Las Vegas Motorcycle Optical Illusion

After recognising our “Two Glasses Illusion”, user named stg2 sent us this wonderful photo of a “flying” motorcycle. He also provided detailed explanation how this type of optical illusion works. Jump inside this post to read it! Thanks stg2!

Stg’s optical illusion explanation:

“I had the camera on a tripod just inches off the ground. The shutter speed was 4 seconds, the aperture was set at f. 11. My son stood just out of camera view to the left of this photo with a Vivitar 283 flash in his hand. No link to the camera. When I fired the camera on a 5 second timer, he watched the red light flash when the timer counted down and when the timer went off and the camera shutter opened, he hit the test button on the flash which was aimed at the front facade of the bike, one flash which exposed the bike perfectly, then the remaining four seconds allowed the lights of the sign and the strip in the background to BURN IN giving both the foreground and the background the correct exposure. —- Only photoshop was the motion trails and the lens flare on the tail light, Other than that, the image is as it was recorded. Pros call this dragging the shutter with a fill flash or painting with light.

For a photographer, the shot shown at “Two Glasses Illusion” is no mystery. Place the glow ring which has been exposed to light and glows in the dark, flat on the table in the starting position, with the camera on the tripod and on bulb or a slow shutter speed like four seconds etc., turn all the lights off in the room and fire the camera with no flash, when the shutter opens and remains open, start raising the glowing ring to the position you want to be your final placement. When the glow ring arrives at the top location, with the camera shutter still open, fire a flash manually by hand using the test button etc. Your final image will be a glow ring rising from the table with the glow trails visible and the final flashed image of correctly exposed hands holding the ring in the final position. This is a painting with light technique used by virtually all commercial professional photographers. I used a similar process when I took this photo of my son’s motorcycle in front of the Welcome Sign on Las Vegas Blvd.”

11 Replies to “Las Vegas Motorcycle Optical Illusion”

  1. I wouldn’t call this much of an optical illusion… But a very good (pro) photo with fairly advanced lighting-techniques to get nice exposure, (ruined by two photoshop-filters) :P

  2. its a motercycle and the vegas sign. my teacher has that as her backround on her computer. its famous. dont you guys know anything?????????

  3. In response to Chain’s response, it was not intended to be an optical illusion, but merely an explanation and example of the “Painting with light” technique used to create the effect/illusion “Two Glasses Illusion” found on this site.

    I’d say using a Vivitar 283 flash, hand-held and firing with a test button during a four second exposure about as simple of a lighting technique as it gets, but the PROCESS of painting with light DURING a long exposure is what I was trying to explain in regard to the “Two Glasses Illusion. “

    Pretty much the same PROCESS used on both the Vegas Bike shot and the “Two Glasses Illusion.”

    Yes! I also have mixed feelings about the two Photoshop filters, the trails and the lens flare (generally pro shooters try to avoid lens flare, not intentionally create it), but I photographed my son’s bike in front of the Vegas Welcome sign on a split second surprise after dinner project and after looking at the finished photo I though it looked STATIC as in NOT MOVING and it seemed to me that a STUNT BIKE should have some indication of movement, so I added the speed trails and the lens flare to make the shot a little less STATIC.

    Some purists say if you touch an image with photoshop you’ve poluted it, these are usually amatures who have created some kind of rule that do not exist in the world of commercial photography. As a professional photographer for over 27 years I should be the one who touts the pureness of not using photoshop, but I am a realist and when you shoot for clients, the end-product is what matters, nobody cares how you got there in the world of professional photography, they only care about the END RESULT. Virtually all pro shooters today use photoshop or any other process that enhances or manipulates their image to produce a better end-result.

    Ansel Adams did it when he flashed his negatives in the darkroom to lower the contrast or used masking in his view cameras to assist in a wider ZONE of exposure. Every photographer dodges or burns their prints to add more detail or block detail.

    Every analog photographer rubs their palm on the print in the developer to heat up the developer in that spot allowing it to process faster than an unrubbed area of the paper.

    When you bring a flash in with an umbrella or a diffuser or bounce it off a wall or ceiling, use a blue filter to turn 3200 tungsten light into 5500 degree kelvin daylight white or a silver or white reflector to add light in the shadows…

    All of that is MANIPULATION OF THE IMAGE for a BETTER END RESULT, so photoshop is nothing more than a NEW TOOL added to a long list of tools, a few listed above to make photographs more than just snapshots.

    Photoshop is merely another tool, not unlike using a 300mm 2.8 lens to shoot poirtraits and fashion so the background is compressed and mottled, which is why the 300mm 2.8 and the 400 4.0 are the favorite choices of fashion shooters. Not unlike using a wide angle lens to create keystoning vertical lines or concave distortions or merely because that is the only lens that allows you to get the entire group of 50 people in one shot within the confines of a small room.

    All different ways of manipulating the creation of an image to produce a desired END RESULT and for a professional photograper, it is the END RESULT he sells, not the creative process.

    Art directors don’t care how you did it as long as you did.


  4. Ok, It doesn’t look like much of an optical illusion. I think that it is a very talented picture. Most people don’t have the knowledge of how to do a picture like this. The photographer really did a nice job here. STG2 thanks for the explanation. I played around with the shutter speed on my digital camera a couple of times just for fun, but never thought about trying to use a flash to paint with light. I really think that is where this could be an optical illusion… the painting with lights gives it an optical illusion look. this phot may not be the best example, but if you look at the two glasses illusion, you can see why this could be an optical illusion.

  5. added more- the tyre above and the motorcycle seat it is not the same effect to the optic. ya again and i certainly with my optic judgement it was because of that it included in optical illusion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *