Have you ever seen a photo, and had to take a second, third, and fourth look--or just stare at it for a full minute--because you have literally no idea what it is or how that could possibly exist in the real world? In fact, you're pretty sure it was photoshopped. If those kinds of pictures drive you insane and you end up rage-quitting halfway through, then you're going to want to click on a different article. But if photographs of impossible phenomenons of nature and mind-wobbly optical illusions are something you appreciate, then do I have a gift for you! We have collected twenty incredible photographs that will break your brain. You know, at least until you read the helpful little blurbs under each one explaining exactly what it is. We don't want to do any permanent damage here.
20 The Bridge to Nowhere
This picture was taken in Norway, and it looks like the world's worst rollar coster ride, or something straight out of Final Destination Six: Yes, We're Still Coming Up With Horribly Stupid Ways to Die. It's just a ramp leading to nowhere, not even big enough to launch and airplane off of. Although, if there's enough water under there, that was be a sweet skateboard ramp. For that car driving up, though...maybe not so much.
At least, that's what it looks like. You'd have to move several feet to the right in order to see it, but the road actually curls back around and down to the other side. It's basically the world's most twisted, wibbly-wobbly road that's guaranteed to bring car sickness to even the most stalwart drivers.
19 The Mini-Forearm Wonder
There's a lot of weird optics going on in this picture. First, you think that the woman is holding this kid with suddenly tiny forearms. My first instinct was to think that she had some sort of medical condition that meant her arms had stopped growing with the rest of her when she was a toddler. Which I have never heard of and probably doesn't exist, but hey, stranger things have happened. And then you realize, Wait, where are the kids' arms? Then you see the woman's arms as they are, holding the kid on either side.
I also thought for a second that the kid didn't have a left hand (which is hidden by the fingers of her right), and that I know is a real medical condition. It's called I don't have a left hand.
18 Huh. So Satyrs Are Real Now
If she had been sitting closer to the head, hiding it from view, she would have looked exactly like a centaur from Greek mythology. (Those are the guys who have the torso of a human, but the bottom half of a horse with a total of four legs. Satyrs are in the same family, but have the bottom half of goats and only have two legs. Because...um, reasons.)
As it is, it looks like she had the top half of a human plastered onto the rear end of a zebra, which still has its head.
Could you imagine if this thing was real? Like how would that even work? "I have to go to a meeting with my boss, but my zebra half wants to eat all the grass and also made a mess of my office." Yeesh. Poor guy.
17 To repeat: all of the paper is lying flat
Owwwwww. My brain.
Whoever made this clearly has too much time on their hands and a sadist streak a mile wide. I can literally feel the front of my brain overheating like a car engine as it works in overdrive, trying to make sense of this image and remind the rest of me that obviously they used multiple pieces of string and some excellent shading techniques capable of making any art teacher drool in order to make this work, then took a picture at just the right angle to get the perfect lighting. But it's still mind-boggling to know that there's no piece of paper actually folded and standing up on its own, even seeing that little bit of string between the E of eyes and the T of tell.
16 The Perfect Circle that Wasn't
I don't know where this is, but I want to go there. This is just nuts. Who even came up with this? "All right, guys, we need to make something artsy and cool to bring more tourists into the city." "Oh, what if we made a mini-park that totally gives people a headache because it's one big optical illusion and we can screw with their brains?" "...go on."
I want to see the picture taken from the front angle (re: the one on the top) while someone is sitting down and leaning against that white space that we see in the bottom picture.
I want to know what that looks like.
Probably suitably mind-boggling, Wait, what the frick am I looking at? Because if you're going to create a mini-park expressly for the purposes of messing with people's minds, do it properly.
15 That Sick Talent
That's it. I quit. I hereby renounce any and all artist endeavors, because there is no way I could ever top this. This is just insane. Who here decided that, "You know, I could draw an awesome, realistic ship on a large piece of paper or poster board, but that's not impressive enough. I need to use three separate sheets of paper and angle them weirdly to really prove how awesome I truly am. And I'm going to be taking a picture of it at an angle instead of straight-on, so the depth perception that would be really hard to do anyway on this thing is going to be even more intense."
Seriously, this person is not allowed near any more pencils or cameras. Leave a few scraps of awesome for the rest of us!
