When taking a photo, most of us don’t think to examine every bit of the background. We are usually too focused on how our hair looks or whatever subject we’re capturing to take notice of the entire image.  Even when we look back at our pictures later, we are not likely to catch anything aside from what we intended to capture. But maybe we should start looking at our photos a little more closely; we might be surprised to find hidden details or photobombers in the background that completely change the nature of the image.

We’ve gathered a list of some of the best “when you see it” photos that might play tricks on your eyes, from pictures that have hilarious things peeking out in the background to photos that will always seem off, no matter how hard you stare at them. We hope you enjoy this funny and perplexing list, and be sure to upvote the pics that you looked at long enough to induce a headache. Then if you’d like to see even more of these confusing photos, be sure to check out one of Bored Panda’s previous posts on the same topic right here.

#1

My Pillow Has A Surprise Inside

My Pillow Has A Surprise Inside

RedditCoffeeGuy Report

Serial pacifist
Community Member
2 months ago

Fluffy surprise

View More Replies...
View more comments

A picture is worth a thousand words, but if there’s an unexpected twist hiding in the background, it might be worth two thousand. We’re all familiar with optical illusions, but usually they are created on purpose. It’s a rare occasion when an unsuspecting photo becomes an optical illusion after people look at it and start saying, “Wait a second…” While most of the photos here are funny based on what’s in the background or peeking out from a corner, some are just our eyes playing tricks on us. 

To learn more about how our eyes can fool us, we checked out this Vox article that explains how each of our realities are constructed by our own brains. “It’s really important to understand we’re not seeing reality,” neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College, told Vox. “We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.” He explained that typically, what our brains tell us does match up with the real world, but sometimes our brains work to fill in gaps, which can warp our perception of reality. 

#2

I Didn't Think I'd Actually Lose In A "Hide And Seek" Game With My Nephew

I Didn't Think I'd Actually Lose In A "Hide And Seek" Game With My Nephew

NOCHNOY_ Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

That's really smart, not gonna lie. He deserves the win.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#3

A Place For Everything

A Place For Everything

princesskittydog Report

Diolla
Community Member
2 months ago

Well at least this one is labeled.

View More Replies...
View more comments

In his article, Brian Resnick explains that the fact that visuals can trick us may seem disheartening at first, but we shouldn’t look at it that way. We can actually learn a great deal about how our brains work when we know what can confuse or fool them. He goes on to explain that the more we understand about how our brains work, the more we might be able to understand one another. Rather than being frustrated by someone who perceives the world differently, have some compassion. After all, their brain is feeding them a slightly different message than what yours is telling you. We should be curious about these differences and investigate them.

Brian also poses the question of why we are seeing a story of the world rather than the full picture. Apparently, we evolved to be this way. “We don’t have the necessary machinery, and we wouldn’t even want it, to process carefully all of the amount of information that we’re constantly bombarded with,” Susana Martinez-Conde, a neuroscientist and illusion researcher at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, told Vox.

#4

We Took This Photo In The Caves Of Branson, MO Over 2 Years Ago. We Never Noticed Our Unexpected Guest Until Now

We Took This Photo In The Caves Of Branson, MO Over 2 Years Ago. We Never Noticed Our Unexpected Guest Until Now

CapableOwl Report

Thomas Gray
Community Member
2 months ago

Bat photobomb!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#5

When You See It

When You See It

miz0909 Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

Fun fact: there is an owl species in the Vietnamese language called "Cú mèo" which literally translate to "Owl Cat" so I think this photo fits perfectly.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#6

I Looked Over, And My Cat Was Doing The Same Thing As The Curtain

I Looked Over, And My Cat Was Doing The Same Thing As The Curtain

LeadTheWay Report

Nunya Business
Community Member
2 months ago

Copycat

View more comments

When we see an object move, for example, there is a complicated process happening inside of us. “Once light hits the retinas at the back of our eyeballs, it’s converted into an electrical signal that then has to travel to the visual processing system at the back of our brains,” Brian explains. “From there, the signal travels forward through our brains, constructing what we see and creating our perception of it. This process just takes time.” 

If we only relied on what our brain had fully processed, our reflexes would be too slow for us to have very good coordination. So we need our brains to fill in the gaps and make predictions for us. When we see something moving, we see it just a tad bit further along than it actually is because we know where it’s headed. And when we see a confusing photo, it can be very hard to convince our brains that what it initially thought was happening might not actually be the case.

