Yesterday @doodlewhale sent out his great picture on Twitter with the message ‘Who’d a thunk dunking a couple of Hula Hoops in your coffee would be so beautiful’.  

So, the question is – is it real or photoshopped?  What do you think?


  1. Photoshopped. Even if the core photo was created in the cup, there’s been work done to it. The “catchlights” in the “eyes”, especially the right (as you look at it) don’t match the lighting on the mug. It’s in shadow…. yet it’s reflecting the light source? No.

  2. I’m pretty sceptical about this. aside from fairly generic questions like ‘do hula hoops float?’ and if so ‘ do they float perfectly upright just below the surface and stay they whilst you pick up your camera?’ My main problem is the angled lines above the ‘eyes’ which make it look slightly angry. I can’t see how dropping some hula hoops could create such a conveniently unequal pattern. the striations in the bubbles to the right of the right eye and below and left of the left eye are also very odd. lastly the variation in colour from grey to light brown has worked out a little too well.

    Would love to be proved wrong though.

  3. I really hope it’s real! But I have to say I agree with the Hula Hoop Sceptics 🙂 I’m pretty sure they’re bigger than they are in the picture (unless that’s a massive mug) and I also reckon they’d float.

  4. Definitely ‘shopped. Hula Hoops are bigger that; the froth isn’t deep enough to cast such a shadow across the undercut tops of the “eyes” and the big tell is the highlight reflections in the bubbles are coloured the same as the froth as if the colour tint was airbrushed over the top afterwards. Very well done though – I can see any cloned elements; identical bubbles or clusters so I reckon it was done deliberately then enhanced.

  5. Just an FYI, hula hoops is also the name of a British snack food. Pretty sure that and not the toys are what is being referred to here.

    I’m certainly thinking photoshop, though I don’t rule out a staged photo instead. I really doubt this was a totally spontaneous photo of something that just happened when he dropped a couple potato snacks in his coffee.

  6. It seems to me quite credible that this is “real” if such an adjective can be used to describe a conscious attempt to produce an owl image by deliberately dropping a couple of hula hoops into a cup of frothy coffee. Of course it might still be photoshopped, but why? It’s hardly a startling image and owl beak is indistinct to say the least,

    Incidentally, Adobe take a dim view of people using “photoshop” as a verb or adjective root. Not that I greatly care, but as an example of corporate pomposity it’s difficult to beat the following

    1. I have seen stuff like that before, and it’s so ridiculous. Xerox went through the same thing. They should, instead of fussing and fuming, be flattered that they have become a household word. What is a better compliment to your product than to become a part of everyday language? There are lots of companies that have been in that enviable position (Kleenex, Coke, etc) and I’ve never heard any of them complain!

    2. They may well be flattered, but unless they take active steps to protect their trademarks, they stand a very real risk of actually having them taken away.

  7. I would say obviously Photoshopped… unless that’s a really small owl in that coffee cup – and there are really small owls in thi world.

  8. Yeah, yeah, yeah,
    A plane crashes and lands precisely on the border between two countries.
    Where should the survivors be buried?

  9. Definitely photoshopped. To get 2 hoops to float like that is a very slim mathematical probability. Also the potato of the hoops would expand in the hot liquid and start to separate. Looks great though, still some careful eye and patience has been applied here

  10. Hi There Richard Wiseman,
    On a similar note,, I had some undesired arguments with some photographers who called me “dumb” because I told them that a model’s picture is photoshopped.They told me the airbrush was minimal in this case and that I was jealous of the model.I told them politely that I didn’t think the picture was genuine and they started a real show against me in which they called me “dumb,jealous” and so on.
    Catch you again soon!

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