14 The City in the Sky
This picture was taken upside-down. If you look at the "sky" and "buildings" on the left (right next to the guy with the maroon shirt), you'll see bits of green debris on the water's surface. It's the only flaw in the water; otherwise it's such a clear, perfect mirror that you honestly wouldn't be able to tell which side is real and which is just a reflection.
This would have been a sick scene in Inception.
They already had buildings and streets folding in on each other, apartments flipping around and floating, humans changing their appearance in the mirror...it would have been so cool to have them create a city like this with water, and then they jump into the water and it's a mirror city, so a completely different place that looks almost exactly the same. (Like the Twin Cities.)
13 Animal Illusions
The top and bottom rows are reflections of each other. On top you have a cow, an elephant, and a goat, drawn impeccably if a little weirdly. On the bottom you have a sea lion, a swan, and a penguin, also drawn perfectly. Though, the penguin looks kind of evil. Like it's glaring at you with beady little eyes.
I digress. The point is, if you take a closer look, you'll realize that the sea lion is actually the cow image upside-down, and vice versa. The elephant is the swan, and the goat is the penguin, which is kind of freaky. Actually, the swan is probably the freakiest of them all, because swans are supposed to have feathers, not be mammals. So all I can think of when I see this picture is a swan with the skin and texture of an elephant.
12 Interesting Seating Arrangement
It's another one of those pictures that people like to stage, take, and share online for the express purposes of screwing with our heads.
This one is better than most in part because of the lack of hair.
A lot of times, someone will stage these really cool pictures, but the long hair gives them away, as it is, of course, drawn down by gravity, which is a dead giveaway. But this guy was either smart enough to hide the hair with a hat, or he has short hair that doesn't matter but it's cold out so he's wearing the hat, anyway. He's got the part brooding, part yeah, I'm awesome for doing this, I know look down, too. These guys should open a studio or something.
11 Every Day I'm Hoverin'
You know, most people who see a small circular puddle in the middle of an alley would think, Aw, no. Someone spilled their drink. That's too bad. Instead, these guys thought, You know, this kind of looks like the shadow of a person who's hovering in midair. Let's take a picture! The fact that the lighting is so perfect that it illuminates everything without casting any real shadows is just absolutely perfect. He looks like he came straight out of a comic book and is about to go Dr. Strange on some off-screen supervillains.
Although, there's a flaw in this image. There is no way a master magician would be that fit. We've all seen them. Every wizard is either spindly or overweight because they spend way too much time in the library to ever hit the gym.
10 Freaky Makeup Trends
At first I thought I was looking at some kind of cake or pastry item. That would have made more sense. We have been putting the images of eyeballs on our food for ages, especially around Halloween. It may be kind of gross, but it at least makes more sense than putting the image of an eyeball on your own lips, complete with eyelashes. How did they even do that, anyway? I think glue had to be involved, and that's something I wouldn't want within poking distance of my mouth.
Don't get me wrong: this looks really cool, if freaky. But it's such a waste.
Within five minutes of talking and/or eating, the whole image is going to be ruined. Which is probably why they took a picture.
9 Wait...which one kills you again?
To be clear here: Marlboro, which is famous for selling cigarettes, is now selling soup, while Campbell's, which should be selling harmless, delicious soup, is instead selling soup-flavored cigarettes. Why and how is this happening? Marlboro I can understand branching out. Many cigarette companies do the same thing, often selling things like toys and kitchen appliances. This is not just to broaden their revenue stream (as it's always a smart move to have multiple sources of income), but also so people associate the company with the warm fuzzy feeling you get watching a kid play with a beloved toy or helping Grandma make dinner, as opposed to lung cancer.
But who at Campbell's decided, "You know what this company really needs to make? Chicken noodle-flavored cigarettes! That'll boost sales."
8 Don't buy that.
If you read the little description under "Post-Workout Power Move" (if you can; the picture's a little blurry), you can see that this is a pretty interesting tip.
They suggest that you "drink chocolate milk after your next brutal" workout session.
The protein in the milk, they argue, will "rehydrate you and helps rebuild muscle, so you're less likely to feel sore the next day." A "glass within an hour [of your workout] should do the trick." Cool tip, right? There's just one teensy little catch...
That chocolate milk does not come out of a cow. In fact, by the time it hits the glass, it's not really chocolate milk at all, no matter how much of the stuff that woman drank before...uh, processing it for re-consumption.
