Thursday, August 13, 2009

Real or Photoshop?

There’s still time (until 9:00 p.m. Eastern time) to enter yesterday’s caption contest.

Meanwhile, blog reader Jason Peck sent me this image with the following question:

This is a pretty neat photo, but I really can't figure out exactly what I'm looking at. I know it’s an illusion, but I can’t figure out how it works. Something tells me its Photoshopped, but I could be wrong. What do you think?


Let me turn the question over to you first. At 6:00 p.m. Eastern time I’ll post the answer I came up with.
------
Added at 6:00.
I can hardly add to the perceptive explanations in the comments, explaining that this is a real object. I agree, and here's what I said to Jason:
These three dimensional illusions do exist as real objects, and I believe this one is real. They're only viewable from one angle. In this case the horizontal piece coming across the middle is actually in front of the right hand vertical bar, but it is beveled in such a way as to look like it is tucked behind.

The giveaway is the cast shadow from that central horizontal bar. It travels diagonally down the figure and then across the floor grid and stops just to the left of the watch, proof that the horizontal leg is unattached.


Blog reader Jay Meinhardt actually created the figure in his CAD program. That's awesome. Thanks, Jay, and thanks everybody for your great explanations.

26 comments:

Zack said...

It could be a photoshop cause anything really could be but I say real because if the camera was positioned correctly you could have a piece coming off the left side with an angle cut to create the illusion of it continuing into the right side. To back that up the shadow for the left side seems to show a short piece coming directly off.

NortonVirus said...

It's actually very real. A very clever illusion, but it has one giveaway. There is a piece that jut out from the near side of the frame and is cut at precisely the angle that the camera is looking at it. It lines up optically from camera's point of view with the post coming out from the far end of the frame...however the illusion is that they appear to be the same. The clue is the color of the shadows. You can see in the reflected light...the color of the wooden desk. It reflects its warm color onto the shadow side of the near post...the cut one..but not the far post...which is brighter and not colored.

Johan Derycke said...

Thanks NortonVirus, I see it now.
It's actually a horizontal bar.
Nice photo :D

Anid said...

The middle intersecting beam does not actually exit the right vertical beam. Check the cast shadow on the graph paper, that beam connects to nothing and the little piece jutting out of the right vertical beam helps the illusion.

This is no photoshop job. It's clever use of a limited view point and psychology (i.e. our minds tend to "correct" images for us unconciously).

Joris van said...

What a great illusion! I wonder if I could build something cool like that for on my desk :)

NortonVirus is right, I think.
It's not just the reflected color that gives it away, but also in the shadow from the piece itself.
You can see the shadow from the 'impossible' part sticking out, and ending without connecting at the other end.

Erik Bongers said...

Many (science) theme parks have 'illusion rooms'.

This is another example.

mordicai said...

Real, using forced perspective-- the one arm juts out at an odd angle, & if turned you'd see it looking more like a hedgehog, beams pointing everywhere! Like everyone else says, the shadows are a good clue.

Kiolia said...

Yep, that's the only angle it looks "right" from.

Sean Craven said...

I'm throwing my vote in with those who say it's real -- I've seen similar illusions in a museum.

craigstephens said...

I agree that it's real. The cast shadow coming toward the watch tells the story. It's very cool!

Ginger*:) said...

Although my imaginary brain sees this quite clearly.
my real brain has become a pretzel!

Release me!

Tim said...

If you have trouble unscrambling it mentally, take a look at this.

Drew said...

Everyone else pretty much solved it. It is most definitely real, and it only looks correct from one angle. Viewed any other way, and the whole thing looks like an exploded mess of pieces that makes no sense whatsoever. I remember seeing a video a loooong ways back about several of these and how they make them. Here's actually an example of another optical illusion sculpture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Uf0Gj3sX8Y

Jesus Estevez said...

It is real, actually the middle bar is not join one of the sides,is coming perpendicular to the column that is attach, You can see the shadow of the middle bar is coming forward. so that middle bar is attach to th left column, and because the angle of the camara makes you think that is attach to the right column as well

Paolo Rivera said...

They should've photoshopped in a shadow on the horizontal bar as well, cast by the far vertical bar.

Swashbuckle Dom said...

I vote for real. Reminds me of a realy cool game for the PS3 called echochrome.

Heres a link worth checking out for those that arent familiar. It shows some of the game play.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfICeBtVv8U

Its definately an alternative type game that appeals to the non traditional gamer. Hence why I think its so cool.

Susan Adsett said...

Great. My head is going to hurt all day now :-)

My new bathroom wall had better not turn out like that...

Don Cox said...

You have to photograph these models with a long lens to get the necessary isometric perspective. If the sides of the beams are not parallel (or nearly so), it is obvious that parts are at the wrong angles. I remember making an impossible triangle (basically the top half of this example) back in the 1960s and having to photograph it from a good distance.

Jason Peck said...

Hey James,

This one really fooled me, but after reading your explanation, I can now see how it works. These are allot of fun, it reminds me of artist M.C. Escher work.

Best, Jason

raydiant said...

That bar that sticks out of the frame is cut at an angle and the picture taken from this view makes the illusion. If there was a 3D view, the illusion would be gone.

Neat picture, took me a few minutes to solve.

zelas said...

I believe that originated from a papercraft pattern. I've seen it before on 4chan's papercraft forum, but I'm not sure where the source is from.

Jon Hrubesch said...

Very cool. Only after I analyzed the shadow did I figure it out.

Jose said...

Looking at that is making my head hurt!... but its Photoshop. The shadows give it away.

Tom said...

hi James
It might be real but the two vertical posts front planes point in the same direction and sense the extended horizontal post comes off the the same front plane on the near post it could never intersect the other post. Partellel lines never cross each other
Tom

Tom said...

sorry "sense" should be " since," typing on an iPhone

Gregory Becker said...

It's real. The camera angle is perfect.