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10 Pictures that Look Photoshopped–But Aren’t!

January 14, 2013

By Hoff Matthews

Adobe Photoshop LogoBack in the day, if you saw something truly outlandishly crazy, the definitive way to prove that it was real was to snap a photograph of it. These days, however, image modification programs like Adobe Photoshop allow anyone with computer access to create unreal imagery that looks totally convincing, and as a result, many people who come across an eye-catching or unusual image will automatically assume that it is fake. That’s not always the case, though, as proven by the pictures displayed below, which may look tampered with but are actually TOTALLY REAL.

1. Just PLANE Awesome

Richie Pasternak Jet Jumping

It wasn’t digital manipulation that brought us this picture of 17-year-old skateboarding prodigy Richie Pasternak attempting to jump from a tanker to a jet fighter during air-to-air refueling, but rather sheer moxie and a total disregard for federal air safety regulations. This stunt was considered the embodiment of Pasternak’s rebellious “anything goes” attitude and earned him immortality within the skating community, though in a more literal sense it also did the opposite since he of course fell to his death.

2. Close Encounters of the BIRD Kind

Crop Circle

Crop circles are generally mystifying and hard to explain, but none more so than this risqué example, which appeared in England in 1989. Noted ufologist Albert Ridley speculates that this design probably has some sort of symbolic cultural significance to the extraterrestrials who presumably inscribed it, and that if they knew what it looked like to humans “they would probably be pretty embarrassed!”

3. BERRY Unusual!

Giant Strawberry

Although the strawberry shown here may seem to have been blown up from a much lower-resolution image file, it’s actually the signature crop of farmer Dan MacEnnis (pictured), whose genetically modified strawberries have been winning both the Largest and Most Pixelated awards at the California State Fair for the past eight years. Congratulations, Dan!

4. This Squirrel Is NUTS!

Nazi Squirrel

The aptly named Nazi Squirrel (Sciurus adolphus) may seem intimidating, but it’s quite harmless; like the skull on the notorious death’s-head hawkmoth, the swastika-like marking that appears on these squirrels’ fur is a total coincidence and developed naturally through evolution. In fact, Nazi squirrels are quite docile and friendly towards humans, although they can also be very territorial and have largely displaced western Europe’s indigenous Easily Scapegoated Minority Squirrel.

5. Cloudy with a Chance of DICKS


The cloud in the upper right-hand corner of this picture may look like it was scrawled onto the image with the Brush Tool by someone with an incredibly juvenile sense of humor, but that’s not the case at all! It’s actually an example of an unusual cloud type known as “cumulophallus.” Usually found during full-frontal weather disturbances at altitudes ranging from 6,000 to (in extremely well-endowed climates) 40,000 feet, cumulophallus clouds form into their distinctive shape when they are thickly engorged with moisture, and are capable of penetrating the tropopause when they achieve vertical extent prior to precipitation. You know, like a penis!

6. And People Call Politicians TWO-FACED…

Smythe Portrait

Uh oh, looks like someone got ahold of the Blur tool! Actually, this isn’t a hamfisted commentary on how politicians subsume their individual identities into bland nationalistic archetypes in order to appeal to the public at large, but rather the official portrait of Representative James Smythe (R-NE), America’s first faceless congressman. Affectionately dubbed “No-Face Jim” by his D.C. colleagues, Smythe was born without facial features but overcame the many obstacles presented by his condition to achieve success in the Air National Guard (see first picture below) and, later, politics. Smythe now serves as a representative not just of his constituents but also of America’s faceless community, a group which has long been ignored for some reason.

Smythe in Air National Guard

Smythe on TV

Smythe Reading to Children

7. This Office Is OFF THE WALL!

Michael Jackson Office

To the skeptical eye, this probably looks like a picture of Michael Jackson’s face superimposed onto a photo of an office building hallway. In reality, it’s a sophisticated example of perspective illusion art, in which a three-dimensional environment is adorned with a  two-dimensional image that can only be correctly viewed from a certain vantage point. As a tribute to the late “King of Pop,” this Iowa claims adjustment office had its walls, floor, ceiling and furniture painted in such a way that the singer’s haunting visage appears when you stand in the exact spot from which this picture was taken. If you were to view the design from any other angle, Jackson’s face would appear warped and distorted. I don’t have any pictures taken from any other angle, though. Just this one.

8. This Fish Is NUTS!

Dick Fish

This is a fish that looks like a dick and balls. It’s not Photoshopped.

9. Barry O. and Uncle Joe

Obama Shaking Hands with Stalin

At first glance, this image of President Obama shaking hands with communist dictator Joseph Stalin looks like it was crudely assembled by the editor of a conservative blog as a visual metaphor for Obama’s supposed commitment to “socialism.” In fact, however, it’s an actual photograph of the president visiting Moscow’s famous Black and White Museum, which features monochromatic recreations of famous scenes from Russian history. The light-hued pixels around the edge of Obama’s figure seem like evidence of a bad cut-and-paste job, but they’re actually the crusty remnants of fake vomit that accumulated on the president while he was passing through the Boris Yeltsin exhibit.

10. Itty Bitty Kitty

Me with Cat

I’m not actually holding a tiny cat in my hand! The cat’s just in the background!

If you enjoyed this listicle, check out some of my others:

• 7 Great Comedians with Stage Names

• 5 Thanksgiving Myths and the Facts Behind Them

• 8 Reasons Why Drone Killings Are Legal

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