Tag Archives: mauna kea

Fakery Exposed….

In my last article, I discussed Bending Reality and where my personal ethical limits are in relation to photo manipulation. There has been some insightful commentary from very thoughtful people.

In this article I reveal all the ways in which my “Solar Corona, Keck & Subaru” photo (below) can be discounted as a fake.

Solar Corona + Keck & Subaru

Let’s start with the easy things.

  1. The EXIF date taken can be seen on Flickr as July 31, 2011. So there is an immediate red flag! Had I left the exposure information intact, there would have been more clues, but I wanted to hide the “iPhone” data!
  2. The implication that this was taken in 1991 fails the following tests:
    1. There were extremely few generally available digital cameras in 1991. Most were less than 1 Mega-pixel. A Hassleblad digital back or a professional TV broadcast camera were among the few that were larger than 1.6 Mpix – the size of the original photo on Flickr.
    2. The Subaru Telescope construction didn’t begin until 1992 and the enclosure wasn’t completed until 1994.
    3. The Keck Telescopes similarly didn’t exist in 1991. The first dome became operational in 1993, and the second in 1996.
  3. The 1991 Total Solar Eclipse was visible in Hawaii near sunrise but this view is facing Northwest as can be determined from Google maps.Now on to the less obvious things:
  4. There is a very suspicious small “orange ring” around the perimeter of the sun. Suspicious because it indicates an annular eclipse, not a total one.
  5. The relative sizes of the sun and foreground are way out of proportion. The eclipsed portion of the sun in this image appears to be slightly larger than the base of the Subaru telescope enclosure. That base is 40 meters wide (131 feet) and 43 meters tall.  For the base of the Subaru to be same angular size as the moon/sun, the photograph would have to be taken 114.6 x 40 meters away. That works out to 2.8 miles to the South East. But…
    1. The view is clearly taken from above since the horizon is visible about 1/2 a degree above the telescopes. The summit is less than 2,000 feet away after that it’s all down hill!
    2. The only way to move far enough away and still look down would be to do so from the air.
  6. The central (dark part) of the eclipse is alarmingly dark relative to the rest of the image. It’s darker, even, than the foreground which lies in shadow. At minimum this would indicate a composite or photo manipulation.
  7. The center is slightly off axis from the diffraction spikes above and below the sun.
  8. There are visible bright reflections off of the Keck domes – more characteristic of an un-eclipsed sun.
  9. If that is REALLY the solar corona it is much more extensive than very sophisticated instruments have observed – even more impressive than NASA photos.

So there you go. Got anything else to add? Please let me know.

PS Is THIS a photo of the Annular Solar Eclipse?

Listening to the Sky

Persistence pays off. It is a LONG drive from Kailua-Kona to the Telescope row on top of Mauna Kea. Nearly 3 hours each way. I made this trip 3 times now. The first time was to scout locations. As I was setting up the camera it grew dark. Everything seemed to be in order but I realized that I *didn’t* bring my interval timer with me, so I pulled the plug and hiked back to the car. The next day I went back and set everything up again. In retrospect, I spent so long fiddling with the unit to make sure my attempt wouldn’t be in vain that I could have set the timer to start about 40 minutes earlier in the evening.


8 Hours of Exposures on Mauna Kea powered by my "Beefy Battery Solution"

I was also conservative. I configured the timer to take 160 exposures (at 3 minutes each) because I knew the daylight would come and overwhelm the shot. But again, I could have added another 20-30 minutes of exposures and perhaps gotten some interesting color in the twilight.

While the experiment was a success I clearly bumped the focus after getting everything set up so it was not as sharp as I’d have liked. Still, 18 hours of set up were worth it, I think. Maybe.

Mauna Kea – 8 Hour Timelapse

When Star Trail Academy launches, the gear and techniques used here will be what we teach. In fact, at our next workshop, we’ll even supply the mountain (but not this one).