Amazing optical illusions: Einstein or Marilyn? Thatcher or Blair?


Einstein or Marilyn?


Trick question, it’s a leg from each on their zany beach trip!


That’s combining the high frequencies from one photo with the low frequencies of another. Once you can separate by frequency you can iron the wrinkles in a suit without affecting the detailed pattern on the suit.


Okay, yes, if you look to the side you can kind of see a Marilyn-like hair silhouette over the Einstein image, but if you can’t decide if that’s Einstein or Marilyn Monroe you need to speak to a doctor, and not an ophthalmologist.

On the other hand, the Blair/Thatcher hybrid looks like Ronald Reagan. Which is…disturbingly fitting. In fact, how certain are we of Blair’s parentage?


It’s Einstein! I can tell by the mustache.

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Absolutely not amazing.

If you’re wondering what the illusion is supposed to be (the post kind of forgot that part):

If you look at the image from enough of a distance that it looks pretty small (or in some blurry, squinty, need-my-glasses way) one of the faces is predominant and the other sort of fades away. When you look at it clearly and closely enough, it’s the reverse.

The link suggests it’s not two photos, but the same image with different manipulations made to the low frequency and high frequency layers. Whatever those are! Never used this in Photoshop. Still very cool if it works this well, would like to see a tutorial explaining it better.

If you want a simpler, photoshop-oriented explanation, look up frequency separation with regard to retouching.

If you want more mathematically rigorous explanations look to Fourier Analysis.

Without actually having tried it, I think if you blur the Marilyn photo somewhat and do a high pass filter of a moderate radius on the Einstein and then use the overlay blend mode to put the high pass over the blur you’ll get the hybrid illusion.


The fanciest way of presenting fucking around with photoshop filters ever.

My gosh I just realized that’s what’s going on here. The whole point of the illusion is not even mentioned in the post. I did notice the little thumbnail looked a bit like Marilyn, but I didn’t realize that’s the intended effect. I haven’t done a fourier transform in about 100 years, and I never did learn how it’s done on images.

The high frequencies means the fine details. Up close, the eye sees those and the brain decodes “Einstein.” From a greater distance, only the broad strokes are visible, and those encode “Marilyn.” I suppose I’m the only one who hadn’t figured that out til now, but I’m still proud of myself.

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