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By on March 2, 2009, with 38 Comments

National Geographic’s optical illusions were always among my favorite ones. Not only do their photographers create awesome illusions (from time to time), but their photographs themselves contain artistic touch which makes them perfect fit for this website. Before you continue examining below photo, I recommend seeing National Geographic Camels and NG Zebras first. The aerial photography style is identical in all of them, but this illusion works differently. What we have here is a bunch of flamingos posing together for an auto-portrait, which accidentally looks like one giant Flamingo. In a way, this is very similar to a Disney group photo we had yesterday, agree?

Flamingo Group Photo Optical Illusion


38 Responses
  1. turlaach says:

    Do you mean, ”Flamingo’? :)

    Great photo from NG there!

  2. Misa says:


  3. Vurdlak says:

    thnks turlaach

    fixed it!

  4. Waterfeller says:

    I don’t go to this website every day to view perfect spelling… Keep up the good work!

  5. Anonymous says:

    btw Flamenco is type of spanish dance

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to disillusion everyone – but this photo was ‘fixed’. The shadows from the birds in the ‘feet’ don’t match the shadows from the ‘body and head’. The angle of the shadows are different and that couldn’t happen in nature.

    The photographer cheated by creating this photo on his computer…

  7. Jules says:

    Hey that’s pretty cool! Nice site, btw. And to “Anonymous”: the shadows could vary because of the flamingo’s different positions in relation to the sun.

  8. Anonymous says:

    whoever said the shadows dont match up is wrong, they do you can tell that there is a hill on the right side that is why the shadows look skewed compared to the body, but they arn’t really, this still might ahve been done on the computer but the shadows are not proof

    and btw i like this site :D

  9. Joe says:

    Am I’m correct in guessing NG got the Flamingos to pose this way by sprinkling “Flamingo Food” in this shape on the water?

  10. Shannon says:

    To this website: Thanks for a little daily entertainment for my eyes and brain. I have your illusions on my desktop.
    To Jules: you are very correct in the matters of the shadows being relevent to sun.
    To those perfect spellers: Where’s your great website located!?

  11. Lara says:

    OMG!!~!! That is totally one of the coolest things I have ever seen!~!

  12. David A Maisel says:


    Sorry not possible on the face of the earth unless there’s a few hundred if not thousand miles of distance between them AND the distance was on an east-west line.

    This is, in fact, the way cinematographers figure out how other cinematographers faked their shots. On the face of the earth in a single location the sun’s rays all arrive nearly parallel (so little difference as not to be noticeable).

    The sun is eight light minutes (approximately 95,040,000 miles) away. the difference of a few dozen feet laterally isn’t going to make a difference in shadow angle.

  13. Shirl_59 says:

    “Fixed” or not – it is very clever – honestly it’s an illusion – that’s why they call it one. Let’s just all enjoy it.

  14. OuRaNoS says:

    Gotta love NG!!!

  15. ten says:

    I think it’s a photoshoped picture, a nice one, but as anonymous (6th comment) said it’s surely a photographer fix… And the shadows ARE the clues.

    @ Jules (7th comment): read the interesting David A Maisel comment to understant sun lightning :-).
    @ anonymous (8th comment) : Moreover, it’s not possible to have a hill in the water. otherwise, it shouldn’t have water on it that is not the case on the picture.
    @ to me : May be the shadows seems not to be in the same direction and it’s another optical illusion… Frack ! OI are everywhere !

    btw, great site I use to watch every day since the first time with not faked pleasure. sorry for bad english.

  16. Phil says:

    David, if some of the birds are standing on a hill, then their shadows would look a lot different than the ones standing elsewhere. Actually, mythbusters did a good show on this when they were trying to bust the myth of the fake moon landing!

  17. Anonymous says:

    David A Maisel, I don’t think Jules was referring to celestial geometry, but simply that (1) the flamingos don’t have perfectly straight necks, (2) you can’t assume that that they are holding them exactly vertical, (3) which way is each flamingo facing.

    Because of this the angle of shadows won’t be consistent. If they were perfectly consistent THEN I’d consider that the picture was doctored. There is a general variation in all the shadows, and you most certainly can’t say that these angles are one way at the ‘head’ and another at the ‘feet’.

