Michael Kai’s “This Side Up”


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 Kai - This side up - optical illusion 1

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

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

  • Levedra


    • dawson

      yeah at photoshopping

    • i have to agree with dawson that looks pretty fake.(as do most of the pictures in here do).

  • billyo

    really waste of a camera in my opinion

  • egdirbr

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

  • chelsea

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

  • Care Bear

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

  • Tom

    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

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

  • ice

    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

  • blait

    yeah this sux hard

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • carm

    isnt that meant to say KIA, not KAI?

  • Justin

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

  • Rahul

    waste of time, not impressed!

  • i dont really like it that much.

    but its funny how the tennis court says KAI.

  • DR

    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.

  • Bob Vernon

    “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?)

  • ellie

    its really weird

  • iriso

    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.

  • Kei

    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.

  • Dolphin

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

  • This is really amazing. Is it photoshoped?

  • Brandon

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

  • bob

    digitally edited ,just boring

  • Rose


  • Kel

    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.

  • A

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

  • Emma

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

  • wtf y r they upside down

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