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By on October 24, 2012, with 153 Comments

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!

Which One is In Front?

Comments

153 Responses
  1. Phil says:

    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. Phil says:

    The blue one, the warm colors makes it feel like it’s closer but I’m pretty sure the blue building is closer.

  3. breandan says:

    At a guess, I’d say the one all the way to the one all the way to the right is the front one.

  4. OttoKnowbetter says:

    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.

  5. Frank says:

    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.

  6. AH says:

    depends on which is your dominant eye…but in all realty the grey one is in front

  7. z2d4th says:

    I think the right side is front.. But truly ha! its very hard to distinguish and very disturbing..

  8. steve says:

    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.

  9. Brandon says:

    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.

  10. Jim says:

    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.

  11. mary says:

    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!

  12. Dave says:

    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.

  13. jod says:

    Scrolling the picture gives the answer: left building is in front.

  14. Cheezstorm says:

    Not that easy, but seems to me like the one on the left

  15. Annie says:

    The grey one is in front of the brown one.

  16. just a guy says:

    darker one is in the front

  17. Gage says:

    the left one

  18. Julie says:

    The gray one is in front. You can tell because of the satellite dish on the balcony.

  19. Micah says:

    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 :)

  20. Mikey says:

    The gray one is in the front. The windows and fans on the brown building vary.

  21. Mike McDonald says:

    The Grey building is in front because it is blocking out portions of the brown building.

  22. John Fett says:

    The building on the left is in front. Note the balconies extending beyond the end of the building.

  23. :) says:

    Is it the one on the left???

  24. Colleen says:

    I don’t get this one at all. I can usually figure these things out, but this one has me stumped.

  25. Anonym says:

    left one ;-)

  26. Jerry Rodz says:

    The Grey is in front…

  27. James says:

    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.

  28. Terry says:

    The grey one..

  29. Scott says:

    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!

  30. Lim says:

    The darker one on the left is front.

  31. mike says:

    almost perfect. satelite dish on 10th floor of gray building gives away that it is in front.

  32. waterfeller says:

    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.

  33. General Catacus says:

    ummmm…… muuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh………..

    the right? no. the left.

  34. nuts says:

    The one on the left is in front.

  35. idude says:

    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.

  36. andym says:

    A great image to exemplify how the warm colors are perceived standing out from the cold ones.

  37. KMR says:

    You can tell that the darker one is in front because it covers up parts of the lighter one

  38. Wilf says:

    building on the left is covering features of the building on the right – so . . . .

  39. Fredrock says:

    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

  40. Johnny says:

    The one on the left, but a good illusion.

  41. Louie says:

    The one on the left.

  42. itsdave says:

    the one in the shadow on the left

  43. wendy says:

    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.

  44. joey says:

    the gray one

  45. James says:

    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.

  46. Ron says:

    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!

  47. Steve Wild says:

    The LH grey building is clearly in front, as can be seen from the lower floors.

  48. CorrlesID says:

    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

  49. Ferrealls says:

    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.

  50. Craig says:

    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.

  51. John says:

    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.

  52. Jackie says:

    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.

  53. kyledude252 says:

    Spoiler!!!!!!

    the dark one is in front because i can see some things like a satellite dish in front of the other

  54. Mitchell Silverman says:

    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.

  55. Mitchell Silverman says:

    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.

  56. kobar says:

    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

  57. Robert Ross says:

    Took a minute to adjust, but now I see this clearly.

  58. TJ says:

    I’m going with the grey one.

  59. RANDOM says:

    The gray one is in front

  60. Owen says:

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

  61. John says:

    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!!

  62. John Schnall says:

    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.

  63. michy says:

    left in front,look at bottom where windows DON”T align

  64. guesser says:

    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.

  65. Ribber says:

    The symmetrical silhouette of the left building tells us it’s the one in front.

  66. Kahla says:

    The dark grey one is in front… I can tell by the windows at the edge of the brown building

  67. bob says:

    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

  68. Casper says:

    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.

  69. anushka says:

    the left one, obviously

  70. Michael Bos says:

    This is a really nice optical illusion, I like the way the photographer make use of the shapes of the building.

    Nice find !

  71. Kelsey says:

    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!

  72. RickS says:

    The left ‘grey’ building is closer to the camera/viewer. Cracking site BTW…!

  73. greg says:

    too easy the left one

  74. Furball says:

    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/11962077@N04/5080231248

  75. buildingviewer says:

    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

  76. Cartillyer says:

    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.

