If you ever create a slideshow of portraits, you might want to avoid showing them aligned side-by-side with a gap in between. The video above shows a crazy optical illusion that researchers have dubbed the “Flashed Face Distortion Effect”. By flashing ordinary portraits aligned at the eyes, the human brain begins to compare and exaggerate the differences, causing the faces to seem hideous and ogre-like. Researcher Matthew Thompson writes,
Like many interesting scientific discoveries, this one was an accident. Sean Murphy, an undergraduate student, was working alone in the lab on a set of faces for one of his experiments. He aligned a set of faces at the eyes and started to skim through them. After a few seconds, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear highly deformed and grotesque. He looked at the especially ugly faces individually, but each of them appeared normal or even attractive.
When recording video, a camera’s frame rate can produce some pretty strange effects. If matched up with a helicopter’s blades, a helicopter looks like it’s hovering in midair with motionless blades. YouTube user mrbibio found that the same thing can be done with falling water. His technique is brilliant: by pressing a water tube against a speaker, mrbibio was able to control the vibration frequency of the water flowing through the tube. He then adjusted the pulses of the water to match up with the frame rate of his Canon 5D Mark II. The result is a video of the water looking as though it’s frozen in time.
Here’s something that’ll blow your mind (sorry that it’s an ad): stare at the colored dots on this girl’s nose for 30 seconds, then quickly look at a white wall or ceiling (or anything pure white) and start blinking rapidly. Congratulations, you just processed a negative with your brain!
Cell phone cameras have pretty poor image quality when compared with point-and-shoot cameras due to their small sensors, but one advantage they have over compact cameras is a naturally deep depth of field. That was particularly useful for this YouTube user in capturing some sharp video of his new motorcycle — something that would have been much more difficult using a standard point-and-shoot.
We’ve shared a couple stories in the past month on how human eyes are very subjective and horrible as light meters, and here’s yet another mind-boggling example of how easily our eyes can be fooled by context. In the image above, the “blue” and the “green” stripes are exactly the same color.
Here’s a mind-bending video in which someone created the famous checker shadow illusion in real life. The optical illusion takes advantage of the way our brains process lighting and shadows.
As with many so-called illusions, this effect really demonstrates the success rather than the failure of the visual system. The visual system is not very good at being a physical light meter, but that is not its purpose. The important task is to break the image information down into meaningful components, and thereby perceive the nature of the objects in view. [#]
Interesting huh? Our eyes aren’t very good as a light meters, since they’re easily deceived by context. Read more…