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!

53 Replies to “National Geographic’s Shadow Camels”

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

  1. 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.


  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. @joe
    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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

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

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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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