#21. You Are Now Ascending to the Fourth Circle of Hell …
This looks like a bank of escalators seconds before they were buried under a lava flow, but it’s actually one of about a hundred decorated subway stations under Stockholm, Sweden, where the natural bedrock ceiling has been painted. Each station has its own design, earning them the title of world’s longest art gallery.
If nothing else, it has to make it a hell of a lot easier to figure out if you’re at the right stop.
Via Wikimedia Commons
“Hmmm … this has less magma than I remember.”
#20. The First Name the Aliens Will See …
Yes, that’s a satellite photo, and yes, there really is a gigantic set of connecting canals spelling “HAMAD” in Abu Dhabi.
Oil sheik Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi is the douchebag who paid to have his name etched into the sand so that it would be visible from space. At least we know all that $4 per gallon gasoline we’re buying is helping to support a good cause.
Though maybe the biggest takeaway from this is realizing that at least one super wealthy oil sheik is a huge fan of The Tick.
Admit it — you would have drawn a dong.
#19. This Makes Us Dizzy No Matter How Long We Look
We’ve previously covered perspective artwork in basically every previous episode in this series, but we never get tired of it. This one is located in Paris, and creating the illusion is actually way harder than what you think — the patch of grass isn’t level at all.
Via Making Of
What we love about this sort of thing is that to anyone standing in any other spot, it’s not at all clear why this weird grid appears in the middle of the city square. Then you stand at the end and your head spins trying to make sense of it.
Probably doesn’t seem worth it to the guy who has to mow that shit.
#18. Alright, Nature Is Just Screwing With Us Now
Oh, bullshit. Are we supposed to believe a bunch of flamingos all got together and stood in the shape of a flamingo?
Yes, unless you think National Geographic isn’t above just screwing with us for web traffic. Though we guess it’s possible that photographer Robert Haas and his team waded out into the water and carefully taped a bunch of flamingos together while a helicopter circled above, radioing down instructions. Or maybe he’s the Beastmaster.
#17. If Barry Bonds Juices in the Pros, I Should Be Able to in T-Ball
Oh, come on. You can even see where the chin has been grafted onto the neck. What, is this from some “stick your child’s head onto a muscle body” booth at the state fair? Or is this one of those deals where you stick your face through a hole from behind?
Nope, this ripped, Taylor Hanson lookalike is a 16-year-old Ukrainian named Richard Sandrak. While at 16 most of us were happy enough with our newfound ability to grow a peach fuzz mustache, this kid has a six pack that makes most professional athletes look flabby. We’re guessing the difference in skin tone between body and face is due to the liberal application of body oil.
#16. When Pavement Splits Like a Ribbon
No joking here, this perfectly split road is the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Japan earlier this year. The way the highway split exactly along the orange line is what makes most people call bullshit, but it’s even weirder than that — check out the perfectly straight break along the horizontal in the foreground. The newspapers that ran the photo offered no explanation as to why it’s possible for it to so cleanly split like that, so we’ll go with the numerous Internet commenters’ explanation that since roads are constructed and repaved one lane at a time, it creates a natural seam there. Sure, why not?
#15. “You Know What They Awoke in the Darkness of Khazad-dum …”
This photo will determine exactly what type of geek you are. Half of you will see it as the Mines of Moria in Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo and the gang were ambushed by orcs. The rest of you will think, “video game sewer.” It is in fact a giant flood control system in Saitama, Japan. Though when you see some of the other pics, it’s pretty much video game level all the way:
If you’re still calling fake, you can apparently book tours of the place if you want to see it in person. And by “it” we mean the Balrog.
#14. And I Bet Those Bastards Didn’t Cancel School
This looks like some comical magazine advertisement for all-weather tires, in some magical land where the snow gets to be three times as high as a house.
But, no, for the third straight entry we are in Japan, where the laws of physics do not apply. Specifically, it’s Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, where they receive up to 20 meters of snow a year.
If you’re wondering how in the world they dig out those perfect lanes, it takes a backhoe, a giant snow blower and patience. Here’s a video:
#13. Harry Potter and the Curse of Hedwig’s Ghost
This spectral owl is reported to be an actual imprint left by a tawny owl that crashed into the glass window of an Englishwoman’s home. Judging by the picture, it seems that owls must take a little roll around in a pile of cocaine before taking flight. Which would also explain their inability to avoid crashing directly into a house.
If you think the woman just painted that onto her window with flour or something in order to fool the news cameras, you’ll find that those kinds of white bird imprints are fairly common.
The white stuff is not in fact cocaine, but powder down, little bits of down feathers that many birds have piled up on their skin.
#12. God, Bored at a Meeting, With a Box of Highlighters
What looks like the work of an extremely unimaginative child and some Magic Markers are actually tulips, which are grown in Holland every spring and sold all over the world.
On one hand, it makes for a cool aerial photo. On the other, it says something about mankind that we take the world’s glorious, colorful beauty and immediately go about mass producing it in boring, perfect rows of clockwork efficiency.
“Those rows are not conforming! Destroy them!”
