The infamous "Australia Day in Perth" Email

The infamous “Australia Day in Perth” Email

BY now there’s probably a great deal of you out there who have had the good fortune of receiving an email titled something like “One of the best photos I’ve seen” or “Great shot taken on Australia Day in Perth”. For those of you who haven’t, that’s it up above.

Now there’s no doubt that it’s a spectacular image by anyone’s standards (click here for a larger look). A single frame encapsulating fireworks, impressive bolts of lightning from a menacing storm and, of course a special guest appearance by Comet McNaught (look closely in the sky around the middle of the shot).

I have no proof in what I am about to say, but I think even the most untrained photographic eye can pick it as a really nicely Photoshopped fake.

What gives it away?

Well I could probably go on forever with a bunch of technical babble but here’s a couple of things to chew on:

  1. The clear presence of Comet McNaught in the shot. Even with a more powerful telephoto lens it would be almost impossible to capture the comet with that sort of clarity with the same sort of exposure settings that have allowed for the fireworks and lightning strikes to feature.
  2. The biggest giveaway is the distinct lack of water based reflection of the left and brightest lightning bolt. How can the fireworks give off such an intense reflection (proximity aside) when virtually nothing shines for the lightning strike that has equally glaring highlights in the shot. Even the lesser of the two lightning bolts to the right gives off a more powerful reflection.

Don’t get me wrong, be it a unbelievable multi frame composition or a neat Photoshop job, the image is an absolute cracker and does a nice job in showcasing Perth as the beautiful Aussie gem that it is!


  1. MrBJRichards says:

    It could be real. I took one at English Bay the other day that had a beautiful sunset, the moon and sun, two dancing rabbits complete with top hats and canes and a UFO. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted it before I could show anyone.

  2. Gregor says:

    Haven’t seen the shot before but would be surprised if they were even trying to pass this off as one shot. are we sure they are? Yes brett, the delete button can be a bugger. Did the rabbits have little tuxedos on? The ones i shot did. No pants, just little tops.

  3. MΛSΞY says:

    I just found this equally stunning shot taken from the same Australia Day fireworks/storm occasion over in Perth but this time there’s EVERY chance the shot is legit.

  4. Lee says:

    My business partner put the image on the computer and was gushing about what an awesome shot it was.

    I haven’t said anything because I didn’t want to burst his balloon, but the second I saw it I thought yeah, and I bet you think Star Wars was the best space documentary ever made.

  5. LouiseC says:

    This is what I came up with a bit of research – read this on the NASA site first which confirms it was a 3 in one taken at the same place and time.

    Then click on his name (Antti Kemppainen) and it shows the individual pics Even though everyone picked it as Photoshopped – its still a pretty good job I reckon.

  6. Peter Mariner says:

    I was there that night (26.01.07 ) and was floating about on a boat in Perth Estuary to watch the fireworks!

    We’d sailed down from Hillary’s for the evening. There was indeed a thunderstorm that night that seemed to be inland behind Perth AND the photo of the comet is similar to one I took a few days earlier!

    Doctored!…but does catch the atmosphere. Brill evening!

  7. Spica says:

    It’s not a fake, but a panoramic made of several ones (available on his website). That’s why the exposition is perfect for each part.

  8. Hzopak says:

    My shot isn’t photoshopped (well besides your usual contrast/levels/etc corrections). But If i was going to buy a photo from that day I’d buy the other guys photo, it’s simply just amazing regardless of the fact it’s a stitch together job. Just think of it as a photo illustration rather than a photograph.

    PS – good job on linking to my flickr page 🙂

  9. Erin says:

    I remember this photo being taken. It was at Quinns Mindarie beach, just next to the Quinns Mindarie Surf Life Saving Club and the fireworks were at Mindarie Marina. My family and my self were sitting on the beach where you could see fireworks to the left and lightning an amazing lightning show to the right. It was spectacular.
    Its not photoshopped btw

  10. Caroline says:

    This photo was taken by my dad on Rockingham Foreshore. The lightening storm was in Perth, the Rockingham fireworks, and Comet ‘Mcnaught’ was actually Hailies comet. It was rumored to only stay for a while, but we saw it two weeks later still going past. It was actually taken with a mobile phone camera…

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