#7

My Daughter Thought This Was Her. Bonus: My Son In The Background

My Daughter Thought This Was Her. Bonus: My Son In The Background

Trampolice Report

Esha
Community Member
2 months ago

Just gotta love yourself

View More Replies...
View more comments
#8

Spot The Pug

Spot The Pug

lilithnightstar Report

LeighAnne Brown-Pedersen
Community Member
2 months ago

Holy c**p! I had to zoom in (to the bench handle)

View More Replies...
View more comments
#9

Nope, You're Wrong. Look Closer

Nope, You're Wrong. Look Closer

1 like=1 respec Report

That other Panda
Community Member
2 months ago

It’s a goat-dog!

View More Replies...
View more comments

Adam Hantman, a neuroscientist at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus, explains that we are almost always relying on predictions that our brain makes and then using our senses to course-correct any inaccurate predictions. Even the way we see colors can be confusing. Most of the time we can agree with others about what color something is, but sometimes colors are up for debate. Do you remember the infamous white and gold or blue and black dress? An interesting development from that whole dress drama was the theory that someone’s lifestyle might affect how they perceive images and colors.

In a study on the infamous dress conducted by Pascal Wallisch, he found a strange correlation between those who agreed on the color of the dress. People who consider themselves night owls were more likely to see the dress as blue and black, while early risers, or larks, were more likely to call the dress white and gold.     

#10

I Swear There Are Four Of Us

I Swear There Are Four Of Us

BalrogBunghole Report

Vic
Community Member
2 months ago

And John kept wondering why his friends were ignoring him..

View More Replies...
View more comments
#11

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

mdr28 Report

That other Panda
Community Member
2 months ago

**Regrets life decisions**

View More Replies...
View more comments
#12

Me At Five Years Old. When You See It

Me At Five Years Old. When You See It

DillPicklesNcream Report

Nunya Business
Community Member
2 months ago

Tiny photo bomber

View More Replies...
View more comments

Wallisch believed that the reason for this correlation was because participants assumed the lighting on the dress was whatever they are more familiar with. For example, larks spend more time experiencing natural light than night owls do, so if they view the image like it is being drenched in sunlight, it appears white and gold. On the other hand, night owls tend to assume that there is fluorescent light on the dress, which would make it appear blue and black.

“The owls versus lark data seems quite compelling for explaining a large part of the individual differences,” says Sam Schwarzkopf, a vision scientist at the University of Auckland. But it does not explain everything. “There are still lots of other factors that must have a strong influence here. It could be prior experience with the subject matter, or related to other aspects of people’s personality,” he says. “Yes, the dress continues to mystify.”

#13

This Can Happen When You Blink Faster Than The Shutter On Your Camera

This Can Happen When You Blink Faster Than The Shutter On Your Camera

bmullerone Report

$cagsy
Community Member
2 months ago

It can also happen when your soul has been consumed by the devil, and your body has been inhabited by 500 shrieking tortured demons who are biding their time until the End Of Days when the Dark Lord shall rise and claim what is rightfully his. Or the camera thing.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#14

A Random Stranger Came Up To My Girlfriend And I To Show Us The Photo She Took Of Us

A Random Stranger Came Up To My Girlfriend And I To Show Us The Photo She Took Of Us

theworstsailor1 Report

V V
Community Member
2 months ago

Talk about 'joined at the hip'

View more comments
#15

When You See It

When You See It

DrRevelationary Report

Dani M
Community Member
2 months ago

tiny kittie!

View More Replies...
View more comments

Our brains have all sorts of biases, and they are used to ignoring information that does not serve us or overloads us. We filter out things like the fact that we can always see our noses because it does not serve us. We don’t need to see our nose; we know, or should I say knows, it’s there. But a similar thing happens when we see an image where there is just too much going on. We can’t necessarily see every detail, at least not at first glance. So that’s why it might take you a moment to catch a cat hiding in a pillowcase or a child in the corner in these photos. We can only handle so much information at once, and if there is something you’re not expecting to see, your brain might just ignore it.  

#16

I Lost My Cat Today And Eventually Found Him Like This Staring At Me

I Lost My Cat Today And Eventually Found Him Like This Staring At Me

filochick05 Report

Kassiopeia
Community Member
2 months ago

"Father get me out of here I've been here for five hours"

View More Replies...
View more comments
#17

Friend Is Moving Away With Her Best Friends. When You See It

Friend Is Moving Away With Her Best Friends. When You See It

reddit.com Report

M Kawai
Community Member
2 months ago

Kitty sandwich

View More Replies...
View more comments
#18

Had A Nice Photo With The Missus And Had It Put On A Key Ring, Only To Later Notice This Gem. Worst/Greatest Picture Ever

Had A Nice Photo With The Missus And Had It Put On A Key Ring, Only To Later Notice This Gem. Worst/Greatest Picture Ever

NubBiscuit96 Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

What is so special about this? Just a couple smiling next to a moon. That's it.