#11. If It’s Not Photoshop, It’s a Van Gogh
This shot doesn’t look so much like a Photoshop as it does a painting. It generated so much buzz that National Geographic actually had to track down photographer Frans Lanting in Africa to explain what’s going on in his photo for the people calling bullshit.
Basically what you’re seeing behind the trees isn’t the sky, it’s a sand dune (the white blotches are patches of white grass). The colors look off because the photo was taken at dawn, so the orange dune itself was bathed in light, while the foreground was still in shadow (that’s why the white clay of the foreground winds up looking blue, and the trees look like terrifying silhouettes).
#10. The Mountain Range With the Dragon Tattoo
Virtually every aspect of this shot looks to be faked, from the reflections in the water to the variation in lighting across the countryside. Alas, it’s just a well framed photo of an actual lake in Portugal, which does in fact happen to very much resemble a giant blue dragon about to bite the hell out of that city.
#9. If Who Framed Roger Rabbit Was Directed by Michel Gondry
What looks like a Lego building cropped into a nature photograph is actually a real building that sleeps four adults. Hovering in the middle of the forest just outside of the Arctic Circle, the bafflingly named “blue cone room” is part of the Treehotel. The hotel is located in Sweden, the same country that brought us IKEA. So this is apparently what happens when the Swedish decide to take the philosophy of “simple parts, impossible to assemble” to mind-blowing levels.
It’s not the Treehotel’s only room that will make your brain sneeze forth from your ears. Imagine how freaked out you’d be if you were hiking through the woods and ran into the much more reasonably named UFO room.
#8. Mr. Potato Head in Live-Action Anime Porn
Even though this photo of an octopus playing with a Mr. Potato Head came from a mainstream U.K. newspaper, we still called Photoshop on it. It looks like a rushed job, too. And why the hell would a Mr. Potato Head have orange robot arms?
Then you notice the shadows on the nose and body cast by the tentacle, and realize the Mr. Potato Head was using parts from one of these …
… and you find out the Internet is full of the same picture from other angles. The octopus’s name is Louis and he lives at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay. His love for his Mr. Potato Head toy seems adorable until you see other photos where he has ripped all of the limbs off of it:
#7. It’s Not a Before/After Photo …
This looks like one of those “look how much this area has changed in just 30 years!” split images, but it’s actually a photo of the U.S.-Mexico border, the fence forming the black line down the middle (you can see the fence to the right in the foreground).
And before you rush in to make some racist comment about how the American side is a bustling civilization and the Mexican side is a deserted wasteland, you have the two mixed up. That’s Mexico on the right.
#6. In Posh Private Schools, You’re Nobody Unless You Bring a Designer Banana in Your Lunch
Once again we have something that not only looks like a Photoshop, but also looks like a lousy one. The truth is stupider: A Dutch design house actually designed a laser system to inscribe patterns in a variety of food to enhance their visual appeal. We don’t know about you, but we’re less comfortable eating a banana that looks like a wicker door than one that looks like a banana. Here’s video, for the unbelievers:
#5. So Beautiful, They Didn’t Notice the UFO Lifting Them From the Water
We go through several stages looking at this one. At first it’s just an ordinary boat in some water. Then you see how the boat’s reflection is several feet below the boat itself, and you assume you’re looking at a disastrous crop job, probably for some quickie ad campaign for a travel agency. “Stick a boat in there! Nah, it doesn’t need to interact with the water in any way. Maybe it’s ramping something!”
But this is actually the Lagoa Verde in Brazil, and what you’re seeing are waters so perfectly clear that the “reflection” of the boat is actually its shadow on the floor of the lagoon.
#4. One Time It Got So Hot the Wood Floors Melted
No, that’s not a taffy floor painted to look like wood grain, and it’s not the work of one man and a chisel. These footprints were actually worn into the wood by a Buddhist monk who stood in that spot to pray every day for 20 years … up to 3,000 times a day, he claims (though we think he’s exaggerating, since there are only about 1,000 waking minutes in a day).
Still, it’s an inspiring thought, especially considering how many splinters he must have had to dig out of his feet.
#3. So What, It’s Just Some Rocks …
… until you see the microscopic little spelunker standing there. And then it looks like bullshit.
That’s Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam, which is thought to be the largest in the world. This discovery pretty much makes Journey to the Center of the Earth obsolete. Anything less than Journey 97 Percent of the Way Through the Earth isn’t impressive any more.
#2. Coach, It’s Time to Call a Hook-and-Ladder
Here’s a Photoshop lookalike from the days before Photoshop even existed. This photo of a raging fire directly behind an oblivious high school football game was taken in November of 1965 at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts. The top floor of the science building caught fire during a football game, but it was decided that the game would go on:
The photo makes the building appear to be much closer to the football field than it actually was — no one was in danger of burning debris falling on them (note that there was room for the fire trucks behind the stands). And of course no one involved could have known they were creating a perfect symbol for educational priorities in America.
#1. What All Cosplay Looked Like in 1987
This Samus costume was probably really simple to make, but it still plays tricks with our eyes seeing it up against the background of a convention hall. That’s the work of Daniel Cattell, who has also got a Chozo statue. It’s great to see someone going totally old school on the cosplay, and we’re hoping he figured out how to make it walk like it only had three frames of animation.