Earth logo

The Sydney Opera House Effect

Also Known As The Sydney Opera House Illusion

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 3 min read
Wallsend Cranes At The End of Fenham Hall Drive When They Should Be In Wallsend

The Sydney Opera House Illusion

Michael Stevens is the guy in the video above who named the effect when he walked into his hotel in Sydney , and explains all about it. The video is eight minutes long but helps us understand why this optical illusion occurs with references to other optical illusion.

Below is how I came to notice it , with a map of the lead image and some links to my Instagram posts about it.

My Own Encounters With The Sydney Opera House Effect

A few years ago I was in my office in Citygate, Newcastle on the sixth floor and noticed something through the kitchen window in Gateshead so I thought I would take a picture with my phone. At the time I was on the St James' Park side of the office so I walked across the floor into the kitchen to get a better picture, closer up. The building or fixed item I intended to take a picture of was now much further away. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.

I walked back to my original standpoint and the thing was closer, so I walked back into the kitchen and it was further away.

I took photographs on my phone and shared them with people at work and almost to a man they asked what sort of camera, lens , device I was using and that was probably what was causing the effect. I kept pointing out that this is what I saw without the camera and still they kept asking about the camera and telling me that was what was causing the effect.

I'm still coming to terms with "The Sydney Opera House Illusion", seeing it out of every window in my office, with the realisation that this is not just what my eye/brain combination is doing, but it can be captured by camera, so it is real, but I'm still at a loss to understand how it happens.

Yes I understand the effect of frames and angles but surely they should not cause items to appear nearer the further you move from the frame.

You don't even have to try, and the thing is because you see it every day you become immune to it until you actually notice it.

The Wallsend Cranes On Fenham Hall Drive

Where The Cranes Are and Where they Seem To Be

Walking down Fenham Hall Drive I noticed the cranes at Wallsend seemed very close. This is one of many examples I have seen of the Sydney Opera House Effect , but it's certainly the most impressive one that I have seen . I first tried taking photos with my phone but they didn't come out very well, then tried yesterday with my Canon camera but it was a bit grey and then today the light was a bit better and the pictures came out better with the 25x optical zoom.

I can go up to 50x but that is digital enhancement and you really need a tripod to keep the camera still and given that many of the photos are done dodging traffic , it's not really an option. You can see the photos on my Instagram channel here.

Conclusion On Sydney Opera House Effect

I can't really explain it but whenever you have two perpendicular delimiters like the side of a window or in the case of Fenham Hall Drive , the lines of trees, your movement can cause you to experience the effect, and it can be impressive sometimes.

This is an intriguing take on how our eyes can make us context sensitive to items that we see.

I hope this has not been too unbelievable or strange.

See if you can find an example yourself.


About the Creator

Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

Weaver of Tales, Poems, Music & Love

7(1.2m) ֎ Fb ֎ Px ֎ Pn ֎

X ֎ In ֎ YT (0.2m) ֎ T

Vocal Tips


Call Me LesGina HeatherCaroline


DaphsamMisty MelissaMa Coombs

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (3)

Sign in to comment
  • Phil Flanneryabout a year ago

    Ok Mike, very interesting and I have seen this same effect in a different way. I live near Newcastle (Australia) and there is a road that leads to one of our more popular beaches, (Merewether). The road comes down from a steep hill and you can see ships at anchor a few kilometres off shore. From the top of the hill, which is framed by trees, the ships look huge, by the time you drive down to the beach they are tiny. Next time I'm over that way, I'll try to take some shots.

  • Mariann Carroll2 years ago

    Nice informative story. It’s like the side view mirror or the blind spots in the car mirror. our perception can sometimes deceive us. Nice video . This remind me being in New York City. When you are high above a building looking down , you think things are close by and will take a few minutes to walk ,to.

  • Wow, this phenomenon is so bizarre. I'm not sure if I've experienced it before

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.