Mind-Altering Images That Are Not What They Appear to Be
If we’ve learned anything in life, it’s that things aren’t always what they seem. This truism is particularly apt when it comes to photographs and digital images. The pictures you’re about to see will bend your mind because none of them are what they appear to be at first glance. From tiny creatures carving out colossal rivers to plains that look like planets, you’re in for a wild ride!
Every picture on this list is sure to have you questioning your sense of perception. So, dive in if you dare. Just be ready to do plenty of double-takes as your brain wraps itself around what’s really going on.
Why Is This Salad so Loud?
If you only look briefly at this picture, it seems like a lovely green salad with plenty of cheese and dressing on the side. However, once you examine the image in more detail, you see that there’s something else going on entirely.
This isn’t a salad at all – it’s a tray full of adorable green birds! They’re cuddling, squawking, and vying for food. Three of them have even noticed the camera and made an effort to pose. How cute is that?
When Your Sushi Sings
Is this a sushi roll or are we just hungry? This little guy is curled up in a blanket but he sure resembles a sushi roll! That white fluffy blanket looks exactly like sushi rice and the black outside surrounding it could be the seaweed.
The bird himself looks like he’s some kind of raw meat or imitation crab. But he’s way too cute to eat!
Zoomed in or Zoomed Out?
This tricky picture looks like it was taken through a microscope or macro camera. It appears to be capturing a needle poking through a piece of cloth or, perhaps, a fungal spore erupting from a piece of linen.
To help your brain grasp what it’s really seeing, focus on the tip of the “needle.” See that bright spot? That’s the flame flowing out of a rocket. What you’re actually looking at is a rocket leaving Earth’s atmosphere. The carpet-like substance at the bottom is cloud-cover.
Sky High Lava
This looks like a trail of lava coming from a volcano. The red and orange colors certainly look hot! But, as is the case with all the photos we’ve seen here today, you need to look twice to see what this photo really is.
It’s really a photo of the sun breaking through the clouds. Most likely it was taken around sunset because of the red and orange hues. Beautiful and much less scary than an eruption of molten lava!
A Caterpillar or the Amazon River?
At first glance, this looks like a bird’s-eye view of the bends and curves of the Amazon River. However, far from being the longest river in the world, this is actually a minuscule structure. Take a closer look – can you see what’s creating this river-like shape?
Follow the curves of the “river” far enough, and you’ll see a caterpillar at the end! How amazing would it be if this was genuinely how rivers were created? And if you followed any river far enough, you’d find a giant caterpillar carving its way through the earth.
Tweezers or Contrails?
If you ask us, this looks like a pair of tweezers plucking a tiny toy plane from the surface of an orange. Perhaps it’s a zoomed-in image of tweezers picking something up off a Petri dish. Could the plane shape be an optical illusion created by the shadow of the tweezers?
The truth is that this is a picture of a plane passing between the sun and the photographer. The image was captured via a telescope, but please don’t go looking directly at the sun through a scope. Special filters must be applied to capture images like this without harming your eyes!
The Matrix Meets Real Life
This picture takes us back to 1999, when the world was terrified of the Y2K bug, and the first Matrix film came out. The green-on-black design looks exactly like the falling text from The Matrix. However, the speck of color at the top of the frame betrays what this really is.
That is not falling code. Nor does this picture have anything to do with The Matrix. As you can see, the spec in the “code” is a farmer, meaning those green lines are crops.
The Cutest Petri Dish We've Ever Seen
Finally, a picture that’s relatively easy to decipher. If you were to glance at this ever-so-quickly, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a Petri dish full of bacteria. However, it doesn’t take much work to see what’s really going on in the dish.
Those creatures certainly are tiny, but they’re not bacteria. No, those are some super-cute baby turtles, and we can’t get enough of looking at them! Thankfully, some marine biologists are helping them out, ensuring they’re able to survive before heading out into the ocean on their own.
Do You See What We See?
Have you ever seen a picture that looks like it’s looking back at you? Well, you have now! The image below looks for all the world like a bespectacled being is gazing back at you from the depths of the river.
Thankfully, it’s just a bridge. However, if it looks like a person wearing glasses, that may be your cue to go get your eyes checked! Don’t worry – a fresh set of specs will make you look elegant, especially if you choose your frames well. Best of all, you’ll soon be discovering incredible details in things you would otherwise miss.
It’s Not as Scary as It Seems
This photo is very alarming at first, but don’t worry! It is not as it seems. We thought that this woman’s leg was horrifically injured. The way she’s grabbing onto the chair almost looks like she’s in pain which only adds to the illusion.