View More Replies...
View more comments

When it comes to the photos on this list that appear normal at first glance, once we do realize something bizarre is happening, it can be impossible to unsee what we now know. The picture looked completely fine 5 seconds ago, but now it’s been tainted. Why does that happen? Nothing has actually changed except our perception. Alexis C. Madrigal discussed this phenomenon in a piece for The Atlantic. She showed an example of a black and white photo that might look abstract at first glance but actually features a dalmatian. "It is hard to discern a Dalmatian standing among many black spots scattered on a white background because the part of the image corresponding to the dog lacks contours that define the edges of the dog, and the dog’s spotted texture resembles that of the background," Dartmouth cognitive scientists Peter Tse and Howard Hughes wrote about the image. "Many observers find that they first recognize one part of the dog, say the head, which then makes the whole dog’s shape apparent."

#19

I Heard This Kid Yelling For His Dad At Lowe’s, I Went Looking For Him And

I Heard This Kid Yelling For His Dad At Lowe’s, I Went Looking For Him And

GetALoadOfToad Report

Paula MV
Community Member
2 months ago

That little shite

View More Replies...
View more comments
#20

Lost My Wallet 3 Days Ago, Finally Ordered New Cards And Then

Lost My Wallet 3 Days Ago, Finally Ordered New Cards And Then

dragonboy2734 Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

The same thing happened to me once, except it was in my car.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#21

Glitch In The Mirror

Glitch In The Mirror

00890 Report

BakedKahuna
Community Member
2 months ago

This is a good one 😅

View more comments

But if people ever come across that image of the dalmatian again, they will see it immediately. "When the scene is encountered again, sensory cues will again identify high information areas, but this time the prior knowledge needed to complete the perceptual act is readily available, and the perceptual interpretation is achieved in a way that seems automatic and perhaps inevitable," says Tom Toppino, a Villanova psychologist. "One general lesson of this demonstration is that perception is not the result of simply processing stimulus cues. It also importantly involves fitting prior knowledge to the current situation to create a meaningful interpretation."

#22

When You See It

When You See It

tarpolano Report

Daria Z
Community Member
2 months ago

Lol :D

View more comments
#23

Bet We Can Beat You At Hiding And Seek Uncle David. Bet You Can’t

Bet We Can Beat You At Hiding And Seek Uncle David. Bet You Can’t

dropkickderby Report

Your sleep paralysis demon
Community Member
2 months ago

Oh well that could be a much more terrifying story than the caption implies ;-;

View More Replies...
View more comments
#24

I Was Trying To Take A Nice Photo Of My Cat When I Noticed The Neighbours' Cat In The Background

I Was Trying To Take A Nice Photo Of My Cat When I Noticed The Neighbours' Cat In The Background

BeardLover69 Report

Shanaaia
Community Member
2 months ago

I WANNA BE PHOTOGRAPHED, TOO!

View More Replies...
View more comments

Some ambiguous images are “reversible”, like the famous Rabbit-duck illusion, where you might be able to know both are there and flip back and forth between which one you see. But other images can never be seen the same again. "I think one can describe the can't-unsee phenomenon as follows:  Once you interpret visual stimulus in a certain way, you'll continue to interpret it in the same way now and the next time you encounter the stimulus," Toppino says. "Ambiguous figures certainly involve some of the same processes."

#25

My Sister Was Taking Pictures Of My Nephew At School

My Sister Was Taking Pictures Of My Nephew At School

Htxbia Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

OK, this is funny. For those whose still haven't seen it, look to the top left.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#26

Let's Play "Spot The Culprit"

Let's Play "Spot The Culprit"

jelder5591 Report

KJ
Community Member
2 months ago

The cat framed them.

View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#27

My Friend Tried To Take A Nice Picture At The Mall

My Friend Tried To Take A Nice Picture At The Mall

TongueCave Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

Third wheelers be like.

View more comments

We hope you are enjoying this list of photos that might require you to stare at them for several minutes to understand. Just think of them as real life Where's Waldo images. And as for the ones that are more like optical illusions, maybe your fellow pandas can help you understand what's going on in the comments. Keep upvoting the pics that you find most hilarious or confusing, and then if you want to check out even more "when you see it" pics, we've got another Bored Panda piece for you to read next right here.

#28

When You See It

When You See It

ReigningHate Report

Vic
Community Member
2 months ago

Well here we have a graduate and an 'under'graduate.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#29

Oh, Hey Mom. No, No One Is Here. I Was Talking To Myself. Yeah, Good Night Mom

Oh, Hey Mom. No, No One Is Here. I Was Talking To Myself. Yeah, Good Night Mom

pottrpupptpals Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

Unless there's context to this, this picture is absolutely terrifying. Just look at the fan wire and trace it, you'll see it.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#30

Not Sure If Intentional Or Oblivious, But This Architect Did A Bad Job

Not Sure If Intentional Or Oblivious, But This Architect Did A Bad Job

moderately_nerdifyin Report

Diolla
Community Member
2 months ago

LOL

View More Replies...
View more comments
#31

You'll Laugh When You See It

You'll Laugh When You See It

danthoms Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

Kid: "You wanna buy some candy?"

