This Unbelievable Optical Illusion is Just One Photo

A scenic road runs alongside a canal, bordered by tall trees on the left and a guardrail with wildflowers on the right. The sky above is bright blue with scattered clouds, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere.
Rob Hoeijmakers

An iPhone photographer snapped an incredible optical illusion photo that looks like different environments spliced together but is in fact a single picture.

Rob Hoeijmakers tells PetaPixel that he was taking a bike ride just south of Amsterdam in the Netherlands when he happened upon the beautiful canal next to a road that was closed for maintenance.

“While checking it out I got lucky: The Sun broke through just before setting up my shot. It was early May so the leaves were a really soft green,” he explains.

The perfect scene came together as Hoeijmakers adjusted his iPhone 12 mini to find exactly the right angle so there was a perfect split between the different elements. It is a technique that he has been practicing in the city.

“I try to look at lines, perspectives, and patterns to see if I can make a play with it,” Hoeijmakers, who by day is a web strategist, says.

A grid of 18 images depicts a cyclist's view along a tranquil road lined with trees, a speed limit sign, and a river scene. Some images show the road under an overpass, while others illustrate green fields and a boat on the river.
Lining up the photo. | Rob Hoeijmakers


After making minor adjustments to the picture (he shot it in HDR mode), Hoeijmakers posted the image to social media the next day where it began to take on a life of its own.

Massimo on X (formerly Twitter) shared the photo where it received nearly 100,000 likes and four million views while an Instagram account shared his photo and the post received over one million likes.

A scenic road lined with tall, leafy trees stretches into the distance under a blue sky with wispy clouds. To the right of the road is a calm canal bordered by green bushes and a metal barrier, creating a serene and picturesque landscape.
Rob Hoeijmakers

“When it went viral I got an adrenaline rush and was really over the Moon,” he says.

“I make photographs out of pleasure but sharing them, and getting some attention from an audience, makes it better.”

The Perfect Lines of the Netherlands

While many online commentators tried to argue that the image was “Photoshopped” or “generated by AI”, Hoeijmakers was simply taking advantage of the famously flat Dutch landscape.

“There are lots of straight lines [in the Netherlands] and almost artificial landscapes. Roads, canals, all going straight forever, no mountains,” he explains.

“Next to that the Dutch light is famous and for a reason. Next to the sea, you can see majestic clouds riding the sky, affecting the light.”

A long tunnel with white tiled walls and a high ceiling is divided into two lanes. The left lane has pedestrians walking, and the right lane has cyclists. The tunnel is well-lit with round ceiling lights, and people are moving towards the bright exit.
Another of Hoeijmakers’ split view photos taken in a Dutch subway.

Hoeijmakers adds that the ability to photograph while cycling around makes for more photograph opportunities while also being a joy to do.

“It is a sort of sensation where you see the landscape change and you can respond directly by getting off the bike and taking the time to photograph.”

To read more about Hoeijmakers’ viral photo then check out his blog post about it. You can follow him Instagram, X, LinkedIn.

Image credits: Photographs by Rob Hoeijmakers.