But fortunately, it’s just a bundled up sweater that’s sitting in front of her leg. And on second glance you’ll see she is smiling, not grimacing in pain. Phew! We were worried there for a second.
The Spiky-Haired Diver
This has to be one of our favorites! This dark-haired diver looks like he’s about to take a dip in that crystal blue water. But zoom out for a minute and you’ll see that things are not always how they seem.
In reality, that diver is the hand of a snorkeler. And the spiky hair is actually a sea anemone she found in the water. If you squint you might be able to see the diver again but it’s hard to go back once you know what the photo really is!
You definitely don’t want to take a bite of this glazed donut. It might just bite back! These snakes look way too similar to a tray of tasty treats. Now that you see they’re snakes, they look much less appetizing, right?
But their shiny skin and cool designs look like it could be glaze over a sugary baked treat. However, the eyes really give them away. They sure could fool me if they were sitting in a donut case at Krispy Kreme!
Saturn or Something Else?
This picture is one of the trickiest of the bunch. At first, it looks like Saturn without its rings. However, if you pay close attention, you’ll see that there’s something deceptive going on here. Hint: Imagine this image without the circular shape.
Yes, if you squint and focus on the elements that comprise this image, you’ll notice that there are birds, swamps, and grassy plains in there. Though it may look like a planet, it’s simply a zoomed-in view of a savanna captured via a telescopic lens.
When Life Imitates Art
They say life imitates art. Or is it that art imitates life? We really can’t be sure but this photo must be an example of one of the two. Can you tell the difference between these two images? Look really close.
One of these is a black pan sitting on a bed. And the other is a cat curled up with one leg stretched out. They are almost exactly the same! We wonder if that kitty knows he has a twin.
The Hidden Banana
Feeling low on potassium? You might want to reach for a banana, but this isn’t the one you’re going to want. This is another perfect example of a snake looking almost exactly like something else!
This must be a way for them to camouflage themselves and hide from predators or prey. But this one looks almost exactly like a bundle of bananas. It even has some brown spots that resemble a perfectly ripe banana.
Wedding Photos Gone Wrong
This couple came to a beautiful barn to take some wedding photos, but they probably didn’t plan on them looking like this. We assume the photographer positioned them and wanted to showcase her beautiful dress.
But the way it is draped over the wood makes it look like she’s doing the splits! But, you can see her foot dangling beneath the dress so you know she isn’t actually a gymnast.
Wait Until You See It
The eyes give these little guys away, but we certainly didn’t think these were frogs when we first looked at the photo. They look perfectly content in their bowls, but they look a little too similar to food!
If not for the eyes we might think that this was a bowl of guacamole and spaghetti! But the food I eat doesn’t usually say “ribbit”.
Freshly Baked Baguette
You can almost smell this freshly baked baguette, can’t you? Psych! This is not baked bread, but instead is a little furry friend who made their way into a plant potter.
One thing about cats is you can always count on them to be in the most curious positions and places! This little guy’s coloring looks just like a loaf of bread or a baguette. But the purring or the tail would probably give him away.
That Crowd Isn’t What You Think
It looks like there are thousands of screaming fans with their hands up at a concert, but as we’ve learned you can’t always trust your eyes, especially at a first glance. This photo is not a concert at all.
It’s actually a photo taken beneath a coffee table. Those “screaming fans” are just a carpet! I never thought a concert and a living room could look so similar. We wonder if the persona who took this realized what it looked like.
The Abandoned Carton
This abandoned milk cartoon looks like it has a face! The handle could be a nose and the shadows make it appear like there are eyes. Don’t look for too long because it kind of creeps us out! Will it start talking to us?
If you’re familiar with the Easter Island Sculptures in Chile, you might see this cartoon bears a striking resemblance to them.
That’s a Weird Doll
There’s a lot of weird children’s toys out in the world. And dolls can be especially creepy. We thought this woman was holding one of these weird dolls, but upon closer inspection we realized that is not the case.
Rather, she is holding a drink in a brown bag and there is a woman who happens to be perfectly positioned behind her. It makes it look like her head is a part of the brown bag. Depth perception is a fascinating thing!
Giraffes of Africa
Look at those giraffes against the stunning sunset. They really are incredible creatures, aren’t they? It’s amazing to see them grazing around their natural habitat in Africa.
Except that those aren’t giraffes at all. They’re cranes. This makes the photo a little less wondrous, but the sunset still looks stunning, regardless.
