A viral photograph online is an authentic depiction of a partial solar eclipse seen over the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The image is the result of some artistic choices made by the photographer, who carefully planned the photograph in advance of a partial solar eclipse.
In late October 2022, internet users shared and expressed admiration for a beautiful image showing a partial solar eclipse over the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt. Posted by the astronomy page EarthSky on Oct. 30, 2022, the widely viewed image showed the partially eclipsed sun in a cloudy sky over the peak of the pyramid, with a camel in the foreground:
The picture itself is real, but the artist who created it, Cairo-based photographer Osama Fathi, said that it had been enhanced with the use of a special filter and some processing after the fact.
According to Fathi, the photograph was taken at the Great Pyramid in Giza, which is southwest of central Cairo, during a partial solar eclipse on Oct. 25, 2022. He planned the shot for months, he stated in the picture description, which included purchasing the filter he wanted to produce the desired look.
Fathi said he used an “ND filter 10 stops.” The “ND” stands for “neutral density.” It’s a filter that greatly reduces the amount of light that reaches the camera’s light sensor, which can produce a variety of interesting visual effects. The natural light when Fathi took the photograph was much brighter than it was in the final picture. With the help of the filter, the image looks dramatically dark with striking contrast in the sun and clouds. Fathi also said he processed the photograph after the fact using Adobe Photoshop.
In other words, the photograph is a real shot, but the resulting image is something of an artistic creation. The environment when the photograph was shot looked different than the stunning image Fathi produced in the end.
“The entire scene took three months of preparation, carefully calculated with split second precision via applications of planning as to the exact point of the eclipse, as well as the exact location of the camera,” Fathi wrote about the shots on his Flickr page. “Obviously special lenses and filters were used to be able to shoot this very dramatic scene.”
Egypt’s ancient pyramids are the frequent target of outlandish conspiracy theories and misinformation. Perhaps because their imposing architecture has survived for thousands of years, internet users occasionally use them as the backdrop for fauxtography (although in some cases, the images are authentic).
In this case, however, the photographer was transparent about the image being creative in nature and the methods used to achieve it.
“Egypt Tells Elon Musk Its Pyramids Were Not Built by Aliens.” BBC News, 2 Aug. 2020. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53627888.
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