  77. Norm says:

    Well done!

  78. Mickie says:

    The building on the left is in front.

  79. fixxbuxx says:

    The right one is behind. You can see easily with the top of the buildings (shapes of the balconies)

  80. Hashim says:

    WoW……. one of the BEST illusions I HAVE EVER SEEN………… PERSPECTIVE ILLUSION….. GREAT

  81. Josh says:

    I can easily see both being in front. Based on the light I would guess the bright one to be in the front…

    • Matt says:

      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.

  82. STRETCH97 says:

    OOPS! I MENT ??????

  83. James says:

    I find “natural” illusions like this one so much more interesting than drawings, paintings and similar.

  84. Lawrence Grace says:

    They grey one is in front.

  85. anna says:

    Definetley the grey one because some of the brown ones’ windows are cut off….

  86. Khalid AlYazidi says:

    The gray ( left )

  87. Booie says:

    Grey is in Front

  88. Chixmon says:

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

  89. XTNdc says:

    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

  90. Hans says:

    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.

  91. Hussie says:

    Well, that one’s confusing!

  92. Kimon says:

    The one on the left has a consistent outline. The one on the right doesn’t. ;)

  93. ellie says:

    1st post & defo the grey building

  94. simon says:

    how odd. I thought buildings in Egypt would be more pointy.

  95. Pieter B, FCD says:

    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.

  96. Ann says:

    Wouldn’t it depend from which angle you were viewing the two buildings?

  97. Routerman says:

    The grey one for sure…

  98. eng.mfarouk says:

    Hi, I’m Egyptian and I saw this before, the building on the left is the one in front.

  99. alessandro says:

    the left one is in front the right one!

  100. Bob says:

    The gray building is. I can see where it is covering windows on the brown building.

  101. Dave says:

    Looks pretty obvious to me that the grey building is in the front.

  102. Alessandrina says:

    the grey one is in front

  103. MajorWebUser says:

    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.

  104. Brandon says:

    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.

  105. Tulex says:

    Pretty neat. You can tell the grey building is infront because the windows are bigger and the edge never changes.

  106. tienuien says:

    easy, the one on the left.

  107. Ab Löhmmel says:

    The grey one is in front.

  108. Joop says:

    They’re standing next to eachother. The gray flat building is closest.

  109. rulistening says:

    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.

  110. Caryn says:

    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.

  111. Nancy Wilson says:

    This one is driving me crazy! Does anyone have the answer?

  112. luke collins says:

    call me maybe

  113. ulpiu says:

    The gray one, obviously.

  114. Fergus says:

    The grey one is in front

  115. Daniel says:

    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.

  116. kelly says:

    the grey one is in front. I could tell right away.

  117. kelly says:

    where is my prize?

  118. kelly says:

    I’ll be waiting.

  119. bandit885 says:

    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

  120. Marcie says:

    I’m pretty sure the gray one is in front. Nice illusion.

  121. Micah says:

    the dark one is in front, am i right?

  122. Pinyot says:

    Hmmmm..I can’t say for sure which one is in front but I’ll guess its the gray building. Very nice illusion.

  123. Jim says:

    Why did you delete my comment?

  124. Anna&Shelby says:

    I think that the one on the right because you can see the right side of the building ?

  125. Paul R Staeps says:

    The one on the right, too easy

  126. Paul R Staeps says:

    I blew it, the correct one is on the left! I just had to look a little closer.

  127. Eric Douglas says:

    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.

  128. Fred says:

    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.

  129. Rizza says:

    I have a fear of large buildings. This photo scared me!

  130. Tulex says:

    Also, you can count 16 floors on the left building, 17 on the right. Less floors, closer….

  131. luke collins says:

    mrs luke

  132. Mr. Pork says:

    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?

  133. hardcore says:

    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.

  134. Peter Marlow says:

    I’m pretty confident the building on the left is in front.

  135. ahmed salah says:

    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 ;)

  136. Cyphis says:

    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?

  137. Giana' says:

    The black building is first

  138. frailbones says:

    look for the satellite dish of the grey building :)

  139. lewac says:

    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.

  140. Josh Davis says:

    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

  141. Abisso says:

    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

  142. Dina says:

    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)

  143. Caity says:

    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.

  144. I THINK THE BUILDINGS ARE SIDE BY SIDE I COULD BE WRONG.

  145. Tabrez says:

    the grey one is in front. How? Notice how the building overlaps some of the outdoor AC units and also cuts off some of the windows projections.

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