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By on February 1, 2010, with 33 Comments

Michael Kai is a German-born, and Australian-based photographer who won the First International Photographic Art Prize - Arte Laguna back in 2008. Below you can see a sample from his photographic collection, entitled This Side Up. Rest of the collection can be seen in the embedded gallery, just below the tennis court photo. Kai’s photographs look normal at first glance, but look again and you’ll quickly realize he has cleverly tweaked the pictures to disorient the viewer. Even though it’s obvious that these pictures were digitally edited, they still make you wonder if you’re looking at them the right way around. For me personally, it’s hard to distinguish where normal view ends, and upside-down view begins.

Michael Kais This Side Up

Body of work is about optical illusion and the manipulated perception of space.- Michael Kai

More from “This Side Up” Collection by Michael Kai:


33 Responses
  1. billyo says:

    really waste of a camera in my opinion

  2. egdirbr says:

    haha, I didn’t even notice it until I read the description. It’s so subtle, but obvious.

  3. chelsea says:

    its simple the whole picture is upside down but the tennis players were put in the picture i got it at first glance.

  4. Care Bear says:

    Uhoh. I think I’m going to throw up.

  5. Tom says:

    I can’t decide if photoshops really count as optical illusions … to me, this is just a silly picture … I guess I like the more traditional stuff where you’re seeing something that really isn’t possible or real

  6. A digital double exposure. Tennis court and every thing else except players and ball in one; tennis players and ball in another.

  7. ice says:

    I get the tennis court, pool, and golf field… but the other ones are confusing – im not sure what exactly I was looking at…really trippy

    interesting photography/optical illusions anyway

  8. blait says:

    yeah this sux hard

  9. Jen Steffen says:

    It certainly plays with your eyes. I don’t think this is a waste of a camera at all. I think this is cleverly done. There a couple in the gallery that I couldn’t tell what he’d done to them. I still don’t know what the golf picture is supposed to really be.

  10. joe B says:

    It’s really interesting how we as Westerners will ofen focus almost entirely on the focal point as opposed to viewing pictures as a whole. I say “Westerners” because in a fairly extensive study, it was found that Easterners are about 60% more likely to take their surroundings into account when viewing a photo Than Westerners are (the study was in a book called The Geography of Thought). I’m not saying that everyone who isn’t Asian must have “tunnel vision” and not noticed (that’s just not true), I’m only guessing that quite few people didn’t notice the distortion right away.

  11. joe B says:

    Also, I realize how obnoxiously pompous and pretentious that last comment sounded, so let me say now that it wasn’t meant that way and I was only trying to connect this with something I had read a while back and then relay it to you guys.

  12. carm says:

    isnt that meant to say KIA, not KAI?

  13. Justin says:

    I thought this was lame especially for something that won a prize so what they flipped everything but the tennis players digitally

  14. Rahul says:

    waste of time, not impressed!

  15. i dont really like it that much.

    but its funny how the tennis court says KAI.

  16. DR says:

    Excellent illusion! Of course Photoshopped images ‘count’. Illusions are all about what you see and perceive – Its success as an illusion has nothing to do with how it is created. If Escher had access to Photoshop you can guarantee he’d have used it! At some point in a few years time the annoying children that comment on these things saying ‘too easy, this sucks’ and other such things will realise they’ve wasted a whole load of time playing a game that doesn’t exist. Just enjoy thing for what they are and stop trying to pick holes all the time.

  17. Bob Vernon says:

    “If Escher had access to Photoshop you can guarantee he’d have used it!”

    Perhaps, but a little more imaginatively and producing something with more artistic worth than these rather sterile examples, I think. (Would you hang any of these images on your wall, as you might indeed hang an Escher print?)

  18. ellie says:

    its really weird

  19. iriso says:

    Photoshoped “illusions” are not interesting.
    Please don’t feel the need to post every little thing you find. Quality over Quantity.

    Lately some of your posts have just been pitiful. You seen to post crap when you don’t have anything good to post. Not posting anything when you don’t have anything good is OK.

  20. Kei says:

    Great illusion. Doesn’t matter as it is such a trickish awesome confusing illusion.

    It’s weird photoshopped or maybe not as the shadows just goes everywhere.

  21. Dolphin says:

    Are the tennis players bouncing on their heads,or are the rest of the people spider-men and spider-woman?I can’t decide…

  22. shazi gul says:

    This is really amazing. Is it photoshoped?

  23. Brandon says:

    Lol, looks like they just Photoshoped the 2 girls with the shadows on an upside-down photo.

  24. bob says:

    digitally edited ,just boring

  25. Rose says:


  26. Kel says:

    The shadows give it away. The people’s shadows all point to the bottom left, but the net shadow goes the opposite way, and the net cuts the one side of the court too short. Completely disorients the viewer though. Good job.

  27. A says:

    I must be stupid! I didnt notice anything different except for the net at first. :O

  28. Emma says:

    the pic was taken upsidedown and the girls and the ball were painted

  29. anibeth says:

    wtf y r they upside down

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