- Photo entered into the Japanese Nature Photo contest appears to be edited
- However, it has not been touched at all and is an extraordinary optical illusion
In an age where AI has created images of the Pope in an enormous white puffer jacket and Donald Trump being arrested, you’d be forgiven for thinking this extraordinary photo has been digitally altered.
Even before the rapid growth of AI, photographs have long been edited by social media users to boost the appearance of their pictures.
That’s why when looking at this stunning photo of an egret bird taken by Kenichi Ohno, the first thought is that it must be somehow manufactured.
The photo itself is impressive enough, but the fact it is completely untouched has left some speechless – and others in denial.
Mr Ohno, from the Saitama Prefecture in the Kantō region of Honshu in Japan, entered ‘Gap’ into the 39th Japanese Nature Photo contest which is hosted by the All-Japan Association of Photographic Societies.
The photo shows the white-feathered bird stepping out into the sea, causing a ripple effect as it wades through a muddy bank into the water.
An optical illusion makes it look like there are two separate scenes, with only the bird connecting them.
It appears as though the bird is walking out of a yellow-orange scene on the right and into the deep blue water on the left.
But in reality, the sun is actually hitting a wall – seen in the top right corner – at the perfect angle to cast a straight line reflection onto the water.
The wall itself is a yellow tinted colour, which is what produces the stark contrast from the blue water.
The horizontal line in the photo is the bottom of the wall, while the yellow-orange water below is the reflection.
Confused social media users could not get their heads round how the photo had been edited.
One said: ‘There is no way this is not photoshopped!!!’
Meanwhile, another added: ‘Nearly after 13hrs, I understand the image. It’s a great illusion.’
A third said: ‘No, this is not by AI. A human named Kenichi Ohno took this award-winning picture that breaks your brain.’
And a fourth confessed: ‘That had me fooled for a whole minute. I thought that had to be an edit.’
In fact, even those judging the photo singled it out of 5,600 images entered into the contest.
According to My Modern Met, they said: ‘A strange photo with a strong impact. It is interesting that we cannot immediately understand how it was taken.
‘It is one that was taken because of the windless conditions. It shows us that the slightest difference can make a big difference in a photograph.
‘It is difficult to photograph nature when man-made objects enter the picture, but in this case, they play a good supporting role and enhance the picture.’