Desert People Optical Illusion

Few years ago I’ve received these two photos as a submission for Mighty Optical Illusions blog. Somehow they’ve slipped my attention and I never seem to have published them. I apologize to the submitter as I don’t have his/her original email any more, so can’t credit the source properly. Anyway, it is truly amazing what happens when you take an ordinary photo, cut out the people in it, and paste them back out of their original context. Just look at the two photos below, and you’ll immediately see what happens!

31 Replies to “Desert People Optical Illusion”

  1. This is a psychological phenomenon described in gestalt . Our brain always tries to explain things in terms of what is known prior . In the first photo the primary information is the people . So in the second photo we look for the people . The foreground changes the background and we are forced to see the slope as inverted one as compared to the earlier photo .

  2. This really illustrates just how efficient the mind is in gathering data and registering incongruity or lack of consistency. Perceptually the mind is troubled by the size of the fourth person in the second picture because the depth and space cues to not match. Because they do in the first picture it is not a difficulty. Interestingly you do not seem to need to be taught this, you just “learn” through experience and therefore the rain forest people of Papua New Guinea ( never seeing more than a distance of 100 or 200 feet do not have the same experience of distance and perspective and find the size of the fourth person in both pictures troubling.

    1. well, shadow wise, it probably wasn’t sunny
      and DUH!!! ITS SUPPOSED to be shop’d!!!! Thats the POINT!!! Read the paragraph before u see the pic…

  3. That’s not an optical illusion that’s called perspective.

    Refer to Father Ted episode with the Giant Ants. Big, Far away. Big, Far Away.

  4. dont know if you’re aware of this or not but igoogle is going out of business! if I’m not mistaken it will happen in 2013.

  5. It’s not so much an illusion or a lousy attempt at PhotoShop… Looking at the top picture you would say Those people are all about the same height – your brain makes up for the fact that they are further and further away.
    The bottom picture shows their actual size in the top photo, wow brain worked really hard to compensate there.

  6. I just returned from vacation to see my photo was published a few days ago. This was taken at Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley N. P.

    The first picture is unretouched. The second is a composite by cutting and pasting the four people into the foreground.

    It is simple perspective, but the brain adjusts the sizes in the first picture so they all look normal. The sizes are the same in the second, but they look much smaller. Don has it all figured out.

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