing was done often when people passed away and families had portraits taken of them after death. So it is indeed the eyelids being painted.

  52. DixD says:

    While this woman’s “eyes” do appear to have been drawn in that bashfully romanticized manner of the day, awhile back, I learned completely by accident that this effect can be accomplished with no special equipment, no added work, and NO Photoshop. I had just brought home my new, kick-butt Evo 4G smartphone, and was testing out the 8MP camera; I stepped up to my wife’s face, zoomed in as closely as possible to her right eye, and tapped the icon. I had hoped to capture her iris in clear detail; however, instead, the “shutter-speed” was timed precisely the same as her blinking-speed, and the result was a perfectly aligned, unblurred, crisp, DUAL image of my wife’s eye–100% open, AND 100% closed. I’ve spoken with several photographers, since, who all have said that this phenomenon occurs more often than we know–especially, in group photos where the eyes aren’t always in the best of focus. I’ve had that photo attached to my wife’s cellphone number and ringtone since that day. And, yes, it’s creepy.

  53. lebrone says:

    hei look at her eyes!!

  54. GARY says:

    eyes wide shut, or maybe open, can’t tell.

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