Optical Illusion: Is This Horse Walking Toward Or Away From The Camera?

Is the horse walking toward the camera or away from it? Light refraction causes an optical illusion.

Visual illusions have intrigued humans since time began. Whether we are staring at an M.C. Escher drawing or the more recent paintings of contemporary artists, we love optical illusions. Some artists are great at creating illusions that trick our eyes.

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Sometimes, visual illusions happen in real life. In the image below, we see a horse walking away across a snowy field. Or is it walking toward us? The dark color of the horse against the stark white background of snow makes this a real-life optical illusion.

A horse traveling across a snowy field. It is difficult to tell if he is moving toward the camera of away from it.
Image from TikTok.

As we watch the horse walking across the field, it is no more evident. We still can’t tell which direction this horse is ambling as he wanders across the snowy landscape.

An optical illusion caused by light contrast of a dark horse against a snowy background.
Image from TikTok.

The Science Behind Optical Illusions

According to Britannica, a common optical illusion results from the bending of light (known as refraction). A pencil placed in a glass of water will appear significantly larger looking through the glass than the portion remaining above the water.

There are several types of visual illusions. When we look at a word on a page and see something different, that is a perceiver-distortion illusion. Perceiver distortion is what allows us to read words that are displayed backward or have jumbled letters.

A dark horse against a bright white snowy field makes it almost impossible to tell which direction the horse is walking.
Image from TikTok.

We’re not going to explain all the physics behind all visual illusions. We can describe the general concept, though. Optical illusions occur when light refraction and other detractors confuse the message from our eyes to our brains. This confusion causes our brain to interpret the signal from our eyes incorrectly, creating the illusion.

Watch the entire video of the horse walking in the snowy field. We think you’ll be able to figure it out eventually. But it is a fun way to spend a few minutes! Share this to confuse your friends!

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There were a couple of times I genuinely didn’t know…

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