7 Harry's Hairy Girlfriend
The guy is the one sitting sideways on that chair reading while the woman is standing over him with his arms around his chest. But that's not what this looks like at first glance. At first, you think that the woman is the one who's sitting down while the man holds her from behind, which is just as sweet. And then you notice the arms. Why are his arms so thin and spindly and hers so thick and hairy? We're not judging. Most women don't shave in the winter, anyway. There's no point and we like the insulation. But that's still unusual enough to catch our attention.
You have to take a closer look at the heads to realize which limbs belong to which person.
6 The Entitled Piggy-Back Ride
Obviously this is just a trick of perception combined with the unique pattern of this woman's blouse. But let's pretend that our eyes are not tricking us and there really is a little man riding her back.
He just looks so entitled.
"Bow before me, subjects! Or I shall unleash the wrath of my trusty steed, Rachel! We will overthrow all government leaders and dominate the--wait, wait, what are you doing, trusty steed?! You can't just...okay, fine, you can have a group selfie with the other steeds. But as soon as you're done, we're going back to world domination. Let me strike a pose so this moment may be immortalized in halls to my greatness. And while you're at it, someone can me a Coke."
5 The Weirdest Game of Tennis Ever
Someone's been having way too much fun with Photoshop. Not that I'm complaining or anything. Well, my eyes and my brain are complaining, because this is a whole article about pictures that break your brain. I've already had to take twice as many breaks as usual to stave off the inevitable headache, and that was before getting to the photos that were altered.
Anyway, I digress.
Could you imagine if this was a real game of tennis?
Like, have it be indoors in a zero-gravity or reverse-gravity kind of room with the net and court on the ceiling? If not, you probably won't have to wait long before it happens. The crazy futuristic games we keep seeing in movies are all only a couple of years down the road.
4 Explain That to Traffic Control
Are these guys trying to cause a multi-car pileup on the freeway? Because that's exactly what's going to happen here. Some poor schmuck is going to try to pass this semi, and then they'll see the eye-warping image of this giant beer bottle, overcompensate to avoid hitting said beer bottle even though it doesn't actually exist, and end up crashing into the car in the other lane.
Although, I admit, that's one heck of a way to get the word out about your product. We're so used to seeing advertisements everywhere that we tune them out. Most of us can skip right over the commercials on our televisions, which is probably why so many of them have been so blatantly racist these days. The best way to advertise is to get in the news!
3 Once Upon a Shadow
This one is more cute than mind-wobbly. But still, what are the chances that these two perfect strangers would be walking in just the right way for their shadows to look like this, and for someone with a camera to snap the picture as just the right time? Maybe it's staged, maybe it's not.
Either way, it's really cute. It looks like something out of a Disney movie.
The Princess and the Frog had living shadows, especially Dr. Facilier's. And of course, there's Peter Pan's shadow. They're pretty much their own characters, so what if they had their own love stories? Like, the shadow of one person falls in love with the shadow of another, but the people themselves don't know each other at all or, worse yet, absolutely hate each other?
...Disney! Get to work.
2 Whose Legs are Whose Now?
Okay, so first you think that they're just standing really awkwardly with the guy whose back is to the camera (Person A, let's say), putting his legs between the other person (Person B) and awkwardly hanging back. But then you take a closer look and realize, Wait, Person A is Black. Those feet are White. But then it's like, So, how is Person B's feet coming out of Person A's shorts?
In actuality: Person A is wearing strangely-colored gym shorts.
They have a black or dark green color on the outer thighs while the insides are white. That's what's causing all of the confusion.
It's a sweet photograph, though. I assume it's of some sort of reunion; long-lost friends or sweethearts or something meeting on a picturesque beach. It's a shame the internet had to mar it with the weird optical illusion.
1 Not Looking Too Good There, Champ
People do sleep like this a lot. It happens when you're reading while lying on a couch or bed, and you get so tired that you fall asleep and whatever it is that you're reading falls on your face. Sometimes, this is enough to wake the person up, but not always. And when that happens, sometimes you get results like this. And we've all seen photos like this: the cat that's standing behind the cat food, or the reverse, with the guy whose head is positioned just above the model on the cover of a magazine someone in the foreground is reading. My favorite (which I could not find no matter how hard I searched) is probably the dog whose head it positioned just over the newspaper featuring a headless ballerina. That dog is very light on his feet.