Which One is In Front?

Gabriele and Vid both pointed me at the same time to this recent photo of buildings located somewhere in Egypt. With its original title “The building I thought was in front is actually behind the other one“, question I’m about to ask comes naturally – so which one do you think is actually standing in front of the other? Who knows, perhaps there are some of our Egyptian friends among us, who can confirm our findings!

154 Replies to “Which One is In Front?”

  1. At first glance I assumed the lighter brown building on the right was in front, but then I looked closer and it switched to the left hand one, then switched perspective back and forth the longer you look at it!

    Looking closer though, the darker building on the left the windows look larger, so I would assume it is actually closer

  2. Clearly, the building on the left is in the foreground while the sunlit face of the other building is perpendicular to the visible face of the one on the left.

  3. It’s pretty obvious that the shaded building is in front of the sun-bathed building. Notice the areas that are obscured by the edge detail of the shaded building.

  4. At first glance, it appears the building on the right is in front. After looking at it more closely, I am fiarly certain that the building on the left is actually in front.

  5. Cool play of light and dark. The one on the left is in the foreground. You can see some of the windows on the right building are not full panes.

  6. The gray building is in front. What gives it away are the windows going up on the left of the brown building. Some windows are covered by the gray building.

  7. the one that appears more gray is in front of the brownish one because many of the edges are covering parts of the brownish one…like windows and air conditioners and other things on the balconies. but it IS a good example of a real life illusion image!

  8. I think that the left one stands in front. The flor sizes are always the same. But in the right one, you can see parts of the floors disappearing, specially in the low ones. Also, you can see windows in different sizes, because they are behind…

    The effect may come from the sunlight, coming from the left and back, so the left building front face is in shadows, but the right building left face is in the light… and our brain may interpret: “light in front, shadow back”.

    Best regards.

  9. Fairly obvious in the larger photo since the right buildings “ledges” and windows look all different sizes which proves it is the one in back being cut off by the left building.

    From the smaller photo it is harder to tell though :)

  10. I love how the structure of the two buildings from this angle line up so well. There are parts of the edge between them where it would be a challenge to know which is which. But it is not quite that good the whole way up and down. I think it is clear from the top and bottom parts that the one on the left is in front.

  11. Cool! The answer is obvious upon study, yet even when my brain “knows” the answer, my visual system still reverts readily to the wrong interpretation of the photo.

    Very nice illusion!

  12. What a terrific illusion!

    I’m guessing that it is because the lighter (orange) building captures our attention. However, it is clear that the gray building is in the foreground. You can see that some of the windows in the orange building are hidden when they would be visible if in front.

  13. at first glance i thought the right one was in front (because of the lighting maybe)
    but after a closer look you can see that the left one is standing in front of the right one.

  14. This one is very cool. I had to look at it for a bit but the gray one is in front.

    I think you can start to tell around the top and bottom of the picture

  15. The building on the left is forward in the photo. If you look at the overlapping portion of the photo, all of the details of the building on the left are clear and complete. The details on the right are not complete and as you look up and down from one level to the next, the lines of the building are different (look at the window sills and ac units).

    Still a cool photo, at a glance it is ambiguous.

  16. If you look at the right side of the left building you can see that it is in front. My mind is telling me the right one is in front at a glance.

  17. I saw it two ways, as described. My 6 year old son saw those, as well as a third way to see it — as if the brown building were a right-angle extension of the gray one… and now I can see that too!

  18. Easy!! well its a great optical illusion from first impact, i mean, its like a 3d image over a piece of paper, you can se a “cube” (or ohter) in two perspective mode, same as here the only diference (wich you can know the answer) is light. and thanks to my engeneering skills i should say, the photo was taken back of the buildings, or for a better explanation, both buildings are side to side not brown in front cause if sun is lighting in the front face of brown building then gray building (the face we see) should have light gray, but its dark as one sie of the brown building. Imagine 3 layers on a desk, first layer is sun, 2nd layer is both buildings draw, and 3rd layer closest to us, is were the photo was shot :D

  19. The building on the right is in front. Given the angle of the sun, if the building on the left was in front it would cast a shadow on the building on the right.

  20. Easy, the closer one is in front. :)

    the building on the left is in front. Observe the windows on the building on the right, and some are cut off, being blocked by the balcony of the left building.

  21. That is great! If you look closely, you can figure it out. But even knowing for sure, I find easy to think the other building is in front.

  22. The grey building on the left is in front: the bits of the building between each window (on the different storeys) overlap different parts of the sandy-coloured building on the right, e.g., one grey jutted-out piece overlaps onto the exterior of the sandy building where another jutted piece overlaps a window from the sandy building.

    Clever. The original title also gave it away as the building that came immediately to mind was the one on the right. Therefore, the one on the left is actually the one in front.

  23. The Dark grey building on left is in front. Its projections and windows are uniform in size and shape. The protections and windows on the brown building are irregular in size and shape as they are obscured by the overlapping grey projections.

  24. Moreover 15 floors on grey building = 16 on brown building. Unless it actually has taller floors, it must be closer.

    None the less a very nice illusion, like the ones where tiles can be floor or ceilings.

  25. the darker building is closer. you can tell by looking at the overhangs of the windows on the dark building because they turn the corner to the non visible side but the underneath is still visible this is not the case for the light building

  26. Nice. It’s actually impossible to tell. The clues that signal which is in front also help the other building. And vice versa

  27. The protusions on the grey building cut through the windows of the brown building; therefore the grey building is in front of the brown one!!

  28. Very effective. You can tell the dark building actually is in front (because of various cut-off windows, air conditioners, etc) but the illusion is strong that the lighter one is in front.