Watch Your Mouth
You might have thought this pup had a muzzle on its mouth, but you would be mistaken. The reality of this photo is much more surprising, and much cuter as well. This is a photo of a couple of buds hanging out.
We’re not sure how this hamster found himself hanging on for dear life to this dog’s nose, but it makes for quite an interesting photo. And major props to the retriever for having such amazing patience with his little furry friend.
Choo Choo Train
It looks like we’re staring down a tunnel at a train coming towards us. Those headlights look awfully menacing. Maybe that’s because that is not a train at all.
We have another example of a cat getting itself into a peculiar space. The little hunter looks to be wrapped in a rug and is staring down the makeshift tunnel right at the camera. Mischievous as always!
Split Wood or Community Meeting
Have you ever seen a log of partially chopped wood? If not, this is exactly what it looks like. But of course it is another optical illusion. This group of meerkats are all huddled and look to be having some sort of meeting.
Maybe they’re just soaking in the heat from that lamp. Or, they might be having a discussion about their plans to take over the zoo. It’s the real life version of the movie Madagascar.
A Truck Full of Chickens
Look at all those chickens! The driver of this truck must be some kind of farmer. We certainly have never seen a truck bed full of birds. Maybe they’re just going for a joy ride.
But those chickens actually aren’t chickens at all. Don’t let the white color fool you. Those are a bunch of cartons of milk. The red caps are not beaks at all. Now, the real question is, “Why do you need that much milk?”
Is That the Inside of Your Computer?
In your computer you have something called the motherboard that holds the memory from your device and does a whole host of other things that we don’t really understand. It looks just like this with all the bits and bobs.
But this is not actually a motherboard. Tech geniuses might be fooled, but this is actually the top of the building. The car on the road below and the parking garage are sure giveaways to the reality of this photo.
An Antelope Skull to Hang on Your Wall
Have you ever been to a barbecue restaurant where they have animal heads hung on the wall? It’s not everyone’s favorite decor but it is pretty common in the countryside. This is exactly what an antelope skull looks like.
But it is really a happy pup sleeping in a very odd position. Those antlers are really dog legs. We don’t know how he managed to find his way into that position or how he finds it comfortable but dogs are interesting creatures!
The Ripples of Leather or Ripples of Water
I have a couch at home that looks just like this. The navy blue leather ripples in this same pattern. But leather isn’t the only thing that created this pattern. Water creates ripples as well.
The boat in the middle of the photo is the real giveaway to what this photo is really showing. But it’s interesting that the way the sun is reflecting on the water even looks like worn out leather. Such different things can look far too similar when you zoom out!
Is That a Black Hole in the Kitchen?
From this angle, the dog looks like a black hole that opened up in the kitchen. Those sweet eyes are a dead giveaway to the fact that this is really a pup. He looks like he’s patiently waiting to be pet or waiting to be given a treat.
This angle makes it look like he doesn’t have any legs. But you can’t miss the eyes. We want to give him a cuddle. It has to be the cutest black hole we’ve ever seen.
It looks like Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. has a twin and they’re taking a stroll through the park. Or it might be a couple of kids dressed up for Halloween? Nope. Guess again.
This is actually two men in hazmat suits. We’re not sure what they’re protecting themselves from or why they’re wearing the suits. But whatever is on their back definitely gives them a funny looking hunchback.
Bacon for Breakfast
There is very little that tastes better than fried up bacon in the morning. Those crispy strips are one of our absolute favorite breakfast foods and honestly they taste good any time of day. But this “bacon” probably wouldn’t taste as yummy.
And that’s because these are not strips of bacon at all. Rather, they are pieces of wood that happen to have the exact same colors as uncooked bacon. Sorry if we made your stomach growl!
A Perfect Disguise
This huge mountain of ice and snow looks pretty daunting. I’ve never seen an iceberg with two horns popping out of it. And are those nostrils in the middle? This iceberg just happens to be something else entirely.
It’s a bison covered in ice. The massive animal is wearing an incredible disguise. He probably blended right into the nature around him which would serve him well if he’s looking for a snack to eat!
Riding the Wave
This is a barrel wave that any surfer would be lucky to ride. It’s the kind of thing they sit on their boards waiting hours for in the middle of the ocean. But, this poses one small problem to any surfer.
This is not actually an ocean wave at all. It is water, but in frozen form. So it would be pretty hard to ride on a surfboard. We see that the climber pictured has the right tools to climb the icy tunnel.