National Geographic’s Shadow Camels


Check out what comes from National Geographic! Steve Greenwood submitted this fabulous illusion via email: “If you check out the attached photo from National Geographic you will see that the black shapes are NOT the camels, the narrow stripes below the shapes are, the black shapes are the shadows of the camels, as this photo was taken from overhead. Good stuff!”. Now here’s another asignment for you: try to find one that has someone riding it. I’m not sure, but I think I even spotted two with riders on them. Another thing, is there one with two humps on it’s back? Am not sure, but let’s try t find one! Thanks Steve!

  • ricardo_africa

    really nice picture

  • Chris

    That’s quite beautiful, National Geographic photographers are the cream of the crop, in my opinion.

  • db

    Why do some of the shadows seem to have shadows?

    • cheychey

      thats exactly what i thouhgt !

    • Johan

      What you are seeing is the dark side of the actualy camel that is not in sunlight, i.e their left side.

  • Daft SPARTAN-117

    haha, thats great. I love the pictures taken by Nat. Geo. and this ppic is really cool looking

  • joe

    Very cool image, though I find it strange that the shadows cast by the camels don’t go over other camels. Dosent seem right to me…anyone have any suggestions? The best example of what I’m talking about can be seen on the 4th camel in from the lower left.


  • Merlijn

    thats nice

  • rohtop

    you can say that Chris!
    beautifull picture!


    Thats totally awsome

  • Pouch

    to Joe… the sun is at a lower angle – the shadow of the camel is going right under the other camels legs. and DB – the shadows that seem to have shadows are caused by the side of the camel that isnt getting sun light – the “dark side of the camel” per say.

  • scott

    Joe, the camels’ shadows do go over other camels, its just that the contrast of the shadow is much easier to see on the sand than on the other camels. Think about it; if you stood in someone else’s shadow, it would go over you, but you wouldn,t look very dark compared to that person’s shadow on the ground.

  • chris

    shadows are cast from each camel downward, no matter how deep down the sun already is. so no shadow from one camels back can cast on another camel of the same size. the shadow of your 4th camel from the lower left is of course cast onto the legs of the camel next to it. but that can’t be seen from the top, since the foto is taken from a 90° angle

  • grant

    the reason shadows aren’t cast on the camels themselves is because of the angle of the sun, the shadow goes under the camel, i guess a little bit of shadow on the legs, but can’t see that from the angle

  • grant

    actually i was wrong, didn’t look enough. there are shadows. simply look over one more camel, the group of two just right of the ones joe was talking about, you can see that a shadow is indeed cast onto another camel

  • joe

    Thanks guys and gals for clearing up the mystery of the camel shadow for me :)

  • dylan


  • Dylan!!!

    Veeery clever picture!! I can see more than two riders on the camels though.And there are’t camels with two humps on their backs,they’re the riders.

  • fabio

    great pic!!!

  • lymon

    dylan with the little d is stupid. why did you say boo you loser.

  • Francis E. Lawlor

    Why are the camels white? Are they all albinos ?
    Or was the Photo “doctored” ?

  • HighDesert

    Strange! Where are the SHADOW PEOPLE????

  • quirky-gal..x

    neat picture ♥in it

  • kittypoo

    Neat cool awsome!!!

    Meow!! oops!

  • Anonymous

    How come they have 2 shadows each?

  • Anonymous

    i think some of the camels cast shadows on each other and some dont is because some of the camels are up on dunes and some aren’t

  • Anonymous

    Beautifull!!! especially the colors of the sand.

  • Tawn

    Wow..this is a beatuiful picture! I see at least 2 camels with riders.

    BTW…love the Random Illusion!!

  • Anonymous

    No riders, just crossed shadows. Beautiful picture!! Love it!!

  • Anonymous

    ITS BLACK CARDBOARD CANT YOU SEE!!!! the ‘shadows’are standng up…. but it might be becouse of somthing else

  • s

    this is awasome ,what is it?

  • OuRaNoS

    I think I saw a deer on the near middle left…..

  • Anonymous

    Reply to joe: one reason why the shadows of particular Camels do not cross those that are near by may be, every Camel isnt the same height, there could be a shorter camel next to a taller one. it also depends on the geography of the land as well. Because it is a “satelite” shot, it is dificult to see whether certain Camels are higher up due to higher points in the dunes.

  • Anonymous

    I found 3 camels with two humps but its quite hard to see the second hump in the shadows.
    As for finding the camels with riders I wasn’t quite shore what to look for. I mean, where abouts on the camel would the rider be?

    Really good photo by the way.

  • w00t no name

    this is realy good you can see the real camels and were looking at them from above

  • Lou

    Why do the shadows have shadows? It doesn’t matter what angle the sun is at, there can’t be 2 shadows of the same animal.

    • XYZ

      They aren’t shadow of shadow. They are real camels.

  • my balls are huge..!!!1

  • Grace

    You sikko!!

  • Angela

    I think it’s a painting…

  • brian

    there are no riders, i think, it just seems that way when 1 camel’s head is very close to another camel’s (the camel in front’s) body (midway – at or near the hump).
    all of them have 1 hump each or so i could decipher from the shadows

  • Dan

    I couldn’t find the illusion. When I did find it, I tried to find a person on the camel. I haven’t found any.

  • Pam

    Can I pin this picture on Pinterest or would that be wrong? I love this picture.

  • Kiley

    i did not bother tying to figure the ollusion out, all i did was admire the amazing picture they took, so incredibly pretty. :)

  • thegreatgramcracker

    ah! now i see!

  • Ken

    Click on the image to get the larger view and what we are seeing becomes much clearer.

  • Sceptic

    How come all the shadows are those that would be produced by a light source at right angles to the direction of travel of the camels yet the direction of travel of some camels is at (or very near) right angles to others? Also, how can camels with outstretched necks produce shadows showing a U shaped neckline? I smell a spoof – but a pretty impressive one all the same. Good on you George if you really did manage to sell it to National Geographic!

  • katybug

    You guys. The white looking things are the real camals. Look really close and youll see it. And the ones with two humps are the one being ridin by a person!

  • Rafael

    The first time I saw this cool image was with a motivational metaphor written aside: like the shadows in relationship to the camels, your problems usually seem way bigger than they actually are when you take a better look.

  • 0vidiu

    the efect can be replicated like this :

    one blanket, a few pillows, randomly on ground, a few animal toys from my daughter, scattered arround the blanket, some on tops, some on “valleys” one 100w bulb under a table next to the area, sit on the table and take the photo exacly downwords, like shooting inside a well.
    Try it, the effects are very nice. the result is very very confusing for the ppl that do that know exaclty what it is at first glance.

  • Luara

    On “it’s back”, really?

  • AAA

    The big shadow on the desert land is an Arabic word for ALLAH (google it) its been written side way, if this true that’s very serious

  • David Lane

    they have streched the picture to make shadows the correct shape, the photo isn’t fake so to say, but it isn’t real either. Shows you what NG knows about photos

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