  29. i think the one on the left is in front, because if you look close enough the building on the right has air conditioners hanging out of the windows and some of them are being blocked by the building on the left. which indicates that the building on the left is in front.

  30. its the left one in the 7th gap from the top on the left one there is a sadilite dish that hangs out that you would not see if the other one was in front also there is a air conditoning unit on the right one that is blocked on that same level

  31. Wow, nice one! At the lower part you can see that the building on the left is on front. The ‘balconies’ at the bottom of the right building are not in line with the rest of the building.

  32. The building on the left is in front.
    Your mind assumes that the brightest/lightest object is in front which is why this one works.

    Good one!

  33. Very clever image of the two structures that has me perplexed as which one is front of the other. I tried in vain looking for clues, like the reflections on the window to provide me the answer. However I’m not graced with the observational techniques of Sherlock Holmes and resigned myself to the tried and true coin toss, that least gave me a 50/50 chance of being right. I chose the darker building. Kudos to the author of this this unique photograph.

    I myself have an image to share that is in a similar vein, but by no means as brilliant as this one.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5080231248

  34. the left building has to be the one in front. when you look at the entire overlapping part you can see some kind of vertical ‘movement’ (i don’t know how to describe it properly) of the overhanging parts of the left building in front of the right one

  35. I think they’re actually next to each other. The brown side of the building on the right faces the side of the building on the left(the side that we can’t see). The side we can see of the building on the left faces the same street as the window/balcony side of the other building faces.

    1. Neither. They’re actually side by side, the picture was just taken at an angle to cause it to look like one is in front of the other.

  36. Well clearly the grey building on the left is in front (you can see all the balconies) – but is is an interesting effect

  37. Definitely the building on the left (darker building) you can tell from the windows – those from the building on the left end completely while those from the building on the right don’t

  38. Very neat photo.

    The building on the left must be the one in front. About midway down the photo you can see a satellite dish on a balcony of the building on the left, which is clearly in front of the building on the right. If you focus on that one spot, it’s obvious. But even knowing that fact, the buildings still swap places visually for me every few seconds.

  39. If you look at both the top few floors and the bottom few floors, it’s obvious that the building on the left is in front. At no time do the concrete extensions at each floor of the left one get occluded by the building on the right. After a bit more study, it’s also clear that you’re only seeing a fraction of the leftmost windows of the brighter building.

  40. Clearly the building on the left is in the foreground.

    Typically dealing with the issues of light and shadow, objects in the foreground are usually lighter. In this case it is clear that the building on the left is likely photographed from its north side (or side away from the sun). The building on the right is further from the camera, but out of the shadow of the grey building. Helping this “illusion” further is the fact that the brown building’s shadow side appears lighter than the grey building’s.

    The final key is taking a closer look at the balconies on both buildings where they meet in the photo. The foreground building’s balconies are all visible whereas the background building’s are not.

  41. It appears obvious that the grey building is in front, or closer to the viewer. The corners are clearly in front of the view of the brown bldg.

    There is no way the brown bldg shows anything in front of the grey one.

  42. It has to be the one on the left. You can see the clean lines of its corner over some of the windows of the building on the right.

  43. I have finally decided that the black building is on one side of a street and the tan on is on the other with the black in the foreground. The black building’s projections look more natural than if the tan building was in front.

  44. The Grey one on the left is in front. You can tell this by looking at the windows on the tan colored bld. on the left side of the bld. the windows get smaller as you go higher. look close at the windows and you can tell for yourself.

  45. at first i was sure it was the one on the right. then i was sure it was the left one.
    After comeparing the a/c sizes, it’s got to be the right one. IMHO

  46. a close look at the balconies shows that the building on the left is in front. this is only interesting because it looks like the building on the right is in the front. the point is that this is a great example of how lighter images precede and darker ones recede. something for graphic arts folks to keep in mind. but, they probably already know it.

  47. Funny picture ! The left building is in the front as you can see the whole of its right side. Half of the other buildings windows are covered by the left one.

  48. Neither. They side by side. I looked at this when there were no posts and decided the left was the answer.
    Today I noticed that the POV was in front of the “grey” left building and the sun was coming from behind and shinning on the side of the “brown” building. Note the shadows on the right side of the balconies.
    Given the POV, the grey building would cover the back of the brown building even if the are side by side.
    Possible?

  49. wow, I totally thought wrong at first. I think it’s because are brain goes for the brightest items because they look like the sun is bouncing off it and the darkest ones look shadowy.

  50. the left one (the grey )… the air condition on the golden building u can see that they are cut and some of them are behind the the grey one ;)

  51. I honestly don’t see how anyone can be confused by this. The one on the left is unquestionably in front of the one on the right. I don’t even really get how it can be confusing… at the most basic level, things that are in front of other things, block (cover) them from view… The building on the left is clearly blocking view of the building on the right and it’s in no way confusing to the natural human brain. Am I missing something?

  52. the gray one is in front. look at the corners nearer the top you’ll notice that gray is overlapping brown. to me its quite obvious.

  53. i find the gray/ darker building being in front only because the shapes of the two buildings is more known for the gray building to have cuts like that the lighter one really doesnt have the right shape the brightness makes you think the brighter buildings in front

  54. The fact some of the windows in the light-brown one are partly hidden reveals that one is on the back.

    But it took me a while to figure it out and it’s a really mind-bending casual illusion

  55. I would say it’s taken from a perspective. That they are lined up beside eachother, with a gap between (An alleyway if you want)

  56. The one on the left is in front. You can tell because there is a satellite dish right in the middle of the photo coming off the building on the left.

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