"The camera does lie..." explained

So I posted this picture online yesterday.

The camera does lie

And I included the following description:

There is a massive deception taking place in this photo.
The camera is definitely not telling the truth.
I have not tried to hide the deception, it is there in plain sight if you know what to look for.

This is a single photo taken at the Maraetotara Falls on a lovely calm summers evening last year. It is a beautiful spot stand and take photos, especially when there is light spilling onto the trees catching the edge of the waterfall itself.

 A lot of people have guessed at what the deception is, but I thought I would explain it in this post.

First these are the clues to what is not as it seems with this shot:

  • the exposure is 7 1/2 minutes, and I did not use an ND filter of any kind on the shot, and it was shot at f8
  • (local knowledge) I said this was shot at sunset, and at this location the sun would set on the other side of the falls to the camera location (ie right in the middle of the frame), but the light on the trees and falls is coming from the right, behind the camera
  • the shot was taken at 9:24pm, well after sunset
  • these streaks are visible in the sky
The camera does lie


So the explanation is quite simple; the shot was taken an hour after sunset, with the light of the full moon shining on the falls and trees, and the streaks are stars moving through the sky during the 7 1/2 minute exposure.

To be honest I hadn't looked at this photo for a long time and when I found it in the archives I thought it was a shot of the sun shining on the falls, but something looked wrong, and then I remembered what the shot was of.

So I will wrap up this post with an amended famous quote:

"The camera never lies... it doesn't need to because it isn't telling the whole truth"