Social Media Claim

Grand Canyon from space image is a Photoshop fake

A Facebook post from October 16, 2019 purports to show the Grand Canyon from space.

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post on October 16, 2019 by a Queensland user purportedly showing the Grand Canyon from space.

The picture is set out in portrait format and shows the US landmark with shining stars above.

The caption with the image reads: “The ACTUAL Grand Canyon from space.”

The Facebook post has attracted more than 20,000 shares and 1,600 reactions.

The Analysis

The Grand Canyon from space photo has circulated on several internet forums and platforms after being posted on Flickr in September 2011 by Canadian photographer Travis Odgers.

British astronaut Major Tim Peake captured a real photo of the Grand Canyon from space.

Odgers, who according to his account once lived in Melbourne, features several photoshopped images on his Flickr page.

Under the handle Wastebreed, Odgers revealed the photo’s creation in a Reddit thread in September 2012.

A fellow Reddit user theorised that the photo was a “composite of two (or more) images” taken from a plane in “broad daylight”. The artist had then “toned it down” in Photoshop to appear more as a “nightscape” and added a shot of the Milky Way above the horizon.

“It's not the worst shop, but not the best, either,” the user wrote.

Odgers, who clearly identifies himself in a “self portrait” posted on his Reddit page in May 2013, confirmed his critic was “correct on all counts”.

“Yeah this is actually not the finished version, but the one that has traveled the net the most lol. I am that guy and yes you are correct on all counts,” Odgers wrote.

“Side note: I made this image in the first week of learning how to use Photoshop with (an) old copy of Cs3.”

Odgers used this composite image technique again in 2012, placing stars above a picture he’d captured from the window of a Boeing 747 while flying over North America.

A Flickr user alerted Odgers that his photo was “doing the rounds” uncredited in a Twitter post under the title ‘The Grand Canyon seen from space’ six years ago. The post has since been deleted however, other examples remain on Twitter.

Odgers main gripe with the reposts stemmed from the unauthorised application of a photo filter.

“It's is (sic) everywhere now. It doesn't bother me that people are throwing it around without credit so much as that there is an ugly Sepia tone version going around... so ugly,” he wrote on Flickr.

British astronaut and photographer Major Tim Peake captured a real photo of the Grand Canyon from space uploading it on Flickr in May 2016. Peake’s image and others from space that show the canyon framed from above without the sky or stars.

Hoaxeye, a Finland-based blog that identifies fake or hoax pictures, published a fact check on Odgers’ photo in February 2019.

The Verdict

Based on the evidence, AAP FactCheck found the image of the Grand Canyon was not taken from space, contrary to the Facebook post’s claim. The photographer, Travis Odgers, confirmed the original image was taken from a plane flying over the US landmark and he later used Photoshop to create the composite image circulated online.

  • False - The primary claim of the content is factually inaccurate.

First published December 12, 2019, 14:08 AEDT