  18. Grammario says:

    All of your posts are rife with grammar and spelling mistakes. I also find it truly insufferable how you feel obliged to interrupt the purpose of each post with personal information from your life about which no one cares at all.

    Because I like optical illusions and your site is otherwise great, I’m going to make a habit of correcting all of your writing, from this day forward.

    Let’s begin. Today’s commentary would be improved with the following changes:

    “National Geographic’s optical illusions have always been among my favorite. Not only do their skilled photographers take shots which exhibit great artistry, but, from time to time, they’ll take photographs that are also optical illusions, making them a perfect fit for this site. Before you continue examining the below photo, I recommend taking a look at National Geographic Camels and NG Zebras. The aerial photography style is identical in all of them, but this illusion works differently. What we have here is a bunch of flamingos posing together for an auto-portrait, which accidentally looks like one giant Flamingo. In a way, this is very similar to a Disney group photo we had yesterday, agree?”

    • PS says:

      If you’re going to be all rude and correct his grammar, why don’t you make sure that your grammar is right?!

      Vurdiak: I love this site! Keep up the great work!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Some birds in the front have NO shadows……..

  20. Anonymous says:

    Of course this photo is a fake. What are the chances of this occurring in real life? And with a photographer accidently being in the neighborhood?

    First of all, I’m no expert in recognizing fake photo’s from real ones. But what strikes me is that there hardly is any shadow on such a bird itself. The birds are fairly close to each other and the sun seems to be quite low (because of the stretched shadows) so especially in the middle of the group all birds should have shadows of the birds next to them on their bodies. But all shadows lay on the ground.

    Last of all don’t bother correcting my grammer/spelling.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow seriously guys it is a very cool picture. y do u have to point out every little wrong detail to ruin it 4 everyone else. And plus all the shadows are facing the same way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. PecosPeet says:

    Grammario: When one comments on another’s grammar, it is wise to ensure your comments are grammatically correct.

  23. Juanma says:

    To Grammario:

    If you want to focus on grammar, good speech and pedantry, go and write your own grammar blog, and stop bothering us with your unsolicited lessons about what you consider to be ‘truly insufferable’.


    If there’s something I like is freshness, and this site has it.
    Vurdlak, keep on doing such a great work.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Don’t you think that if the image was faked, he would have made it look like a FLAMINGO, instead of a DUCK! Grow Up

  25. Mike says:

    I think it doesnţt matter if itţs a big flamingo or a big duck or a big whatever. I find it nice that itţs the form of a bird ;)

  26. Detective Kitty says:

    I don’t think it was accidental. The edges are too sharp (like the tail and beak) to be accidental, usually birds just like to group in big circles. It’s possible food was plaed in this formation so the birds would make it, but that’s just my opinion.

  27. I’m pretty good at photoshop and i can tell that this picture is fake. You see the “light” area just around all the birds, where the water has a brighter color, that’s a typical sign of a photoshop-trick called “patching”.
    What you do is that you “mark” a bit of the picture you want to clone, then you use this little area as a sort of resource and just patch over the flamingos. Woila! Not very hard to do but with good result.

    you can clone without the brighter/greyish result but it’s a lot harder! And in a environment like this (brown water), why bother?


  28. Millie is da bomb digidy. ily Kathryn says:

    Looks like flamingos making a duck shape with long legs!!

  29. tacos says:

    lol love it why cant flamingos be purple that would be much better

  30. coolez2001 says:

    not cool :P :P :P its actualy ugly it took me 1 hour to get it :P :P this stinks :P

    • Nyx says:

      Honey, just because you didn’t getit doesn’t mean that you should ruin it for everyone else and degrade this site. Capiche?

  31. toxic sandwich says:

    fake and boring i iwsh there were more illusions that keep’ya starin for eva

  32. Iman Azol says:


    It’s a real photo.

    Emma: I’m pretty good with Word and I can tell your post is fake. See those light areas around the letters? That’s a typical sign of something called “copy and paste.”

  33. Becky says:

    Flamingos making a flamingo :)

  34. RN says:

    Cool illusion.

  35. Pretty cool! It is from a National Graphic photographer so it CAN’T be fake. Brilliant and amazing.

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