View More Replies...
View more comments
#32

Sometimes You Just Know You’re Being Watched

Sometimes You Just Know You’re Being Watched

smolprincess928 Report

Kassiopeia
Community Member
2 months ago

"You have seeled your fate mortal. Now pet me pls"

View More Replies...
View more comments
#33

The Best Place To Hide From Animal Control Is Right Under Their Noses

The Best Place To Hide From Animal Control Is Right Under Their Noses

motown89 Report

Esha
Community Member
2 months ago

"You can't see me"

View More Replies...
View more comments
#34

And The Void Stares Back

And The Void Stares Back

Thereisnocat_ Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

He stares into the abyss and the abyss stares back.

View more comments
#35

When You See It

When You See It

dcooneyreddit Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

Truckers don't exchange numbers, we exchange doors. That's how it works, right?

View more comments
#36

When You See It

When You See It

SAT0725 Report

MissyTheUniverse
Community Member
2 months ago

A ghost??

View More Replies...
View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#37

Thought It Was Snow

Thought It Was Snow

spudVision Report

Dani M
Community Member
2 months ago

Biiiig danger noodle

View More Replies...
View more comments
#38

Without That Big Wheel Sticking Out You’d Never Know There’s A Truck In The Picture

Without That Big Wheel Sticking Out You’d Never Know There’s A Truck In The Picture

68PrivateJoker Report

DiscoQueen
Community Member
2 months ago

The truck is on the left half facing the camera or back facing the camera. It is reflecting off the flash or light which is making a mirror image to the second half of the picture. If you look close both halves of the photo are mirror images of each other.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#39

Spot The Bird

Spot The Bird

shficjshx Report

Thomas Gray
Community Member
2 months ago

Cardi-kale?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#40

When You See It

When You See It

flojopickles Report

STress
Community Member
2 months ago

Go on, open the door! I dare you!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#41

Went Into My Dad's Attic And This Caught My Eye. Bricks Were Shat. When You See It

Went Into My Dad's Attic And This Caught My Eye. Bricks Were Shat. When You See It

chrisdv98 Report

BakedKahuna
Community Member
2 months ago

Omg, I accidentally zoomed right in 🙀

View More Replies...
View more comments
#42

Took A Picture Of My Cousin At Their Wedding Table And It Caught The Groom's Nose

Took A Picture Of My Cousin At Their Wedding Table And It Caught The Groom's Nose

Jarteast Report

Jennifer Casey
Community Member
2 months ago

I see. He is sitting directly to her left. And the face we see is actually his. She is looking away so her face isn't seen.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#43

Looked Up And Noticed This While Using The Bathroom

Looked Up And Noticed This While Using The Bathroom

firesprinklerman Report

MissyTheUniverse
Community Member
2 months ago

My number one would turn to a number two.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#44

My Friend Sent Me Pictures Of Her Proposal. She Told Me To Look Closely

My Friend Sent Me Pictures Of Her Proposal. She Told Me To Look Closely

MRwrong_ Report

MissyTheUniverse
Community Member
2 months ago

New mother-in-law?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#45

I Really Appreciate My Math Teacher's Halloween Costume

I Really Appreciate My Math Teacher's Halloween Costume

rickiesucks Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

Gasp! He's Clark Kent!!!!!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#46

When You See It

When You See It

chopders Report

Sue User
Community Member
2 months ago

Its 2 am and here i am playing wheres waldo on BP

View More Replies...
View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#47

All The Brown You Can See Is Spiders

All The Brown You Can See Is Spiders

aloofwatermelon Report

Nunya Business
Community Member
2 months ago

Nope to infinity.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#48

When You See It

When You See It

thatdiabetickid Report

Kassiopeia
Community Member
2 months ago

I'd make that face as well if someone tries to make a selfie in my car window

View More Replies...
View more comments
#49

Pouty Kid Is Pouty

Pouty Kid Is Pouty

chickenbiscuit9998 Report

engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
2 months ago

Child of the Cabinet, coming soon to theatres near you.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#50

This Is What I Have To Deal With Every Morning While Going To The Bathroom

This Is What I Have To Deal With Every Morning While Going To The Bathroom

Tall_Whole_5777 Report

Your sleep paralysis demon
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

Oh! Fun! burn the house, get out as soon as possible!

View More Replies...
View more comments

Note: this post originally had 115 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.