This is the latest edition of our most popular feature, in which we demonstrate that the truth is stranger than Photoshop. Here are more photos that will make every poster in the comment section scream "FAKE!" but are absolutely real.
And now ...
#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.