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By on May 1, 2008, with 44 Comments

Patty Winsauer sent this magnificent photo along with following text: “Hi. This is a picture my aunt e-mailed to me. It is from the Best Photo Awards by National Geographic. It took me a while to see the zebras, cuz I thought the zebras were gray and their shadows were striped. I’m not completely sure it could be classified as an illusion, but it still looks kinda cool.” I decided to post this photo cause it reminded me of our previously successful Camel Shadows illusion. Previous illusion also won National Geographic’s Best Photo Award. This one is great, but little too similar (in my opinion) to win the same award again. What is your opinion? Does this count as an illusion?

National Geographics Shadow Zebras Illusion


44 Responses
  1. Dave says:

    This is actually really freaking cool. I’d like to see if such a thing could be find on like Google Earth or the likes. That would be even cooler.

  2. Shaun says:

    Though it is rather easy to understand it, this is an excellent illusion. It looks perfectly a herd of shadow zebras would look like. Two thumbs up.

  3. Linzi says:

    reminds me of the camel one

  4. Anonymous says:


  5. Janae says:

    The cool thing about this one is that it is a real illusion, no photoshop here.

  6. U2freak says:

    sweet……………….2nd comment

  7. Charles says:

    Very cool indeed.

  8. classified info says:

    wow… took me a while to figure it out too i thought it was a cave painting and the shaddows were like a stipy kinda a thing. now i get it though. its like a bird’s eye view of zebra’s running. and yes i think it counts as an illusion

  9. Anonymous says:

    it is cool but in response to dave i doubt it i can zoom right into my front garden and my car is way to blurred the clsoer i get so i dont think the google eath cams as good as the are are up to scratch

  10. fanob5 says:

    This really is cool, and yes, it should be considered an illusion. I don’t think I ever would have seen the zebras had I not read your description. Way to go!

  11. Anonymous says:


  12. mr. wildflowers says:

    it looks like an old cave painting, with zebras photoshopped in. awesome pic.

  13. Anonymous says:

    although this isn’t the best example of this type of shadow illusion i’ve seen (and yes it is an illusion and is called a shadow illusion) it is however a nice looking well composed and interesting photo in its own right. the best example of this illusion i’ve seen was done with a black cat and it’s shadow.

  14. kakrine008 says:

    This is actually really cool! I’d say for sure it’s an optical illusion…it confused me at first with the angles, that’s what thru me off. I love it.

  15. Rina says:

    I didn’t see the stripes at first. Then came the “ahh” moment when I saw it. Amazing!

  16. Anonymous says:

    That is way cool. I like that one a lot.

  17. Anonymous says:

    how does it work?

  18. Anonymous says:

    The Camel version was much better, this one is too obvious.

  19. Nate says:

    No. I dont think this should be an illusion because the zebras are in plain sight! It does look pretty cool though.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thats pretty cool. Never seen it that way before.

  21. i*is*awesome says:

    i don’t get it

  22. Ed Mashmann says:

    I think it only works because the zebras are perpindicular to the sunlight. If they were parallel with the sunlight, i.e. facing the sun or facing away from it, you would just see the zebra and a long indistinguishable shadow behind it.

  23. Ed Mashmann says:

    This works because the zebras are perpendicular to the sunlight. If they were parallel to the sunlight, i.e. looking into or walking away from the sunlight, you would see the zebra an an indistinguishable shadow.

  24. Anonymous says:

    it looks like a cave drawing from an ancient people to me

  25. Not Anonymous says:

    This is the shizzle to my nizzle, fo’rizzle!

  26. Cat says:

    wow i NEVER guessed the camel one but after this one… omg it is INGENIOUS…. INGENIOUSSSSSS!!!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    I dont get it..

    To me it looks like a top view of a bunch of zebras and their shadows..

    am i missing something????

    The first thing i think of when i see black and white stripes are zebras.

  28. Anonymous says:

    for those of u who think it’s photoshopped, its not. if it was, it wouldn’t have won an award. for those of you who don’t try to come up with an explaination for everything, I’m glad you liked it. The funny thing is, I didn’t even know about the camel illusion.

  29. pmcculley says:

    does anyone know the photographer? I’d like to get permission to print for a book I am writing. I have contacted National Geographic and they don’t know of the photo????????

    MUCH appreciated.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I think it is an illusion becuase my eyes whacked out when I saw it : )

  31. Anonymous says:

    It’s simple it’s a pic of a herd of zebras takein sideways and backwards.

  32. Lara says:

    I thought the zebras lost there colors (or lack of colors) at first, but a closer look lets you see that its a picture from the sky!~!

  33. Catgirl ( Liv ) says:

    This is a birds’ eye view cuz the zebras are walking on the ground and the shadows r next 2 them Duh!

  34. James Dolan says:

    You are all idiots, this is a fake! The shadow on the rocks are opposite of the zebras. When did we get 2 suns, people are so gullible, wake up.

  35. if this isn’t an illusion, what is??? i think it rocks!!!

  36. llonkyram1 says:

    …i thought at first when i saw the picture that it wasn’t all zebra….coz i saw a shadow of a camel….

  37. PaperMoon says:

    Wow that is amazing! I didn’t even see the zebras at first! Cool! :)

  38. Erik says:

    I really like this pic. It’s awesome. Does anyone know who the photographer is? I would like to contact him/her for a hires copy.

  39. Drake says:

    I like this photo as well. It made me to a triple take to make shure it was real. At first I thought the shadows were zebras and the Zebras were suppose to be the shadows, then I realized it was take at a perpindicular angle, right above the Zebras.

    I like this pic alot.

  40. fred says:

    James Dolan mentioned the ‘rocks’ having shadows opposite the zebras – he doesn’t seem to realise that they could be holes – hoof prints!! It would be unlikely to get so many rocks in such straight lines!!
    Sometimes people need to think more before writing these comments.

  41. CheseeCake says:

    Google Home

  42. STRETCH97 says:

    i think they are donkeys with zebra stripes painted barely visable. this is pretty obvious
    don,t you think so also?

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